Sunlight Hypnosis

Hypnotherapy – what it is and how it works

Hypnotherapy is an often misunderstood treatment, so I hope in the following section I can de-mystify the subject of hypnosis and explain what a powerful and effective therapy it can be.

I’m Paul Haynes, an established clinical hypnotherapist working in Chester, Manchester, London and also Online via Skype or Zoom.

Black and white photograph of Milton Erickson,, known as the father of clinical hypnotherapy

“Trance is a natural everyday experience. Most people walk through the world in a trance of disempowerment. Our work is to transform that into a work of empowerment. Trust your unconscious. It knows more than you do.”

Milton Erickson, the father of clinical hypnotherapy

What is hypnotherapy?

A hypnotherapist uses hypnosis to facilitate therapy and ‘change work’ with a client by uncovering and transforming issues that are rooted in their unconscious mind.

By placing the client into a hypnotic trance, the hypnotherapist can work with their unconscious mind to suggest new outcomes, such as stopping smoking or feeling less anxious.

The use of hypnosis, rather than just directly talking to a client whilst ‘awake’, allows for psychological transformation to occur at a subconscious level, which is necessary for changing behaviours or conscious states (feelings, thoughts and sensations).

The Hypnotic Trance

Many people are concerned about being put into a hypnotic trance when undergoing hypnotherapy. They often ask questions such as “Will it work on me?” “How will I know if I’ve gone under?” and “Will I be asleep in hypnosis?”.

Firstly, it’s important to note that being in a hypnotic trance does not involve sleeping. You can even be hypnotized with your eyes open, in a treatment called conversational hypnotherapy. However, most hypnotherapy is done with the client’s eyes closed, which allows them to go into a deeper trance.

Being in a trance simply means that the critical part of your mind relaxes, allowing your subconscious to come to the forefront and interact with the therapist.

We often experience a state of being in a ‘waking’ trance during a normal day without even realizing it. For instance, when we are engrossed in watching a good movie on TV, the critical part of our mind takes a back seat and relaxes.

It knows that the movie is just a script with actors and that it’s not actually ‘real.’ However, at this point, our subconscious mind takes over and comes to the foreground. It engages with the story by using our imagination and emotions, allowing us to enter into the make-believe world of the movie.

Hypnosis is a very similar process to this, but instead of using a movie to bypass your critical thinking, a hypnotherapist guides you into a natural state of relaxation using soothing imagery and a gentle tone of voice.

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The Unconscious

The unconscious mind is a deeper part of our psyche that operates without our conscious awareness. It is the source of our feelings, thoughts, and desires that constantly flow into our minds. Psychologists believe that our unconscious mind is responsible for generating our thoughts and feelings.

Our unconscious mind is vast and complex, and is responsible for all of our subjective experiences. It handles memory storage, forming beliefs, learning and performing everyday skills such as talking and driving. All of our habits, both good and bad, come from the unconscious.

For instance, when people learn to smoke, they need to think about how to do it – how to hold the cigarette, how to inhale the smoke, and all the other little behavior patterns that come with it. However, after a few weeks, most smokers can light up a cigarette and smoke it without even thinking about how to do it.

Eventually, when and how often they smoke becomes automatic – after a meal, with a cup of tea, talking on the phone, and so on.

Where do our issues come from?

Our emotions, whether positive or negative, originate in our unconscious mind. We have no control over them, as they can be triggered by various events and people we encounter in our daily lives. It’s not uncommon for them to arise seemingly out of nowhere, leaving us perplexed as to why we’re experiencing them.


This points to just how powerful the unconscious mind is, and why it’s difficult to change our behaviors, beliefs, feelings, and motivations through sheer willpower alone. Once our subconscious has learned how to do something, it is very difficult to unlearn it without expert guidance.


As we grow up, our subconscious mind is constantly learning new behavior patterns and emotional responses, which are crucial in shaping our personality, identity, and beliefs about the world. While much of this learning is positive and contributes to our mental well-being, we also learn negative responses that create the fears, anxieties, and bad habits that we all experience from time to time.


The primary concern of our unconscious mind is to keep us safe. Many of the negative emotions and behaviours we develop are just our subconscious trying to protect us from danger.


Fortunately, the unconscious mind has an amazing capacity for learning new ways of responding to the world. As long as it is satisfied that letting go of old beliefs and behaviours and embracing new ones isn’t going to put your safety at risk, then the unconscious is usually very happy to make the suggested changes.

Hypnosis word cloud concept on grey background to demonstrate the idea of advanced hypnotherapy treatments

How Does Hypnotherapy Work

Once a client has relaxed into a hypnotic trance, the next stage is to begin the process of therapeutic change.  There are numerous tried and tested techniques to achieve this. Here are just few that I work with:

Direct Suggestion

This is the most traditional way of working with the unconscious and involves suggesting alternative ways of dealing with an issue. It’s a subtle form of intervention and often uses metaphors, stories and symbols to communicate more easily with the subconscious.


Here the therapist will talk directly to your subconscious and ask it to come up with different ways of behaving, feeling and thinking about a situation or event. 

Rewind Technique

This is a powerful NLP tool that helps desensitize a person to a phobia. It involves taking the client back to their earliest memories of the fear and working with that memory and changing it to make it less scary.


With this technique the therapist is able to change a clients negative responses to situations and events into positive ones. Its called ‘anchoring’ because the client is given a way to trigger the desired positive thoughts and feelings with an anchor such as clenching the fist or repeating a phrase.

Parts Therapy

Sometimes, our subconscious mind holds conflicting beliefs and strategies about a particular issue. This can lead to feeling pulled in opposite directions and confusion about what to do. The Parts Therapy technique allows a therapist to initiate a dialogue between the opposing points of view and help the client come to an agreement on the best way forward.


For some clients, their issues are the result of trauma from the past. By safely guiding them back to painful memories and helping them to achieve some kind of resolution, these memories can be healed and the pain removed.


These are just a selection of the ways I can work with a client using hypnotherapy. Where appropriate, I also use other techniques such as NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) and Hypnopuncture, which you can discover more about in the rest of the Therapies section.

How to book a hypnotherapy session

If you’re interested in trying Hypnotherapy then please call me on 07367 660341 and leave a message or alternatively fill out my contact form on this page for a no-charge, no-obligation consultation.