Research has suggested that Hypnosis can provide a wide assortment of benefits for many psychological, physical, and behavioral issues and conditions.
What is Hypnotherapy & how effective can it be?
Hypnotherapy, which can also be referred to as guided Hypnosis, is a psychotherapy model that employs relaxation, intense attention, and extreme concentration to achieve an increased state of consciousness or mindfulness.
Meaning it places the Individual into a “hypnotic” or altered state of consciousness.
This form of therapy is considered with the purpose of using one’s mind to reduce or relieve a variety of issues, such as psychological distress, phobias, and unhealthy, destructive, or bad habits (i.e., smoking and drinking).
Hypnotherapy’s goal is to positively affect change in an individual, while he/she is in a state of unawareness or slumber (sleep).
What Does the Word “Hypnosis” Come From?
The word “hypnosis” is gotten from the Greek word “hypnos,” which means “sleep.”
Types of Hypnotherapy
This type of Hypnotherapy is practiced mostly by Victorian hypnotists, including James Braid and Hippolyte Bernheim, mainly employ direct suggestions of symptom removal, with some use of therapeutic relaxation and aversion to alcohol, drugs, etc.
In the 1950s, Milton H. Erickson invented an entirely different approach to hypnotism, which became known as “Ericksonian hypnotherapy” or “Neo-Ericksonian hypnotherapy.”
This technique employed the informal conversational approach with many patients and used complex language patterns and therapeutic strategies.
This difference from tradition led other hypnotherapists, including Andre Weitzenhoffer, to disagree whether Erickson was right to call his approach “hypnosis” at all.
The inventor of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), a method kind of similar in some regards to some versions of Hypnotherapy, assert that they had embodied the work of Erickson extensively and infused it into their approach.
Weitzenhoffer disputed whether NLP has any real resemblance to Erickson’s work.
In the 2000s, hypnotherapists began to integrate parts of solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT) with Ericksonian Hypnotherapy to create a goal-focused treatment (tailored to what the client intends to achieve) instead of the more traditional problem-focused approach (expending time discussing the reasons the client is seeking help).
A solution-focused hypnotherapy session may encompass techniques from neuro-linguistic programming.
Cognitive-behavioral Hypnotherapy (CBH) is a form of integrated psychological therapy that employs clinical Hypnosis and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). The use of Hypnotherapy in cognitive-behavioral therapy can lead to better treatment.
A meta-analysis of a total of eight different study styles found that patients undergoing combined care with CBT have had more than 70% change.
In 1974 Theodore X. Barber and his colleagues published a paper about the research which argued that the earlier social psychology of Theodore R. Sarbin, that hypnotism was better understood not as a “special state” but as a consequent of standard psychological variables, such as active imagination, expectation, appropriate attitudes, and motivation. Barber invented the term “cognitive-behavioral” to explain the nonstate theory of hypnotism and explain its application to behavior therapy.
The growing use of cognitive and behavioral psychological methods and concepts to explain Hypnosis led to closer integration of Hypnotherapy with different cognitive and behavioral therapies.
Older methods of Hypnotherapy initially influenced a wide range of cognitive and behavioral treatments, for example, Josep Wolpe ‘s systemic desensitization, the cardinal form of early behavioral therapy, derived from Lewis Wolberg ‘s Experimental Hypnotization (1948).
The author of what is now known as ‘curative hypnotherapy’ was David Lesser (1928–2001). He became the first person to see the cause of symptoms using a combination of Hypnosis, IMR, and a new questioning technique that he began to investigate.
He realized the need and established the method rather than attempting to circumvent the knowledge subconsciously, as Janet had done to correct incorrect information.
Lesser understanding of the subconscious’ logic and simplicity led to the creation of the methodical treatment used today. His therapy is underpinned by his work and knowledge of why “Lesserian” is coined and marked.
The structure of the therapy continues to shift as the perception of the role of the subconscious progress.
