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Last Updated on December 14, 2021 by Randy Withers, LCMHC
History of Hypnotherapy
Hypnotherapy is one of the oldest forms of psychotherapy in the Western world. It was approved by the American Medical Association for use in clinical settings in 1958. In 1961, the American Psychiatric Association followed and also approved hypnosis as a valid form of treatment.
Today, we use this highly effective form of therapy for a wide range of health issues by combining relaxation with positive mental imagery.
“Hypnosis is a normal and natural way of knowing your inner self and augmenting it with virtues like self-belief.”― Dr. Prem Jagyasi
Benefits of Hypnotherapy for Health Conditions
The top two health conditions that can benefit from hypnotherapy include anxiety and pain relief.
- Anxiety – In a 2006 study, patients who underwent hypnosis received suggestions of well-being before their surgery. Results showed:
- Patients entering the operating room reported anxiety levels that were 56% lower than anxiety levels before hypnosis.
- Patients who received the usual presurgical standard of care reported a 47% increase in anxiety.
- Pain relief – In a 2007 article in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (Vol. 99, No. 17), patients who were treated with hypnosis reported less post-surgical pain, nausea, fatigue, and discomfort.
- According to psychologist Guy H. Montgomery, Ph.D., director of the Integrative Behavioral Medicine Program at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, patients who had undergone hypnosis required lower amounts of anesthetic, pain relievers, and sedative medication during surgery.
- Research has also shown how hypnosis can benefit pain in burn victims.
- In 2007, a study in Rehabilitation Psychology (Vol. 52, No. 3), by Shelley Wiechman Askay, Ph.D., and David R. Patterson, Ph.D. at the University of Washington Medical School, reported patients who were treated with hypnosis experienced significantly less pain.
How Hypnotherapy Improves Well-Being
The stress caused by mental overload can lead to various health problems. Allowing your mind to rest is just as important as resting your body, and one of the best ways to do this is through hypnotherapy.
By relaxing the mind, you inadvertently promote your physical wellbeing as well. A healthy body and mind are all essential to leading a happier, more balanced life.
How Hypnotherapy Affects the Brain
- During hypnosis, the blood flow to the brain changes as your mind calms.
- Patients are able to redirect their focus easier under hypnosis, allowing them to control their train of thought better.
- You end up having better control of what is going on in the body as well due to the increased mind-body connection.
- When stressful thoughts do come up, the usual physical side effects such as higher blood pressure or sweating do not occur.
Combining hypnotherapy with other forms of treatment, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which focuses on thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, can enhance the benefits and shorten the overall treatment time.
The Stages of Hypnotherapy
The First Visit: Screening Process – The screening process is the introductory part where you and your therapist get acquainted. Most hypnosis sessions take place in a safe environment free of interrupts.
In this space, the three main stages of hypnotherapy will take place:
- The Induction Stage (Hypnoidal State) – The first fifteen minutes is spent bringing the client into a relaxed state. The goal at this stage is to settle the conscious mind.
- Therapists may use calming techniques to help the client enter into a light trance state.
- Similar to meditation, clients are encouraged to focus on relaxing muscles and altering their breathing patterns.
- During this stage, it is common to have fluttering eye movements.
- The Deeper Trance Stage (Cataleptic State) – This second stage is designed to prepare the unconscious mind to be more receptive to the therapist’s suggestions.
- During this stage, the therapist will have their client do more visualization techniques, resulting in rapid eye movements while in this deeper state.
- The therapist will ask clients to visualize something that made them feel anxious, i.e. phone calls, exams, public speaking, etc.
- The Deepest Trance Stage (Somnambulistic State) – The third stage of hypnosis is where the client’s mind is completely open and without any distractions.
- Without barriers or interference, the suggestions of the hypnotherapists are being received at an unconscious level by the client.
- Suggestions received at an unconscious level have a greater effect on the client and help change unwanted behaviors and thought processes.
- It’s common to be guided out of a hypnotic state by counting backward from ten. At one, the client awakes and is fully aware.
The End Result
The proven benefits of hypnotherapy have had an astounding impact on a vast array of health issues. Being able to revisit stressful thoughts or memories objectively through hypnosis can decrease the effect of these triggers. Once the triggering thought or behavior is confronted through hypnosis and neutralized, clients who suffer from anxiety, various phobias, sleep disorders, and depression have all shown improvements in their overall mental state.
Hypnosis has also been shown to help overcome bad habits such as smoking and overeating. The heightened state of relaxation and suggestibility allows the client to discuss their habits and get to the root of what is causing them. Both client and hypnotherapist can work out what triggers their overeating or urge to smoke.
From there, the client may be told to quit their harmful habit and behavior while in their receptive state. Repeated sessions are needed to have the suggestion firmly rooted in the subconscious mind, but after a few sessions, the client could expect to feel differences.
Hypnotherapy has proven to be a life raft for optimal mental health and physical well-being. Don’t let fear or self-doubt keep you from enjoying your life. Seek treatment with a licensed professional and free yourself from self-imposed limitations.
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