Hypnosis often conjures images of contrived amusement best done in magic shows and sleazy nightclubs. But once you get past your prejudices and fear of the often misunderstood if not unknown, you may discover in hypnosis a potent treatment method for alleviating a host of symptoms and disorders.
What Is Hypnosis
Hypnosis is more than hocus pocus and is not quackery when done correctly with the proper goals in mind.
Hypnotherapy, or the use of hypnosis to treat pain and other symptoms, is a valid medical intervention that has been practiced in various cultures for thousands of years long before traveling circuses featured it as a sideshow during the late 19th century.
Today, hypnosis is acknowledged by the scientific community as a veritable alternative treatment method usually used in conjunction with conventional psychological, medical and dental practice.
It is considered an effective method in treating a host of psychological and medical problems from anxiety, insomnia, linguistic stuttering and smoking to chronic pain, migraine, asthma and high blood pressure.
Recent studies also explore the potency of hypnosis in treating behavioral disorders such as ADHD and autism.
How It Works
When used by competent and trained professionals, hypnotherapy is able to induce a state of trance, or an altered state of consciousness similar to dream consciousness and deep relaxation to treat disorders that are largely psychological or emotional in origin.
Hypnotherapists use a variety of techniques to make the most of the connection between mind and body in order to promote healing.
The human brain has the capacity to assume different levels of consciousness, alternating from being completely alert to lethargic to effusively asleep and several variations of awareness in between.
The brain naturally switches to states of hypnosis when we daydream, are absorbed in what we are doing that we are sometimes able to block off notions of time and space and even when we listen to boring speeches that make us feel drowsily asleep.
Being in a state of hypnosis as a form of treatment is similar to being in a state of daydreaming; hypnotherapy, however, is governed by specific and definite goals as oppose to daydreaming mindlessly.
Uses And Benefits
Although hypnotherapy is still quite a controversial practice because conclusive research on exactly how hypnosis as a process treats specific disorders and conditions is still unavailable, several scientific inquiries into the effects of hypnosis underline altered brain activity as the key to this treatment method’s efficacy. Brain imaging in patients undergoing hypnotherapy shows that particular hypnotic recommendations decreases activity in specific areas of the brain either associated with responses to pain or directly engaged in the production of physical pain sensation.
Psychologically, being in a state of hypnosis is also believed to access the more perceptive unconscious mind which in turn promotes brain wave activity that makes individuals more open to therapeutic suggestions and altered perceptions, attitudes and behaviors.
A therapy consisting of somewhere between four and ten sessions is usually needed to realize this healing potential of hypnosis.
Conditions Typically Treated With Hypnosis
The hypnotic state basically facilitates a person to be open to suggestion. It can improve the success of other treatments in several conditions, such as:
Phobias, fears, and anxiety
Grief and loss
Hypnosis Is Not For Everyone
Contrary to popular belief though, hypnosis will not make you do or say things against your will. You cannot be forced into a state hypnosis either.
A hypnotherapist simply guides you in reaching an altered state of consciousness by using techniques such as talking, imagery, breathing exercises and deep concentration. Different persons require different techniques and lengths of time to reach a hypnotized state and some people are said to be more resistant to hypnotism than others.
While the ability to be hypnotized is also believed to be a learned skill, people who have an excellent imagination and are able to keep a strong mental focus are said to experience the best results from hypnosis.
Hypnosis should be performed only by licensed and certified mental health professionals who are trained and who specialize in this technique.
Hypnosis is generally considered as a safe treatment method although on rare occasions, patients report experiencing associated side effects such as headaches, dizziness, anxiety, upset stomach and false memories.
While hypnosis offers a host of medicinal benefits, it is standard practice to avoid using this kind of treatment among those who are suffering from psychosis, severe depression and alcohol or drug addiction.