What is hypnotherapy? Hypnotherapy is a technique that uses the hypnotic state, which enables changes in perception and memory, a major increase in response to suggestion, and the potential for controlling many physiologic functions that are usually involuntary.
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 hypnotherapy work? Hypnotherapy is usually considered an aid to psychotherapy (counseling), rather than a treatment in itself. It helps with psychotherapy because the hypnotic state allows people to explore painful thoughts, feelings, and memories they might have hidden from their conscious minds.
Hypnosis enables people to perceive some things differently, such as blocking an awareness of pain.
Hypnotherapy can be used in two ways:
Suggestion therapy — The hypnotic state makes the person better able to respond to suggestions. Hypnotherapy can help some people change certain behaviors, such as to stop smoking or stop 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.
What are the benefits of hypnotherapy? 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
Grief and loss
It 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.
What are the drawbacks of hypnotherapy?
Although hypnotherapy is the most effective non drug therapy for IBS, it might not be appropriate for a person who has psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions, or for someone who is using drugs or alcohol.
In addition it should only really be used in IBS once a doctor has confirmed the diagnosis of IBS after a careful and comprehensive evaluation.
Some therapists use hypnotherapy to recover repressed memories they believe are linked to the person’s mental disorder. However, hypnosis also poses a risk of creating false memories—usually as a result of unintended suggestions by the therapist. For this reason, the use of hypnosis for certain mental disorders, such as dissociative disorders, remains controversial.
Is hypnotherapy dangerous? There are many misconceptions about Hypnotherapy.
These include that the procedure is dangerous and that involves mind control and/or brainwashing.
Another misconception is that somehow the therapist can make a person do something that they don’t want to do.
This is certainly not true. Hypnotherapy can never take control away from a person.
The only risk is that false memories may be created. That is why it is recommended that Hypnotherapy be carried out only by a fully trained health professional.
Who performs hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy should only be performed by a licensed or certified health professional who is specially trained in this technique. Such individuals will have been through a training course and be a member of an accredited organization e.g. British Society of Clinical and Academic Hypnosis (BSCAH).