Hypnosis and hypnotherapy are not always widely accepted as empirically provable modalities of treatment, but over time, it has become impossible for the scientifically-minded among us to deny how powerful it is. An article written recently for Time notes how effective hypnotherapy is for relieving pain and anxiety. It also acknowledges that it can help people stop smoking, lose weight, and sleep better. In addition, self-hypnosis is a tool many people use to manage stress and reduce strain so that it has less of a negative impact on their mental and physical health.
What makes hypnotherapy work?
In the Time article, Dr. David Spiegel of Stanford University explains what the process of hypnosis does to a client’s mind. The hypnotherapist, after assessing the client, will relax the client, perhaps by guiding them into a meditative state where they can see themselves in a safe and relaxing place. This visualized trip to a beach or a lush meadow, during which the client is encouraged to engage with all the senses, brings the client into the hypnotic state. The combination of dissociation, immersion, and openness to new experiences gets the client ready for the work of personal transformation.
Once the client reaches this relaxed state, it becomes easier to work on issues and process past trauma. In Heart-Centered Hypnotherapy, the process involves age regression, whereby the client is invited to make connections between current difficulties and past experiences. By revisiting events that occurred at earlier ages, emotions can be processed and deep healing can take place.
This is not the only way hypnosis can be used, by any means. While the client is in this relaxed state, the hypnotherapist can make suggestions to the client that help them to change undesirable habits and behaviors, or to encourage positive experiences, such as being successful at public speaking or flying in an airplane without fear.
This altered state of consciousness the hypnotherapist assists the client in achieving is easy for the client to emerge from. If at any time the client feels uncomfortable, s/he can indicate a desire to stop the process, and come back to a normal waking state.
Hypnotherapy is a safe way to get clients to accelerate the process of their healing. Just by observing the results, we see that hypnotherapy works, but what does science say about the things that actually happen in the brain while a client experiences hypnosis?
Your brain on hypnosis
Dr. Spiegel describes brain-imaging studies that help us to see what happens inside the brain while a person is under hypnosis. It’s not possible to understand everything that is occuring, but there are some clues that provide insight, and correlate to the behaviors hypnotherapists observe while working with their clients.
The part of the brain that helps people switch between tasks quiets down, enabling greater focus. This same region seems to also disconnect from another part of the brain where self-reflection and dreaming are processed. This tends to reduce or eliminate inhibitions on the part of the client. Researchers have been fascinated by the fact that hypnosis can calm brain regions that help control autonomic functions, such as heart rate, breathing, and acid production in the digestive system. This alteration in the brain could account for the deep relaxation clients experience while under hypnosis.
Empirical evidence and medical applications
Beyond psychological applications, hypnosis excites many medical practitioners because of its potential to support certain procedures. For example, more than 30 clinical trials have shown that hypnosis can be used to augment and/or replace sedation during minor surgery. Dr. Lorenzo Cohen of the University of Texas has worked extensively with “hypnosedation” in his institution’s cancer center.
He says that localized breast cancer surgeries, mainly lumpectomies, can be performed on a patient whose pain is numbed with local anesthetic, and whose mind is in a state of relaxation as the result of hypnosis. Dr. Cohen says that these patients tend to heal more quickly, and have less pain, than those who have general anesthesia. This could allow patients to avoid the stress reaction the body undergoes with surgery under general anesthesia. In addition, the immune system, crucial to fighting cancer, is not suppressed, and the body’s fight-or-flight response may be attenuated.
While the clinical studies to which Dr. Cohen refers provide empirical evidence of the effectiveness of hypnosis in medical practice, it’s impossible for research proving the effects of hypnosis to reach the “gold standard” of double-blind research. While it’s easy to use double-blind techniques when testing a medication, hypnosis patients will always be aware that they are receiving treatment.
Even without this kind of empirical proof, the results hypnosis and hypnotherapy produce are profound, and deserve respect as well as attention.
Put hypnotherapy to work for you
With deep healing of traumatic issues, stress reduction, pain relief, and personal transformation among the issues hypnotherapy can help to heal, there’s every reason for therapists to learn how to use it. At The Wellness Institute, you can learn hypnotherapy in just six days!
That’s correct. Our Six-Day Hypnotherapy Training and Certification Program enables you to practice this powerful modality and bring this deep healing to your clients. Learn the history of hypnosis, NLP techniques, the art of induction, and how hypnotherapy can be used to treat a range of issues, from addiction and eating disorders to sexual abuse and people addictions.
On day three of your training, you’ll get the opportunity to act as therapist, client, and observer in closely supervised, one-to-one hypnotherapy sessions. You will receive additional actual experience on days four and five, as well. Once you complete the training and conduct outside practice sessions that meet approval, you’ll be certified as a Clinical Hypnotherapist. That’s all you need to do to start bringing this transformative work to your clients.
In these times when inflation limits the resources of our clients, it will be especially helpful to offer a modality that will accelerate their process and ultimately make their treatment more affordable. The Six-Day Training and Certification Program at The Wellness Institute is conducted entirely online, so you won’t have to travel or pay for accommodations. You can attend the class in any private area of your office or home, while developing the camaraderie of a live-action group experience.
Classes are filling up fast, so secure your space now!