Hypnosis: More Than Just A Parlor Trick
BY KITT WALSH
You might know a friend who tried to quit smoking using it or your only experience may be watching someone onstage cluck like a chicken, but whichever is true, if you know only a little about hypnosis, you might be depriving yourself of a very useful tool.
Not only useful for smoking cessation, hypnosis can aid you with weight loss, pain management and even help you retain your memory as you age.
But first you have to put away the thoughts that it is all a gimmick. Clinical hypnosis is the real deal practiced by licensed and trained doctors and other medical professionals who help their patients create an altered state of consciousness by assisting them to enter a highly relaxed state. By highly relaxed, I don’t mean asleep or unconscious, just a state in which you are able to fully concentrate and focus your attention. Such focus allows you to use your mind more efficiently and is, in fact, the ultimate act of self-control.
Used since medical records have been kept hypnosis is used to treat sexual problems, alcoholism and drug addiction, smoking cessation, relief of anxiety and phobias, memory and concentration improvement, weight control and alleviation of chronic pain. Surgeons and dentists use it in surgery to control fear, cut down or eliminate anesthesia and to staunch excessive bleeding. Medical and dental practitioners often use it to help reduce the need for pain medication, a big plus in our opioid-addicted society.
You may be scared about hypnosis, thinking that you are being asked to turn your will over to the hypnotist and that you will lose control, doing whatever the hypnotist wants—even (horrors) spilling some of your best-kept secrets. Actually none of that is true. You are still aware of everything going on around you and you never give up your will.
Neither will you fall asleep, although it may appear that you do. That’s because you will be sitting very quietly, barely moving, and your breathing may become deeper and your pulse slower. Still waters run deep, though. If you were hooked up to a monitor, you’d see that the amount of brain activity might actually increase.
Under hypnosis, the conscious part of your brain is bypassed, making your subconscious easier to access. Hypnosis activates alpha brain waves, the same type you use when you are daydreaming, meditating or absorbed in listening to a transporting piece of music.
In this state, the therapist introduces “suggestions” to help with your specific need.
But first you will meet with the practitioner to give a clinical history, discuss your specific goals and establish a trusting relationship. Next you will lay back on a couch or recliner, while the therapist asks you to stare at a fixed point, imagine you are somewhere relaxing or just to listen carefully to his or her soothing voice. The practitioner may even count backwards to deepen the trance and then offer suggestions to your subconscious mind. You can leave the trance whenever you wish or the therapist may count you out of it.
You will “awaken” refreshed and may find your problem solved after one session or you may need several sessions over weeks to resolve your problem. Sessions usually take an hour and may include “homework”, as you will be taught self-hypnosis techniques as well.
But does hypnosis work? Not always, but when it does it can be a big help. It is estimated that 85% of all people will respond well to hypnotism and in 1996, a panel of the National Institutes of Health found that hypnosis was effective enough to even ease the worst cancer pain. Once considered pseudo-science, hypnosis, as practiced by a licensed therapist, has become mainstream enough to be covered under many insurance plans.
Michael Yapko, PhD, a psychologist and fellow of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis. says, “Hypnosis works and the empirical support is unequivocal in that regard. It really does help people.”
To find a licensed hypnotherapist, visit the National Board Certified Hypnotherapist website at www.natboard.com.