Sean Heneghan BSc Hons, LicAc, MBAcC, HPD, DipCHyp, MBACP

Counsellor, Acupuncturist
& Cognitive Hypnotherapist

With extensive training and a range of
therapeutic experience, I can help
people with a range of physical and
emotional problems.

What is hypnosis and what is a trance?

What is hypnosis and what is a trance?

People coming for hypnotherapy are often curious about what a ‘trance’ is and what that means. There are many misconceptions about hypnotherapy, most of which are produced by the illusion of stage hypnosis which provides a false idea of what the hypnotic state actually is.

Have you ever got in your car, drove all the way home and found your thoughts drifting off somewhere else entirely as you drove? Have you ever sat on a train, looked out the window at the passing scenery and drifted miles away into a day dream, or been lost in the imagination of next week, next month or the past?

If you have, then you already know exactly what a trance state is like, although you may not have distinguished it as such. A trance is simply when you’re more absorbed in your imagination than the immediacy of your environment. We are all in and out of trance all day long, it’s not a special state but more a reflection of the tendency for our attention to drift inward into our thoughts and feelings. If you notice how powerful and dominating these trance states can be when we temporarily drift into our inward worlds, then perhaps you can appreciate that these are the states we’re in when we’re experiencing our problems.

If you’ve ever been dominated in the present by the discomfort of your own anxious thoughts about the past or the future, then without realising it you used a trance state to produce that experience. When we are temporarily taken over by a negative feeling or behaviour then we’re in a trance and have disconnected from the present. Cognitive Hypnotherapy uses our tendency to go into trance all the time to explore those states so they can move in a healthier direction.


The most important things to know about trance as used in hypnotherapy is:

- There is no mystical trance state. It’s just the drifting of attention which you’re experiencing all day long in some form. The quality of the trance states you spend your life in determines the quality of your life. Trance states are an intrinsic part of your problem that can be explored and worked with.

- There is no possibility of either becoming stuck in a trance state or being made to do something you don’t want to do. These are false impressions created by the illusion of stage hypnosis.

- You don’t need to have your eyes closed to be in a trance. Hypnotherapy works equally well in dialogue with your eyes open, although some experiences are easier to imagine with your eyes closed.

- If we’re doing closed eye work in the session, you don’t lose control, you don’t lose awareness of where you are, all you’re doing is temporarily using your imagination in the way you do in a day dream.


Click here to read on to What happens in a session of Cognitive Hypnotherapy?

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