What is Clinical Hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is therapy that is undertaken with a subject in hypnosis. Hypnotherapy is often applied in order to modify a subject's behaviour, emotional content, and attitudes, as well as a wide range of conditions including dysfunctional habits, anxiety, stress-related illness, pain management, and personal development." (wikipedia)
In short, Clinical Hypnotherapy involves the use of hypnosis for the purpose of therapy which, by the way, is somewhat different to using hypnosis for entertainment!
Hypnosis or "trance" as it is sometimes called, is a totally natural state of mind that we all experience frequently without being aware of it. Most of us have had times when we seem to have "tuned out" to our surroundings or lost track of time, such as when we are totally engrossed in a really gripping book or movie or when we almost miss our exit on the freeway because our mind was "elsewhere". These instances are in fact experiences of the "hypnotic" state.
As your your focus shifts from the outside world and you gain a heightened sense of internal awareness, it usually feels quite effortless to concentrate on almost anything you wish to. During hypnotherapy, you and your therapist will be using this heightened sense of awareness to help you to explore aspects of any issue that has been troubling you.
Hypnotherapy is not a "cure-all" but it can be a very effective method of therapy for a great many issues where psychological factors are involved and most people find that hypnosis is a very comfortable and relaxed state during which they can experience an astonishing sense of clarity and well being.
There are in excess of 11,000 published scientific articles about various aspects of the use of hypnosis and almost 3000 of these articles are available for free download at the National Institutes of Health Pub Med Website
How Does Hypnosis Work?
There is a huge amount of experiential evidence that hypnosis works but nobody can explain scientifically exactly how it does. The predominant school of thought is that hypnosis is a way to access your subconscious mind directly, a theory which is supported by data from electroencephalographs (EEGs), measurements of the electrical activity of the brain.
Extensive EEG research has demonstrated that the brain produces different brain waves and rhythms of electrical voltage, depending on its mental state. Brain wave frequencies during deep sleep are different to the freqeuncies that can be measured during dreaming and your brain wave activity when you are fully alert is quite different to your brain wave frequencies during relaxation. EEGs from subjects under hypnosis show a boost in the lower frequency waves associated with dreaming and sleep, and a drop in the higher frequency waves associated with full wakefulness. Brain-wave information is not a definitive indicator of how the mind is operating, but this pattern does fit the hypothesis that the conscious mind backs off during hypnosis and the subconscious mind takes a more active role.
Researchers have also studied patterns in the brain's cerebral cortex that occur during hypnosis. In these studies, hypnotic subjects showed reduced activity in the left hemisphere of the cerebral cortex, while activity in the right hemisphere often increased. Neurologists believe that the left hemisphere of the cortex is the logical control centre of the brain; it operates on deduction, reasoning and convention. The right hemisphere, in contrast, controls imagination and creativity. A decrease in left-hemisphere activity fits with the hypothesis that hypnosis subdues the mind's conscious critical faculty. Conversely, an increase in right-brain activity supports the idea that the creative, impulsive subconscious mind is more accessible.
Furthermore the similarities between the hypnotic or "trance" state and REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep state have been well documented and thanks to extensive and compelling research completed by psychologists Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrell, into how the brain maintains or updates its "programming" during REM sleep, we now have a much better understanding of why hypnosis (which is, in effect, an artificially induced REM state) can be such a powerful learning state of mind.
In this REM state, you are able to influence subconscious factors related to thinking and behaviour patterns that you would like to change and working together with you at this deeper emotional level, your therapist will use a variety of hypnotherapy techniques aimed at helping you to achieve the outcome you want.
Will it work for me?
The only honest answer that a responsible hypnotherapist can give you to this question is "I don't know". Having said that, the vast majority of people are able to achieve at least a light state of hypnosis which can be enough to be able to achieve a positive outcome. Remember also that your ability to enter the hypnotic state will also depend on the level of trust and rapport you have with your therapist so do ask as many questions as you need to feel as comfortable as you can with the person and the process. If you haven't been to a hypnotherapist before, it is totally normal and OK to feel a little apprehensive at first but rest assured that this feeling will pass very quickly as the therapist helps you to feel more and more at ease.
I find it difficult to relax - is that going to be a problem?
Your comfort and well being are of paramount importance and having helped you to feel at ease by answering any and all questions you might have, your ability to achieve an optimal level of physical relaxation is greatly enhanced when you sit back in our zero-gravity recliner.
Based on technology developed by NASA, whose scientific research had shown that the zero-gravity position minimises the huge gravitational stresses astronauts experience during take-off, the health benefits of this position are now recommended by many healthcare professionals.
The posture the body takes in the zero-gravity position neutralises the effects of gravity and allows for proper heart, back and leg alignment which:
- reduces pressure on the lower back and spinal column
- promotes better blood circulation
- widens the angle between the torso and the thighs expanding lung capacity
The effects of this reduction of muscular tension in the back, easier breathing and higher oxygen levels in the blood are instantly noticeable: zero-gravity reduces stress on the body and creates a state of deep relaxation even if you usually find it difficult to relax!
What is hypnosis like? Will I be asleep? Who controls my mind?
When you are hypnotised you are not asleep: you will feel very relaxed but at the same time you are in fact mentally quite alert. True, you are in a "hypnotised" state but it's very similar to the daydream state we all slip into quite easily and quite often.
As for the issue of "control", the idea that a hypnotist has "power" over a hypnotised person is associated with Hollywood movies, pulp fiction and stage hypnosis performances and has no place in an ethical and professional therapy process.
A competent hypnotherapist will be able to answer any questions you may have so that you can feel quite comfortable with the idea of hypnosis and gain the maximum benefits of using this effective form of therapy with confidence and ease.
Five Good Reasons to Consult a Hypnotherapist
These days, people are taking more responsibility for their own well-being. They look around and see a huge choice of practitioners. Why should they turn to a hypnotherapist?
1. BROAD SCOPE. Hypnotherapy can help with anything in which the mind has an influence so its range is far wider than is sometimes thought. Today's hypnotherapists work from an understanding of the mind and of the mind-body connection that is based on modern neuroscience. This enables them to work successfully with problems such as pain control, IBS and the stress/anxiety response as well as continuing to work in the more traditional areas of fears and phobias and habit control such as smoking and nail-biting. With the increase in obesity statistics in recent times, more and more people are using hypnotherapy to identify and resolve underlying psychological barriers to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
2. SCIENTIFIC BACKING. Hypnotherapy is supported by more scientific research than any other complementary therapy. (The Which? Guide to Complementary Therapies, 2002).
3. FAST RESULTS . Using a very light state of trance, similar to day-dreaming, or absorption in a book or TV programme, means that change can take place more quickly than with other therapies. This means treatment is often surprisingly brief, comprising only a few sessions.
4. TAILOR-MADE. Each client's perceptions and experiences are different so a well trained hypnotherapist will give you designer service, as opposed to off-the-peg. They will listen carefully to what is currently going on for you and what you'd like to change and tailor the techniques they use according to your unique personality and context. This personalised approach cannot be emulated via mass-market tapes or CDs.
5. HIGH STANDARDS. Hypnotherapists who are registered with a relevant professional association have received a high standard of training and work to a comprehensive Code of Ethics and Practice. They are also required to undertake ongoing professional development each year to ensure that they are continually refreshing and broadening their knowledge and skills.