Hypnotherapy is a form of treatment that is increasingly being relied on by conventional medical practitioners as a supplement to the medications and procedures they use. Hypnotherapy appeals to your subconsciousness and uses the power of helpful suggestions on you. These suggestions can influence how you think, feel, and act when you come awake again. The altered thoughts and feelings and how you react to situations can help you overcome illnesses and recover good health.
What is Hypnotherapy?
The word, “Hypnosis” has its roots in the Greek word, “hypnos” that means sleep. The therapist uses specific exercises that put your conscious mind and body into a state of deep relaxation and reach the trance mode. At the same time, the subconscious mind is stimulated to heightened awareness. In this state, you’re completely responsive to any concept or image that the therapist presents to you. By using these approaches, she can teach you to control your own awareness so that your body’s physical and psychological reactions are also placed under your control. While the therapist cannot control your free will or your mind, she can offer positive suggestions that will help you react in a constructive, beneficial way.
History of Hypnotherapy
All through recorded history, there have been medicine men, shamans, and healers that used trances and hypnotism in their rituals and religious ceremonies. However, modern day hypnosis is related to the work of Franz Anton Mesmer, a physician from Austria who lived in the 1700s. Believing that illnesses are caused as a result of the body’s magnetic fluids becoming imbalanced, he used magnets and hypnosis to treat his patients. In fact, the word “mesmerize” has been coined after him. However, his techniques evoked much controversy in the medical community. Eventually, Mesmer faced accusations of fraud.
In the middle of the 20th century, Milton H. Erickson used hypnosis in his practice of psychiatry and was very successful in his efforts. In 1958, the American Psychological Association and American Medical Association came to accept the therapy as an effective medical treatment technique. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) declared in 1995 that hypnotherapy can be used as a treatment for anxiety, stress, addiction, and chronic pain.
How Hypnotherapy Works?
Each time you experience a situation, it is ingrained in your memory and you learn how to react to it in a particular way. When a similar situation arises, your body and mind remember the past instance and react in the same way. These reactions can be either positive or negative. For instance, recoiling from a hot object before it burns you is a positive reaction that you learned as a child when you mistakenly touched one. However, some instances teach you to react in a negative way. When the therapist puts you into a hypnotic trance, he teaches you to disconnect your negative reaction to the situation and replace it with a positive reaction or behavior.
This is possible because, during a hypnotherapy session, as your heart rate and blood pressure are lowered, certain brain wave activities become altered. Your body goes into a relaxed state, your subconscious mind achieves sharper focus and concentration. In this state, you’re completely open to the suggestions of your therapist who can teach you to behave in a positive way.
How the Therapy Is Administered
When you sign up for hypnotherapy, the first session begins with a detailed discussion with the therapist about your medical history and the specific mental or physical condition for which you need treatment. Your therapist will also describe the entire treatment, how it works, and what to expect. Next, you will be instructed on how to relax with the help of mental imagery and verbal directions that in turn help you to react differently to situations so your symptoms are treated.
For instance, if you’re addicted to smoking, you could be given a series of words and images to use so you can get over the craving for a cigarette. You can also learn the art of self-hypnosis so you can teach yourself to behave in a certain way under specific circumstances. Your therapist will give you objects, audiotapes, or any item that can help you to remember your lessons.
Each hypnotherapy session typically lasts for an hour and you can expect that in 4 to 10 sessions, you’ll see progress. You can work on a series of milestones with your therapist and evaluate your success from time to time. Since children are more receptive to suggestions, they begin to show progress after only a couple of sessions.
Stages of Hypnosis
During your hypnotherapy session, you’ll go through a series of stages such as:
- Understand the particular issue that needs treatment
- Going into a relaxed state
- Focusing and becoming completely absorbed in the images or words given by the therapist
- Learning to break your connection with the negative thoughts
- Learning to comply with the suggestions and instructions of the therapist
- Waking up to the conscious state
- Going over and discussing the experience
Benefits of Hypnotherapy
Hypnotherapy can be used in various medical facilities such as outpatient wards, dental clinics, and emergency rooms. Clinical research has shown that hypnosis can bring you many benefits. Here are some of them.
- Boosting immunity
- Speeding the healing process
- Lowering levels of anxiety and stress, especially for people who are scheduled for surgical procedures. Also helps with post-traumatic stress symptoms, migraines, and stress headaches.
- Promoting relaxation
- Relieving symptoms of pain so that pain thresholds are raised and dependence on pain medication is lowered.
- Assisting in childbirth
- Helping in surgical procedures so that there are fewer complications
- Relieving digestion issues such as irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, and eating disorders.
- Helping recovery from addictions such as smoking
- Assisting with weight loss
- Relieving skin issues such as warts, psoriasis, eczema, and acne.
Possible Risks of Hypnotherapy
Before opting for hypnotherapy, you must get a complete evaluation from your medical practitioner so that the specific ailment is correctly diagnosed. In case you’re dealing with stress, phobia, or depression, make sure you consult a psychiatrist first. Without a proper diagnosis, the therapy can lead to worsened symptoms. In rare cases, hypnotherapy could result in the creation of confabulations or false memories that the subconscious mind conjures up.
Hypnotherapy, when taken under the supervision on an expert therapist can help you overcome many mental and physical problems. That’s because the treatment is directed at the repressed emotions and memories that could be the root cause for them. You can let go of these hidden impressions and replace them with positive thinking so that wellness is restored.
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“Welcome to the ‘Find a hypnotherapist’ area of our website.” Find a Therapist. n.d. Web 1 Dec. 2016.