When an individual is very relaxed, they can become more open to suggestion. Trained hypnotherapists are experts at helping people reach the state of deep relaxation known as hypnosis.
When a patient is in hypnosis, their practitioner gives suggestions aimed at changing the patient’s behaviour or relieving some of their symptoms, for example to address a fear or phobia, or tackle an addiction.
Hypnosis has been widely used in the treatment of a number of conditions from pain to phobias. Hypnotherapy is also used for the relief of:
- Pain including headaches
- Stress, depression and anxiety
- The treatment of phobias including those of spiders, flying and dentists
- Addictive problems, including binge eating, smoking and alcohol
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- The pain and sickness caused by some cancer treatments.
Self-hypnosis techniques can be taught and are useful for helping people relax in stressful situations, especially when going for medical or dental treatment. They have also been used to help alleviate the pain of childbirth.
Hypnosis is a state of mind accompanied by deep physical relaxation. During hypnosis, your attention is focused within yourself and you become less aware of your surroundings. In this state you are more open to acceptable suggestions and more likely to follow them.
Everyone has the ability to be hypnotised. However, it is easier for some individuals. You have to be willing – it’s impossible to be hypnotised against your will. At all times a patient can choose not to respond to the therapist’s suggestions and come out of hypnosis.
During your first appointment your hypnotherapist will take your medical history and find out more about your reasons for seeking treatment by hypnotherapy. You will usually sit comfortably, fully clothed. Your therapist will put you into a hypnotic state and make therapeutic suggestions based on your individual circumstances or problems.
After having hypnosis people usually describe it as a relaxing and pleasant experience that increases their sense of wellbeing. Most people can remember what happened while they were under hypnosis, much like a daydream.
Each session lasts between 50 mins and one hour. The number of sessions needed depends entirely on each individual.
Hypnosis is not advisable for people with certain mental health conditions such as psychosis or personality disorders. Patients with epilepsy should also be treated with caution as the therapy may stimulate fits.
People with mental health problems and/or serious medical conditions should talk to their doctor before hypnotherapy and search for a therapist with experience in these areas.