The term "hypnosis" denotes an interaction between one person, the ´hypnotist´, and another person, the ´subject´. In this interaction the hypnotist works with the subject to bring about a therapeutic change in perceptions, feelings, thinking and behaviour. The hypnotist will use ´suggestions´ and invite the subject to use associated imagery which will allow the subject to experience therapeutic change.
Over the years people have defined hypnosis differently and it still remains a contentious issue. Here are a number of important definitions: "Hypnosis is an altered state of awareness in which the individual withdraws his peripheral awareness and concentrates all attention on a focal goal... is related to the ability to concentrate in an attentive, responsive manner, even to the point of dissociation" (Spiegel, 1972).
"...a communication of ideas and understandings to a patient in such a fashion that he will be most receptive to the presented ideas and thereby motivated to explore his own body potentials for the control of his psychological and physiological responses and behaviour" (Erickson & Rossi, 1980) "Hypnosis is a procedure during which a health professional or researcher suggests that a client, patient, or subject experience changes in sensations, perceptions, thoughts, or behavior. The hypnotic context is generally established by an induction procedure. Although there are many different hypnotic inductions, most include suggestions for relaxation, calmness, and well-being. Instructions to imagine or think about pleasant experiences are also commonly included in hypnotic inductions". (Irving Kirsh 1994) "The term hypnosis´ is used to denote an interaction between two people (or one person and a group) in which one of them, the hypnotist, by means of verbal communication, encourages the other, the suject or subjects, to focus their attention away from their immediate realities and concerns and on inner experiences such as thoughts feelings and imagery. The hypnotist further attempts to create alterations in the subjects´ sensations, perceptions an, feelings, thoughts and behaviour by directing them to imagine various events or situations that, were they to occur in reality, would evoke the intended changes" (Heap & Aravind 2002)