Clinical hypnotherapy has rapidly been growing in popularity. Even before the pandemic, online hypnosis sites were recording up to 20 million visits a year, particularly from those seeking advice on insomnia and anxiety disorders.
The air of mystery created by certain movies and urban myths is being replaced by a growing body of research and evidence. Clinical hypnotherapy often delivers results in a relatively short period of time, making it an attractive choice.
It is effective for a wide range of everyday symptoms including migraine headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety disorders, depression, and procedural pain.
In 2020, the American Journal of Medicine reported that clinical hypnotherapy was one of the safest and most effective evidence-based treatments for alleviating suffering, and described the action mechanism underlying it as being easier to understand than taking paracetamol.
Can everyone be hypnotised?
According to research, 90% of the general population can easily experience a light hypnotic state. In fact, if you have experienced driving on autopilot or have been totally absorbed in a television series, then you are familiar with the naturally occurring state called “waking hypnosis”.
Going into hypnosis feels amazing. Your mind and muscles relax simultaneously, and most people experience a sense of deep relief or mental and physical wellbeing afterwards.
Relaxation is a fundamental part of clinical hypnotherapy. When you work with a therapist, you can release emotional or psychological blockages that have been holding you back, and refocus your mind on outcomes that are important to you.
Is it safe?
Clinical hypnotherapy is a collaboration between therapist and client, similar to counselling but with one essential difference: your therapist will always include hypnosis and very often teach you to do it yourself so you can continue the benefits on your own.
Teamwork is essential to all successful therapeutic outcomes. The first step involves taking a detailed case history, which allows the client to talk about their concerns, their problems and the objectives they wish to achieve. Just being able to describe your feelings in words helps you to organise your feelings and see things in perspective.
Once the goal is established, your therapist will ask you to close your eyes and the clinical hypnotherapy begins. Brain images show that the region known as the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex starts to slow during hypnosis. This indicates that the person is deeply immersed in the therapeutic process.
Irrespective of the depth of hypnosis, the client remains in control and can simply open their eyes at any time and end the session.
During clinical hypnotherapy, the client experiences a sense of safe distance between themselves and the presenting problem. This creates a therapeutic space to review and reprocess events or memories without any accompanying distressful emotions such as shame or guilt.
It also gently removes any limiting beliefs that can sometimes hold people back and affect the therapeutic outcome.
The power of clinical hypnotherapy comes from the words your therapist uses. These are designed to create impactful mental images.
With the right suggestions, people can break smoking habits in just one session, change lifetime behaviours, come to terms with death or relationship breakups, and even learn to manage their chronic pain with reduced dependence on painkillers.
Studies from Europe and the United States confirm clinical hypnosis is a neurobiological phenomenon. They provide a better understanding of how the brain works, finally taking clinical hypnosis out of the realm of mystery and establishing better insight into the link between the brain and body.
The result is growing acceptance of this safe, transformative, and often liberating therapy.