Hypnotherapy has come a long way in the last century.
What was once considered to be the province of entertainers and charlatans, is now a legitimate therapeutic tool when in the hands of a fully trained health professional. Much research has been done, revealing that hypnotherapy can be an effective method of treating both physical and psychological ailments.
So what is hypnotherapy – what is it’s history – and how can it help?
A Brief History of Hypnotherapy
The practice of hypnosis have been used in both medicine and religious practice since ancient times. There is documentation about it from Ancient Egypt and other early civilisations, and we know that it was used by surgeons on many of the battle fields of the last couple of centuries, particularly when other methods of pain relief were not readily available.
Freud was one of the first in modern times to recognise the possible benefit that hypnotherapy could bring to psychology – that a person in a hypnotic state (called a “trance”) was more open to receiving and acting upon suggestions, leading to positive behaviour change.
In the 1950’s both the British and American Medical Associations approved the use of hypnotherapy as safe, with no harmful side effects. It is effective, cost efficient and appears to have a longer lasting effect, when compared to other treatment approaches.
Although the word “hypnotherapy” comes from the Greek word “hypno” meaning “sleep”, you do not go to sleep in the treatment process. Rather, hypnosis induces “trance”, which is a deeply relaxed state.
The Power of the Subconscious
The state of trance is nothing new to any of us; any time you catch yourself staring out the window, or daydreaming, you are in a trance or hypnotic state. You have dissociated from your immediate environment, and are instead “miles away” – lost in your thoughts (actually your subconscious mind).
As the subconscious mind is home to our memories, habits and emotions, if we want to make changes in these areas, it makes sense to access it directly via trance and hypnosis.
There are a lot of myths surrounding the practice of hypnotherapy. Some people are concerned about “handing control of their subconscious” to another, or that they may not be able to “wake up” or recall what happened while they were in the hypnosis state. As stated previously, you are not actually asleep during hypnotherapy so remain in full possession of your faculties – just in a very relaxed state. In fact, as part of treatment, you may also learn how to utilise self-hypnosis.
What Can Hypnotherapy Help With?
Evidence shows that hypnotherapy can be helpful with a wide range of issues, including:
- Chronic Pain – When drugs and diet don’t seem to help, you have nothing to lose by trying hypnotherapy!
- Stress and Stress related illness – Modern living tends to mean lots of stress, and we now know that lots of stress means our bodies release lots of the stress hormone, cortisol, making us more vulnerable to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes etc. Hypnotherapy can help you to relax and lower your stress levels, and teach you techniques that you can practice in your daily life to keep your stress under control.
- Anxiety and Depression – Sufferers of anxiety or depression have often developed faulty thinking patterns. Hypnotherapy can help to challenge these patterns, and replace them with more positive and helpful ones. Whether you experience social anxiety, have a phobia negatively impacting your life, or are troubled by panic atticks, hypnosis can help.
- PTSD, Trauma and Abuse – Hypnosis can be particularly helpful if you have experienced trauma or abuse, by helping you to work through the issues, memories and anxieties that are still impacting you today.
- Grief and Loss – Grief and loss can impact all aspects of our lives eg biological, psychological, spiritual and social.
- Sexual Dysfunction – Erectile dysfunction, low desire, painful intercourse, vaginisimus/vulvodynia, premature ejaculation.
- Eating Disorders – Hypnotherapy can help you and your therapist to identify and address the causes of your disordered eating behaviours, rather than just the symptoms.
- Addictions – Whether you need help to quit smoking, drinking, gambling, or nail biting, hypnotherapy can help you make positive behaviour change as well as help alleviate the physical symptoms of addiction.
- Problems with Sleep – Hypnosis is useful in treating the underlying psychological problem/s that may be causing the sleep difficulties, while at the same time helping you to learn how to put your body in a deeply relaxed state with self-hypnosis.
This is just a brief overview of how hypnotherapy works. If you have been struggling with any of the above issues, or others – from career to relationships – and would like to know how hypnotherapy could work for you, please make an appointment with one of the psychologists listed on this website, soon.
Author: Linda Thomson, B Soc Sci, M Couns, M Social Work, Member of AASW.
Linda Thomson is a Brisbane Psychotherapist with many years of experience in counselling, as well as training, mentoring and providing professional supervision to other mental health professionals. Linda is considered one of Brisbane’s leading sex therapists, and draws on a number of evidence-based techniques in her practice, such as hypnotherapy, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).
To make an appointment with Brisbane Psychotherapist Linda Thomson at Mt Gravatt, please call (07) 3088 5422, or you can book online.