Always Well Within

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The Magic of Hypnotherapy

Butterfly - symbol of change through hypnosis

Have you ever longed for a faster path to altering undesirable behaviors and emotions like smoking, weight gain, low self-esteem, or anxiety?

Hypnosis has proven to be a highly effective and relatively quick treatment for a wide range of emotional and behavioral challenges.  It can also help you cope more effectively with a spectrum of common medical conditions.

The Mayo Clinic explains hypnosis like this:

“Hypnosis, also referred to as hypnotherapy or hypnotic suggestion, is a trance-like state in which you have heightened focus, concentration and inner absorption. When you’re under hypnosis, you usually feel calm and relaxed, and you can concentrate intensely on a specific thought, memory, feeling or sensation while blocking out distractions.

Under hypnosis, you’re more open than usual to suggestions, and this can be used to modify your perceptions, behavior, sensations and emotions. Therapeutic hypnosis is used to improve your health and well-being and is different from so-called stage hypnosis used by entertainers. Although you’re more open to suggestion during therapeutic hypnosis, your free will remains intact and you don’t lose control over your behavior.”

Hypnosis is generally considered safeIt has been recognized as a valid medical procedure by both the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Psychological Association (APA).  The National Institutes of Health (NIH) also recommends hypnotherapy as a treatment for chronic pain.

Misconceptions About Hypnosis

Many of us still harbor misconceptions and hesitations about hypnosis.  You may associate hypnosis with images of watch-swinging men in dark clothing that you’ve seen in  movies and on T.V.  Or entertaining – but sometimes embarrassing – forms of stage hypnosis where people cluck like a chicken.

Life Coach Tim Bronson dispels 10 common misconceptions about hypnosis in his article What Is Hypnosis?  He reassures us that “Hypnosis is a very common state and you drift in and out of it many times per day.”

Bronson says:

“Hypnotherapy is a really cool tool and can help a lot of people. Like NLP, it’s not a cure all and it can’t do everything, but under certain situations (smoking, weight loss, changing habits, pain control etc) it is the most sensible route for many people. And best of all, it carries zero danger and I would throughly recommend you try it out even if it’s only for the experience.” [Note:  NLP = Neurolinguistic Programming]

I agree with Tim.  I find hypnotherapy enjoyable, effective, and even magical.

However, the University of Maryland Medical Center warns that “Without an accurate diagnosis, hypnotherapy could make your symptoms worse.”  So be sure to take this into consideration, especially if you plan to employ hypnotherapy for mental health problems.

Hypnosis Helps with a Wide Range of Challenges

Like Tim says, hypnosis may not be for everyone.  Some people enter a hypnotic state more easily than others.  And some are more responsive to suggestions during a hypnotic state.  But if you experience any of the following challenges, given its efficacy, hypnotherapy may be worth a try.

According to the Mayo Clinic, hypnosis can be used for:

  • Pain control
  • Smoking cessation
  • Reducing stress related to medical procedures
  • Mental health conditions
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Surgical preparation
  • Childbirth
  • Weight loss
  • Athletic performance
  • Dental procedures
  • Coping with chemotherapy
  • Skin conditions
  • Gastrointestinal problems

Hypnosis is also used in psychotherapy, counseling, and hypnotherapy to work with the following challenges:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Addictions
  • General Unease
  • Chronic Illnesses
  • Sleeping Problems
  • Unhealthy Eating Patterns
  • Coping Behaviors
  • Low Self-Esteem
  • Poor Partner Selection
  • Phobias
  • Bedwetting
  • Tension headaches
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

You don’t need to have a serious mental health diagnosis to benefit.  Many people are just under the thumb of deceptive brain messages or facing situational challenges that bring about mild to moderate symptoms.

The Effectiveness of Hypnosis

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, most people start to see the results of hypnosis in 4-10 sessions.

Alfred A. Barrios reports that hypnosis is astoundingly effective and fast in comparison to psychoanalysis for addressing emotional issues.  It even beats out behavior therapy, which has a pretty good track record too.

