Hypnotherapy is a natural process that people go into mostly at night. The ‘hypnoidal point’ is an altered state of brain wave that we often feel just as we are about to fall asleep. It is between being awake and asleep and is a relaxed and comfortable aware state. This ‘hypnotic sleep’ makes you more open to positive suggestions to get positive results such as giving you the willpower to give up smoking or lose weight.
In this state you are relaxed and safe. You are very aware of everything happening but more open to positive information which can help you make good changes in your lifestyle.
HOW DOES IT FEEL?
The way you will feel varies from person to person. Most people feel relaxed and drowsy. The feelings are usually very pleasant and afterwards you feel very relaxed also. This makes it an excellent therapy for people who suffer from stress.
During hypnosis, you become absorbed in yourself. You are sitting comfortably in a chair, concentrate and focus while the practitioner gives you positive suggestions. You can hear the practitioner’s voice and you are still in control. You are not unconscious. There are many different ways to hypnotise you and the therapist will find one which is right for you. You will not do or say anything you would not normally do of your own accord that you don’t consider morally correct. The practitioner is talking to your subconscious mind which is usually the one that sabotages you so the old, negative stuff becomes replaced with positive suggestions creating new possibilities of experience. It feels like you are sitting in a chair with your eyes closed and you should remember it all when you finish. Most people awaken refreshed and relaxed ready to go on with the rest of the day. This is a safe and beneficial drug free treatment and you can awaken any time you wish.
Often the first session is used by the therapist to gather information on what it is you require and how successful you have been at implementing your goals in the past. Then the hypnotherapy sessions will begin and build each session to create the desired effect. It is important to give your therapist feedback so that the sessions can be specifically designed to meet your needs. Don’t be concerned about giving negative feedback. If something is not working for you, say so because everyone is different and the therapy needs to be modified to suit you.
HOW DOES IT HAPPEN?
The state happens out of a mutual agreement from the client and therapist. Anyone can be hypnotised – even younger children however some are more easily hypnotised than others. It involves a change of the usual waking brain waves.
Hypnosis changes your expectations about things such as how intense pain will be, what foods taste nice, whether or not you enjoy that cigarette. This is turn alters your experience regarding that object. Some scientists believe that it involves you focusing your attention on a competing image in your subconscious which blocks the one you already have but there is no single accepted explanation as to how it quite works. Researchers are currently testing theories as to how it works and have discovered that the process activates certain parts of the brain, including the portion that focuses attention. “By concentrating elsewhere, a person inhibits the pain from coming to conscious awareness,” says Helen Crawford, an experimental psychologist at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. David Spiegel, MD, a psychiatrist at Stanford University says “Changing your mental set can change what’s going on in your body’” and in this way you can alter negative processes in your life.
WHAT TECHNIQUES DOES IT USE?
Hypnotherapy uses neuro- linguistic programming (NLP), gestalt direct suggestions and commands, indirect suggestions and commands, counselling, metaphors and some psychotherapy to create its desired effect. The therapist works with your conscious to subconscious mind connections and help you change patterns that are not working in your life.
HOW MANY SESSIONS DO I NEED?
The number of sessions you need depends on what you want to achieve.
WHAT CAN I USE IT FOR?
Hypnotherapy can be used for giving up smoking, losing weight, managing stress, lowering blood pressure, increasing your learning abilities, handling pain etc. Virtually any changes you want to make can be programmed into your session to meet your needs.
In the last 30 years researchers have subjected hypnosis to all kinds of clinical trials – and it has passed most of them. It’s been successful to soothe acute and chronic pain from surgery, cancer, kidney stones, back conditions and invasive medical and dental procedures.
An example is in giving up smoking which requires a combined approach using good nutrition, exercise, with lots of social support as well as learning how to defuse the stress and triggers that influence you to reach for a cigarette. Once you give up smoking the negative health effects of it begin to decline almost straight away. Remember, though, that success does not happen with just one session (there are no magic wands) and often multiple treatments are required for effectiveness.
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY
The April 29, 2000, issue of the journal The Lancet in America reported that hypnosis reduced pain, anxiety, and blood pressure complications in patients undergoing invasive medical procedures. It noted that the procedures took less time because the healthcare staff didn’t have to interrupt their activities to deal with the patients’ pain or to stabilise blood pressure. It was also recorded that patients in the hypnosis group required less than half as much painkilling medication as those in the standard group.
Alexander A. Levitan, MD, MPH, a medical oncologist in Minneapolis, has participated in numerous surgeries, including hysterectomies and tracheotomies, in which hypnosis was used as the sole agent for pain control. Could come in handy during childbirth.
Studies also show that with regard to quitting smoking it works well, although sometimes better for men than women. There is no theoretical reason however why hypnosis should work better for men.
Many experts say women find it harder to quit smoking because we are more concerned about gaining weight when we stop but persistence may be the key to quitting, since it often takes several attempts to succeed.