What it is and What it Does

Rev. Sheri Heller, LCSW, RSW
Published in
4 min readSep 13, 2019


(CC0)Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Hypnosis is not some mystical procedure, but rather a systematic utilization of experiential learnings, that is, the extensive learnings acquired through the process of living itself. ~ Milton Erickson, M.D.

Hypnosis is a natural trance state of deep focused awareness, in which the subconscious is more readily accessible and open to suggestion. Introduced to the medical community in the mid 1700’s by Anton Mesmer, trance induction initially emphasized relaxation and enhanced rapport between doctor and patient.

The actual term ‘hypnosis’ was coined in the mid 1800’s by psychologist James Braid, who’s interest in mesmerism led him to carry out experiments and studies which legitimized hypnosis as a sound clinical technique.

By the late 1800’s a young Sigmund Freud and Pierre Janet, a pioneer in the treatment of traumatic memory and dissociation, were mentored by neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot who utilized hypnosis to treat hysteria. Both Freud and Janet went on to conceptualize hypnosis as a vehicle for communicating with the deeper subconscious mind.

Fast forward to the late 1940’s and 1950’s when a geographical shift in the study and research of hypnosis occurred. American scientist and academic Clark Hull established scientific principles and statistical analysis geared towards measuring behavior solicited through hypnotic induction.

Likewise, another American psychiatrist/psychologist Milton Erickson revolutionized hypnosis by emphasizing the collaborative nature of the induction process, and by utilizing the unique elements and resources of the trance subject’s intra-psychic world. Erickson’s impact and contributions to the advancement of hypnosis and hypnotherapy has contributed to his being regarded as the greatest clinical psychotherapist of all time.



Rev. Sheri Heller, LCSW, RSW
Invisible Illness

Therapist, Coach & Author. Complex Trauma & Addiction. Dual citizen. Survivor, World traveler, love art and nature. I appreciate the absurd. Sheritherapist.com