Hypnosis is a tool that can be used to enhance perceptions, skills, and attitudes to health, comfort and confidence. As you learn to unlock your own mind-body resources, you change the way you think about or react to health issues and life's challenges.
Hypnosis is not a magic wand, and it does not cure or change anything by itself. It can, however, help you discover your own inner strengths and abilities to make changes you desire to improve your quality of life.
Hypnosis is like daydreaming on purpose. It is a state of inner absorption that taps into the mind-body connection. In that state of mind you can allow yourself to be receptive to suggestions to change limiting or negative thoughts or habits so you can reach your goals. And medical studies document that some aspects of physiology change with hypnosis.
Nearly everyone has experienced a state of hypnotic trance. It may have been while driving on a routine trip or while you were so deep in thought that you almost missed your exit. Perhaps you've been so involved in a book that you were surprised by how much time passed when you looked at the clock. Or while you were watching your favorite team you didn't hear someone talking to you. Those are all examples of being in a hypnotic trance.
Although an altered state of awareness, hypnosis is a natural state. Most important, hypnosis is not something that is done to you. It is something people do for themselves with the help of a professional who facilitates the process. All hypnosis is really self-hypnosis. The most efficient method of learning self-hypnosis is to work with a skilled professional. If you are working on issues related to physical or emotional health, it is important to choose a licensed, healthcare professional with whom you are comfortable. A healthcare professional uses medical knowledge, not just hypnosis techniques to help you learn to incorporate suggestions that are safe and effective.
Frequently Asked Questions About Hypnosis
1. What is hypnosis?
"Hypnosis is a state of focused attention and concentration that empowers individuals to control both their thoughts and physiological (body) functioning."
Boston Children's Hospital http://www.childrenshospital.org/centers-and-services/pain-treatment-services-program/psychology-services/hypnosis-and-pain-management
2. How does hypnosis fit into the world of medical care?
The medical community has been interested in the uses of hypnosis for many years and the research and acceptance continues to grow. The British Medical Association recognized hypnosis as a credible treatment modality in 1954. In 1958, the Journal of the American Medical Association, reported "definite and proper uses of hypnosis in medical and dental practice." (Council on Mental Health. Medical use of hypnosis. JAMA. 1958; 168: 186-189.)
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recognized hypnosis in 1996. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine defines hypnosis as one of the mind-body interventions. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) is the Federal Government's lead agency for scientific research on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).
There is ongoing research studying the impact of hypnosis on health and healing. The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis and The Society of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, are professional organizations for physicians, nurses, dentists, psychologists, medical social workers and chiropractors who include use of hypnosis in caring for their patients. Their websites contains valuable information.
3. Are all hypnotherapists licensed?
There is no license for hypnosis and most states do not regulate who can do hypnosis. Some states restrict what title the provider can use, whether a person can say they are a hypnotist or hypnotherapist, but many do not have such a requirement. In all states it is illegal to call oneself a medical doctor, psychologist or nurse unless the provider has graduated from an approved college and passed the State Board Examination. Some states restrict the practice of hypnosis for therapeutic purposes to a licensed healthcare provider, but most still do not. Even if the person doing your hypnosis is "certified" there is no regulation or consistency on what "certification" means. Furthermore, credible universities never offer a master's or doctorate degree in hypnosis.
A licensed healthcare professional will usually study hypnosis in postgraduate courses and receive ongoing training through continuing education. Ask your provider about their background. Explore whether they graduated from an accredited college. Reputable providers will never be offended by your questions. They will not brush off your questions or just imply that you have nothing to worry about. Hypnosis is most effective when you are comfortable with the person with whom you are working.
4. During hypnosis does one give up control?
No, an individual experiencing hypnosis uses his/her own natural abilities to alter feelings and experiences. The therapist has no power to "make" the other person do anything. In fact, once a person has learned how to experience hypnosis, he/she has actually gained new power or control over internal processes and feelings. The therapist serves as a facilitator or teacher.
5. Is a person aware of what occurs during trance and does he/she remember?
Yes, typically an individual remembers everything that occurs in hypnosis. It is a common misconception that people lose awareness or experience amnesia as part of the hypnotic experience. Hypnosis is an altered state of focus, but most people remain aware of the environment and what the professional is saying.
6. Is there danger of revealing personal information?
No, you will not reveal information you wish to keep private. Individuals experiencing hypnosis do not spontaneously talk or reveal secrets. There may be sessions where you and your hypnosis professional agree to use some talking procedures to assist you in reaching your goals, but what you say is always within your control.
7. Does hypnosis work only on someone who is gullible or weak-willed?
No, in fact, bright, intelligent people are better able to use hypnosis. The ability to experience hypnosis is a talent. It is closely connected with an individual's ability to focus attention or to concentrate. There is some evidence that this ability can be enhanced or developed to some degree but it is largely an innate talent.
8. What about stage hypnosis and bizarre behavior seen in movies?
Stage hypnotists capitalize on two factors:
- the volunteer's desire to be part of the show and
- the hypnotist's skill in selecting individuals who respond to "authoritarian commands."
As for movies, that's Hollywood. Many movie plots are sensationalized and not possible in real life. Anything that makes for a good story and sells tickets is produced.
Health practitioners who provide "clinical hypnosis" are, as a group, strongly opposed to stage hypnosis and any other non-therapeutic misuse of the process. Members of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis sign an ethics agreement not to use hypnosis for entertainment.
9. What if I can't wake up?
Hypnosis is not sleep. Sleep is entirely different than hypnosis. Besides, you go to sleep every night and your body and mind wake up when it's time to wake up. It is not possible to stay in hypnotic trance indefinitely.
10. Can everyone be hypnotized?
Nearly everyone can be hypnotized if they want to be. Approximately 5-15% of the population do not have the capacity to go into trance. If you do not want to go into trance there is no one who can make you go into trance. Some people with significant emotional problems should not be hypnotized. And if you are working with a licensed healthcare professional, he or she may recognize physical problems that need further medical evaluation before proceeding with hypnosis. That is why it is generally advisable to work with a licensed healthcare professional for most conditions or goals.
A licensed healthcare professional will take a thorough history before beginning the process of hypnosis. If hypnosis is not appropriate for you, if it could mask an underlying condition, or if other treatment options could be of benefit to you, your professional will discuss those with you.
11. Will my insurance pay for hypnosis?
More and more health insurance plans are beginning to cover treatments that were once not covered. Your plan may cover all, part or none of your fees, depending upon your particular plan and why you are seeking hypnosis. Some health insurance companies may require a medical order, while some may require that hypnosis is done by a licensed healthcare professional, or even specifically by a physician or psychologist. If you have a medical reimbursement account you may be able to pay hypnotherapy expenses from it.
12. How can I find a qualified hypnotherapist?
In her book, Psych Yourself In
, Marlene Hunter, MD, advises consumers to seek the services of licensed healthcare providers, and states, "In fact a good rule of thumb, in choosing a hypnotherapist, is to make sure that person has other professional qualifications primarily, and uses hypnosis within that framework. If he or she only does hypnosis, be wary." (1987, p15.)
The two major professional hypnosis organizations in the United States can provide you with the names of licensed healthcare professionals in your area who are certified by and/or members of their organizations.
The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis
140 N. Bloomingdale Rd.
Bloomingdale, IL 60108
Tel: (630) 980-4740
Fax: (630) 351-8490
The Society of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis
P.O. Box 252
Southborough, MA 01772
Tel: (508) 598-5553
Fax: (866) 397-1839