In this video, which is part 2 of the interview, Dr. Strich explains that hypnosis is the use of “trance states” to achieve a specific goal or result. A recent article from Mayo Clinic reviews the evidence that hypnosis creates a state of consciousness which is different from waking consciousness, sleep or meditation, and involves different brain wave patterns and different activity in the brain as shown on imaging studies.
Other studies show that everyone normally cycles through a pattern of brain activity every 90-120 minutes including a normal trance state characterized by “theta” brain waves which are seen in hypnosis. People may experience this trance state as “daydreaming,” where they are not asleep, but also not consciously aware of their surroundings. The only difference in hypnosis is that people learn how to go into that trance state on purpose and how to use it to accomplish specific goals that they want to achieve, like overcoming chronic pain or anxiety or behaviors such as binge eating or smoking.
Just like with musical ability, some people are more hypnotically “talented” than others, but everybody has some hypnotic ability and, with practice, is able to improve their ability to go into hypnosis and use it to their advantage. The hypnotist is trained and experienced in helping people to learn how to go into trance. Using “suggestion” the hypnotist is able to directly access the subconcious mind to help the client change habitual thoughts, or emotions or behavior patterns that are causing problems. But the client is always in control of the process, and only uses suggestions that the subconscious mind recognizes as positive and helpful.
The client is never asleep and the conscious mind is always in the background making sure that the client feels safe and secure. Often post-hypnotic suggestions are given so that the benefits of the hypnosis session continue even after the client is finished with the session. Then the client is re-alerted before leaving and usually they feel relaxed and refreshed at the end of the session.