Hypnotherapy – practiced in one form or another for many years – is utilized today to treat anxiety, smoking, PTSD, pain, easing disorders, and much more. The right hypnosis isn’t what you see on stage or television – it isn’t s a parlor game - and it should not be used to make people act silly. Instead, hypnotherapy is a tool that can help facilitate healing in numerous areas when lead by a seasoned hypnotherapist.
Hypnotherapy can offer both emotional and physical benefits. Research into this long-practiced technique continues to divulge benefits for numerous physical and mental conditions.
The experience of hypnotherapy is similar to when you daydream or even meditate. You experience a heightened state of concentration where the mind gets rid of distractions allowing you to become more open to suggestions.
Hypnotherapy is a practice that has evolved over thousands of years with numerous doctors and therapists of note, taking part in this evolution. Today, psychologists, oncologists, psychotherapists, and endocrinologists just to name a few are coming up with ways to incorporate hypnotherapy into their treatment plans.
What Is Hypnotherapy?
- Hypnotherapy, also known as hypnosis refers to a therapeutic technique where a person is guided into a relaxed state and then presented with suggestions by a hypnotherapist. Hypnotherapy is not painful or dangerous, and the technique is considered safe for the vast majority of individuals.
- Some hypnotherapist utilizes hypnotherapy to make people remain alert, but a majority of the sessions are focused on relaxation, well-being, and a sense of calmness. A therapist focuses a patient on pleasant experiences and images.
- As such, hypnotherapy is regarded as an alternative medicine with the aim of utilizing one`s mind to help lower or alleviate a variety of issues, such as phobias and psychological distress. The aim of this technique is to create a positive change in a person when he/she is in a state of slumber or unconsciousness.
- Hypnotherapy is typically used to reprogram the mind. When under hypnotherapy, a person puts their mind and body into a heightened state of learning, making them more susceptible to suggestions for self-improvement and behavior modification. Most people describe hypnotherapy as a state of focused attention. That’s because they feel calm and relaxed.
People undergoing hypnotherapy are physically relaxed by remaining awake and focused. For some individuals, it might take 10 to 20minutes to get to a hypnotic state and for others, it can take only a few seconds. A hypnotherapist might use visual imagery to guide the patient in a state of relaxation where there are more welcoming suggestions. Experts define three states of hypnotherapy:
In this state, the patient is oblivious to others and the focus is very narrow on the hypnotherapist.
The patient is quite responsive to social and environmental cues. The suggestibility state is based on the premise that the hypnotic state is not distracted by consciousness, but rather the susceptibility to influence. This means that the hypnotic state is a result of an individual’s willingness to comply with a suggestion given by a trusted hypnotherapist.
- In this state, there is a divided awareness between your conscious and subconscious. For example, a hypnotherapist might suggest to you that you`re blind and then asks you to raise your hand if you see a book they`re holding. You`ll raise your hand, but later, when you`re out of the hypnotic state, when asked the same question, you don’t recall seeing a book, but your hand raises.
- One of the most significant misconceptions about hypnotherapy is that the patient feels their actions being compelled and that they lack the ability to refuse them. However, this isn’t the case. An individual can’t be hypnotized against their will or do things in conflict with nature. And most patients can get out of the hypnotic state at any time during a session.
- Hypnotherapy is a valuable tool in the hands of a medically trained expert. It should not be used for entertainment or by a practitioner who lacks the full scope of a patient`s medical history and wellness goals.
How Does Hypnotherapy Work?
- The most robust feature of the hypnotic state is how it connects a person`s mind to their subconscious mind. You can compare the subconscious mind to a computer`s file system. The subconscious is like your hard drive, where you store every experience, thought, and emotion you`ve ever had. In the relaxed, hyper-focused state of hypnosis - under the guidance of a hypnotherapist, you can run a search on our subconscious, extracting the represses memories and buried emotions at the root of your mental challenges.
- Each unhealthy behavior, such as excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, losing one`s temper, overeating has a chain of events that laid the foundation for all your current unhealthy choices. Through a `memory chip; that has been laid down in your subconscious mind, a hypnotherapist can trace back your experience and subconscious decisions you made before that may be leading you to the behavior that is no longer healthy for you.
- There are lots of theories on how and why hypnotherapy works. Some experiments suggest that those under hypnotherapy have two distinct systems of consciousness, while others indicate a level of susceptibility to outside influences. The body and thoughts become more focused while physically the heart rate and blood pressure lower. During hypnotherapy, the conscious mind becomes less active, and the subconscious mind becomes more focused in that when a person is in that relaxed state.
- Hypnotherapy is utilized to help with or alleviate a wide array of conditions. There is some evidence that it can help people suffering from cancer and other serious health conditions deal with pain, anxiety, and stress of their disease. The technique can be used alongside prescribed pain medication for pain management.
History of Hypnotherapy
- Hypnotherapy, in one form or another, has been practiced for thousands of years. In fact, almost every culture has practices hypnosis in some form. Evidence exists that shows that the Egyptians and Greeks utilized sleep or dream temples where the ill would be taken to be cured by hypnosis as well as ancient Sanskrit texts that describe various levels of the hypnotic state.
- Franz Mesmer, a well-known German physician, started to utilize hypnosis to treat his people in the late 1700s. He believed that there was an invisible fluid in his patient`s body that acted in accordance with the laws of magnetism and that diseases were a result of obstacles and blockages in the fluid. To get through the obstacles, he would induce his patients into hypnotic-like states.
- Later in the 19th century, Hippolyte Bernheim along with Ambrose Liebault, launched a school in France where they could treat patients using hypnosis. Both these physicians wrote books about on hypnosis and treated a wide array of patients. In four years, they would boast around 5,000 hypnotic inductions that resulted in a 75 percent success rate.
- Since then, other physicians across the world continue to explore the benefits of hypnosis and there is evidence that the technique was applied in World War I and World War II in the treatment of soldiers who suffered combat neuroses.
- Physicians continued to explore the use of hypnosis for a wide range of illnesses and ailments C.L. Hull and Milton H. Erikson in the lead with their book, `Hypnotism and Suggestibility,’ in 1933.
Dr. Erikson is among the leaders who helped transition the style of hypnotism away from the `mesmerist’ to a much permissive style based on persuasive language. He utilized hypnotherapy in his practice and is regarded as one of the pioneers of the modern-day hypnotherapy.
- Today Erickson has followers across the world. There is a method of indirect hypnosis known as Ericksonian Hypnosis, which is named after him. His discoveries have influenced a huge spectrum of therapy from strategic family therapy to neuro-linguistic programming and earned him the names, `father of hypnotherapy.’
- He found out that indirect suggestions could lead to a therapeutic behavioral change. He preferred to converse with patients using contradictions, antidotes, symbols, and metaphors to influence their behavior rather than direct suggestions.
- As Erickson was a patient who had suffered pain after contracting polio at a young age, he found it necessary to `put yourself in the patient`s shoes’ and understand a patient`s present situation. Unlike other psychiatrists who encouraged self-exploration, Erickson adopted a form of brief therapy, where a patient's past would not be the focal point of change. By skillfully tailoring his hypnotherapy sessions to incorporate aspects about a client`s personal life, he would be able to transform them from within using their own resources, rather than his own will on their way of thinking.
Who Can Be Hypnotized?
The simplest answer is that almost everyone can be hypnotized if they wish to. Modern studies have shown that most individuals can be hypnotized to some degree and the real question of how deep and to what degree they want to go into hypnosis. Being hypnotized is not a sign of being weak, giving up control or gullible. Being hypnotized is actually correlated with intelligence and the capability to have heightened awareness and focus while being in complete control.