John Teleska, M.Ed., NBCCH
Integrative Medicine Department, Clifton Springs Hospital &
Private Practice, Pittsford, NY (near Rochester)
About Hypnosis and Ericksonian Hypnotherapy
About John Teleska's practice
About John Teleska
Interview w/ Teleska
Teleska's hypno blog
Endorsements by colleagues
What is hypnosis?
What's it good for?
What will I experience?
How many sessions?
About hypnotic ability
...relief from anxiety
fears, and phobias
...birth & comfort
...recovering from trauma
(including sexual abuse)
...people with cancer
Evidence-based medical uses of hypnosis
Articles by John Teleska
Engaging hypnotic ability
Uses of hypnosis
Relief from migraines
Hypnosis and birth
About Milton Erickson
John Teleska's Music Site
"I could try and figure something out all day long,
but then if I just allow myself this kind of time and space,
I get this deeper understanding that changes things."
—Client, exploring being confident about
his own thinking and emotional responses
What is hypnosis?
Hypnosis, broadly defined, is focused attention. The focus can be broad or narrow. Such experiences are already part of your day, occurring in those moments when you find yourself daydreaming, spacing out, or lost in thought. At other times we may find our attention highly focused or concentrated, such as when we watch a movie and lose track of the seats and people around us. Both of these states, whether of a broad or narrow focus, yield an openness in which learning occurs.
What is hypnotherapy?
Modern hypnotherapy combines psychotherapy and hypnosis. Change doesn’t happen when a therapist attempts to remove symptoms. It happens when the client gets the support they need to use what they know, both consciously and unconsciously, in new ways on behalf of the desired outcome. Client and therapist collaborate to create a focus of attention that engages the client’s conscious and unconscious resources on behalf of clarifying and promoting their interests, their well-being, and their confidence to competently attend to important life issues.
(More in hypnoBlog about What is hypnotherapy?)
It stimulates the unconscious to do what it can do."
—Overheard, one young client explaining
hypnotherapy to a friend
The techniques of modern hypnotherapy are rooted in the sophisticated methods pioneered by Milton Erickson, M.D. Erickson affirmed that the unconscious is not an evil force trying to thwart our best intentions, but instead harbors the very resources necessary to support each individual's desire for change. The hypnotherapist helps the client harness these resources to create new options and change.
(More about Milton H. Erickson, M.D..)
your unconscious with the client's unconscious
and moving forward. It is not about control."
—Nancy Winston, one of my teachers and mentors
What do you mean by “unconscious”?
By “unconscious” I mean everything that is not in our conscious awareness. Our unconscious intelligence includes the responsivity of our breathing and our heartbeat. It includes the expressiveness of our hands and facial gestures. It includes the attitudes, abilities, and behaviors that we exhibit without having to consciously think about them. For instance, we can walk or catch a ball—both are complex actions. Yet, we don’t have to think about all the steps involved in order to accomplish these tasks. We rely on our unconscious intelligence. Each of us has a lot of beneficial unconscious abilities! And yet, we may have unconscious learnings—understandings we came to as children about money, relationships, who we think we are, our own value—that have outlived their usefulness and now limit us in some way. Fortunately, unconscious learning isn’t just a developmental phase we go through and then that’s it, we’re locked in. Throughout life our unconscious retains its ability to learn something new, or use something we already know in a different way. Hypnotherapy engages these natural learning abilities on behalf of who we are becoming rather than who we’ve been.
(More in hypnoBlog about unconscious learning.)
(More about unconscious and hypnotic abilities.)
What is hypnotherapy good for?
While hypnosis is commonly associated with habit cessation (for example, losing weight or quitting smoking), many hypnotherapists have a much broader range of treatment. A well-trained clinician using hypnotherapy can help clients who suffer from physical symptoms and conditions (including migraine, sexual dysfunctions, high blood pressure, and sleep disorders), psychological symptoms (including anxiety, stress, insomnia, phobias, depression, and the effects of past trauma) and life issues (limiting behaviors, career change, divorce, aging, relationship crises). Other medical applications include pain control, use during dental work, comfort during birth, and enhancing comfort and healing before, during, and after surgical procedures.
What will I experience?
Each client may experience their sessions differently depending on his or her desires, psychology, and unique resources. We will sit and talk—and have a conversation that engages your natural abilities, both conscious and unconscious. For some, the experience may involve a heightened awareness, for others, a profound relaxation. Others have the experience of being in an engaging conversation—yet it is often responsible for an increased sense of well being and desired change.
Will you put me in a trance?
I don’t think of it as me putting you into a trance. If formal trance work seems useful, we’d both learn together how you go into a trance. It’s different for each person. Most people learn how to go into a useful trance pretty easily. It’s a gradual learning. We didn’t learn the alphabet all at once and we don’t learn to do hypnosis all at once. People use words like “relaxed,” “comfortable,” “natural,” and “peaceful” to describe their experience of formal hypnosis. But here is an important thing to know if you are considering working with me: Although formal trance work (“…eyes closed, breath relaxing while you listen to the sound of my voice…”) is sometimes useful, often it isn’t, nor is it necessary. There are so many other ways people learn unconsciously what they are ready to learn besides something that looks like trance work.
He told me stories that seemed to get inside me
and mean something that made a difference."
It is hypnotherapy, isn’t it? How can you do hypnotherapy without hypnosis?
Remember, hypnosis or trance work is nothing more or less than focused attention—and people do this all the time. There’s the movie trance: we focus on the movie and don’t notice the chairs or other people in the theater. Or the driving trance: we get safely to your destination and suddenly wonder how we got there—we don’t much remember the details of the driving. We don’t need formal hypnosis for that. In my experience, during a session, most people quite naturally focus their attention in a way that allows for unconscious learning. The hypnotherapist’s job is to recognize and support these opportunities for learning in a way that promotes the client’s interests.
The therapist can use stories, metaphors, questions, and what looks like normal conversation to help engage unconscious abilities on behalf of what the client wants. Such an interaction assists in discovering new perceptions and making new meaning of habitual experiences. Modern hypnotherapy no longer relies only on formal hypnosis. With or without formal trance work, here’s what makes it hypnotherapy: The client’s interaction with the hypnotherapist engages their natural abilities, both conscious and unconscious, on behalf of accomplishing the client’s desires and well-being.
(More about hypnotherapeutic interaction.)
(More in hypnoBlog about Storytelling and learning.)
How many sessions does it take?
It depends—on what you want to accomplish, how what you want to accomplish is connected to the rest of your life, and how quickly you learn what’s important for you to learn in order to accomplish what you want. So, of course, the number of sessions varies from person to person even if they have similar interests. For things like gaining relief from migraine, quitting smoking, or hypnosis for expectant parents, it might be four to six sessions. Making changes in attitudes and behaviors which are limiting is more involved and may evolve over the course of months. On the other hand, I’ve worked with people who were so ready to make a change, one session was all the trigger they needed.
(More articles and book chapters by John Teleska.)
Recognize that change belongs to the person changing.
The successful therapeutic interaction engages
your natural abilities, conscious and unconscious,
in ways that support and allow enlivening change.
Copyright © 2014 by John Teleska. All rights reserved. Updated 7/7/16.