Hypnosis is the process by which an individual enters a state of trance, or altered mind-state, similar to daydreaming, meditation or intense concentration. This state can be self-induced, as in self-hypnosis, or the individual can be guided into trance by a psychotherapist. In clinical hypnotherapy, the therapist offers suggestions to assist the individual in addressing personal goals which are decided upon beforehand.
Hypnotherapy can be used for anxiety, stress reduction, performance enhancement, self-confidence, extinction of unproductive behaviors (smoking, fear of flying), chronic pain, trauma, and for other emotional healing.
Hypnosis is not brainwashing and it is not sleep. It cannot make someone act in a way which is contrary to his or her will. It requires the individual to be motivated and receptive in order to be effective. For example, if an athletic trainer suggests a specific exercise routine for your body, and you choose not to participate and do not believe it will work, you will not see results.
Hypnosis is not a cure-all and may not be indicated all cases. Furthermore, for some individuals there may be risks involved, such as the uncovering of traumatic memories or the development of false ones. It is important that the individual chooses a trained, certified hypnotherapist with whom to work and discusses the possible risks before engaging in hypnotherapy.