When we hear the word “hypnosis,” many of us readily conjure the image of a stage magician snapping their fingers and making an audience member do embarrassing things. While this idea of hypnosis is the prevailing understanding, this is not what clinical hypnosis is.
So what is clinical hypnosis (or hypnotherapy)? Clinical hypnosis is not a therapy but a mind-body intervention utilized within a therapeutic setting to create a state of focused attention and increased suggestibility. Here are some key myths and facts about hypnosis:
Myth: The client is in a state like sleep.
Fact: The client is an active participant, who remains aware and able to respond to external stimuli.
Myth: It is possible to be hypnotized against your will.
Fact: If the client is an unwilling participant or resistant to hypnosis, a hypnotic state cannot be induced.
Myth: The hypnotist can make the participant do things against their will.
Fact: The hypnotist only provides suggestions to the participant. If the participant does not agree with the suggestion provided, it will not be followed.
What are the Benefits of Clinical Hypnosis?
Clinical hypnosis has been proven empirically to assist with both mental and physical conditions, such as trauma, anxiety, depression, specific phobias, sleep, and smoking cessation. There is also growing empirical evidence clinical hypnosis is effective in pain management.
While clinical hypnosis is beneficial for many, there are a few exceptions: individuals struggling with psychotic features, such as hallucinations and delusions, or those currently utilizing substances such as drugs or alcohol are advised against engaging in hypnotherapy.
What Does Clinical Hypnosis Look Like?
You might be curious what an experience with clinical hypnosis could look like. Clinicians should thoroughly discuss the steps of clinical hypnosis and answer any questions you might have. The stages of clinical hypnosis include an induction, trance, offering suggestion(s), and reorienting. There are multiple ways to induce trance (hypnosis) and would be based on client preference. During trance, clinicians assist clients in three primary ways:
- The utilization of mental imagery or one’s imagination
- Presenting ideas or suggestions
- Unconscious exploration to gain better insight into underlying motivations or identify whether past events or experiences are associated with a current concern
Again, the effectiveness of clinical hypnosis lies in the way in which it bypasses the critical observation and interference of the conscious mind, allowing space for clients’ intentions for change to take effect.
Every client will have their own unique experience within a session, but typically clients who have utilized clinical hypnosis describe it as being in a calm, physically and mentally, relaxed state.
When considering the use of hypnosis as a therapeutic intervention, it’s important to ensure you are receiving services from a trained professional. There are multiple avenues to achieve this, however, the result is the same – any practitioner wishing to offer clinical hypnosis will go through levels of training, culminating in a prescribed number of practicum hours before full certification is achieved. Often once a practitioner completes a level of training, they will receive a certificate stating they are eligible to provide services, as this is the most effective way to build experience and engage in supervised feedback. If you are unsure if the practitioner you are considering working with has engaged in the appropriate training, ask. Ensure you feel confident before starting. Ultimately, any practitioner who states they can provide clinical hypnosis will also be able to provide other forms of clinical intervention, so openly communicate your questions and concerns to get the clinical intervention right for you.
Lastly, one of the long-term reasons to consider clinical hypnosis is that individuals can be taught self-hypnosis. This provides a long-term intervention that individuals can utilize, even beyond the therapy setting.
If you are interested in setting up your own clinical hypnosis sessions, contact us here!
– By Rebecca Furru, LMSW