Iain Barclay


Hypnotherapy is not new – in one form or another it has been around since Greek, Roman, and Egyptian days. In the 1800's it gained popularity amongst surgeons who at that time had no anaesthesia at their disposal.

In the 1950's both the British and American Medical Associations endorsed its use for their members – but it never caught on in the medical profession; possibly because it was considered more time consuming to utilise than drugs and anaesthesia. Essentially it is a means by which damaging patterns of behaviour and/or physical issues can be altered, re-framed, transformed, or resolved. And it is extremely effective!

Keep in mind that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. When in a hypnotic trance state (similar to being deeply asleep – but conscious) you are both alert and in control of how you respond. Depending on the myths you may have heard about hypnosis you may not even think you are in a hypnotic state at all. I can say that it is absolutely nothing like the stage hypnosis acts you might have seen, or been told about!

So what – actually – is it?

It is generally referred to as an altered state of consciousness – meaning that it differs from our 'ordinary' waking state. As I said earlier it is a self induced state where – guided by the therapist, you allow yourself to enter into a deeply relaxed state (both physically and mentally) that is not dissimilar to deep sleep – except that you are fully conscious and aware of what is happening. In fact nothing happens at all unless you choose to let it happen.

If the activity of the brain is being monitored it shows as a wave pattern and various states of consciousness are determined by the number of waves (or cycles) that occur in one second:

Brain State

Brain Activity

Cycles Type

Normal WakingBrain activity is in excess of 12 cycles per second.BETA state
Lightly relaxedBrain activity slows to 8–12 cycles per second.ALPHA state
Moderately relaxedBrain activity slows further to 4–8 cycles per second.THETA state
Deep relaxationBrain activity slows to less than 4 cycles per second.DELTA state

During a good nights sleep the brain will rotate between Alpha and Delta states – and back again, on a regular basis – but in hypnosis the brain settles into a state of deep relaxation and stays there until it is asked to wake up again (at the end of the session). In this state of deep relaxation it becomes possible to 'by-pass' the conscious mind (the one we are all too aware of since it creates the constant mental chatter that is our normal waking experience of life) and directly access the sub-conscious mind.

This is the key to hypnotherapy since it is in the sub-conscious mind that all memory, belief systems, and patterns of behaviour are stored. It might help if you think of the mind as a computer – or more appropriately a super-computer! In this context the computer screen is the conscious mind, and the subconscious mind can be thought of as the hard drive where all the programs relating to the computer function are stored.

The 'programs' run automatically when triggered by our sensory input. It is also worth remembering that these 'programs' stored in our subconscious mind – like the programs in a computers hard drive – have no sense of 'right' or 'wrong'. So once a belief system or pattern of behaviour (the program) is established in the subconscious it will continue to be acted on regardless of whether or not it is having a detrimental effect on the person concerned.

Part of the problem is that most of our belief systems and patterns of behaviour are absorbed into our subconscious mind before we reach the age of 7 through observing (and copying) the way our parents (and other significant adults) act. Because we have not yet developed sophisticated powers of discrimination at that age we unfortunately can take on patterns of behaviour that don't really work for us! It is worth noting here that you are not your mind. At first glance that statement might sound a little crazy but take a little time to consider it:

The word itself (mind) is merely a way of encapsulating the complex working of the brain in relation to our personality and physical function – all of which is stored in the subconscious in the form of our memories, belief systems, and patterns of behaviour. So in essence the 'mind' is actually a sophisticated tool – one that determines how we function in the world. Think of it as am ‘interface’ between our essential consciousness and the external world.

Problems arise from the fact that this 'tool' is automated – so as we grow up we become less connected to, or even totally disconnected from, our true (underlying) nature (pure consciousness) and begin to identify ourselves solely with the mind and how it has been programmed. That's a spiritual issue actually – one that yoga and meditation are designed to address. The point here is that with hypnotherapy the mind can be adjusted and fine tuned so that it works for you and not against you.

All therapies have as their aim the transformation, or eradication, of dysfunctional patterns of behaviour; the advantage of hypnotherapy is that, rather than trying to work on the subconscious mind indirectly through the medium of the conscious mind, it works directly with the subconscious.

So does it always work?

I hate to say this (and I do so only because I truly believe that honesty is a good policy) but no, it doesn't always work. Statistically hypnotherapy is very successful but there are three factors that are crucial to how successful it actually is:

  1. Does the client (you) really want to change? Because if the hidden answer is 'not really' – then permanent change is unlikely to occur. It's still possible – but more difficult to achieve.
  2. The skill, experience, and overall effectiveness of the therapist is obviously going to be a factor.
  3. The rapport between client and therapist is also crucial.

The client (you) needs to be comfortable with your chosen therapist – because the therapist is going to help you explore the working of your mind and this is very personal! You therefore need to not only feel confident about his/her expertise, but be able to trust him/her completely and feel totally safe. If there is any doubt about any of these factors it is likely to undermine the effectiveness of the work you are doing together.

But it does it work?

Yes! Absolutely. Not only does it work, but it works on much more than you might think. Here are some of the issues that are known to respond to hypnotherapy:
  • Weight management
  • Eating disorders
  • Quitting smoking
  • Substance abuse and other addictive behaviours.
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Fears and phobias
  • Stress management
  • Depression
  • Low self esteem and confidence
  • Emotional trauma
  • Chronic pain
  • Managing and resolving physical illness
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Optimizing life skills (e.g. memory and concentration)

If you have any questions about any of these claims, or simply want a little more information about hypnotherapy – please call me. This is a free service – I want you to feel absolutely confident about how I can assist you. The alternative of course is more of the same. Calling me for an appointment, or further information, is the first step towards making the changes in your life that you desire.