What is hypnosis?
If you asked 10 hypnotherapists to define or explain what hypnosis is, the chances are you would probably get 10 different answers.
A hypnotherapist may give you an explanation of what happens from a metaphorical perspective, such as using a mind model, or an analogy to explain what is going on and why hypnosis is effective in helping people change.
Alternatively you may encounter a hypnotherapist who will attempt to define it from a natural or neurological perspective; how it relates to innate and subconscious responses that have evolved in humans over thousands of years, or in terms of areas of the brain lighting up, states and brain waves and neural pathways.
Hypnosis may be viewed from a socio-cognitive interactional perspective or others may simply describe the process using one line snippets such as 'all hypnosis is self hypnosis', 'it is placebo' or 'hypnosis is a manipulation of a person's beliefs'.
It is important to realise that despite differences in opinion as to what it hypnosis is and the variety of terminology used to describe how a 'state' of hypnosis is attained, what a client experiences and what is going on during hypnosis, the outcome can be equally as effective for each.
To some extent, it may be just as important that the hypnotist and the client reach a consensus as to what hypnosis is pertinent to them, their beliefs and in relation to the work they are doing together. In that respect it is equally important that the client understands what hypnosis is not, that it is not a magic wand (unless the client fundamentally and completely believes it to be so), that it is probably nothing like the hypnosis they have seen on television, that it's not just relaxation, you can't get stuck, it's not a truth serum and so on and so forth.
The most important thing of all for a client to understand is the efficacy of hypnotherapy when used by a competent hypnotherapist and an open and receptive client or subject. And there lies the true phenomenon that is hypnosis - not what it is, but the incredible things that it can achieve; pain management, fear removal, emotional healing, stress management, motivation, gaining confidence, habit removal and so much more.
Experts and experienced hypnotherapists may debate the nature of hypnosis and struggle to reach a consensus as to what it truly is for many years to come yet, but all will agree on one thing, it's effectiveness and how it is an incredible tool for change.