What is Hypnotherapy?

19 February 2024

Hypnotherapists in South Africa

Hypnosis, also called hypnotherapy, is a state of deep relaxation and focused concentration. It’s 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.

How does hypnotherapy work?

How hypnosis works isn’t completely understood. However, it’s 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’re more open to gentle guidance from your hypnotherapist to help you modify or replace the unconscious thoughts that are driving your current behavior.

What are some myths about hypnosis?

Myth: Hypnosis isn’t real. It’s a form of entertainment.
Hypnosis isn’t a stage act or some magical act. Clinical hypnosis is a type of medical therapy that’s 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’re under the control of your hypnotherapist when you’re hypnotized.
Your hypnotist or hypnotherapist guides hypnosis, but hypnosis is something you do for yourself. You can’t 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 isn’t 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 aren’t asleep.

What conditions is hypnotherapy helpful in treating?

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).
  • Phobias.
  • Behavior control issues, including giving up smoking, losing weight and enuresis (bedwetting).
  • Common medical uses include:
  • Insomnia.
  • Asthma.
  • 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’re “zoned in” or in a trance-like state — so focused that you’re 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 similar to 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.

Is hypnotherapy used as the sole treatment?

Hypnosis is usually used along with other therapies and treatments, as part of a complete total treatment plan. The decision to use hypnotherapy in a clinical setting as a sole treatment or as an add-on treatment in psychotherapy or traditional medicine is made in consultation with a qualified professional who’s trained in the use and limitations of hypnotherapy.

What’s the typical length of treatment with hypnotherapy?

There’s no typical length. Treatment varies depending on what and how severe the issue is. Hypnotherapy may take many sessions.

Does hypnotherapy work?

Despite its use since the 1700s, hypnotherapy continues to have skeptics in the medical community. However, it’s becoming a more accepted and recognized form of therapy. The number of certified and licensed medical professionals incorporating hypnotherapy in their practice is increasing.

Scientific evidence supporting the benefits of hypnotherapy has been limited, but is growing. Some studies show “promising” results or “may be helpful in” conclusions. The strongest evidence supporting the use of hypnotic treatments comes from research on hypnosis for treating pain, IBS and PTSD symptoms. Most medical associations and organizations state that more studies are needed to draw meaningful conclusions about the effectiveness of hypnotherapy.

How do I select a hypnotherapist?

First, look for a healthcare professional who’s properly trained, licensed and credentialed in a healthcare field such as medicine, dentistry, psychiatry, psychology, social work or nursing. This practitioner should have additional training in hypnosis and hypnotherapy techniques. Hypnosis should be used along with their mental health and medical training as an additional treatment tool. Ask the practitioner you intend to see about their training, credentials and license to practice hypnotherapy. Also ask if they’re experienced in the condition(s) you’re seeking care for.

You’ll want to find a therapist you feel comfortable with and trust. Don’t hesitate to try a different therapist if you feel a hypnotherapist isn’t the right fit for you.

ref: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/22676-hypnosis


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