Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other staff.


What is Hypnosis?


At the present there is no simple answer to this question.  The easiest way to explain it is to say that hypnosis is a way focusing the mind through language, relaxation and imagination.  There are a number of theories and models of hypnosis which reflect the point of view of the researchers and practitioners of this technique. Here is a list of some of the more credible ideas or models of hypnosis.

Hereditary Model - hypnosis can be explained as a collection of certain traits and characteristics in humans that allows a person to fully relax the body and mind.

Physiological Model - describes hypnosis as product of specific activities in the various regions brain that allow for vivid imagination, mental focus, and emotional excitement. An extension of this line of thinking suggests that hypnosis may be a function of the various exchanges of hormones and other substances in the brain.  This aspect of hypnosis is very important to the idea that mind can help the body heal.

Learning Model - describes hypnosis as a form of learning, conditioning and memory enhancement.  This aspect may be very important to idea of accelerated learning and behavioral change in brief therapy.

Suggestibility Model - describes hypnosis and the ability to accept suggested ideas and the willingness to try new behaviors (role play) in a nonjudgemental way.

Information Processing Model - describes a view of hypnosis where the mind (imagination), brain, and body conspire to develop certain states of awareness that lend themselves to psychological and physiological healing and development.


Marcus S. Robinson, D.C.H. is an author, consultant and trainer in the field clinical hypnotherapy. He is the author of several books and numerous articles convering the issues of personal growth, professional development, and therapeutic hypnosis. His interests include the interdisciplinary study of consciousness, mind-body healing, and personal productivity and effectiveness. Dr. Robinson lives in Rochester, New York with his wife and son where maintains a consulting and training practice. He holds a doctorate degree from the American Institute of Hypnotherapy.