The Benefits of Hypnotherapy include:
* It can improve the success of other treatments for many conditions, including:
* Phobias, fears, and anxiety
* Sleep disorders
* Post-trauma anxiety
* Grief and loss
The term "hypnosis" is derived from the Greek word hypnos , meaning "sleep." Hypnotherapists typically use exercises that bring about deep relaxation and an altered state of consciousness, also known as a trance. Many people routinely experience a trance-like state while they are watching television or sitting at a red light. A person in a trance or deeply focused state is unusually responsive to an idea or image, but this does not mean that a hypnotist can control his or her mind and free will. On the contrary, hypnosis can actually teach people how to master their own states of awareness. By doing so they can affect their own bodily functions and psychological responses.
Hypnotherapy is a technique that uses the hypnotic state, which enables changes in perception and memory, a major increase in response to suggestion, and the potential for controlling many physiologic functions that are usually involuntary. Hypnotherapy uses guided relaxation, intense concentration, and focused attention to achieve a heightened state of awareness that is sometimes called a trance. The persons attention is so focused while in this state that anything going on around the person is temporarily blocked out or ignored. In this naturally occurring state, a person may focus his or her attention with the help of a trained therapist on specific thoughts or tasks.
History of Hypnotherapy
Throughout history, trance states have been used by shamans and ancient peoples in ritualistic activities. But hypnosis as we know it today was first associated with the work of an Austrian physician named Franz Anton Mesmer. In the 1700s, Mesmer used magnets and other hypnotic techniques (hence the word, mesmerized ) to treat people, and while he achieved a number of dramatic "cures" for blindness, paralysis, headache, and joint pain, the medical community was not convinced. Mesmer was accused of fraud and his techniques called unscientific.
Hypnotherapy regained popularity in the mid-1900's due in to the notoriety and career of Milton H. Erickson (1901-1980), a successful psychiatrist who used hypnosis in his practice. In 1958, both the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association recognized the therapy as a valid medical procedure. And since 1995, the National Institutes of Health has recommended hypnotherapy as a treatment for chronic pain. Other conditions for which hypnotherapy is frequently used include anxiety and addiction; see the section entitled What illnesses or conditions respond well to hypnotherapy?
When something new happens to us, we remember it and learn a particular behavior in response to that circumstance. Memories stored in our brains hold the original physical and emotional reactions that occurred when the given memory was first formed. Each time similar events occur again, the physical and emotional reactions attached to the memory are repeated. These reactions may be inappropriate or unhealthy. In hypnotherapy, the trained therapist guides you to remember the event that led to the first reaction, separate the memory from the learned behavior, and reconstruct the event with new, healthier associations.
How does hypnosis work?
During hypnosis, a person's body relaxes while his or her thoughts become more focused and attentive. Like other relaxation techniques, hypnosis decreases blood pressure and heart rate, and alters certain types of brain wave activity. In this relaxed state, a person will feel very at ease physically yet fully awake mentally. In this state of deep concentration people are highly responsive to suggestion. If you are trying to quit smoking, for example, a therapist's suggestion may successfully convince you that in the future you will have a strong dislike for the taste of cigarettes.
There are several stages of hypnosis. The process begins with reframing the problem; becoming relaxed, then absorbed (deeply engaged in the words or images presented by a hypnotherapist); dissociating (letting go of critical thoughts); responding (complying whole-heartedly to a hypnotherapist's suggestions); returning to usual awareness; and reflecting on the experience.
During your first visit to a hypnotherapist, he or she will ask you questions about your medical history and what brought you to see them - in other words, what condition it is that you would like to clear up. The specialist will then, likely, explain to you what hypnosis is and how it works. You will then be directed through relaxation techniques with a series of mental images and suggestions intended to change behaviors and alleviate symptoms. For example, people who suffer from panic attacks may be given the suggestion that, in the future, they will be able to relax at will. The hypnotherapist will also teach you the basics of self-hypnosis and give you an audiotape for home use. This enables you to recreate the feelings you experienced during the session and reinforce the learning on your own.