Hypnotherapy: How can it help me?

To understand how hypnotherapy can help you, you need to understand how it works and what it involves. Hypnotherapy is a natural process much like the state between being awake and asleep, called the hypnoidal point. It allows you to be more open to positive suggestions and to make changes. In this state you are completely aware of things around you but are reinforcing positive thoughts in the subconscious mind, which is what drives us most of the time.

The way you feel during a hypnotherapy session can differ for each person but, generally, it makes you feel relaxed and refreshed. This makes it an excellent tool for stress as it allows you to stop and take a break for a moment as well as teaching you new skills. The process involved in hypnotherapy usually follows a set procedure. This procedure involves you sitting in a comfortable chair and concentrating on the practitioner’s voice while the practitioner feeds in positive suggestions. You will not do or say anything you would not normally do of your own accord or which you consider morally incorrect. When you finish you should also be able to recall the entire session. The major benefits of this technique are that it is safe and drug-free.

Usually the first hypnotherapy session will involve the therapist gathering some background information about your goals. Sometimes you only need one hypnotherapy session. Other times each session will build on the previous one to form a chain towards your goal. The number of sessions you need will depend on the each individual.

Feedback is very important for a practitioner after a therapy session, as it can provide clues into what is most effective to deal with your blockages. If something is not working for you, it is best to speak about it, as it usually means the therapy needs to be modified to work better to suit you. Each hypnotherapy session will work from a space of mutual agreement between the client and therapist. Anyone can be hypnotised, however some are much more susceptible to it than others.

Hypnotherapy can change almost any aspect of your life. It can alter how you perceive pain, can affect which foods you stop eating and help you throw away your smokes. Some scientists believe that it involves you focusing your attention on a competing image in your subconscious which blocks the one you already have, however there is no single accepted explanation as to how it quite works. Researchers are currently testing theories regarding this 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.

Hypnotherapy can use a variety of techniques such as neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), gestalt direct suggestions and commands, indirect suggestions and commands, counselling, metaphors and some psychotherapy to create its desired effect, which makes it very flexible. In the past 30 years, researchers have subjected hypnotherapy 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. This requires a combined approach, using good nutrition, exercise and 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: success does not happen with just one hypnotherapy session (there are no magic wands) and often multiple treatments are required for effectiveness.

Even way back in 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 patients’ pain or to stabilise blood pressure. It was also recorded that patients in the hypnotherapy 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. This use of hypno-birthing indicates that it’s another handy modality to consider if you are having a baby.

Other studies show that hypnosis works well with regard to quitting smoking, although sometimes better for men than women. However, there is no theoretical reason why hypnotherapy should work better for men. Many experts say women find it harder to quit smoking because they are more concerned about gaining weight when they stop but persistence may be the key to quitting, since it often takes several attempts to succeed.

So if there are negative habits that you want to change, hypnotherapy is a great modality that is safe, natural and somewhat permanent, making it a useful tool for you to use to give up the bad habits and to stay clear of them.

Jenetta Haim

Jenetta Haim

Jenetta Haim runs Stressfree Management at 36 Gipps Road, Greystanes, and specialises in assisting your health and lifestyle in all areas by developing programs on either a corporate or personal level to suit your needs. Jenetta has just published a book called Stress-Free Health Management, A Natural Solution for Your Health available from your favourite bookstore or online. For more information and to get in touch, visit her website at Stressfree Management.

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