What is Hypnotherapy?
By: Cynthia Ebere-Anaba
Updated: 11 August 2016
Hypnosis is often associated with quirky hypnotists and magicians using a swinging watch to mystify their participants. It is not, however, commonly known as an effective form of therapy and there is a lot of question marks around this approach.
So how does it work?
Hypnosis is thought to work by altering our state of consciousness in such a way that the analytical left-hand side of the brain is turned off, while the non-analytical right-hand side is made more alert. The conscious control of the mind is inhibited, and the subconscious mind awoken.
Hypnotherapy is a form of complementary therapy that utilises the power of positive suggestion to bring about subconscious change to our thoughts, feelings and behaviour.
The process itself aims to alter our state of consciousness in a way that relaxes the conscious part of the mind while simultaneously stimulating and focusing the subconscious part. This heightened state of awareness – reached using skilled relaxation techniques – allows the therapist to then make appropriate suggestions.
Brenda Pedrosa is a member of Psychological Society of Ireland and practises hypnotherapy. “During my 8 years of experience I’ve met people with many different symptoms and different issues as depression, anxiety, panic attacks, relationship issues, self-esteem issues, addictions and childhood traumas. I would say that for all these mentioned, hypnotherapy can be effective. But it will really depend on the efforts of the patient, as in any other treatment,” said Brenda.
Forms of Hypnotherapy
Suggestion therapy involves the hypnotherapist giving a series of ‘suggestions’ to help an individual to do something they want to do (e.g. public speaking) or make it easier to stop doing something they don’t want to do (e.g. smoking). It is often used when there is no root cause that needs to be dealt with, or when there are time constraints (such as an individual wanting to deal with a fear of flying). It is often considered a short-term therapy compared with other types of therapy, and changes can occur within the first 1-3 sessions.
A hypno-psychotherapist differs from a hypnotherapist in that they will have undertaken training in psychotherapy theory and practice. This integrative approach utilises both techniques to help with deeper problems that may not be able to be addressed with hypnotherapy alone (for example trauma or abuse), allowing the therapist to use their training and skills in psychotherapy to provide a supportive and empathetic therapeutic relationship.
Analytical hypnotherapy draws upon concepts and techniques of psychotherapy in a bid to discover and address deeper, longer standing concerns. The aim of this form of hypnotherapy is to find and remove the root cause. For example, while suggestion hypnotherapy could potentially help to mask and reduce troubled sleep – analytical hypnotherapy seeks to establish the cause of the troubled sleep (e.g. relationship issues), before addressing it.
Clinical hypnotherapy is where a person receives hypnotherapy from a qualified hypnotherapist with a healthcare background. The CHPA is the leading professional organisation of ethical Hypnotherapists and Hypno-Psychotherapists in Ireland and is the only recognised registration body in Ireland for the European Association of Hypno-psychotherapy (EAHP)
Cognitive/behavioural hypnotherapy is a modern, scientific approach to therapy that combines cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and hypnosis to positively influence emotional, behavioural, cognitive and symptomatic change.
The process itself sees the therapist accessing the mindset of clients, so that they can use techniques and language based on the client’s unique model of the world. The process will also often incorporate an analytical approach, whereby unwanted thoughts and behaviours from the past are cleared away and then techniques to retrain the brain in the present are utilised to ensure the changes clients would like to make become fully realised.
Hypnotherapy and NLP
Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) explores the relationship between language, behaviour and excellence. It is essentially a model used to identify and analyse the linguistic techniques used subconsciously by successful people, in order to produce a recipe for excellence.
An NLP practitioner will look at your attitude, language and your use of it, your understanding of relationships and how you build a rapport and the physical and emotional states that are best for accomplishing a task. Effective communication and perception of others and ourselves will also be key focuses and all will be examined so that strategies for improving understanding, motivation, learning and remembering can be formed.
Solution Focused Hypnotherapy
Solution focused hypnotherapy looks at what the client would like to achieve, rather than the reason why they booked the appointment. It focuses on the present and the future instead of the past, which is why it can provide a positive effect in such a short space of time.
What you should know
There are currently no laws in Europe about the training and registration of hypnotherapists. However, when you undergo therapy to facilitate change, it is reassuring to know that all CHPA therapists work to high levels of best practice. We have a comprehensive list of eligibility requirements and a strict code of ethics which also requires our therapists to undergo supervision and continuing professional development.
What will happen in a Hypnotherapy session?
- A discussion about your requirements and goals.
- Gathering personal information such as sleeping patterns, lifestyle information, medical symptoms or medication, any treatments involving other healthcare providers.
- An explanation of how the hypnotherapy process will work..
- A welcome chat to encourage comfort and relaxation
- Induction – the hypnotherapist will then lead you into a state of deep physical and mental relaxation.
- Once deeply relaxed, the hypnotherapist can then begin ‘change work’ using techniques and approaches discussed and agreed to help you towards your goals.
- Once the ‘change work’ is complete, the hypnotherapist will begin the transition to wakefulness, in which you are gradually brought out of your trance.
- Time for any questions you may have and a summary of the session and any progress made thus far.
How successful is Hypnotherapy?
Practitioners and researchers claim success rates of 90% and higher for professionally conducted hypnotherapy, that is followed up with a treatment plan and self-hypnosis tapes. A research project in the UK found that 92% of those who had attended a hypnotherapist would recommend the experience to others. The Irish Institute of Clinical Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy claim an 80% success rate in treating clients for smoking.
Who is it for?
Cooperation is an essential element for effective hypnosis. If an individual is uncooperative or hostile, hypnosis may not be the best treatment option.
All hypnosis is self-hypnosis, meaning that the hypnotherapist is only a guide or catalyst to elicit the trance experience in the client. The power of hypnosis resides in the client, not in the hypnotherapist.
Hypnosis has the capacity to work for the majority of individuals but some are more susceptible to suggestions than others. The most important thing to remember is that you must be fully committed to the process and feel that you can place your trust in your hypnotherapist. It’s also important to keep an open mind, as any scepticism may subconsciously dampen your susceptibility.
What issues is Hypnotherapy suitable for treating?
- Fears and Phobias ( flying, public speaking etc.)
- Weight Loss
- Comfort Eating
- Anxiety disorders, Panic Attacks
- Insomnia and Sleeplessness
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Mild Depression
- Habitual Behaviour (smoking, stammering,snoring,teeth grinding, sleepwalking, nail biting)
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Pain Management
- Sexual Problems
- Confidence Issues
Why should I choose Hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is a tool that can help you, just like it has helped millions of other people, to take back control of their lives. Hypnosis is an extremely efficient, scientifically proven, state of mind often referred to by artists and athletes as ‘the zone’.
The naturally relaxed state of hypnosis allows individuals to make rapid enhancements to their lives through a process of learning appropriate new beliefs, breaking unwanted habits, changing negative behaviour patterns, overcoming learned limitations and removing the root cause of your symptoms.
Additionally, hypnosis has been shown to augment client’s resilience when dealing with stressful situations and decreasing avoidance behaviour.
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