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What is hypnosis?

Hypnosis. A state of consciousness involving focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness characterized by an 
enhanced capacity for response to suggestion. (Society of Psychological Hypnosis)

Simply put, hypnosis is a naturally-occurring state of mind that a hypnotherapist can teach you how to use in a beneficial way. You may have heard of people going into a “hypnotic trance” — all this means is that your attention becomes focused on the way your mind and body are feeling. Anxiety, Stress, Phobias, Panic, Skin problems, Healthy eating, OCD, Sleep, 
Self-esteem, Confidence, Chronic pain, Sexual problems, Sports performance, Smoking, Public speaking It’s very similar to the state you are in when you get completely engrossed in reading a book, watching a film, or playing a sport that you love. When you are in this state, you can focus your attention on thoughts, images and feelings that you often don’t notice.

Hypnotherapy involves the therapeutic use of hypnosis to help you change unwanted habits, explore any issues or problems you might have, and enable you to better cope with difficult situations in your life. With the therapist’s help, you can learn to recognise patterns in the way you think and behave, and discover the roots of those patterns. You can also learn to change those patterns and so think about things differently, which is why hypnosis is so useful a a therapeutic tool.

What to expect

A common misunderstanding is that hypnosis is something that is done to you. In reality, hypnosis is a skill that you learn from the therapist, who then helps you to use it to explore issues that might be troubling you, to change behaviours that you wish to change, or simply to relax and give yourself a much deserved break. Once your therapy sessions are finished, you may find that you wish to continue practising your new found skill of entering a hypnotic state, making use of it in other situations.

Person sitting comfortably in a chair

In your first session, we would start by talking about the issue(s) that led you to seek therapy. We would discuss what you hope to get out of therapy and form an initial treatment plan. If you have not experienced hypnosis before, I might help you to experience it for the first time simply as a way to help you relax. A session would usually involve you sitting in a comfortable chair and listening to what I say. I might, for example, ask you to focus on your breathing, and to move your attention to different muscles in your body, allowing them to relax. I might then ask you to imagine you are in a favourite place, or walking down corridors inside your mind, or drawing things on a blackboard! There are many different techniques that can be used with different people, and the specific ones you will experience will depend on what works best for you as an individual.

Preparation. You do not need to do anything to get ready for a session. To get the best results, please avoid eating or drinking anything that might affect your concentration or ability to relax (for example, drinking a lot of coffee or alcohol) and wear clothing that you find comfortable.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does hypnosis work?
That's a good question! It's also one which does not have a clear answer. While there is lots of research showing that hypnosis can be very effective in helping with a wide variety of issues, and yet more research showing that there are measurable changes in brain activity (e.g., when you are hypnotised to not feel pain, the pain centres in the brain do not become activated), the way in which this works is still not understood. All we can say is that when you are in a hypnotic state, you appear to be more able to make changes in your behaviour and the ways you perceive the world as the result of suggestion and visualisation of the desired outcome.
What is self-hypnosis?
Most hypnotherapists now realised that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. That is, you the client are actually hypnotising yourself in response to the guidance of the hypnotherapist. Rather than being something which is done to you, hypnosis is a skill you are taught to apply to yourself.
When I’m hypnotised, do I give up control?
No. At all times, you are in control and can come out of the hypnotic state simply by wishing to do so. Essentially, you are hypnotising yourself and allowing the hypnotist to guide you to where you want to go. And, unless you doze off at some point (it does happen!), you will be able to remember all of the session afterwards!
Can I bring a friend or relative with me to the sessions?
Some clients, especially on their first visit, like to have a friend or relative accompany them to the therapy room door, and sometimes meet them afterwards, and this is absolutely fine. Occasionally, some people ask to have the friend/relative be present during the hypnotherapy session. This is also fine, as long as the friend/relative is happy to be quietly sitting in the background! The only potential issue to think about is whether you would be happy talking about potentially sensitive issue if that person were present. The choice is yours. The only exception is that anyone under 16 would normally be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Can hypnosis be dangerous?
The media often portray hypnosis as dangerous — actors often appear to get ‘stuck in a trance’ or use hypnosis as mind-control to reveal secrets or make someone act in a certain way — but this is all fictional. You cannot get stuck in hypnosis (and it's not really a trance anyway!) and you cannot be made to do anything you do not want to do. However, you should always choose a qualified and ethical therapist who understands how best to utilise hypnosis to improve your wellbeing. While hypnotherapy is not a regulated profession, there are professional bodies whose members have suitable training and follow standard ethical guidelines. In my case, I am a registered member of the UK National Council of Hypnotherapists as well as the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) (reg. number 000058-H15).
Is stage/TV hypnosis the same thing?
No. Most of what you see in stage shows or on television has little or nothing to do with hypnosis. Such events are pure entertainment and have more to do with the participants playing along with expectations (to be funny, to act like the other people on stage) and being rewarded with applause. Saying that they do not remember or acted involuntarily is simply a way of avoiding embarassment (in much the same way as people who acted embarassingly in the pub last night might say that they were incredibly drunk or couldn't recall what had happened!).