Extrapolating data in a study by Wolpe, Salter, and Reyna, (1964), Barrios reported these differing recovery rates in Psychotherapy magazine:

  • Hypnosis:  93% recovery after an average of 6 sessions, approximately 1 and 1/2 months at 1 session per week;
  • Behavior Therapy (Wolpian Therapy):  72% recovery after an average of 22 sessions, approximately 6 months at 1 session per week;
  • Psychoanalysis:  38% recovery after 600 sessions, approximately 11 and 1/2 years at 1 session per week.

This is just one review, but it certainly gives you pause for thought.  Times are changing and clearly newer modalities are proving to be highly effective.

This description from the University of Maryland Medical Center gives a good sense of how our behaviors and thoughts patterns are transformed as we meet unconscious material in the hypnotic state:

“When something happens to us, we remember it and learn a particular behavior in response to what happened. Each time something similar happens, our physical and emotional reactions attached to the memory are repeated. In some cases these reactions are unhealthy. In some forms of hypnotherapy, a trained therapist guides you to remember the event that led to the first reaction, separate the memory from the learned behavior, and replace unhealthy behaviors with new, healthier ones.”

Hypnosis won’t necessarily work for everyone, but it’s certainly worth consideration in your process of change.

Are you curious about hypnosis?  Have you ever given it a try?

Images:  Public Domain Pictures (dot) net

If you found this article helpful, may I ask you to share the link with others?  You can also connect with me on Google+ or the Always Well Within Facebook Page.  With love, Sandra


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  1. Back in the 1970s when I was doing hypnosis & biofeedback research work at college, I wish Depth Hypnosis had been around. We tried helping one woman stop smoking. She did, but developed an audible wheezing tic. After several sessions in deep trance, she revealed that her underlying problem was a fear of imminent death. She smoked because it allowed her to see her own breathing. When post-hypnotic suggestion created a resistance to smoking, she developed the wheeze in order to hear herself breathe.

    The boundaries between hypnotic states, meditative states, and brain wavelength states have all sort of overlapped in my understanding and experience of them. I’m trying to pay attention, in focus while appropriately adrift. All the methods are used to get me there.

    This was pretty comprehensive for a single article! Well done.

    • You’re so amazing, Mike! It seems like you done everything, seen everything, know about everything. I really appreciate the breadth of your knowledge.

      This is such an interesting case you present! It illustrates so clearly that human beings are complex. We would like a quick fix, but often our challenges arise from much deeper held memories, experiences, and beliefs.

      It’s interesting that you find the boundaries between hypnotic states, meditative states, and brain wavelength stages have all overlapped in your understanding and experience of them. In my own experience, I would suggest that the hypnotic state is quite different than than a meditate state of bare awareness. It all depends on our definition of meditation, it would seem.

  2. I have not heard of Depth Hypnosis before. Sounds very interesting, and like something I should check out.

    A counselor in the past tried general hypnosis with me a couple of times. It really did not work at all although I did not tell her. I just pretended that it did. That was back in my unsuccessful therapy days. No wonder they were unsuccessful, huh? It is kind of a requirement that you be honest.

    I would really be curious as to what we could uncover these days. I am down to going to my cognitive behavioral therapist once a month and feel like I need to move on to something else. Thanks for the suggestion!

    • Hi Debbie,

      Some people are more easily hypnotized than others so perhaps you are not a prime candidate for hypnosis. But it might make a big difference if you were in an atmosphere of trust with a therapist you want to work with! Also, it’s important to know that being in a hypnotic state doesn’t mean you are sleepy, unaware, or generally whacked out. I’m very awake and aware, but more relaxed and more focused in a certain way. So it’s also possible you were in an altered state with your therapist and didn’t realize it if you thought it was supposed to be some type of eerie trance.

      You’ve done so much work and come so far! Of course, our path is still unfolding and usually there are more layers to uncover. What you choose, I hope you find the best fit for you.

