There are many misconceptions and myths about hypnotherapy. You might immediately think of someone watching a swinging pocket watch or a performer getting an audience member to sleep on command. This is the gimmicky, theatrical version of hypnosis, which we certainly don't incorporate at our clinic!
Hypnotherapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses hypnosis to treat mental health concerns.
Hypnosis induces a state of focused attention and relaxation, sometimes called a "trance state," which is actually very natural and common. Consider being engrossed in a good book or driving yourself somewhere without being conscious of how you got there. These are examples of everyday trance states where awareness of your external environment diminishes as you turn your attention inward.
In some ways, hypnosis is similar to mindfulness or guided meditation. The goal is to set aside typical judgments or automatic responses and enter a deeper state of receptiveness and consciousness. In this altered state of awareness, your cognitive, analytical brain is able to "get out of the way" so that your unconscious mind becomes more receptive to healthier thoughts and beliefs that can lead to positive behaviour change.
While hypnosis is abundant with misconceptions and ignorance, research has proven that it is an effective treatment for anxiety, depression, insomnia, pain management, and many other presenting concerns.
While meditating and talk therapy can take a great deal of cognitive effort, hypnosis requires you do to absolutely nothing. Simply sit back and relax while your unconscious mind does all the work on its own.
Although medication is a welcome part of treatment for mental health concerns, some can come with negative side effects. Hypnosis is a simple way to alter your thoughts, feelings, and emotional state without these additional issues.
Although hypnosis is often misunderstood, "the empirical support is unequivocal." Hypnosis has been proven to be an effective treatment for the following concerns (among many others):
Pain management: a study in the Journal of National Cancer Institute revealed that patients who received hypnosis had less post-surgical pain, nausea, fatigue, and discomfort. (They required less anesthesia and sedative during surgery, too!) 1
Weight loss: a meta-analysis published in Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice found that participants receiving hypnosis lost more weight than about 94% of control participants at the end of treatment 2.
Anxiety: a meta-analysis of 15 studies showed that hypnosis led to a 79% reduction in anxiety in comparison to the control group 3.
Sleep issues: hypnosis led to an increase in sleep time and a reduction in the number of awake periods according to a study by the International Journal of Psychological Studies 4.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): a systematic review of 20 studies revealed that hypnosis helped participants effectively manage IBS, mainly in terms of symptom reduction 5.