DEFINITION OF HYPNOSIS adapted from the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis web site.
Hypnosis is a state of focused concentration that allows us to experience thoughts and images as if they were real. A hypnotic trance is a state between sleeping and waking that is similar to daydreaming. Hypnosis harnesses the power of the subconscious mind to change habits and behaviors, decrease inner stress, or stimulate motivation, etc.
Almost everyone has experienced the trance state, but often they were not aware of it because they weren’t educated about it. Most people have found themselves so absorbed in thought while driving a car, reading a book or watching a movie that they fail to notice what is happening around them. Athletes claim they are “in the zone” while in this state. Their “unconscious mind” took over.
Clinical hypnotherapists basically do three things with hypnosis. First, they encourage the use of imagination. Mental imagery is very powerful, especially in a focused state of attention. The mind seems capable of using imagery, even if it is only symbolic, to assist us in bringing about the things we are imagining. For example, a client with burning pain may be asked to imagine what his burning pain looks like. If he imagines it as being like it is on fire, with red flames, the client may be encouraged in hypnosis (and with self-hypnosis) to imagine this image changing to a cooler healthy one.
A second basic hypnotic method is to use ideas and suggestions with a client. In a state of concentrated attention, ideas and suggestions that are compatible with what the client wants seem to have a more powerful impact on the mind.
Finally, hypnosis may be used for unconscious exploration, to better understand underlying motivations or identify whether past events or experiences are associated with causing a problem. Hypnosis avoids the critical censor of the conscious mind, which often defeats what we know to be in our best interests.
Hypnosis may be integrated with psychotherapy, especially when clients have chronic pain or are having trouble with specific issues, such as: anxiety; anger; depression; trauma, etc. It can also be used to increase self-esteem, immunity, the ability to concentrate, self-mastery or improve physical problems.
Selecting a Qualified Hypnotherapist
A client has a choice when looking for a hypnosis provider. As in selecting any health care professional, care should be exercised when selecting a hypnotherapist. Hypnosis and the use of hypnotic therapies are not regulated in many states, including Texas, and hypnotherapists are, often, not state licensed in hypnosis.
I am certified in clinical hypnosis and hypnotherapy through the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis. My training includes the following: over 9 years of university training, an internship, a Master’s level mental health degree, over 600 hours of continuing education in clinical hypnosis and I have undergone supervision for clinical hypnosis. Only the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis and the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis require an M.D., D.D.S. or Master’s level mental health degree. See the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis’s web site for further details on requirements for certification. See http://www.asch.net/
Uses of Hypnosis in Psychotherapy and Medicine
Areas of application include:
(adapted from the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis web site plus research).
- Addiction (Alcohol, Opiates)
- Anxiety (Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Attack, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, PTSD)
- Chronic Pain (back pain, cancer pain, temporomandibular joint, dental anesthesia, headaches and migraines, arthritis or rheumatism)
- Concentration, test anxiety and learning disorders
- Eating disorders
- Gastrointestinal Disorders (Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn's Disease)
- Hot Flashes
- Immune System
- Nausea and Vomiting associated with chemotherapy and pregnancy
- Preparation for Childbirth (Approximately two-thirds of women have been found capable of using hypnosis as the only analgesic for childbirth. This eliminates the risks that medications pose to both mother and child, and it is often found that the average duration of labor is reduced by two to four hours.)
- Raynaud's Disease
- Sexual Dysfunctions
- Sleep Disorders
- Smoking Cessation
- Sports and Athletic Performance
- Stress Management
- Surgery/Anesthesiology (Reasons for using hypnosis as the sole anesthetic may include: situations where chemical anesthesia is contraindicated because of allergies or hyper-sensitivities; when organic problems increase the risk of using chemo anesthesia; and in some conditions where it is ideal for the client to be able to respond to questions or directions from the surgeon)
- Tics (Tourette’s)
- Weight Management