There is much debate as to the history of hypnotherapy. Some believe it to be as old as ancient Egypt, while others place it in the ancient China and Tibet regions. The main purpose of this ancient therapeutic method was to treat mental illness.
Hypnotherapy can be traced back to the earliest civilizations, as records were discovered in the tombs of Egyptian Pharaohs. These ancient civilizations would oftentimes hypnotize people who suffered from diseases or mental disorders to allow them to be healed.
Modern hypnotherapy has its roots in the United States, where it was first known as “snake oils.” The practice of using hypnotherapists for treating psychological issues, especially anxiety, began in the United States during the 1920s. Snake oil became a popular method of treatment for individuals suffering from anxiety disorders. During this time, there were very few qualified licensed hypnotherapists in the United States. Today there are hundreds of qualified hypnotherapists practicing throughout the United States:
- Michael Sealey;
- Joe Treacy;
- Kim Carmen Walsh;
- Paul McKenna and others.
What Even Is Hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is an adjunctive technique that uses hypnotic trance to assist in the treatment of certain mental health issues or symptoms. Hypnotherapy works by causing a highly relaxed, awakened state of awareness that enables individuals to focus on internal experiences and to open up to unconscious memory. Through the use of hypnotherapy, a person is able to access memories and experiences that are normally blocked from consciousness. Many modern hypnotherapists also utilize computer-assisted imagery (CAT) and computer-generated imagery (CGI). The intent behind these techniques is to allow patients to access past memories or to re-experience imagined experiences.
People who suffer from chronic forms of anxiety disorder may experience symptoms of depression, insomnia, social withdrawal, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other emotional disorders as a result of their anxiety. For example, a person who suffers from depression may experience flashbacks and nightmares as a result of their depression. Similarly, people who have PTSD (or post-traumatic stress disorder) may experience flashbacks and nightmares as a result of their experiences in war. By using hypnotherapy, a professional may be able to access the root cause of these symptoms and begin to work with the client on effective treatment strategies for relieving the symptoms associated with the disorder.
Hypnotherapists’ Approach To Different Clients
Because hypnotherapy is an all-encompassing mental health approach, it can be difficult to determine how to approach a client. Hypnotherapists work in various ways. Some work with the client seated in a chair, often with a suggestion that the client makes a “snapping” gesture with their hand or arm. Others work in a sitting position while the client concentrates on counting from one to twenty. Still, others may simply work with the client sitting still in a comfortable chair.
The technique used by the professional during a hypnotherapy session depends upon how the patient is being worked upon. If the client is being hypnotized while seated, it is common for the therapist to suggest relaxing imagery and breathing techniques. With a subject sitting still, suggestions can be made to focus their attention inward. For example, if the person is focused on counting backward from one to twenty, the hypnotist may suggest that they close their eyes and allow the numbers to enter into their mind. Once the numbers have entered the subconscious, the therapist may then give them suggestions to relax the body.
Some People Are More Easily Subjected To Hypnotherapy
With a subject in a relaxed hypnotherapy state, suggestions can be given to help them gain access to the conscious mind where their true goals and desires lie. This often leads to the attainment of greater control over themselves and their thoughts and feelings. After the process is complete, the subject will have entered a trance-like state and will be capable of discerning between real and imagined things. From this point on, the hypnotherapist works to help the person achieve deeper levels of relaxation.
While hypnotherapy is generally viewed as a relatively safe and effective way to make changes in one’s life, hypnosis isn’t for everyone. If you’re considering hypnotherapy, there are certain characteristics that might indicate whether or not it would be beneficial to pursue the therapy:
- Good rapport with your therapist (you should feel like you can trust them completely).
- Comfortability with change (there will likely be some uncomfortable feelings during hypnosis).
- Open-mindedness (more often than not, people who tend towards skepticism don’t do well with hypnotherapy).
People who have already tried other forms of treatment without success may also want to consider hypnotherapy. It could prove very successful where other therapies haven’t.
Reasons People Choose To Go Through Hypnotherapy
Now let’s look at some of the reasons people choose hypnotherapy to help them overcome challenges in their lives.
Quit Smoking or Drinking
Hypnosis can be an effective way to stop smoking, especially if you’re already a heavy smoker and have tried other methods with no success. Many hypnotherapists will work on nicotine replacement therapy during hypnosis so that when the hypnosis session is over, it won’t feel like you need cigarettes anymore. And while many smokers say they would love to give up smoking “if only,” hypnotherapy can actually make this possible for those who truly want to change but just haven’t been able to do it by themselves yet. There are also hypnotherapists who specialize in hypnosis for alcohol addiction, and these hypnotherapists will work on creating new coping skills during hypnosis so that the cravings to drink go away.
Overcome Phobias or Fears
There are many people out there with all sorts of different fears: fear of heights, fear of flying, fear of small spaces (claustrophobia), etc., but hypnotherapy can help you face your biggest fears head-on. During hypnosis, an individual is often placed into a state where they’re more open to suggestions than usual; this means that it’s easier for them to learn how to cope with whatever their specific challenge is. For example, if someone has claustrophobia due to a traumatic experience, hypnotherapy can help them to learn how to face their fear in small spaces. Hypnosis is also very effective for overcoming the fear of public speaking or other types of performance anxiety.
Many people who are obese struggle with feelings of low self-esteem and depression because they feel like they’re “less than” others due to their size. For these reasons, it’s not surprising that hypnotherapy has become an effective way for overweight individuals to get rid of cravings at all hours throughout the day so that gradually losing weight becomes easier instead of feeling impossible! However, hypnosis isn’t just about food; hypnotherapists may work on building positive new habits during sessions so that it becomes easier for people to eat healthily and exercise on a regular basis. Over time, hypnotherapy can help individuals lose the weight that they desire without ever feeling deprived or hungry.
Stress is an inevitable part of life; however, there are ways to make it easier! Hypnosis has long been known as a great way to relax because hypnosis creates an altered state where you feel deeply relaxed but still aware enough so that you’ll know when hypnosis is over (unlike with sleep). Because hypnosis makes us more open to suggestions, many times during hypnotherapy sessions we’ll be given suggestions about how to reduce anxiety-related symptoms like tension headaches, upset stomachs, tight shoulders/neck area discomfort, etc. If you’re someone who has always felt like you need “help” to relax, hypnotherapy can provide that help for you!
It is important to remember that although hypnotherapy is a legitimate form of medical treatment, it should not be used for self-treatment. If you feel that you need treatment for a mental health problem, it is important to seek the advice of a licensed practitioner. Before attempting to treat yourself, you should consult your doctor or healthcare provider to see if hypnotherapy is right for you.