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What is Hypnotherapy? Does Hypnotherapy Work?

Hypnotherapy is a form of psychotherapy used to create change in a patient while in a state of sleep, or unconsciousness, known as hypnosis. The word hypnosis comes from the Greek word “hypnos” which simply means, “sleep.” The therapy itself uses guided relaxation techniques from a trained hypnotist that invoke feelings of intense relaxation, concentration, and/or focus to achieve a heightened state of awareness or trance-like state.

The therapy is commonly used as an aid to psychotherapy due to the relaxed nature brought on by the hypnotic state that allows people to explore painful and suppressed feelings and emotions or memories that are often hidden from their conscious minds. This change in consciousness can often lead patients to experience things differently outside of hypnosis, such as criticism at work or home, stage fright, or even pain.

Being under hypnosis is said to allow a person to be more open to both suggestion and discussion when the patient trusts the hypnotherapist. Hypnotherapy has been used to treat a wide range of conditions or unwanted behavior, such as:

  • Phobias
  • Sleep disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Grief and loss of loved ones
  • Smoking cessation
  • Weight loss
  • Those who have psychotic symptoms, such as delusions or hallucinations, should speak to a qualified hypnotherapist to determine whether or not this therapy is right for them.

Methods Used in Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy is commonly used in one of two ways: suggestion therapy and analysis.

Suggestion therapy relies on the patient’s ability to respond to suggestions from the hypnotherapist while in this trance-like state. This method is commonly used to control or stop unwanted behaviors such as smoking, gambling, nail biting, or over-eating. It has also been shown particularly useful in treating pain, or increasing the instance of positive behavior such as self-motivation or confidence.

This method of hypnotherapy is commonly beneficial to hypnotherapists in discovering the psychological root of a problem or symptom, such as social anxiety, depression, or past trauma. These types of trauma are often hidden in unconscious memory and forgotten on a conscious level. Using hypnotherapy for analysis has proven particularly effective at digging into the subconscious memory to attempt to retrieve suppressed memories or early developmental trauma that could result in a wide range of psychological conditions or problematic behavior.

The analysis method of hypnotherapy, sometimes referred to as regression therapy, is more exploratory and related to uncovering the root of an issue, disorder or symptom. A hypnotherapist will hypnotize a patient by putting them into a relaxed state and exploring a past event in their life in order to explore the person’s subconscious and unconscious memory.

This method of hypnosis is not meant to cure or directly change a patient’s behavior. It’s meant to locate a cause and treat it through psychotherapy.

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