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Does Hypnosis Therapy Work?

Hypnotherapy is the use of hypnosis as a therapeutic tool by a healthcare provider to treat certain medical and mental health conditions. During a hypnosis session, an individual is in a relaxed state, which makes them more open to suggestions about behavioral changes.

They remain aware during their trance-like state. Hypnosis doesn't cause a person to lose control; rather, a trained therapist will use suggestions to help a patient cope with pain or anxiety.

Is hypnotherapy the same thing as hypnosis?

Clinical hypnosis is more specific than general hypnosis. Hypnotherapy is a medical framework backed by research, while "hypnosis" refers to a state of mind. Hypnosis can be brought on by anything from a clinical hypnosis session to stage hypnosis by a traveling charlatan making an audience member cluck like a chicken.

Benefits of Hypnosis as a Part of Therapy

Used as a medical treatment, hypnosis can be used in a variety of ways. Here are a few of the most common uses.

Combined Treatment of Anxiety and Phobias

Psychological treatments with hypnosis can help to reduce stress and anxiety for certain mental health conditions or mood disorders. A hypnotherapy session can also be used to teach certain self-hypnosis techniques that the patient can use as one of their coping skills.

Self-hypnosis allows the individual to bring themselves easily into a meditative state, which can be effective at managing stress or improving mood.

Improving Sleep and Overcoming Sleep Disorders

Hypnosis may help with managing sleep problems such as insomnia. A professional therapist can not only work with their patient in-office, but also train their them to practice self-hypnosis before bedtime to improve sleep. Learning to bring the body to a deep state of relaxation may also help decrease the anxiety that sleep problems can cause.

Behavior Change

Some hypnosis practitioners assist in facilitating behavior change for their clients. The deep relaxation allows them to suggest behavior changes in a way that makes them more receptive. Sessions can include the practice of hypnotherapy for things like losing weight, quitting smoking, treating eating disorders, and other desired behavior changes.

As a Support to Medical Treatment

Clinical and experimental hypnosis is not only used for mental health but is also used as an alternative medical treatment for pain control, to manage the symptoms of certain conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, dental procedures, cancer treatment side effects, radiation treatment, and as a way to calm anxiety for other treatments.

Does insurance cover the cost of hypnosis treatment?

Insurance may cover the cost of a hypnosis session if it is done by a reputable hypnotherapist who is a qualified professional, but this is not always the case. A session with a certified hypnotist typically runs between $75-$125 per session.

Does hypnotherapy work? What the Research Suggests

According to a systematic review published in 2019, hypnosis can produce up to a 42% reduction in pain. Research suggests that hypnosis can have positive outcomes for pain control and for helping to manage anxiety disorders, create a hypnotic state to facilitate behavior change for things such as smoking cessation, reduce phobias, and assist in decreasing performance anxiety.

Similar to what is known as a "flow state," hypnosis may bring you into a state of consciousness that makes you more susceptible to suggestion. Brain images have shown what happens during hypnosis; however, much of the process remains mysterious to researchers.

During hypnosis, the area of the brain that controls autonomic functions calms down, as does the part of the brain that works to switch between tasks. This region also disconnects from the area that allows for self-reflection, which researchers hypothesize may be why people don't worry about what they're doing or who they are in a hypnotic state.

Risks of Hypnotherapy

Like any medical procedure, hypnotherapy may not be for everyone. Around 10%-20% of people cannot be brought into a hypnotic state. People with certain mental health conditions may also not be good candidates for hypnotherapy. This includes people who experience psychosis, delusions, or hallucinations. Some potential side effects of hypnosis include:

  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty sleeping

Note: Do not work with a hypnotherapist who claims to "recover memories" through hypnosis. There have been many recorded cases of hypnotists creating false memories.

Hypnotherapy Techniques

There are typically three steps that are followed during a hypnosis session. The healthcare provider will begin with induction. This is when they bring you into an altered state by speaking calmly and using guided hypnosis methods to help you visualize something soothing and pleasant.

Next, they will work on suggestions. While the conscious mind is in a state of focused attention, it makes suggestions around your goals, whether that includes pain reduction, reducing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, or managing PTSD symptoms.

Finally, after the session is complete, the practitioner will bring you out of the state of hypnosis and back to the present moment.

What to Expect With Hypnosis Work

When attending sessions, dress comfortably, as you may be reclining during the session. In the initial consultation, your psychologist, psychiatrist, or other professional certified in hypnotherapy will ask you about your goals and take a medical history.

They will screen you to determine whether you will be able to be hypnotized using a validated suggestibility scale (hypnosis may not work for certain people). Finally, they will ask you about sensory experiences that make you feel safe and calm and use those in sessions to bring you into a state of hypnosis.

Finding Someone Who Can Practice Hypnotherapy in Your Area

While hypnosis may not work for everyone, it can be beneficial for mental health. You don't have to worry that you'll lose control because the hypnotic state is very similar to that of a meditative or flow state. If you are looking for a professional hypnotherapist to work with you to manage pain for dental procedures or other treatments, you can talk to your doctor--they should be able to refer you to someone in their network.

For behavior change or stress management, you can type "hypnotherapy in my area" into your search engine and research the reviews of the professionals you find. They should offer their credentials on their profile page or have them available to show if you ask for them. Always work with an accredited, certified hypnotherapist.

While Williamsburg Therapy Group does not offer hypnosis therapy, we do offer other forms of therapy for Austinites who feel they can live their lives with more clarity and contentment.

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