Does hypnotism really work?
Most of us think of hypnotism as purely a form of entertainment. We’ve all seen TV programs, where the hypnotist controls somebody else’s actions for our amusement (eg “You’re Back in the Room).
Hypnotism Vs Hypnotherapy
About twenty years ago, there was also a bit of a media frenzy around people claiming they had “recovered” memories of abuse or molestation, which has previously been buried deep in their subconscious. We now know that this led to a lot of innocent people being accused of crimes they never committed, and the phenomenon has been titled “false memory syndrome”.
It doesn’t help that just about anybody can do a weekend of training in hypnotism, and call themselves a “hypnotherapist”. While this may be true, clinical hypnosis is best employed by medical or allied health professionals, such as psychologists. Hypnotism in the hands of a skilled and qualified hypnotherapy practitioner, can actually be a very effective addition to other psychological therapies such as Cognitive Behaviourial Therapy (CBT).
Hypnotherapy (also known as clinical hypnosis) is the use of trance (a state of deep relaxation) for therapeutic purposes.
Personally, I have Masters degrees in Social Work and Counselling, and have done further training in Ericksonian hypnosis. Milton Erickson, considered the father of modern hypnotherapy, was an American psychiatrist and the founding president of the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis. His work remains influential in a number of therapeutic fields, including strategic family therapy, solution focused brief therapy, and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).
The credibility of hypnotherapy has increased dramatically over the past century, thanks to a large body of research. In fact, both the British and American Medical Associations approved the use of hypnotherapy as far back as the 1950’s.
Today, evidence has shown that hypnotherapy can be effective in reducing pain, anxiety, depression, as well as helping with sleeping problems and sexual difficulties – to name just a few.
Your Mind is Like an Iceberg
The easiest way to explain how hypnotherapy works, is to think of your mind as an iceberg. The portion above the water is the conscious (thinking) mind, while the submerged – and far larger – section, represents your subconscious (feeling) mind.
When we want to change certain habits in our lives, we decide on a course of action with our conscious (thinking ) mind and begin to pursue it. The trouble is, even though our conscious mind is aware of the benefits and reasons, our subconscious (feeling) mind is not convinced and doesn’t “feel like” making the changes! Most of us can attest to the fact that using willpower alone to stop smoking or biting our nails, or to exercise more, usually fails miserably. This is because lasting change happens at the subconscious level.
Hypnosis is simply a natural and effective way of accessing the subconscious mind – the area that stores your feelings, attitudes, memories and behaviours.
Your Hypnotherapy Session
Your therapist will usually begin by asking what has brought you to therapy, and exploring some of your personal history and background. Once your goal/s have been ascertained, your therapist will discuss a treatment plan with you, and what it is likely to involve – for example, the number of sessions required, and if they feel clinical hypnosis might be helpful for you.
The clinical hypnosis process is about making you feel relaxed, safe and secure. By talking to you in gentle, soothing tones, and describing images, your therapist will help you to enter a peaceful state known as “trance”. You are still awake and fully in control, but the benefit of trance is that your abilities to imagine, remember, be creative, and respond positively to suggestion, are heightened.
While you are in trance, your therapist will continue to speak in a soothing manner, suggesting ways for you to achieve your goals, and asking you to visualise what success looks and feels like – because feelings are a powerful motivator for change. At the end of the session, the therapist will guide you out of the trance state.
Is Hypnotism Real?
If you would like to find out if hypnotism is real, and how hypnotherapy could help you, please make an appointment with any of the qualified psychologists or psychotherapists listed on this website.
Author: Linda Thomson, B Soc Sci, M Couns, M Social Work, Member of AASW.
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, please call Vision Psychology Mt Gravatt on (07) 3088 5422, or you can book online.