Hypnotherapy is one of the many types of therapy that are aimed at making observable and long-term changes to behavior. It is a form of psychotherapy that falls into the suggestion therapy category since it involves the therapist making direct suggestions to the patient. At the same time, they are in a suggestible state to encourage changes in behavioral patterns.
When it comes time to find a hypnotherapist, there are a few different points to consider. Here, we’ll take a look at the efficacy of hypnotherapy and a few key questions to ask yourself as you find a therapist.
What Is Hypnotherapy?
In essence, hypnotherapy is a form of therapy that relies on suggestions. In fact, the word “hypnotherapy” draws its meaning from the Greek words for “sleep” and “treatment.” Hypnotherapy falls under the more general umbrella of psychotherapy, and it’s used as a way to explore and deal with past traumas, repressed memories, and other experiences that may not be easily accessed by the conscious mind.
Hypnotherapy is divided into experimental hypnosis and clinical hypnosis. Experimental hypnosis involves going into a hypnotic state to explore what one might discover in their subconscious, while clinical hypnosis is geared towards treating a specific psychosis or problem. Hypnotherapists often use clinical hypnosis to target treatment that is focused on long term behavioral change.
Does Hypnosis Work?
Clinical hypnosis and experimental hypnosis have had plenty of positive results, especially when it comes to the treatment of addiction, sleep disorders, weight loss, and other behavioral changes. There are many observable links between mental health and hypnosis, not dissimilar to the connections found between meditation and stronger mental health.
These links between health and hypnosis have been proven time and time again. Many people feel well-rested and “reset” after they come out of the hypnotic state at the end of a session. They report feeling both mentally and physically rested. Many people also experience euphoria or a state of clarity that they haven’t felt while fully conscious outside of the hypnotic state.
Hypnosis has also been shown to be successful when it comes to family therapy. If you find a therapist who is certified and experienced with children, it can be safe for children as well. When it comes to marital family therapy, it can also be an excellent way to approach relationship problems with a long-term change and solution in mind. In this way, the vulnerability and suggestibility of the hypnotherapy can spark positive change in your whole family.
Of course, one key component to the success of clinical and experimental hypnosis is to find a therapist that can make the hypnosis work for you. This means that your guided hypnosis is only as good as your guide, so you need to find a therapist that meets all of your proper qualifications.
What Does A Hypnotherapy Session Look Like?
You probably have a picture in your head of a patient lying on a couch and the therapist waving a watch back and forth in front of their eyes. This is the way that hypnotherapy sessions are often depicted in pop culture and media. While it’s not entirely far from reality, there are some more nuances to a hypnotherapy session.
Most hypnotherapy sessions follow pretty much the same procedure. At the very beginning of the hypnotherapy session, the clinical hypnotherapist will help you to relax and feel comfortable. This will often mean that they talk you through a series of short exercises and guided deep breathing while you sit or lay in a comfortable position. Then, they will start the guided hypnosis. This means that they will ease you into a hypnotic state.
A hypnotic state is often described as a trance, where your conscious mind is quieted, and your subconscious mind has more freedom to be expressed. It is in this hypnotic state that the therapist will start the suggestion therapy and hypnosis treatment.
As your therapist helps you ease into the trance or hypnotic state, you will likely begin to feel lighter. You might imagine yourself in another place, where you feel free to explore your subconscious. Many people also report the slowing down of time: everything seems elongated. You may also find yourself in a lucid state, where you feel like you’re caught in between sleeping and waking. These are common descriptions of what it’s like to enter a hypnotic state.
Once you are in the hypnotic state, the therapist will start to talk to you. They will ask you to imagine certain things. They may also ask you to respond to questions and note down your answers; however, not all hypnotherapists make use of asking questions while the patient is in a trance. They will also ask you to imagine your problems. Then, once you have a clear visualization of the problem, they will encourage you to destroy it.
Often, this imagining and destruction are done in very metaphoric and symbolic ways. For example, the therapist may ask you to imagine your problem as a monster. Then, the therapist will describe the solution, and you’ll wield the answer like a sword. With this imagined sword, you will use the solution to slay the monster that is the problem at hand.
After an appropriate amount of time in the hypnotic state, the therapist will “wake you up” or call you back to a conscious state of mind. Then, they will ask you questions about what you experienced while you were in a trance. During this time of questions and answers, they will guide you into describing specific behavior changes and how to apply them to the problems you explored in that session. With the experiences and suggestions of the hypnotic state, along with the guidance offered by the therapist in the follow-up, the goal is to promote long-lasting change in your behavior and problem-solving.
What’s Happening To My Brain During Hypnosis?
To find out exactly what was going on in the mind of people experiencing hypnosis, a recent study at Harvard University took scans and observed the brains of people during guided hypnosis. Most of their observations focused not only on the areas of the brain that “light up” while undergoing hypnosis, but also on the connections between the functioning of these areas of the brain.
For example, they learned that the brain centers, which are primarily considered to be responsible for processing and making decisions based on sensory input, are more active during hypnosis. This led researches to hypothesize that the brain actually experiences heightened sensory experiences during hypnosis. They also found that the area of the brain that controls the action and the part of the brain that assesses the patient’s own actions were disconnected while in the hypnotic state. Their conclusion from this data is that when in a trance or hypnotic state, the patient is less concerned about the direct consequences of actions. This could be why patients who undergo hypnotherapy tend to feel less fear or less of a sense of risk when they express desired actions and outcomes in a hypnotic state.
Then, there’s also the descriptions that hypnotherapy patients give of their experiences while in a trance state. The ways that they describe it often line up with the scientific hypotheses. They often explain a comfortable state where they feel relaxed and ready to explore. Some patients even go farther and claim that their senses became so attuned that they were able to see new colors or identify new smells while in a trance.
All in all, the brain is in a relaxed state during hypnosis, along with the body. Taken together, this allows the patient to experience heightened sensory awareness while also being more open to new suggestions and behavioral change. This is confirmed both by the experiences of countless patients and scientific research.
Is The Hypnotherapist Certified?
Practitioners of clinical hypnotherapy are certified and are overseen hypnosis ASCH, the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis. A trained therapist will have the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis seal of approval and will be held to professional standards, backed up by the necessary approved training in hypnotherapy. Training in hypnotherapy and up to date certification are crucial factors if you want to find a therapist. So, when it comes to clinical hypnosis, ASCH certification is a must!
What Do Other Patients Say About The Hypnotherapist?
When it’s time to find a therapist, there’s no better reference than their patients! Even though many types of therapy require the patient to be vulnerable and open with the therapist, hypnotherapy can lay the patient, especially bare. This is because the patient spends the bulk of the sessions in a hypnotic state in this form of therapy.
For this reason, you must find a therapist who makes you feel comfortable and at ease. If you can’t find a therapist that makes you feel relaxed, it can be challenging to enter the hypnotic state. When you need to find a therapist, you need to be able to trust them through the whole guided hypnosis. So, talk to their previous patients and get an idea of who they are and how they interact with patients. Then, you’ll be able to ease your mind and fully engage with the clinical hypnotherapist.