Hypnotherapy -- also called hypnosis -- uses guided relaxation, intense concentration, and focused attention to achieve a heightened state of awareness that is sometimes called a trance. The person's attention is so focused while in this state that anything going on around the person is temporarily blocked out or ignored. In this naturally occurring state, a person may focus his or her attention -- with the help of a trained hypnotherapist -- on specific thoughts or tasks.
It's 9 p.m., and you're still at work. You can't relax at home with unfinished work on your desk. And if you don't get this done, your boss will be upset. At least, that's what you think.
It isn't the work that leaves you unable to relax. It's that you see the work as a threat. Stress is not a reaction to an event but rather to how you interpret the event, says psychologist Allan R. Cohen, PsyD. You think, "If I don't work late every night, I will get fired," or "My boss won't like me," or "My...
Hypnotherapy is usually considered an aid to psychotherapy (counseling), rather than a treatment in itself. It helps with psychotherapy because the hypnotic state allows people to enter a deep state of relaxation that can better allow them to explore painful thoughts, feelings, and memories they might have hidden from their conscious minds. In addition, hypnosis enables people to perceive some things differently, such as blocking an awareness of pain.
Hypnotherapy can be used in two ways, as suggestion therapy or for patient analysis.
Suggestion therapy: The hypnotic state makes the person better able to respond to suggestions. Therefore, hypnotherapy can help some people stop certain behaviors, such as smoking or nail-biting. It can also help people change perceptions and sensations, and is particularly useful in treating pain.
Analysis: This approach was historically used to induce a relaxed and uninhibited state to find suspected unconscious causes of a disorder or symptom, such as a traumatic past event that a person has hidden in his or her unconscious memory. Once the trauma is revealed, it can be addressed in psychotherapy. In modern times, hypnotherapy is not often used as a technique within psychoanalysis.
What Are the Benefits of Hypnotherapy?
The hypnotic state allows a person to be more open to discussion and suggestion. It can improve the success of other treatments for many conditions, including: