What comes to your mind when you hear the word hypnosis? Most people imagine a scene like in the movies–someone making the other person fall into a trance (usually with a swinging watch). However, there’s much more to know about hypnosis than that. Hypnotherapy, aka “guided hypnosis”, is a form of alternative therapy which makes use of deep relaxation and focus to help you deal with your concerns. As you go through this article, you’ll learn more about hypnotherapy and how it can improve your mental health.
What Is Hypnotherapy?
APA (American Psychological Association) defines hypnotherapy as the use of hypnosis in psychological treatment. It may be done through brief psychotherapy to alleviate symptoms and modify behavior patterns, or through long-term psychotherapy for personality adaptation or change. Although discussion and controversy still surround this therapy, there is scientific evidence that it can be effective for health problems such as insomnia, hypertension, overeating, and anxiety disorders.
Positive evidence also shows hypnotherapy’s effectiveness as an adjunctive therapy (one or more secondary interventions used with a primary intervention to enhance treatment). Nonetheless, clinical hypnosis requires proper administration by a licensed and highly trained professional.
There are various kinds of hypnotherapy for different people with different conditions. Here are some of them:
This type focuses less on particular behavior or habits and more on the thoughts behind them. To save the mind from being stuck in unhealthy ways of thinking, it aims to update beliefs on a subconscious level. A person can think differently once their subconscious mind is in line with the conscious and its understanding of reality.
From the work of Milton Erickson (a key figure of modern hypnotherapy), this clinical hypnosis makes use of storytelling and indirect suggestion. Metaphors or symbols help the client collaborate and adopt messages of healing. Ericksonian approach requires a hypnotherapist’s inner judge, sensitivity, and creative capacity. Complete awareness of the client’s problems ensures that the indirect suggestion produces the desired effect.
Probably the most direct type, behavioral hypnotherapy focuses solely on current or present habits. The hypnotherapist collaborates with the client to agree on appropriate behavioral changes. They use techniques and hypnotic suggestions to firmly establish those changes. Clients are advised to keep practicing self hypnosis even after treatment to maintain new behaviors.
Analytical Hypnotherapy (Hypno-Analysis)
Negative emotions, psychosomatic symptoms, phobias, and depression are only a few of the conditions this hypnotherapy can treat. Borrowing from the analytical school of psychotherapy, it works to find the root cause of a person’s problem. Why they have the problem and why they do what they do. Analytical hypnotherapists help clients see insights within themselves they aren’t aware of.
In this type, regression means making the client recall past events significant to their present issue. For example, phobia treatment involves re-experiencing memories to understand surrounding beliefs and emotions that triggered the phobia. A hypnotherapist well-versed in regression techniques will prevent any possibility of re-traumatizing a client.
Instead of analyzing the past, this form of hypnotherapy focuses on moving toward solutions. A solution-focused perspective goes beyond merely getting rid of a problem. The hypnotherapist helps the individual tap into inner resources and have motivation and commitment. With fixed goals and tasks provided, they become more familiar with their ability to achieve psychological well-being.
By merging hypnotherapy and psychotherapy, hypno-psychotherapy deals with deep-seated issues using both practices’ contents. It also uses an analytic approach to trace back a client’s problem to a cause. Hypnotherapists need complete training in both hypnotherapy and psychotherapy to offer this kind of hypnotherapy.
Hypnosis happens by first inducing a trance. Hypnotherapists use relaxation techniques to help a person enter such a state. After that, they move on to employing a hypnotherapy technique of their choice. These are some common techniques:
This is a classic hypnosis induction. The hypnotherapist tells the client to close his eyes and relax (closed eyes are related to rest). Later on, they instruct to open them and look into their eyes or focus on a specific object.
Combined with hypnosis, creative visualization can help a person achieve fast and lasting change. Creating images within the mind makes the deeper part of the brain unable to tell imagination from reality. Convincing the subconscious leads to greater belief in reaching visualized goals.
Perhaps the simplest and most common technique. It involves suggesting a desired outcome or behavior while the client is in a hypnotic state. Direct suggestion is most effective when repeated over multiple sessions. Moreover, it can work for different types of people because it requires minimal mental activity.
Being mindful is being present. Concentrating on something without judgment. You simply accept what you sense, think, or feel as an observer. Mindfulness improves the ability to focus and helps reduce stress. Strategies like breathing techniques are also employed here.
This method involves emulating a role model (parent, teacher, celebrity, etc.) who does what you aspire to do. The idea is that it’s easier to achieve a goal when you have someone to look up to. Another way is to program your mind by acting as if you’re already there. For example, overcoming a bad habit by thinking, feeling, and acting as if you already have.
Practicing in your mind can do a lot more than you might think. Just like memorizing words and formulas, rehearsing mentally prepares you for the real thing. If you do it with your baseball skills, for instance, you can actually improve your actual performance.
NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming)
NLP is a technique hypnotherapists often employ in their practice. It’s designed to help people help themselves get success, happiness, and peace of mind. NLP was devised by Dr. Richard Bandler and John Grinder who were fascinated by the relationship between language behaviour and excellence. They believed that analysis of successful people’s unconscious linguistic techniques is a recipe for excellence which other people can learn to apply.
Hypnotherapy is good for treating unwanted or unhealthy behavior, health problems, mental health conditions, and other issues. The following are a few examples:
- Sleep Disorders
- Eating Disorders
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Relationship/Family Problems
Hypnotherapy is not appropriate for those who have psychotic symptoms (hallucinations, delusions, etc.) or have addictions (e.g. substance abuse problems).
Does Hypnotherapy Work?
Depending on your condition, clinical hypnosis can work for you especially when done right. As long as your problem doesn’t require a different form of therapy or a specific kind of treatment, hypnotherapy might work for you. Above all, a qualified professional’s help and an open mind are essential.
Hypnotherapy is serious and can’t be done by just anyone. Though far from brainwashing or mind-control, wrong use and administration of hypnosis can result in real negative consequences. A person who willingly made himself vulnerable to suggestion can experience either healing or even more trouble. There are many available trustworthy hypnotherapists you can reach out to if you want to try hypnotherapy.
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