What is Hypnotherapy & Does It Really Work?
Hypnotherapy, also referred to as guided hypnosis, is a form of psychotherapy that uses relaxation, extreme concentration, and intense attention to achieve a heightened state of consciousness or mindfulness. In other words, it places the individual into a “trance” or altered state of awareness.
This form of therapy is considered alternative medicine with the purpose of utilizing one’s mind to help reduce or alleviate a variety of issues, such as psychological distress, phobias, and unhealthy, destructive, or dangerous habits (i.e. smoking and/or drinking). The aim of hypnotherapy is to create a positive change in an individual, while he/she is in a state of unconsciousness or slumber (sleep).
What Does the Word “Hypnosis” Come From?
The word “hypnosis” comes from the Greek word “hypnos,” which simply means, “sleep.”
Is Hypnosis Used in Psychotherapy?
Yes, sometimes. More specifically, hypnosis is a form of hypnotherapy, which is a form of psychotherapy. As a result, hypnosis is sometimes used during counseling to relax a patient or client. In this situation, a trained psychologist places the individual into a hypnotic state or “trance,” so he/she can openly and safely explore painful, traumatic, and repressed memories that tend to be “hidden” from the conscious mind.
This “change” in consciousness can help some patients or clients view real-life situations, feelings, and events in a “different light” – i.e. relationship issues, nervousness or stage fright, work conflicts, and even chronic pain.
While “under hypnosis,” an individual becomes more “open” to the hypnotherapist’s or psychologist’s suggestions and guidance. As a result, he/she is able to make positive changes in his/her life.
What is Hypnotherapy Used For?
Hypnotherapy is used to treat a wide range of conditions, issues, and unwanted/unhealthy behaviors, such as:
- Relationship/Family/Work Conflicts
- Sleep Disorders
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Grief and Loss of a Loved One
- Cessation of Smoking
- Weight Loss
Note: Those, who have psychotic symptoms, such as delusions or hallucinations, should speak to a qualified hypnotherapist or psychologist to determine if this therapy is right for them.
Who Administers Hypnosis to an Individual?
Trained hypnotherapists and psychologists can administer hypnosis to individuals.
What Happens During Hypnosis?
During hypnosis, a trained hypnotherapist or psychologist uses guided relaxation techniques to elicit feelings of extreme relaxation, focus, and concentration in the individual with the goal of helping him/her achieve a heightened state of consciousness.
What Methods Are Commonly Used in Hypnotherapy?
The two main methods of hypnotherapy are suggestion therapy and analysis.
What is suggestion therapy?
Suggestion therapy relies on an individual’s ability to respond to suggestions and guidance from the hypnotherapist or psychologist, while he/she is in a “trance-like” or altered state. This method is commonly used to control or stop unwanted or unhealthy behaviors like smoking, gambling, nail-biting, and excessive eating. Studies have suggested that it may also be beneficial for those with chronic pain. Moreover, research indicates that suggestion therapy may encourage positive and healthy behaviors like self-motivation and self-confidence.
Furthermore, this method may help clients or patients “uncover” the psychological root of a problem or symptom, for instance, the root of one’s social anxiety, depression, and/or past trauma. It is important to understand that feelings or memories associated with trauma tend to “hide” in one’s unconscious memory so that the individual doesn’t remember (on a conscious level) the trauma he/she experienced.
What is analysis in hypnotherapy?
Analysis, on the other hand, has proven extremely effective for “digging deep” into the subconscious mind to retrieve repressed memories or past trauma(s) – all of which could be causing psychological distress, mental health conditions, and/or problematic behaviors.
This method also referred to as “regression therapy,” is more exploratory in nature. In fact, the main goal of the analysis is to determine the root cause, issue, disorder, and/or symptom of an individual’s distress.
During analysis, a psychologist first hypnotizes the individual by putting him/her into a relaxed state. Then, he/she helps this individual explore past event(s) in his/her life. The goal is to probe the individual’s unconscious memories of said event(s), so he/she can move past them.
Disclaimer: This method is not meant to cure or directly “change” an individual’s behavior. Rather, the goal is to determine the main cause of the individual’s distress and treat it through psychotherapy.
Should I Hire a Hypnotherapist?
It depends on what your issue is and what you want to be addressed. The truth is, studies are just now beginning to tout the benefits of hypnotherapy for psychological issues. In fact, it has only recently become a mainstream treatment alternative for people, who want to break “bad habits,” confront past traumas, remember things their minds deliberately “forgot,” ease chronic emotional and/or physical pain and reduce stress in their lives.
Therefore, research suggests that this alternative psychotherapy treatment may prove to be extremely beneficial for a wide range of psychological, physical, and behavioral issues. It is important to note, however, that although hypnotherapy is considered complementary or alternative treatment, it is still a highly-regulated, legitimate form of psychotherapy that is sometimes used to help people cope with distressing and painful events.
It is also used to help ease physical, mental, emotional, behavioral (i.e. smoking, addiction, weight loss, or nail-biting), and psychological symptoms (i.e. stress, anxiety, ADHD, PTSD, phobias, and depression), so individuals (young and old) can live happy and productive lives.
Furthermore, it has also been proven effective in the treatment of addiction – in some individuals. Ultimately, however, the true goal of hypnotherapy is to help individuals develop a deeper understanding of themselves.
What Should I Look for in a Hypnotherapist?
The methods used, along with hourly rates (costs) vary from hypnotherapist-to-hypnotherapist and psychologist-to-psychologist. Why? Well, mainly because this form of psychotherapy is a trust-based exercise that requires a large amount of time, training, skill, and effort. In addition, it requires a great deal of immersion on the part of the Individual.
Therefore, it is important to interview several hypnotherapists and psychologists to see which one matches your temperament and personality. And, which one makes you feel at ease and comfortable in his/her presence. Trust is a key component of hypnotherapy, so it is imperative that you trust the person, who will be taking you “under.”
Ask for references and don’t forget to ask about the hypnotherapist’s or psychologist’s education and experience (how long he/she has been doing hypnosis and what percentage of cases have been successful).
This is especially true if you decide to go with a psychologist for the hypnotherapy. Make sure the psychologist has a substantial amount of training and experience in hypnosis – and that he/she is certified and licensed in this area.
Then, go with your gut. If your intuition says it’s a good fit – give it a chance. If not – keep searching.
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