When you think of hypnosis, what comes to mind? Many people think of staring into a psychedelic black and white spinning object, or watching a pocket watch spin back and forth while someone is taking over their thoughts and actions. This type of hypnosis has been drilled into our brains through books and television shows, yet clinical hypnotherapy is something entirely different.
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What is Clinical Hypnosis?
Clinical hypnosis is characterized by an altered state of consciousness used to treat a psychological or physical ailment. In short, hypnosis is a very relaxed state of mind. Your mind has a lot of control over your body and health, yet oftentimes you are too focused on other aspects of life to truly understand just how powerful your mind is. Hypnosis helps ease this process. When you participate in hypnotherapy, you are allowing a professional to help you relax your mind and utilize it to a higher degree.
What Does it Treat?
Clinical hypnotherapy is commonly used to treat symptoms of anxiety, depression, many different types of phobias, sexual dysfunction, addictions, eating disorders and self esteem problems. It can also be used to help increase memory and concentration. In addition to other forms of medication, hypnotherapy can be helpful in reducing fear before an operation and minimizing the amount of pain felt during a procedure.
Hypnotherapy is not a successful alternative treatment for symptoms that come from a serious underlying disease or deeply-rooted mental disorder, although it can help temporarily alleviate some of the symptoms of both.
How Does it Work?
Many problems, beliefs and fears are rooted in our subconscious mind. During regular day to day activities, our subconscious mind affects the way we perceive our world and make decisions. More often than not, we don’t realize how controlled we are by our subconscious. During hypnosis, your conscious mind is bypassed and all focus is on your subconscious mind. As opposed to traditional psychotherapy in which a patient is completely conscious – thus allowing the conscious mind to be treated – hypnotherapy treats the subconscious. When a licensed practitioner locates your subconscious mind, he or she can “alter” it in a way that treats negative symptoms.
What Should I Expect During Treatment?
Hypnotherapy is nothing to be afraid of. During a traditional session, you begin by telling the hypnotherapist what negative symptoms you have been experiencing, and give a full account of anything that has been bothering you. In order for hypnosis to be effective, the patient must feel completely comfortable around the therapist. Otherwise, a relaxed, hypnotic state will be significantly more difficult to achieve. When first meeting a hypnotherapist, you’ll be able to ask any questions you have about the procedure and voice any concerns you have about the process. While many therapists go about procuring a hypnotic state in different ways, oftentimes you’ll begin by laying on your back on a couch or similar piece of furniture. Your therapist will then begin the trance by speaking to you in a soothing, relaxing voice, possibly asking you to imagine yourself walking along a peaceful trail full of flowers or along the beach at dusk. He or she may use other techniques to ease you into a relaxed state. You will then be guided into a deeper hypnotic state. A traditional session lasts from about an hour to an hour and a half, and during this time the therapist will speak directly to your subconscious about changing negative behaviors and symptoms.
It’s important to remember that at no point in the process will you lose control of your mind. While the therapist is traditionally the one to bring you out of the hypnotic state, you have the power to bring yourself out of it at any point in time. During treatment, you’ll be able to hear everything that is going on around you, yet may not be fully aware of it. Think of it this way: when was the last time you were daydreaming about something? When you daydream, your mind is both present and not present. This type of transitive state is very similar to the hypnotic state.
Does it Work on Everyone?
Everyone has the potential to be able to be hypnotized, however the success of the treatment is based solely on the individual. If you allow yourself to be hypnotized, you can be hypnotized. Some people are wary of the treatment, which causes their mind to block any form of hypnotism. If you spend time talking to your therapist and understanding the procedure, you can relax your mind and allow it to be taken into a relaxed state. The level of relaxation achieved varies from person to person, and correlates to how open they are to receiving the treatment. While no one can be hypnotized without permission, those in a hypnotic state also have the ability to reject anything that is said to them during the procedure.
Hypnosis is not an instant cure-all. You’ll need follow up treatments and an open mind in order to see progress. Often when you leave a session, your therapist will give you a list of things that you can continue to do at home in order to speed up the healing process. Hypnosis is not a cure in itself. It creates a door into your subconscious mind so that you can access and manipulate negative thoughts and behaviors. Because of this, your level of motivation in the process is a key component for success.
- Make sure you are dressed in comfortable clothing, and that you choose a part of the house that is free from any noises or distractions.
- Understand what your goals are. What are you trying to achieve through hypnosis? What are you trying to change?
- Get into a comfortable position, close your eyes, release all tension and begin to meditate.
- Take slow, deep breaths and concentrate on being completely relaxed. Imagine yourself slowly descending into a pool of water. When you feel as though you have entered a state of complete relaxation, continue to repeat to your subconscious mind what it is that you would like to change. Imagine yourself wandering around this water-filled space, curing yourself of your problems.
- When you are ready to exit the hypnotic state, imagine yourself slowly ascending out of the water. When you have reached dry land again, end your hypnosis.
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