Hypnosis – or hypnotherapy – uses guided relaxation, intense concentration, and focused attention to achieve a heightened state of awareness that is sometimes called a trance. The person’s attention is so focused while in this state that anything going on around the person is temporarily blocked out or ignored. In this naturally occurring state, a person may focus his or her attention – with the help of a trained therapist – on specific thoughts or tasks.
How does hypnosis work?
Hypnosis is usually considered an aid to psychotherapy (counseling or therapy), because the hypnotic state allows people to explore painful thoughts, feelings, and memories they might have hidden from their conscious minds. In addition, hypnosis enables people to perceive some things differently, such as blocking an awareness of pain.
Hypnosis can be used in two ways, as suggestion therapy or for patient analysis.
- Suggestion therapy: The hypnotic state makes the person better able to respond to suggestions. Therefore, hypnotherapy can help some people change certain behaviors, such as stopping smoking or nail biting. It can also help people change perceptions and sensations, and is particularly useful in treating pain.
- Analysis: This approach uses the relaxed state to find the root cause of a disorder or symptom, such as a traumatic past event that a person has hidden in his or her unconscious memory. Once the trauma is revealed, it can be addressed in psychotherapy.
There are several stages of hypnosis:
- Reframing the problem
- Becoming relaxed, then absorbed (deeply engaged in the words or images presented by a hypnotherapist)
- Dissociating (letting go of critical thoughts)
- Responding (complying with a hypnotherapist’s suggestions)
- Returning to usual awareness
- Reflecting on the experience
What Are the Benefits of Hypnosis?
The hypnotic state allows a person to be more open to discussion and suggestion. It can improve the success of other treatments for many conditions, including:
- Phobias, fears, and anxiety
- Sleep disorders
- Post-trauma anxiety
- Grief and loss
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Tension headaches
- Labor and delivery
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Cancer related pain
- Weight loss
- Eating disorders
- Indigestion (dyspepsia)
- Skin disorders [such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema (atopic dermatitis)]
Hypnosis also might be used to help with pain control and to overcome habits, such as smoking or overeating. It also might be helpful for people whose symptoms are severe or who need crisis management.
- MYTH: You lose control…
In fact because you are in a relaxed state your mind is free of that 24 hour a day “chatter”, therefore, you are in more control of your thoughts.
- MYTH: Morals, Beliefs and Values are compromised…
In a hypnotic trance you cannot be made to do anything against your will.
- MYTH: You Go To Sleep…
In fact you will hear and remember everything that I say.
- MYTH: A Hypnotherapist can make you do anything…
A Hypnotherapist cannot make you do anything against your ethics, values, or beliefs.
- MYTH: You will not come out of trance…
At most you will move into a natural sleep and wake up feeling energized and refreshed.
- MYTH: Only mentally weak or sick people are hypnotizable..
In fact the opposite is true. The capacity to be hypnotized is a statement of relative mental health.
- MYTH: Women are more hypnotizable than men…
In fact, the sexes are the same in their trance capacity.
- MYTH:Symptom removal means a new symptom…
In fact, this is not necessarily so. Any number of troubling symptoms, from skin rash to fear of animals, can be successfully treated with the help of hypnosis without the appearance of a substitute symptom. Many symptoms are actually psychological fossils: remnants of earlier emotional times that linger on as habits.
- MYTH: Hypnosis is dangerous…
In fact, there is nothing dangerous about hypnosis by itself. If there were, we would certainly know it. We would have to tell ourselves not to slip into another state of consciousness, not to day dream, not to concentrate deeply, not to become totally absorbed in things of compelling interest.
- MYTH: The hypnotist must be charismatic, unique or weird…
In fact, a flamboyant or eccentric personality might well disturb the trusting atmosphere that serves to bring out a person’s trance talent.