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“Evidence of the subconscious mind are when a mother ‘kisses it better’ for a child; when some sound or smell triggers a long-forgotten memory, or even the ‘placebo effect’,” explains Dr Leon W. Cowen, Executive Director, Academy of Applied Hypnosis (http://www.aah.edu.au/). Clinical hypnotherapy is the process in which hypnosis is utilised for therapy: a person enters the hypnotic state with the aim of changing specific behaviours, habits and physical conditions by addressing conflicting emotions, attitudes and beliefs. It has long been used successfully to help people quit smoking, and deal with chronic pain. The state of hypnosis is a state of relaxation, focused attention coupled with active compliance. “We are aware of all that’s happening, and allow it to happen in much the same way as we allow ourselves to drift in a daydream,” says Cowen. “It’s our choice to accept or reject suggestions made by the clinical hypnotherapist.”

Clinical hypnotherapy can enable us to reach into our subconscious mind to deal with the source of past trauma, and modify our behaviour by 'reprogramming' our subconscious mind. The therapist's techniques include carefully structured suggestions to influence mental and physical functions that access our own healing resources and bring about the desired changes. Suggestions accepted by the subconscious become part of our automatic response system, and are acted upon automatically. Clinical hypnotherapy is a safe and natural therapy that enables the subconscious mind to maximise our potential. According to a 2015 study, hypnosis may reduce psychological trauma associated with 'awake craniotomy' for brain cancers, with a new 'hypno-sedation' technique offering an alternative for patients undergoing awake surgery for gliomas.

Insight and advice

“The profession sets guidelines for hours of training – currently ranging from 400-600 hours – rather than qualifications within clinical hypnotherapy,” says Cowen. “You need to consider more than the association’s entry requirements, because you must keep your knowledge current by completing annual continuing professional development education requirements. Several reputable associations are listed on the Hypnotherapy Council of Australia’s website (http://www.hypnotherapycouncilofaustralia.com/member-organisations). Check entry and membership requirements as they can vary. Understand that the ranking of the professional association may relate to membership requirements.

“Prospective students should ask questions such as whether the training provides support when you commence practice, whether the course provides supervision within the structure, or if this an extra cost,” adds Cowen. “And in preparing for life as a practitioner, your training is your stepping off point - your real education starts when you use the competencies and skills from your training in your practice. As you work through course units, be aware of what you find difficult as those topics are where you may need to do extra work. This is especially true in promoting your business: you can be the best practitioner in the world but if people don’t know you exist, they won’t be clients.

“Qualities in a good clinical hypnotherapist include a balance between caring about people, dedication to the profession, a realistic approach to the skill level required, and business skills. If you’re too caring (so you won’t charge fees), or don’t consider yourself worthy of charging fees, then despite the best training you’ll have a hard time establishing a practice. If you do a short course because you want a hobby where you can help people, understand this is a profession, not a hobby. Others think they can control people with hypnosis: not true, so save your time.”