Hypnotherapy isn’t like what you may have seen in popular culture when a person is hypnotized. It’s not something done to control a person’s thoughts or behaviors. In fact, it’s a safe and often effective treatment method for a variety of health conditions.
What Is Clinical Hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is the use of hypnosis to help treat a person for a certain condition. The effects of hypnosis are utilized to focus the attention of the patient on certain thoughts or tasks. There are two main types of hypnotherapy:
- Analysis: This is the use of hypnotherapy to find the cause of a certain disorder. In cases where that root cause has been hidden in a person’s subconscious memory, hypnotherapy may allow those past events to be revealed.
- Suggestion therapy: Hypnotherapy can also be used to alter a person’s behaviors or perceptions since hypnosis increases a patient’s response to suggestions.
To understand hypnotherapy, it’s essential to understand what hypnosis is. Hypnosis is a technique by which one individual puts someone in a hypnotic state. This allows for changes to take place in perception and memory and opens the person’s mind up to suggestion. In addition, the person controlling the hypnosis may be able to control the physiologic functions of the person who is in the hypnotic state, and the patient’s blood pressure and heart rate will lower naturally. In some situations, the person who is being hypnotized may even enter a trance, which is a state of heightened awareness and focus. These are the feelings and experiences a person who undergoes hypnotherapy will be exposed to.
There are several stages of hypnotherapy. First the person focuses on reframing the problem at hand. Then, the therapist initiates hypnosis by helping the person to become relaxed. Words or images are often presented to help the patient become absorbed to the point where he can let go of critical thoughts (known as dissociating). Then, the hypnotherapist begins making suggestions for the patient to respond to. Finally, the patient is returned to usual awareness so that he and the therapist can reflect on the experience.
There are many patients who may be good candidates for hypnotherapy. This technique can be used to treat the following conditions:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Grief and loss
- Sleep disorders
- Labor and delivery
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Skin disorders
- Painful symptoms (hypnotherapy can assist with pain control)
- Smoking, overeating or other behaviors which a patient would like help modifying
Patients suffering from one of the above conditions should consult their doctor if they are interested in undergoing hypnotherapy. However, individuals with a history of psychotic symptoms (such as delusions or hallucinations) or users of drugs or alcohol may not be good candidates for this treatment.
When successful, hypnotherapy can often help patients manage their condition more effectively. For example, hypnotherapy could help a person quit smoking, reduce cancer-related pain or overcome his depression. Many people have found great success with hypnotherapy where their results are long-lasting and create a significant improvement in their quality of life.
The benefits of hypnotherapy may vary widely from person to person. Some people will respond better to the treatment than to others because of their ability to fully enter a hypnotic state. The following are some signs that a person may be more likely to have success with hypnotherapy:
- Having the ability to become so engrossed in something (such as a movie or a book) that you aren’t aware of what’s happening around you.
- Having physical sensations of past events that are triggered by memories.
- Having vivid memories triggered by smells.
Contrary to what has been portrayed on TV and in movies, an individual undergoing hypnotherapy does not lose control of her free will. Therefore, patients don’t need to worry about the potentially dangerous implications of someone forcing them to do something without their knowledge.
In addition, hypnotherapy is not brainwashing or mind control. The patient will be the same after the treatment is complete. However, there is one potential risk of hypnotherapy: the creation of false memories. This could happen as the result of unintended suggestions by a hypnotherapist who is looking to uncover subconscious memories. Though not common, this is considered one risk of analysis hypnotherapy, especially when age regression is used.
The side effects related to hypnotherapy are rare, but they may include:
Hypnotherapy can be a very successful procedure for patients with one or more of the various conditions listed above. However, it’s important to keep in mind that some individuals may have better results than others. Despite the fact that patients may have varying results, hypnotherapy is a safe alternative treatment.