First off, therapeutic hypnosis isn’t what stage performers do. “Quack like a chicken” is not hypnotherapy!
Hypnosis is a normal state of focused or absorbed attention. Many people say that it feels like a deep relaxed state, where one’s sense of possibilities open up and ego defenses relax. When this happens, it can make exploration of feelings or goal achievement easier for many people.
The unique state of consciousness that hypnosis facilitates is still not completely understood. However, research indicates that it can be a helpful in addressing a number of psychological issues and concerns, often in conjunction with other psychotherapeutic techniques.
For me, hypnosis is a collaborative process. A session usually begins with a discussion of the client’s concerns and goals and the applicability of hypnosis and other therapeutic techniques. A client will then be guided into a relaxed state and the concerns discussed or addressed while in that state. Most people remember some or all of what occurred, while a few do not. The client is always “in control” and can stop the process at any time. After the hypnosis, we debrief the experience and discuss “homework” or next steps. This process is often repeated 2-3 times for specific habit-based concerns. It can also be used as needed as a part of ongoing psychotherapy.
Here’s a useful web page describing hypnosis and common FAQs.