Clinical Hypnosis is a procedure during which a trained health professional, psychotherapist, or professional hypnotherapist gives a patient carefully worded instructions to guide the patient into a focused state of relaxed attention. When there is good rapport between the patient and hypnotist, the patient’s conscious critical mind relaxes and temporarily quiets down. This allows the patient to attend to the hypnotist’s suggestions and to imagine what the hypnotist is suggesting is real. The doorway to the subconscious mind opens with the patient’s permission and the therapist provides information in a form that the patient’s subconscious mind understands and can readily accept. This bypasses the conscious mind’s critical factor.
The reason to use clinical hypnosis is to enlist your subconscious cooperation so you can get the results you want from therapy.
Every day we all naturally and spontaneously slip into alternate states of consciousness similar to the hypnotic state. Examples include when you become absorbed in a good movie or a compelling book, when you are laying down comfortably and are about to fall asleep, right after you wake up from a nap, and so on. When you are listening to or telling a good story, you tend to enter a hypnosis like state. And if you have ever noticed your mind being on something else while you are driving, this divided state of consciousness is a hypnosis like mental state.
Clinical hypnosis is a linguistic tool for utilizing therapeutically the mind’s natural tendency to process information on different levels, as in the above examples. It is a unique form of therapeutic communication that, when used appropriately by hypnosis-trained health professionals, makes many treatments more effective. For example:
Some dentists who are trained to use clinical hypnosis help their patients who have dental anxiety relax using hypnosis. They also use hypnosis to help their patients better tolerate dental pain and to eliminate jaw clenching and teeth grinding, also known as bruxism.
Some physicians who are trained to use clinical hypnosis use hypnosis to prepare their patients for uncomfortable medical procedures as well as surgery, and to help their patients adhere to recommended or prescribed treatment regimens.
In our practice, our therapists who are trained to use hypnosis as a therapeutic tool use hypnosis to make psychotherapy deeper, briefer, and more effective.
A good hypnotherapist not only employs direct suggestions in hypnosis but also uses the hypnosis tool, with the patient’s informed consent, to explore and resolve the unconscious emotional causes of unexplained persistent physical and psychological symptoms. This way of using hypnosis in counseling and psychotherapy is called hypnoanalysis.
Our therapists who use hypnosis employ it to help patients in the following areas:
- stop smoking
- reduce overeating
- lose weight
- relieve chronic pain
- recover from depression
- improve self-esteem
- recover from some addictions
- manage and reduce anxiety
- overcome phobias
- cope with panic disorder
- reduce or eliminate annoying habits such as nail biting
- resolve complicated grief
- recover from PTSD
- compensate for learning problems
- improve study habits
- improve public speaking and overcome “stage fright”
- overcome athletic and sports performance problems and “slumps”
Stop smoking with hypnosis. The three keys to changing a harmful habit such as smoking are:
- Intention to eliminate the habit
- Strategy for doing so
- Implementation of the strategy
One of the most common reasons people consult with a professional hypnotist or hypnotherapist is for help to stop smoking. When you consult with us to help you stop smoking, after your hypnosis session, you will recognize that smoking is a choice and you do not have to smoke anymore. You will be able to refuse to smoke with little to no stress or withdrawal symptoms, because you will really want to be a non-smoker. Often, this can be accomplished in just several visits. However, results will vary in each individual case.
- Hypnosis is not mind control. You cannot be made to act on suggestions unacceptable to you. You cannot be hypnotized against your will. You must be a willing cooperative subject for clinical hypnosis to work for you. You and your hypnosis provider need to work together.
- Hypnosis is not sleep. The hypnotized patient or patient is not asleep. To the contrary, hypnosis is a mental state of focused attention. Under hypnosis, you may become very relaxed, but you will remain aware of what is going on and continue to hear your hypnotist’s voice. You may remember what your hypnotist says after your hypnosis session. If you come to your session feeling very tired, you may fall asleep during hypnosis. But if you fall asleep, that is not hypnosis anymore. If you fall asleep, your hypnosis provider will gently wake you up!
- Who can be hypnotized? Most people can be hypnotized if they want to be. You need to want to cooperate and you need to be able to focus and follow instructions.
- You cannot “get stuck” in hypnosis. Hypnosis is a method that can help you gain greater control over your feelings, thoughts and behaviors. Since you are the one in control, you cannot be hypnotized against your will and you cannot “get stuck” in hypnosis.
- Emerging from hypnosis. Some people sometimes initially emerge from hypnosis feeling temporarily foggy, groggy, or drowsy. Other times, some people feel energized. You may feel as if you have just awoken from a nap, although you were really not asleep. I will help you re-alert completely from the hypnotic state and emerge feeling clear headed, physically normal, refreshed, and in control of your feelings.
- Hypnosis for refreshing memory and recall. Hypnosis can be used as a tool to refresh and explore unconscious memories and feelings. But hypnosis is not a “truth serum”. Memories recalled under hypnosis can be distorted. Independent and objective verification is necessary to establish the factual basis of any memories recalled under hypnosis.
- Hypnosis and legal testimony. In certain states and jurisdictions, hypnotically refreshed testimony is inadmissible in court. This means that (a) if you are a witness to, or a victim of, a crime, and (b) if you may have to testify about that crime in court, then, (c) the use of hypnosis to address any of your memories of that crime could result in your being disqualified from testifying about that material in court.
Potential “risks” or “side effects” of clinical hypnosis. Hypnosis is a low risk, non-drug alternative for creating positive therapeutic outcomes. However, there is the possibility that certain “side effects” could occur.
- There is the potential for you to feel sad or tearful if pent up, buried or suppressed feelings are released and come to the surface during a hypnosis session. You also may feel tearful and not immediately know why. It is your hypnosis provider’s job to help you appropriately, safely, and therapeutically deal with these feelings.
- You may spontaneously recall old memories, but there is no way to know how accurate these memories are without independent objective verification.
- There is the potential that you could temporarily feel more anxious. This could come about for several reasons: (1) if you try too hard to make hypnosis work, (2) if you are afraid of what may come to mind if you enter a hypnotic state, (3) if you are afraid to relax, and (4) if you recall upsetting or traumatic experiences or feelings from the past. It is your hypnotherapist’s job to help you manage these types of experiences should they occur.
Self-hypnosis and relaxation training. Depending on your problem and treatment plan, we may teach you self-hypnosis and relaxation exercises to use on your own. Practicing these self-help methods can help you continue the process of change, improve your coping ability, and have more control over your symptoms.