Hypnosis is a very natural, calm and relaxing experience that we can all enjoy and benefit from. The great advantage of Hypnotherapy is that it makes use of the trance state, a state that we are all very familiar with. Trance brings both your conscious and subconscious mind on board and focused on the same goal. We go in to and out of trance many times a day – when we’re driving to work, when we’re watching Television and even while you are reading this. In fact, we go in to a trance state when we are doing anything that requires our concentration. In a clinical setting a trance state is induced by a Hypnotherapist using guided imagery, stories, metaphors and suggestions which changes unwanted patterns of behaviour and puts you back in control of your life.
Hypnotherapy has been found useful in various neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease, Tics, Tourette Syndrome, Dystonia and Multiple Sclerosis. Some 30–80% of patients with chronic neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, are reported to use Complimentary Alternative Medicine including Hypnotherapy. Two important aspects of hypnosis make it an interesting complementary treatment for patients with chronic neurological diseases: first, it takes individual wellness into account, and not only symptoms; and second, it empowers patients to take a more active role in their treatment.
Hypnosis is used as an alternative therapy for Parkinson’s to reduce the tremor, anxiety, depression, pain, stiffness, libido and increase the quality of sleep and life of patients. There is emerging scientiﬁc evidence from Neuroimaging and EEG studies that mind can inﬂuence the body to balance the self-regulatory systems that control blood circulation, breathing and heart rate. Also, Hypnotic state is associated with modulation of various cortical areas of the brain, including the activation of sensory and motor cortical areas during perception and motor actions, but without external inputs or outputs; thereby indicating its potential usefulness in various movement disorders.
Tics (vocal and motor) and Tourette syndrome are common childhood neurobiological disorders. Frontline treatment includes use of medicines; however, evidence and clinical experience support the use of self-regulation strategies including hypnosis and biofeedback as effective adjuncts or, in some cases, first-line treatments. The disorder has a significant impact on one’s functioning in several domains of life such as at home, school, and socialization. One aspect of TTS that can be very difficult for a child is that “my body is doing something that I don’t want it to do.” The need for self-control and self-management represents a strong developmental drive for all children. Techniques such as biofeedback and hypnosis can assist children by harnessing this innate developmental drive for mastery and autonomy and applying it for therapeutic benefit in the control of their TTS symptoms. Self-hypnosis also utilizes a child’s strong imagination and curiosity to facilitate tic regulation. By using biofeedback or hypnosis, children engage more actively in their own treatment process.
Dystonia and particularly spasmodic torticollis are neuromuscular disorders that are extremely resistant to most therapies (physical, medical, or surgical). Torticollis is a unilateral spasm of the neck muscles, particularly of the sternocleidomastoid, that produces violent, tonic turning of the head to one side. The ethology remains uncertain, although the role of psychogenic factors has been emphasized. There are several case reports of spasmodic torticollis been treated successfully with hypnosis. The series ‘embarrassing bodies’ shown on Channel 4 showed the usefulness of Hypnotic techniques in management of dystonias.
Studies of hypnotherapy suggest a benefit for various types of pain, such as backache, surgery-related pain, cancer pain, dental procedure-related pain, burn pain, repetitive strain injury, facial pain, irritable bowel syndrome, tension headache, osteoarthritis pain and chronic pain. Use of hypnosis in management of pain associated with various disorders have been included in the 1995 consensus statement by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Hypnotherapy in childbirth refers to the use of hypnotherapy to assist in the birthing process. This practice, known as hypnobirthing, functions on the premise that most labour-related pain is the result of fear and tension, which can be diminished or anecdotally eliminated with hypnotherapy.
The hypnotic suggestions can facilitate useful changes in perception and behaviour. Women can be guided into hypnosis by a practitioner during labour or individuals can learn self-hypnosis during pregnancy, for subsequent use during labour. This antenatal training is sometimes supplemented using an audio recording of hypnotic suggestions. For childbirth, hypnosis is often used to focus attention on feelings of comfort or numbness as well as to enhance women’s feelings of relaxation and sense of safety.
Researches indicate that hypnosis is helpful in weight management especially when combined with a weight loss plan that includes nutrition and exercise.
Anxiety is a psychological and physiological state characterized by somatic, emotional, cognitive, and behavioural components. It is often accompanied by physical symptoms such as tremors, heaviness in chest, pain, tachycardia, sweat, headaches etc. Pathological anxiety appears when an individual overestimate the probability that a feared event (catastrophe) will occur, or the severity of the event when it does occur. There is a simultaneous underestimate of the coping resources and the likely rescue factors. The percentage of patients who present to psychotherapy to manage their anxiety is quite high and there is a good evidence to indicate that applying hypnosis and learning self-hypnosis allows the patients to reach a lower level of anxiety symptoms.
It is not uncommon for people who have experienced trauma or acute stress to dissociate from the painful memories and presenting to a psychiatrist or a psychologist with several psychological issues such as Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Acute Stress Disorder or Dissociative or Conversion Disorders. Occasionally patients present to clinics with unexplainable physical symptoms. Dissociation is considered as a defense against both memories of the event and the experience itself. There is now upcoming research evidence to indicate that combination of hypnosis to unpack the hidden painful memories followed by positive suggestions and relaxation and other psychological techniques such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy benefits patients significantly. One of the recent studies showed CBT-Hypnosis resulted in greater reduction in in reexperiencing symptoms at posttreatment than CBT.
Hypnosis has been found helpful in several people in achieving their goal to quit smoking. The basic principle of hypnosis treatment for addiction is to bring those unhealthy thoughts to the surface and to replace them with more positive thoughts that encourage the smoker to cease leaning on something so dangerous to one’s health. Patients may be asked, under hypnosis, to share what they know that the unpleasant outcomes of smoking could be. The idea is to make the patient understand the three critical principles of quitting.
1. Smoking poisons the human body
2. The body is needed to live
3. Protect your body to the extent that you would prefer to live
The art of Self Hypnosis is also taught by the hypnotherapist to be practiced regularly to remain a non-smoker.
Hypnotherapy as an addiction treatment has gained credibility in the medical and psychiatric community. When performed by a qualified clinical hypnotherapist. It can help people in moving forward in their stage of change and relapse prevention. It works best for people who are in the rehabilitation process after their detoxification.
The hypnotic relaxed and suggestible state can help people to get a different perspective on their addictive behaviours. It modifies their pattern of thinking and helps people gain mastery and power to unpack themselves from long-term behavioural patterns that were previously inflexible and rigid.