What is clinical hypnosis?
Clinical hypnosis is the use of hypnosis by a licensed, health care professional to treat conditions that he/she is qualified to treat without hypnosis. Some conditions may respond more quickly to hypnotic interventions.
How is it different from what I’ve seen on the stage, on TV, or in the movies?
The purpose of clinical hypnosis is to help you to reach your goals. The purpose of stage hypnosis is to entertain an audience or to further the plot of a movie.
It would be unethical for a clinician to use hypnosis for anything that does not benefit only you.
What are some common misconceptions and facts about hypnosis?
The first misconception people have about hypnosis is, as stated above, that the person in a trance is under the control of the hypnotist and can be made to do anything the hypnotist wants. You cannot be made to do anything you don’t want to do or are uncomfortable doing. You remain in total control of the situation.
Second, hypnosis is not something that is done to you. All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. It is a skill that you can learn and use to make improvements in a variety of areas in your life, or simply to feel better.
Because you have total control you can end a trance session whenever you feel you would like to end it.
Can anyone be hypnotized?
Research has shown that most people can learn and benefit from the use of hypnosis and self hypnosis as part of their treatment. There are a few individuals who can experience very deep trance states; deep enough to permit them to experience surgery without chemical anesthesia. It isn't necessary for you to be in that deep a trance to benefit from hypnosis.
How can I expect to feel during hypnosis?
We all experience trance-like states several times a day, every day. For instance, if you have ever been reading a book and found yourself able to ‘see’ or ‘hear’ the people written about, or ‘see’ their clothing or the scenery around them, you have experienced a spontaneous trance.
When you are in a hypnotic trance you may find that your mind is very alert and your body is very relaxed. You may find yourself able to see, hear, smell and feel things with your imagination as if they were really happening.
Part of my job, as a therapist, is to teach you self-hypnosis skills that you can continue to use on your own.
Is hypnosis therapy?
Hypnosis is not therapy. Being in a trance sets the stage for therapy, which can proceed at an accelerated rate. I have seen cases in which weeks of work is done in a single session.
Who is qualified to do clinical hypnosis?
People who are licensed to practice a health-care profession are qualified to provide treatment using hypnosis after they receive advanced training in hypnosis. These are people who are qualified to treat you within their area of expertise without using hypnosis. Anyone else who uses hypnosis is what we call a ‘lay hypnotist.’
Did you know that when you go to a hair salon in New York State, the people who wash and cut your hair are licensed to do so by the State Education Department? If the State requires that a person who works on the outside of my head must be properly trained and licensed, I would want only someone who is properly trained and licensed to be working on the inside of my head!
Another very important consideration is the cost of treatment. Lay hypnotists often charge more for treatment than licensed professionals do. In fact, the cost of treatment provided by a professional may be covered by your health insurance.
I believe it is safer, and often less expensive to be treated by a professional.
How can I find a qualified practitioner?
Qualified practitioners can be found at the websites of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH) and its local, component sections. Component sections are located in most states and can be contacted through the ASCH web site: www.asch.net
What are some of the conditions that can be helped with clinical hypnosis?
There is a long list of situations and conditions that are addressed by clinicians within their areas of expertise:
Anxiety disorders – panic attacks and phobias
Childbirth – for pain management during labor and delivery. A relaxed delivery may be accomplished with less need for pain medications. If it is, it has been shown to be beneficial to both the mother and the newborn child.
Dentistry – for pain management and dental phobias
Depression – when we are experiencing a depressed mood, it is difficult to remember that things are not all bad. We can be helped to recall the good times and to anticipate them again.
Dermatology – for relief of eczema, itching, psoriasis and warts
Habits – for nail biting, hair pulling and teeth grinding
Gastrointestinal disorders – irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, Crohn’s disease
Pain management – back pain, cancer pain, headaches and migraines, arthritis, rheumatism and traumatic injuries (i.e., from auto accidents); and in surgery when unusual circumstances where the usual chemical anesthesia is not recommended or when the patient needs to be conscious during a procedure
Sports performance – to improve concentration, and athletic flexibility in the incorporation of new techniques
Weight control – a complex problem in which the use of hypnosis can be part of the overall treatment
What results can be expected?
Different people experience different outcomes; there are no guarantees. However, hypnosis has proved to be a catalyst that hastens desired therapeutic effects and shortens the course of treatments for the conditions listed above, among others.