Clinical Hypnotherapy: Is Hypnosis Right for You?
- Clinical hypnotherapy guides patients into an altered state of focused relaxation and concentration to enhance suggestibility.
- Hypnotherapists use imagery, metaphor, and post-hypnotic suggestions tailored to the client’s goals.
- Research indicates clinical hypnosis benefits issues like pain, anxiety, habits, and trauma when combined with comprehensive care.
- Finding a properly credentialed hypnotherapist ensures safe, ethical, and effective hypnosis treatment.
What is Clinical Hypnotherapy?
Clinical hypnotherapy refers to hypnosis that is delivered by licensed medical or mental health professionals who have undergone additional training in hypnotic methods. It involves guiding patients into a focused, relaxed mental state similar to deep concentration and then using suggestions and imagery to impact conditions ranging from pain to anxiety.
Only appropriately trained health care providers like psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, nurses, and dentists should provide clinical hypnosis. It differs from entertainment hypnosis or self-hypnosis in both purpose and practitioner qualifications.
How Does Clinical Hypnotherapy Work?
Hypnotherapy helps treat issues by accessing the subconscious mind through inducing an altered, mental state known as a trance. Trance is characterized by:
- Intense focus and concentration
- Heightened response to suggestions
- Deep relaxation yet awareness
- Reduced peripheral awareness
In this trance-like state, the conscious mind becomes quieter and more open to therapeutic instructions. The clinical hypnotherapist provides guided imagery, metaphors, and post-hypnotic suggestions to help engrain beneficial new patterns and perspectives tailored to the patient’s goals.
Benefits of Clinical Hypnotherapy
Research indicates clinical hypnosis can provide benefits for:
- Anxiety – Reducing feelings of worry, panic, and phobias
- Depression – Lifting mood and motivation
- Pain management – Lowering painful sensations
- Sleep issues – Improving sleep onset and quality
- Trauma/PTSD – Alleviating emotional distress
- Childbirth – Easing labor and delivery
- Dental care – Lessening procedure discomfort
Additionally, it can help with goals like changing habits, building motivation, or accessing repressed memories.
Common Applications of Clinical Hypnotherapy
Clinical hypnotherapy techniques are adapted to each person’s needs and integrated with other interventions. It is commonly used along with therapy and counseling for issues like:
- Habit control – Smoking, overeating
- Mental health treatment – Anxiety disorders, depression, PTSD, OCD, phobias
- Medical procedures – Surgery, dental, chemotherapy
- Neurological disorders – Headache, dementia, Parkinson’s
- Childbirth preparation
- Chronic illnesses – Irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, tinnitus
- Pediatric care – Enuresis, anxiety, pain control
Importance of Clinical Hypnotherapy in Mental Health
Major health organizations recognize the value of clinical hypnosis for psychological care, including:
- The American Psychological Association – has officially promoted the use of hypnosis in psychological care since 1958. The APA helped develop hypnosis training standards for clinicians and endorsed hypnosis as a valid therapeutic modality. The APA recognizes hypnosis as an effective adjunct treatment for conditions like anxiety, phobias, habit disorders, and pain management.
- The American Psychiatric Association – has approved the incorporation of hypnosis techniques into psychiatrist training programs since 2000. The APA encourages psychiatrists to integrate clinical hypnosis into practice as appropriate, particularly for managing anxiety, depression, and PTSD. The APA acknowledges hypnosis as an evidence-based tool in which psychiatrists should be knowledgeable.
- The National Institutes of Health – endorses the use of clinical hypnosis for helping patients manage chronic health conditions. Based on scientific support, the NIH confirms hypnosis can effectively complement medical treatments for issues ranging from pain and trauma to surgical recovery. The NIH advocates hypnosis as part of an integrative treatment plan when provided by suitably trained health professionals.
What to Expect During a Clinical Hypnotherapy Session
The initial consultation gathers background on your issues, treatment goals, and hypnotic responsiveness. The hypnotherapist explains how hypnosis works and debunks myths.
In the session, you sit in a comfortable position and focus on the therapist’s relaxing voice. After achieving a trance state through concentration techniques, the therapist makes therapeutic suggestions matched to your needs and goals.
You remain aware and in control, but more open to new perspectives. After trance, you usually discuss insights gained. Several sessions spaced over weeks helps ingrain changes.
Clinical hypnotherapy uses a variety of techniques individualized to each client:
- Visualization – Imagining positive outcomes
- Metaphor – Absorbing lessons through storytelling
- Age regression – Recalling insights from the past
- Negative hallucination – Blocking perception of pain or cravings
- Amnesia – Forgetting trauma associated details
- Anesthesia – Numbing sensation in the body
- Disassociation – Detaching from pain or anxiety
The hypnotherapist selects approaches suited to each person and their desired changes.
Post-Hypnotic Suggestions and Integration
Before coming out of trance, the therapist provides suggestions like, “You will feel a renewed sense of confidence” that take effect after hypnosis.
You also learn self-hypnosis techniques to practice reinforcing the benefits daily. Keeping logs, completing exercises between sessions, and reviewing recordings helps integrate hypnotherapy.
Understanding the Role of the Clinical Hypnotherapist
The therapist’s role is to:
- Establish rapport and trust
- Explain the process and dispel misconceptions
- Individually tailor suggestions to goals
- Guide patients in and out of trance safely
- Integrate hypnosis with other needed interventions
- Provide tools for self-hypnosis practice
Finding a suitably trained and credentialed clinical hypnotherapist ensures the best experience and outcomes.
Research and Evidence Supporting Clinical Hypnotherapy
While more study is still needed, research provides growing support:
- Meta-analyses find hypnosis is highly effective for pain, anxiety, and depression
- Brain imaging confirms hypnosis alters brain activity
- Clinical trials demonstrate benefits for specific conditions
Leading organizations point to the substantial evidence for incorporating clinical hypnosis into appropriate treatment plans.
Important Considerations Before Trying Clinical Hypnotherapy
- Ensure the provider is properly trained with a graduate degree in mental health
- Should complement, not replace, medical care as needed
- Best for goal-oriented issues, not complex psychiatric disorders alone
- Requires motivation and openness to achieve benefits
- Not for entertainment or peak performance enhancement
Using clinical hypnotherapy responsibly provides significant advantages for many people seeking to improve their health, habits, or outlook.
Clinical hypnotherapy safely enhances traditional therapy when practiced by appropriately trained, credentialed health professionals. This powerful mind-body technique can complement counseling, psychotherapy, and medical care for a wide range of conditions – from pain reduction to overcoming trauma.
With a customized approach and realistic expectations, clinical hypnosis facilitates positive changes in emotions, thinking, and behavior for many individuals seeking improved health and wellbeing.