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Hypnotherapy: How it Works and Who Uses it


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When many of us think about hypnosis we may picture an individual sleepwalking and performing out-of-the-ordinary actions at the command of a hypnotherapist. In reality, hypnosis is a more complex process that has been used for years to help those struggling with a mental health issue or an addiction. How does hypnosis work and why do individuals choose to partake in hypnotherapy? Here is what the experts say:


What is Hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy is a guided trance-like state of attentiveness acquired with the assistance of a certified hypnotherapist. This state of attentiveness is akin to complete absorption in a movie, meditation, or music. Unlike the stereotype of a man walking around and clucking like a chicken, hypnosis is quite different. In a hypnotic state of being, patients may focus their mind inward to discover and use the innate resources available to make changes and negative coping mechanisms that lead to harm.


People describe hypnosis as a feeling of physical, mental, and spiritual calm. It is a state of removing all of the extraneous thoughts and “noise” that tends to follow individuals throughout the day. The individual is awake and aware of his/her hypnotic state, but is entirely focused on the present moment and is able to ignore any surrounding distractions.


Can Everyone Be Hypnotized?

Not everyone can be hypnotized. Achieving a state of hypnosis is partially a choice. A patient who wants to be hypnotized will be more inclined to follow directions and listen to suggestion. Those who are easily distracted, stressed, or have no desire to be hypnotized will have more trouble achieving a hypnotic state. A trained hypnotist may have to practice with these types of patients to help them relax enough to be hypnotized.


How Does Hypnotherapy Work?

Hypnotherapy is usually performed in a peaceful and relaxed environment. The clinician will guide the patient into a quiet and clear state and then ask him/her to consider a negative element of one’s life more positively. This practice helps to change the patient’s perception of the issue that is bothering him/her. The patient will not be unconscious or asleep throughout this process. He/she will have a choice whether or not to respond to the hypnotherapist and will never lose control of the situation.


Hypnotherapy is not a form of psychotherapy but is an alternative treatment for certain disorders. Only a health professional and patient can decide if hypnotherapy is the right course of action to treat a condition. Many patients use hypnotherapy in conjunction with other mainstream therapies.


Why Use Hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy is most often used to treat anxiety, fears, addiction, sexual problems, and bad habits. It is also useful in treating sleeping disorders, chronic pain, digestive issues, skin problems, and negative side effects of pregnancy or chemotherapy. Dentists sometimes request their patients use hypnotherapy to stop anxious habits like bruxism (teeth grinding) and other self-caused dental conditions.


Does Hypnotherapy Work?

There has been controversy as to whether hypnotherapy is considered an effective treatment. Experts contend that unconscious thoughts that are shaped by memories and expectations drive our conscious actions. If we have negative memories, trauma, and overly high expectations, we tend to perform actions that lead to negative results. This in turn further fuels the unconscious mind by reinforcing those negative experiences, traumas, and expectations.


Hypnosis can alter the negative assumptions we hold about ourselves and others, allowing people to stop habits and bad behaviors that don’t serve them. Some research has backed up these assertions and many patients have professed their faith in the practice. Others contend that the power of suggestion coupled with the placebo effect are the factors that let patients believe the practice is working.


Some patients have not had success with hypnotherapy, and studies are conflicting on its overall effectiveness. Nevertheless, hypnotherapy may be a viable option for some who have failed to find relief through traditional therapy or for those who want an additional treatment in conjunction with therapy.


Regardless, patients can all use meditation and self-hypnosis techniques to help relax and learn to stop the never-ending internal chatter that causes anxiety and depression.


Do you struggle with anxiety and depression? If so, please contact Straight Talk Counseling at 714-828-2000 or visit our website at straighttalkcounseling.org. One of our professional counselors would be happy to speak with you.

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