In Clear Questioning (1992) three of the most significant improvements were to gather subconscious, precise, cause/effect Mapping Method (SRBC) (1996) information to streamline the therapeutic phase of curative Hypnotherapy and the LBR Criteria (2003) and induce events and helping to target accurately the erroneous information or event which needs redefinition.
Hypnotherapy expert Dr. Peter Marshall, former Principal of the London School of Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy Ltd. and author of A Handbook of Hypnotherapy, formulated the Trance Theory of Mental Illness, which provides that people suffering from depression, or other kinds of neuroses, are already living in a trance.
So the hypnotherapist does not have to induce them, but rather to make them understand this and help lead them out of the trance.
Can Hypnosis be used for Psychotherapy?
Yes, mostly. Specifically, Hypnosis is a type of Hypnotherapy, which is a form of psychotherapy. Consequently, Hypnosis is sometimes employed during counseling to relax a patient or client.
In this situation, a trained psychologist eases the Individual into a hypnotic state or “trance,” so he/she can safely and openly explore painful, traumatic memories that tend to be “hidden” in the subconscious mind.
This alteration in consciousness can help some patients explore events, real-life experiences, and feelings, with a different perspective – i.e., relationship problems, nervousness or stage fright, work issues, and even help deal with severe pains.
When hypnotized, an individual becomes more “open” to the hypnotherapist’s or psychologist’s suggestions and guidance. As a result, he/she can make positive changes in his/her life.
What is Hypnotherapy Used For?
Hypnotherapy is used for treating a wide range of conditions, issues, and unwanted/unhealthy behaviors, such as:
Hypnotherapy can be used to help smokers cease smoking habits, although research has shown a greater working on six-month quit rates than other interventions.
Nevertheless, another study concluded there was no evidence available from randomized controlled trials to assess the efficacy of Hypnosis during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postnatal period in the prevention of postpartum depression.
Hypnotherapy is often administered in the birthing process and the postnatal period, sometimes to treat postpartum depression.
Still, there is insufficient evidence to determine if it alleviates pain during childbirth and no proof that it is effective against postnatal depression. There has been no thorough research on this subject until 2012.
However, in 2013, the study found that: The use of Hypnosis in childbirth can reduce the amount of pharmacological analgesia and oxytocin administered, reducing the duration of the first stage of labor.
In 2013, research was carried out in Denmark, during which it was inferred that “The self-hypnosis course improves the experience of childbirth in women and also reduces the level of fear.”
In 2015, a related study that was carried out in the UK by a group of researchers: “The positive experience of self-hypnosis gives a sense of calm, confidence and empowerment in childbirth.” This hypnobirthing technique used by stars such as Kate Middleton.
Literature indicates that a wide assortment of hypnotic interventions has been investigated for the treatment of bulimia nervosa, with inconclusive effects in other medical fields.
Hypnotism was employed therapeutically, by some alienists in the Victorian era, to cure the disorder called hysteria. Modern Hypnotherapy is known for the treatment of specific habit disorders, to regulate irrational fears, and to treat disorders like insomnia and addiction.
Hypnosis has also been used to boost recovery from non-psychological conditions such as post-surgical procedures, in breast cancer care, and even with gastrointestinal conditions, including IBS.
What Methods Are typically Used in Hypnotherapy?
The two main types of Hypnotherapy are suggestion therapy and analysis.
Suggestion therapy, as the name implies, leans on an individual’s ability to react to suggestions and recommendations from the hypnotherapist or psychologist. At the same time, the patient is in a “trance-like” or altered state.
This method is typically used to control or cease unwanted or unhealthy behaviors like excessive eating, gambling, smoking, and nail-biting.
Research has indicated that it can also be helpful for those suffering from chronic pain. Moreover, research indicates that suggestion therapy can promote positive and beneficial behaviors like self-motivation and self-confidence.
Additionally, this method can help clients or patients discover the psychological cause of a problem or symptom, for instance, the root of one’s depression, social anxiety, and past trauma.
