Hypnotherapy: Hoax Or Help?

By Nicole Beasley

Updated October 22, 2019

Reviewer Chante’ Gamby, LCSW

Controversy surrounds the use of hypnotism, and with good reason. A stage hypnotist suggests that his volunteer is a chicken, and the willing participant responds by squawking and flapping his arms. Are we supposed to take this seriously? Certainly not, but from our seats in the audience, it looks real. What about the traveling hypnotist that holds seminars in city venues, using the hypnotic state to convince people they no longer want to smoke or eat candy? It sounds too good to be true, and it is. But there is one legitimate use of the hypnotic state that can help people overcome significant problems in their lives. It is a professional psychological tool called hypnotherapy.

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Hypnotherapy is the use of hypnosis for therapeutic purposes. Guided relaxation, focused attention, and concentration are methods used to get to what is often referred to as a "trance" state. In initial meetings, the therapist would spend some time getting to know you. They would work to understand what is troubling you about your life, as well as what you would like to change. If you both agree that hypnotherapy is an appropriate choice, you'd likely begin the process at a later session.

Does Hypnotherapy Work?

Hypnotherapy won't eliminate all negative emotions and change life circumstances immediately. It is not a magic cure. However, a well-trained, certified hypnotherapist can use this technique along with others to help you overcome your most important challenges. Some people are able to participate in hypnosis more easily than others and it helps them significantly. The only way to know if the tool will work for you is to have at least one talk session with a therapist. If you and your therapist agree, you may allow your therapist to try a session of hypnotherapy. If it doesn't work, your therapist can propose other treatments for you. If it does work in your specific circumstances, you can continue the path toward a happy and healthy life together.

Hypnotherapy is a professional tool that has helped many people in the past. It is not a myth. It is important to note that, contrary to what has been portrayed with stage hypnotists, you are actually conscious, awake, and in control while you are in a trance state. It is not mind control. As mentioned earlier, hypnotherapy is a technique that a therapist uses as a part of a larger therapeutic intervention. A stage hypnotist, on the other hand, works to get a laugh or impress his audience. Even though the two types of hypnosis get confused often, it is important to remember that hypnotherapy is real, and when used in a professional manner, it provides positive results.

Hypnotherapy Uses

Hypnotherapy has been studied by researchers for many years. The results of the studies show that hypnotherapy does in fact help many people with certain problems. Each of the disorders, physical and mental challenges, and other difficulties on the following list have been effectively treated with therapies that include hypnotherapy.

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Phobias
  • Pain
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Post-surgery recovery
  • Nausea
  • Childbirth

Even though each of these conditions has been treated using hypnotherapy, the technique might not work for you. Your therapist is the best source of answers to this question for you in your unique situation.

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Hypnotherapy Methods

Below, we'll discuss methods used in hypnotherapy.

Relaxation

The hypnotherapist begins by helping you quiet your mind and bring your body to a calm state. The goal is to bring yourself to a relaxed but focused state of mind in which you can be open to the therapist's suggestions.

Revisiting Other Times in Your Life

Your therapist may decide to guide you in remembering times in your life that are pertinent to the problems you're facing. This wouldn't be possible if the therapist hadn't worked with you before the hypnotherapy session to learn about your life and the struggles you are currently facing. They might ask you to recall details of the setting, the people present, and the sensations you experienced during significant past events.

Hypnotic Suggestions

When the therapist determines that you're ready, he or she will begin to suggest that you alter your thoughts, behaviors, sensations, or perceptions, so that they are able to become in tune with your desire to change yourself. The therapist may describe the scene from your past event in a different way than you described it. What was once painful may quickly become something neutral and bearable. What once seemed enjoyable may seem unpleasant. With each experience, you re-experience the habit, bad feelings, or psychological trauma with an outcome that better aligns with your end goal.

Therapy for Your Childhood Experiences

Hypnotherapy isn't just for breaking unpleasant habits. A skilled therapist can use this technique to help you with childhood abuse, trauma, or neglect. They can help you come to terms with negative experiences you went through when you were young. As your therapist helps your inner child create a new version of reality, healing takes place.

Choosing a Hypnotherapist

It's important to choose your hypnotherapist carefully. Not all therapists are qualified to use the technique. It's important to examine the credentials of a therapist before beginning to work with them. Below are some attributes you will likely want to look for when choosing the right therapist for you.

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Qualifications

You will want to look for a hypnotherapist who is a member of either The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH) or the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. To be a member of either of these organizations, a hypnotherapist must have a doctorate level degree in medicine, dentistry, or psychology, or a master's degree in nursing, social work, psychology, or marital and family therapy. Additionally, they must have a specific number of hours of approved training in hypnotherapy. Don't be afraid to ask to see their diploma and certificate to verify their credentials for yourself. You need to ensure your therapist is fit for the job so that you're able to get the best care possible.

Personal Attributes

Any therapist you find should be a good listener. It helps tremendously if they are patient, kind, and empathetic as well. Make a list of the attributes that are important for your therapist to have, and pay close attention to it as you search for your perfect fit.

Trust

If you don't trust your therapist, hypnotherapy with him or her probably won't work for you. The only way to enter the hypnotic state is to trust that you'll be safe and well cared for. You may not know whether you feel that trust until you have a therapy session. Because of this, you may need to find a new hypnotherapist if your first session does not feel comfortable.

Other Therapy Options to Consider

If you live in a large city, you likely will not have trouble finding a therapist near you who is trained in hypnotherapy. You can receive hypnotherapy treatments near your home, although you may have to drive through heavy traffic to get there.

If you live in a small town or rural area, you may have to drive a long way to get to a therapist who uses this special technique. If you want to avoid traffic jams or prefer not to travel at all, there is another option. You can choose therapy through an online platform like BetterHelp to find therapists anytime and anywhere. All you need is the internet. Consider the following reviews of BetterHelp counselors.

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Counselor Reviews

"Nikki is fantastic! I had my doubts about this type of therapy medium, but I'm delighted to report what an amazing experience I've had thus far and recommend it to my family and friends."

"Karen is amazing. I've never done therapy before and was very skeptical of it. I also wasn't sure if I wanted to talk about my stresses, feelings and opening up about work and relationships. Karen has made it very easy to do that and very appreciative of the work she does. I've been working with Karen for 3 weeks and have seen big improvements and changes in my life. Very thankful for Karen and this platform. It is really amazing to talk to someone that listens and offers great advice, encouragement and doesn't judge. Thanks Karen!"

Conclusion

Hypnotherapy should not be confused with stage hypnotism. It's a type of therapy that works for many people around the world. If you think hypnotherapy would be a good fit for you, reach out to a mental health professional and begin your journey today.


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