  3. I have experienced the freeing aspect of hypnotherapy Sandra and the big screen of my life. It’s a calm observational state that brings real awareness of who you are, what’s going on in and with you, and allows understanding without the need for uncontrolled emotions letting loose. It’s bettered my life and I would encourage everyone to give it not just a chance but a real try because I went from cry to ready to fly due to it’s help.

    • Thank you for sharing your inspiring experience, John! I’m so glad to hear how hypnotherapy has helped transform your life. Flying sounds great!

  4. I’m glad you shared this Sandra. I’ve wondered for a while whether it was possible to approach NLP and hypnotherapy from a place of simply diving in and curiously exploring what’s there, rather than from a place of trying to “get rid of” a “bad” emotion or thought. The experience you described had it sound to me like that kind of hypnotherapy is possible.

    • Chris,

      I think hypnotherapy and NLP are very powerful gifts that are greatly needed in this time. Some practitioners combine them.

      I came to hypnosis with a list of goals, but the process has been more as you describe. We work with what emerges organically rather than decided we are going to attack my goals one at a time. But in the process, they are being transformed.

      Thanks so much for your comment.

  5. I have never read an in depth explanation and personal history like this, so this was very illuminating. It sounds very interesting. Years ago, I would have dismissed such woowoo techniques, but after dramatically benefitting myself from some alternative approaches (like soul retrieval and energy healing), I am a big believer that traditional treatments are not all there is. And sometimes alternative treatments are successful where traditional treatments have failed. That was true in my case. I really appreciated your sharing your personal experience, which made the whole concept much more meaningful. And of course, I am so pleased for you that this was helpful to you.

    I loved Mikey’s story about the smoker. Our psyche’s are mysterious places!

    • Galen,

      Thanks for your positive testimony for alternative healing modalities. They’ve been helping people for far longer than modern Western medicine so it makes sense to give them some credence. We all have our own path to walk when it comes to healing and no one modality will work for everyone. It’s good to have variety!

      I agree with your exclamation that our psyche is a mysterious place! And a fun place to play too.

      • Oh, my–typo correction. I meant “our psyches are mysterious…” Good grief. My psyche needs grammar check!

  6. I’m a fan of hypnosis and I’ve had many crazy adventures.

    I think hypnosis is a powerful way to get your subconscious marching to the same tune as your conscious or desires. It can be incredibly surprising just how much your subconscious can influence your behaviors in a self-destructive way. I don’t have a good example handy, but let’s say you want to be a great athlete but subconsciously your mental image is that you just can’t be one. You can imagine the subtle and daily influence on your thoughts, feelings, and actions.

    • This is such an important point, J. D. Most of us don’t realize what an influence the subconscious has on our life and well being. I didn’t for a very long time. I thought I could accomplish through will and the rationale mind. What folly! Thanks for highlight this point.

  7. You note that one can feel fully conscious while in a hypnotic state. That can make it hard for someone who is skeptical or analytical to feel they have been hypnotized. I have known a few clients to fess up to “faking it” just to comply with the hypnosis session; yet, who subsequently find themselves acting on the suggestions. So, there can be quite a wide range of responses to hypnotherapy.

  8. Good point, Steve. Thanks for bringing that to the table. Although I am fully aware during hypnosis, I’m also quiet cognizant of being in a relaxed state. But everyone’s experience may be different. Thanks for highlighting that point.

  9. Awesome post and very informative research and helpful personal story.
    I have tried hypnosis several times in graduate school – so 40 years ago, and it was very relaxing but not more helpful than that.

    2 years ago I tore the ligament that helps the ribs move so that one can breath deeply – excruciatingly painful, but my insurance allowed for 15 massages from an exceptional therapist. after the pain started to heal – 6 months…we saved a few sessions at the end to just work on re-learning to breath properly. Each session was the loosening of tons of old memories…both the therapist and I wished we had recorded what was pouring out of me from the deep files.

    I am constantly sorting out deceptive brain messaging and searching for my own truth. I would love to try hypnosis again now and I know I am having trouble losing weight but I think it is from childhood trauma – I have no idea how to find a therapist that was good…

    I was deeply moved by your words and experiences. I believe I am woo woo and thus rather a traumatic experience for my family.

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