To understand what hypnotherapy is, it is important to understand what hypnotherapy is not. It is NOT what has been shown in the movies or stage tricks where a hypnotherapist can make people do things that they are not aware of or against their wishes. There are no swinging pendulums, no looking into the eyes, no doing silly things on command. If anybody had such powers, they would keep it to themselves and would never teach anybody else.
The reality is that Hypnotherapy is taught at reputable schools, approved by state certification bodies and offered as a treatment modality at leading-edge medical facilities like Stanford Hospital, the Cleveland Clinic, Mount Sinai Medical Center and Beth Israel Medical Center in New York.
There is active research being done in this area. In fact a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute by a Stanford School of Medicine professor showed that “a brief hypnotic preparation was sufficient to produce a statistically significant reduction in the use of propofol and lidocaine (anesthesia medicines); yet despite this, patients in the intervention group reported less pain, nausea, fatigue, discomfort, and emotional upset than did patients in the control group”.
Another study by radiologists at Harvard Medical School, published in 2000, found that “patients who received hypnosis during surgery required less medication, had fewer complications and shorter procedures than patients who did not have hypnosis”.
So what is hypnotherapy?
It is a process where the therapist helps the patient achieve a state of deep relaxation (called a trance) which is a state just like before falling asleep. During this state the patient and the therapist explore the subconscious part of the brain, to find out the root cause that is making a patient engage in destructive behavioral patterns; behaviors they want to change but are not able to. Then the therapist and the patient can substitute that particular pattern of behavior with a positive alternative in the subconscious mind with hypnotic suggestion. When these suggestions get absorbed in the subconscious, the patient can achieve the positive changes in his or her behavior. At no point during the session does the patient lose control or consciousness and all patients remember everything about the sessions they have undergone.
Simply stated, hypnotherapy is the process of finding bad programming in the subconscious mind and replacing it with good programming. That is why hypnosis is also sometimes referred to as “Neuro-Linguistic Programming”.
What is hypnotherapy useful for?
Hypnosis has been shown to be of benefit in a host of conditions including anxiety, depression, pain management, insomnia, GI disorders, hormonal disorders, and immune disorders. It is also often used to help patients to lose weight, stop smoking and change obsessive-compulsive behaviors.