A standard 1 hour session costs £50, while a longer 90 minute session (e.g., for stopping smoking) is £70. Payment can be by cash, debit or credit card (Mastercard or Visa), or bank transfer (details on request).

How many sessions?. The length and number of sessions you will need varies depending on the issue(s) and your individual characteristics. Different people respond in different ways and at different rates. Some issues can be improved in just 1 or 2 sessions, others can take more. I will always aim to minimise the number of sessions you need, and you can choose not to continue at any time.

Cancellation policy. Please note that you need to let me know 24 hours in advance if you need to cancel or change an appointment. You can do this by a phone call, a text, or an e-mail. If you cancel or change a session with less than 24 hours notice, or do not show up on the day, you will be charged the full fee.

Page last modified: 03 March 2020

Nature Hypnosis

What does ‘Nature Hypnosis’ mean?

Ripples in water

Although we often think there is a distinct difference between what goes on ‘inside’ our heads (thoughts, feelings, our self) and ‘outside’ in the world around us (events, objects, others), they are very closely linked. All of the ideas and concepts we have originally came from the world around us, even though we can creatively put them together in new and interesting ways. Some even think that our languages originated by early humans trying to imitate the sounds they heard from the natural world. You are also probably aware that there are some places in which you feel at ease or at home, while in other places you feel uncomfortable or ill at ease.

Buildings reflected in a human eye

Because of this, we can find out more about how our minds work by exploring the world around us. Rather than looking inwards (as is common with many therapies), we can focus on what patterns we see— what we are drawn to, what we avoid — in the environment. How we behave in different places, where we want to go, acts as a symbolic map which indicates what is going on in our heads.

My role as a therapist/faclitator is then to help you to gain an awareness of those patterns, of the metaphors you use to understand the world. This can then allow you to develop different perspectives on yourself and on any problems or difficulties you might be experiencing.

What to expect

We would start by meeting at a pre-arranged location, usually an environment with lots of natural features. As standard, I suggest the woodland at the end of Holt Road as these are easily accessible with a wide variety of features and paths. We can also meet for a session at other locations if there is somewhere that has personal appeal or significance for you.

The session itself would be guided by you: the direction, the pace, the scope — all are decided by you. From time to time, I might ask questions, or point out subtle things that you might have missed, but these sessions are very much client-led. As the session progresses, I will help you to interpret the patterns that emerge, and assist you in linking them to whatever issues you wish to explore.

As Nature Hypnosis sessions typically take place outside and are different to typical therapy styles, they tend to appeal to people who:

If you are unsure, or would simply like to know whether a Nature Hypnosis session would be useful for your circumstances, please feel free to contact me to discuss it.


A standard 1 hour outdoor session in the local area costs £50. Shorter or longer sessions, sessions with a small group, or locations which are further afield may also be available — please contact me to discuss this. Payment can be by cash, debit or credit card (Mastercard or Visa), or bank transfer (details on request).

How many sessions?. This is up to you. Nature Hypnosis sessions can be purely for interest and self-development, in which case you can have just one session or as many as you want. They can also be combined with more traditional hypnotherapy sessions, or form part of a therapeutic sequence. If Nature Hypnosis sessions particularly appeal to you please contact me to discuss your particular circumstances.

Cancellation policy. Please note that you need to let me know 24 hours in advance if you need to cancel or change an appointment. You can do this by a phone call, a text, or an e-mail. If you cancel or change a session with less than 24 hours notice, or do not show up on the day, you will be charged the full fee.

Page last modified: 03 March 2020

Paul Stevens

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