Have you ever seen a nightclub act that involves a performer who calls a member of the audience up to the stage and then “hypnotizes” them? If you have, you probably remember that the person doing the hypnotizing does his or her best to embarrass the person who has been hypnotized, instructing him to bark like a dog or ordering her to sing a silly song, for example. It’s all quite a show and is, unfortunately, what most people think of when they hear the word “hypnosis’.
Unfortunately, however, those acts only poke fun at the hypnotized individual and never really demonstrate the true benefits of hypnosis or, as it’s often called in the mental health realm, hypnotherapy or hypnotic suggestion. In fact, hypnotherapy has been used successfully for decades to assist individuals with various mental health issues and can be an excellent treatment option when administered by a professional who is skilled in this form of therapy.
Why consider hypnosis?
Using hypnosis in counselling can offer the patient a wonderful chance at recovery. Hypnosis is mostly employed to assist individuals in dealing with:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Habit-breaking or behavior change, such as smoking cessation
In general, hypnosis can help the patient to better cope with anxiety or pain and/or to gain control over certain behaviors that are inappropriate or undesirable. That’s because hypnosis can make someone more open to suggestions than they might be during a normal state of being. However, it’s important to note that – unlike how it appears in that aforementioned nightclub show – those who undergo hypnotherapy DO NOT lose control over their behavior during the actual treatment.
What to expect during a hypnotherapy session
Before your therapist chooses to use hypnosis during counselling, he or she will clearly explain the process as well as the advantages and risks of hypnotherapy for someone who’s being treated for whatever your mental health issue might be. Once the counselor is sure that you are comfortable with trying hypnotherapy and are open to the possible ways to benefit from it, they will schedule your first session.
At your first hypnosis appointment and any subsequent sessions, your therapist will begin by speaking to you in a gentle soothing voice, describing to you a variety of images that will help you achieve a state of well-being and relaxation. This takes longer for some patients than it does for others but your therapist won’t continue until he or she is sure you’ve reached a receptive state.
Once you’ve gotten to that point, the therapist will begin to make suggestions to help you achieve your goals – like overcoming your fear of flying – or will help you visualize vivid mental images that will also assist you in reaching the outcome you hope to achieve.
When the session has reached its end, most patients can easily bring themselves out of the state of hypnosis or the therapist can assist with that. Most people emerge from hypnosis still feeling more relaxed and are generally able to remember everything that happened or was said during the session.
Eventually, patients may be able to do this on their own, practicing self-hypnosis to help them get through particularly difficulty situations or feelings.
Hypnosis as a complementary therapy
It’s important to note that hypnotherapy is often not a first-line treatment for phobias, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or a number of other issues for which it can be used. More often, it is employed in addition to perhaps cognitive behavioral therapy, which takes a more practical, hands-on approach to solving problems, aiming to change certain patterns of thinking or particular behaviors. So, that means your therapist may suggest hypnosis in addition to other treatment and may only try it a few times.
Can everyone benefit from hypnosis?
No two people are the same and some patients will be more receptive to hypnosis than others. It’s important to understand that even if you’re “trying really hard” to reach that state of receptiveness, you simply may not be able to enter a full state of hypnosis. That doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. That’s just the way it is.
So, if you’re doctor tries hypnotherapy and determines that you won’t benefit from it, don’t worry. He or she will devise additional ways to help you, if needed.