Could hypnotherapy be the answer?
Earlier this month many of us were busy celebrating our arrival into the new decade. Others were busy celebrating World Hypnotism Day.
You might question what goes on during a day like this, but maybe the power of hypnosis, when used properly, shouldn’t be entirely dismissed. Each year we claim we want to be the best version of ourselves. As, rather ironically, hypnosis works to do just this – release one’s inner potential – perhaps in our quest to achieve New Year’s resolutions, we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss certain tools. But, of course, when health is concerned, it is understandable (if not wise) to have reservations.
Years of research indicates hypnotherapy helps to assist with the treatment of an array of problems, including stress, anxiety, panic, addictions, insomnia, self-esteem, relationships, fears, emotional trauma, skin disorders, immune function and chronic conditions such as migraines, irritable bowel syndrome and pain, as well as encouraging the mind-body connection. It’s even been used to aid anaesthesia in surgery.
Senior Advanced Clinical Hypnotherapist and Cognitive Behavioural Hypno-Psychotherapist, Louise Levy, says: “Hypnosis is a proven therapeutic aid that can bring about rapid positive change. 95% of our thoughts and feelings are subconscious and we are not aware of them, so there is a whole underworld of emotional content that we can access using hypnosis.”
She adds: “If you have a psychotic condition such as schizophrenia or bipolar or epilepsy, you would not use hypnosis with such patients so we ask health-related questions beforehand to do with pre-existing conditions, heart problems, if they could be pregnant etc.”
As with anything, it’s always important to consider the risks.
General Hypnotherapy Register’s Executive Advisor, William Broom, says: “Hypnosis is a state of mind, enhanced by (although not exclusively) mental and physical relaxation, in which our subconscious is able to communicate with our conscious mind.
“However, given that the concepts of the ‘subconscious mind’ and ‘conscious mind’ remain largely abstract, it may be better to define hypnosis by what it does rather than what it is and in this regard it is widely accepted as a most excellent method by which we may access our inner potential.”
There it is, that ‘inner potential’ we can’t help but hope to find, whether we believe in hypnosis or not. So, what does a typical session look like?
Broom says: “In practice, the hypnotherapist (trained professional) often (but not exclusively) requires the client to be in a relaxed state, frequently enlists the power of the client’s own imagination and may utilise a wide range of techniques from story-telling, metaphor or symbolism that is judged to be meaningful to the individual client to the use of direct suggestions for beneficial change.
“Analytical techniques may also be employed in an attempt to uncover problems deemed to lie in a client’s past, referred to as the ‘there and then’, or therapy may concentrate more on a client’s current life and presenting problems (referred to as the ‘here and now’).
“It is generally considered helpful if the client is personally motivated to change, rather than relying solely on the therapist’s efforts, although a belief in the possibility of beneficial change may be a sufficient starting point.”
The existing stigma surrounding hypnosis has, arguably, been formed by a combination of religious attitudes towards the practice, stage hypnosis and conventional medicine.
Levy says: “Typically it is a misunderstanding as to what hypnosis actually is, fear of the unknown is often a factor.
“Stage hypnosis is done purely for entertainment, the volunteers know what they are letting themselves in for and are up for the entertainment factor, they are also usually plucked for being highly suggestible.” Sorry if that disappoints.
In therapy form, there’s no pressure from a large audience and clients are the ones who seek out the help. Broom says: “The therapist has an obligation to provide service to any client they feel might benefit.
“Further, the hypnotherapist will usually ensure the client is made fully aware that they remain totally in control of whether or not they will act upon or accept suggestions made by the therapist, and that they cannot be made to do anything against their moral or religious beliefs.”
Broom considers the history of hypnosis and adds: “There remain many medical practitioners today who are sceptical about its use and benefits, and such views naturally affect a significant section of the public who might otherwise consider hypnotherapy.”
Even when millions vow to be helped by something, if we can’t squeeze its existence into a test tube, society has a funny habit of ignoring it. The groundbreaking and life-saving validity of the test tube cannot be denied, but in some cases, should experience and effect as evidence be enough?
Sceptic or not, it’s up to you to decide. Hypnosis might be the thing that helps you this year, or it might not. It can also be expensive as unfortunately, hypnotherapy isn’t usually available on the NHS, though it is worth checking with your local GP. And if you want a free taster you could always try self-hypnosis with a little online guided help – Michael Sealey has a popular 1.09 million subscriber youtube channel…