It is crucial to understand that feelings or memories linked with trauma tend to “hide” in one’s unconscious memory so that the one doesn’t remember (on a conscious level) the trauma he/she experienced.
On the other hand, analysis has proven extremely useful for “digging deep” into the subconscious mind to retrieve repressed memories of past trauma(s) – all of which could be causing psychological distress, mental health conditions, and harmful behaviors.
This method is also known as “regression therapy,” explores one’s mind. The main objective of the analysis is to determine the root cause, issue, disorder, and symptom of an individual’s issues.
During analysis, a psychologist first hypnotizes the patient by putting him/her into a trance-like state. Then, it helps this patient explore past event(s) or memories in his/her life. The goal is to investigate and explore the Individual’s unconscious memories of the traumatic event(s), so the patient can move past them.
Disclaimer: This type of hypnotherapy is not meant to cure or directly alter the patient’s behavior. Rather, the goal is to understand the main cause of the Individual’s distress and manage it through psychotherapy.
A 2003 meta-analysis on the effectiveness of Hypnotherapy concluded that the efficacy of Hypnosis is not guaranteed for a considerable part of the spectrum of psychotherapeutic practice.
In 2005, an analysis by the Cochrane Collaboration discovered no proof that Hypnotherapy is better than other treatments or no treatment in stopping bad habits like cessation of smoking for at least six months.
Two Cochrane reviews in 2012 found insufficient evidence to support its efficacy in managing the pain of childbirth or postnatal depression.
A literature review in 2016 was published in La Presse Medicale found that there is insufficient evidence to support the effectiveness of Hypnosis in chronic anxiety disorders.
In 2019, Cochrane researchers were unable to find evidence of Hypnosis in smoking cessation and indicate if it is small at best.
Should I Hire a Hypnotherapist?
It depends on what the issue at hand is and how you want it to be addressed. The truth is, studies are just now starting to acclaim the benefits of Hypnotherapy for psychological issues.
It only recently evolved into a mainstream treatment alternative for people who want to stop “bad habits,” confront past traumas, relive things their minds deliberately relieve, ease chronic emotional and physical pain and ease stress in their lives.
Therefore, research indicates that this alternative psychotherapy treatment may be extremely beneficial for a wide range of psychological, physical, and behavioral issues.
However, it is essential to know that although Hypnotherapy is considered a complementary or alternative treatment, it is still a highly-regulated, form of psychotherapy that can also be used to help people cope with distressing and painful experiences.
It is also used to help relieve emotional, mental, physical, behavioral (i.e., weight loss, addiction, smoking, or nail-biting), and psychological symptoms (i.e., stress, depression, ADHD, PTSD, phobias, and anxiety ), so individuals (young and old) can live happily and be productive.
Furthermore, it has also proven effective in treating addiction – in some individuals. Ultimately, however, Hypnotherapy’s true goal is to help people develop a deeper connection with and to understand themselves.
What makes a competent Hypnotherapist?
The methods used, along with the price, can be different from hypnotherapist-to-hypnotherapist and psychologist-to-psychologist, which is large because this form of psychotherapy is a trust-based exercise that requires a lot of time, training, skill, and effort.
Also, it needs a great amount of immersion on the part of the client. Therefore, it is imperative to check out several hypnotherapists and psychologists to find the right one that complements one’s personality and temperament and, with the right ambiance and peace.
It is recommendable for one to find a hypnotherapist one trust and is comfortable with; Trust is an important component of Hypnotherapy, as it is imperative to trust who one will be hypnotized under.
Ask for references, and not forget to ask about the hypnotherapist’s or psychologist’s education and experience to find out how long he/she has been doing Hypnosis and the number of cases that have been successful.
This is especially true if one decides to go with a psychologist for the Hypnotherapy. One should be sure to find a psychologist who has a substantial amount of training and experience in Hypnosis – and that is certified and licensed in this area.
Then, go with your gut. If your intuition says it’s a good fit – give it a chance. If not – keep searching.