What is Clinical Hypnosis?
Hypnosis, also called hypnotherapy, is a state of deep relaxation and focused concentration. It is a type of mind-body medicine.
A trained and certified hypnotist or hypnotherapist guides you into this deep state of focus and relaxation with verbal cues, repetition and imagery. When you’re under hypnosis, this intense level of concentration and focus allows you to ignore ordinary distractions and be more open to guided suggestions to make changes to improve your health.
Hypnotherapy is a safe procedure when done by a trained therapist. Hypnotherapy isn’t mind control or brainwashing. Your therapist cannot make you do something embarrassing or something you do not want to do.
How Does Clinical Hypnosis Work?
How hypnosis works is not completely understood. However, it is commonly believed that in the deep state of focus and relaxation that’s achieved with hypnosis:
- Your conscious mind is quieted.
- You’re able to tap into the part of your brain where your thoughts, beliefs, perceptions, sensations, emotions, memory and behaviors originate.
- In this state, you are more open to gentle guidance from your hypnotherapist to help you modify or replace the unconscious thoughts that are driving your current behavior.
What Can Clinical Hypnosis Help With?
Hypnotherapy may help treat any number of medical conditions in which psychological factors influence physical symptoms.
Common mental health uses include:
- Stress and anxiety, especially before medical or dental procedures; panic attacks; and post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD).
- Behavior control issues, including giving up smoking, losing weight and enuresis (bedwetting).
Common medical uses include:
- Hot flashes during menopause.
- Gastrointestinal disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- Pain control, including after surgery, childbirth, cancer, fibromyalgia, burns and headaches (migraine and tension).
- Skin conditions, including warts and psoriasis.
- Side effects of cancer chemotherapy or radiation treatment, including nausea and vomiting.
Hypnosis continues to be explored for use in these and many other medical conditions.
How do people describe the hypnotic experience?
People describe hypnosis in different ways. You may feel like you are “zoned in” or in a trance-like state — so focused that you are able to block out surrounding distractions. Have you ever been so focused on a TV show or so entrenched in a good book that you don’t hear your family talking around you or even your dog barking? This experience is somewhat like how you might feel while hypnotized. Many people say they feel calm and relaxed despite their increased concentration. Most described it as a pleasant experience.
What are some myths about hypnosis?
Myth: Hypnosis is not real. It is a form of entertainment.
- Clinical hypnosis is not what you might have seen on television, a stage act, or some magical act. Clinical hypnosis is a type of medical therapy that is often used as part of a treatment plan that includes traditional medical approaches.
Myth: You lose consciousness or have amnesia when you’re hypnotized.
- Most people remember everything that happens during hypnosis. You remain aware of who you are, where you are and remember what happened during a hypnosis session.
Myth: You are under the control of your hypnotherapist when you are hypnotized.
- Your hypnotist or hypnotherapist guides hypnosis, but hypnosis is something you do for yourself. You cannot be made to do anything against your will. You won’t reveal any information that you wished to remain secret. You don’t lose control over your behavior. Hypnosis makes it easier to experience suggestions but doesn’t force you to have certain experiences.
Myth: Hypnosis is nothing more than deep sleep.
- Hypnosis is not sleeping. There are some deeper forms of hypnosis that could make you appear to be asleep because your body is very still and quiet, but you are not asleep.