Hypnosis is, perhaps, one of the most misunderstood methods of psychological treatment. The myths and misconceptions surrounding hypnosis mostly stem from its depiction in entertainment and the media.
The reality is, there’s a huge difference between the type of hypnotism you’ve seen on TV and clinical hypnotism. Today, I’m going to answer the question “what is hypnosis?” so you can gain an accurate understanding of this effective, clinical treatment.
So, what exactly is hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a clinical psychological treatment that uses relaxation and concentration to achieve a heightened state of consciousness or mindfulness.
The process is facilitated by a clinical hypnotherapist who guides you into a trance using a number of techniques, such as deep breathing and visualization. In this relaxed state, your mind becomes quiet and you become more focused and open to suggestions. The hypnotherapist guides you through a series of exercises and makes suggestions to help you get in tune with your goal.
You’ve probably seen hypnotism depicted in movies with some wacky-looking man swinging a pendulum in front of someone’s face. In reality, clinical hypnosis therapy is nothing like stage hypnotism, which is purely for entertainment. True hypnosis therapy focuses on helping you “rewire” unproductive thinking and behavior patterns that are preventing you from making positive changes in your life.
The history of hypnosis
Hypnosis dates back thousands of years, but hypnosis truly began to become known during the late 18thcentury due to the work of a physician named Franz Mesmer. Unfortunately, hypnosis got off to a poor start due to Mesmer’s mystical views. Thankfully, interest eventually shifted to a more scientific approach.
Hypnotism gained further recognition in the late 19th century when Jean-Martin Charcot used it to treat women experiencing a psychological disorder that was previously known as “hysteria.” Interestingly, Jean-Martin Charcot’s work with hypnotism influenced the work of Sigmund Freud and the development of psychoanalysis.
Today, more and more research is pointing to the fact that hypnosis therapy is a safe, effective treatment for a number of health conditions including anxiety, addiction, phobias, depression, stress, sleep, grief, weight issues, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), migraines, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Types of hypnosis
There are a few different types of hypnosis:
- Guided hypnosis: This form of hypnosis involves the use of recorded instructions to induce a trance. Online sites and apps typically use this form of hypnosis.
- Hypnotherapy: Hypnotherapy is a form of therapy that uses hypnosis as a treatment for a number of health issues. It’s practiced by a clinical hypnotherapist or psychologist who is trained in hypnotherapy.
- Self-hypnosis: Self-hypnosis is a process that occurs when a person self-induces a trance-like state. It’s a helpful tool for reducing anxiety, stress, or sleep issues.
What can you expect during a hypnotherapy session?
Every clinical hypnotherapist will have their own technique, but a session generally starts out by reclining in a relaxed position. The hypnotherapist will then guide you into a relaxed state, known as a trance, using a number of techniques, such as deep breathing and visualization.
Once you’re in a receptive state, the hypnotherapist will deliver positive statements and affirmations to shift you to a more positive mindset. They may suggest ways for you to achieve your goals, such as handling situations without anxiety or eliminating the urge to overeat. Don’t worry—you don’t lose control over your behavior while in a trance. You’re fully aware of what’s happening and are always in control of your actions.
When the session is over, the hypnotherapist will guide you out of the state of relaxation.
How does hypnosis work?
The key to hypnosis is accessing your subconscious mind and “rewriting” your automatic scripts. This causes your thoughts to travel down new, positive paths, rather than the same destructive paths that keep you stuck. In neuroscience, this is called neuroplasticity and simply means that the brain has the ability to change.
The positive statements recited during a session become embedded and accepted by the subconscious mind. This translates to changes in thought and behavior patterns in your everyday life to empower you and practice better self-care.
Does hypnotism actually work?
Hypnosis is continuing to gain recognition as a valid, effective treatment for a wide range of health complaints.
Research shows strong evidence for the use of hypnosis to treat pain, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), post-traumatic stress disorder, and insomnia. Limited, but very promising evidence suggests hypnosis may also be used to treat depression, anxiety, addiction, post-surgical wound healing, and weight loss.
Who can benefit from hypnosis?
Hypnosis is safe, non-invasive, and doesn’t have any side effects. People of all ages can use hypnosis to reach their goals and create positive change. Anyone can reap the benefits of hypnosis. It’s particularly helpful, however, for those who want to change, but don’t feel able to. Oftentimes, the reason a person feels unable to make a positive change is because of unproductive thought and behavior patterns.
Through hypnosis therapy, you create new pathways for positive, productive thoughts and behaviors. This leads to sustainable changes in your life. Additionally, since there are no side effects or interactions, you can easily use hypnosis alongside other therapies or activities.
How to choose a hypnotherapist
If you are interested in trying hypnotherapy, it is important to seek a clinical hypnotherapist who has experience in the use of hypnosis as a therapeutic tool. Since relaxation is a huge part of hypnosis, be sure that you feel comfortable and at ease with your practitioner.
Carla Chalah is a hypnotherapist and integrative life coach at Hemisphere Hypnotherapy and owner of EveryBody in Mind Wellness Center in Sudbury, Massachusetts. She works in-person, as well as remotely, with clients all over the world. She describes her philosophy as aiming to achieve the greatest amount of change in the shortest amount of time.
Carla helps you “rewrite” underlying thought patterns that are standing in the way of your wellness goals. If you’re ready to create sustainable, positive change in your life, don’t hesitate to contact Hemisphere Hypnotherapy today.