Hypnotherapy refers to any psychological treatment that uses hypnosis, either as a primary or a secondary treatment means. When hypnosis is used as the principal therapeutic factor, then we have HEALING WITH HYPNOSIS. In this case, we induce a deep state of relaxation in which the treated person has a passive rest during the entire treatment session. It is well documented that simply being in this state of relaxation eliminates or at least reduces the client’s symptoms.
If we use hypnosis as the state in which we administer various therapeutic methods, we have HEALING IN HYPNOSIS. In this case, Hypnotherapy usually has a specific term (e.g. hypno-behavioural therapy or hypno-suggestive therapy, hypno-catharsis, hypno-analysis, hypno-drama etc). In all these cases, hypnosis is a secondary therapeutic means, which itself contributes to the therapeutic method being conducted.
Using hypnosis in psychological treatment
Many people are afraid of hypnosis because they associate it with something mystical, mysterious or some form of entertainment rather than a helping psychological intervention. In fact, clinical hypnosis is simply a pleasant state of relaxation and peace of mind, which creates the most favourable conditions for treating various emotional and physiological disturbances. Numerous studies indicate that merely being in a passive state of relaxation yields improvements in various psychological disturbances, such as anxiety, depression, fear or obsessive thoughts.
Hypnosis can also be useful in helping people with various physical symptoms either with or without identifiable organic pathology, including chronic pain, chronic diarrhoea, nausea, spasm of the stomach, high blood pressure and many others. There is solid research-based evidence that individuals in hypnosis can improve functioning of their immune system and positively influence disease processes.
How will you be treated in hypnosis?
You will be taught how to induce a deep state of relaxation in yourself. In that state, you will be given some suggestions that you will repeat in your mind as self-suggestions. In this way, you will be able to treat yourself independently. In-between sessions carried out with the therapist, you will be instructed to conduct self-sessions at home. When you feel confident that you can relax on your own as effectively as with the assistance of your therapist, you will continue self-therapy at home according to the received instructions. Usually, five or six sessions are sufficient for most people to master the technique of self-inducing relaxation for independent self-therapy. In some cases, a disorder can be cured with five or six sessions. If this is insufficient, you will continue the self-treatment at home to improve further.
There are other treatment methods used in hypnosis, which may be offered to you, depending on the problems you are experiencing.
Can you master this technique?
A number of people think that they will be unable to induce hypnosis in themselves. In reality, all people who do not have prominent psychotic symptoms or significant intellectual deficits can learn how to do this. As everyone can learn to speak or swim, everyone can learn self-hypnosis. There are people who are more talented in speaking or swimming than others. This is also the case in learning self-hypnosis. Some people can learn more quickly and can develop a deeper state of relaxation than others, but it has nothing to do with the level of their intelligence.
Depth of hypnosis
There are three major stages of hypnosis: mild, moderate and deep. The depth of self-induced hypnosis depends on several factors, including the unique characteristics of your nervous system. In deep hypnosis, people do not remember what happened to them during the session. This is called spontaneous post-hypnotic amnesia. Even if you reach this stage of hypnosis, you will learn how to maintain full conscious contact with the environment while in this stage and to have complete memory of the session afterwards. You need to be aware of all therapeutic interventions, as this awareness is important for achieving stable and lasting treatment results.
It is important to know that the depth of therapeutic hypnosis does not influence the treatment outcome. There are cases when in mild hypnosis a complete recovery is achieved, whereas in the deepest hypnosis the results may be less effective. The treatment results depend on your personality characteristics, your attitudes towards your problem, towards the therapist and towards the treatment itself.
The first session involves assessment of your problem with an interview. During this session, a diagnosis of your problem will be established, and you will be given more information on the treatment. If your problem is less complex, like an addiction (e.g. smoking), specific phobia, insomnia or a single physical symptom, the assessment will be completed in one session. However, in more serious and complex conditions, such as Post-traumatic Stress, Obsessive/Compulsive or Eating Disorder, the interview may extend to more than one session. It will also be necessary to give you a questionnaire to shed more light on your problem. In addition to this, the questionnaire will serve as a means for measuring the effectiveness of treatment. It will be given to you on three occasions: (1) prior to treatment, (2) immediately after treatment and (3) three months after the termination of treatment. However, you will be charged only for the first administration of the instrument, scoring and analysing the results, which takes one session.
All the above is intended as a brief overview of the use of hypnosis in psychological treatment. Time will be given during the first appointment to answer any questions you may have.