Combining cognitive therapeutic counselling with subconscious healing techniques, hypnotherapy is a form of psychotherapy which can help break bad habits and give people greater control over their emotions and behaviour.
While in a state of hypnosis (an altered state of consciousness, in which the conscious mind is calmed), the subconscious mind is more open to suggestion, and can be better influenced to make positive changes.
In a typical hypnotherapy session (lasting about an hour), the therapist will guide the patient into a relaxed state of mind, often through the use of visualisation or deep breathing techniques. Once the patient is in a state of hypnosis, and in a deep state of focus, the therapist will use techniques such as positive suggestion, visualisation, and guided imagery to help patients achieve their therapeutic goals.
For example, a person with a fear of public speaking might be guided to imagine a successful public speaking experience, in order to help overcome that fear.
Who can it help?
Conditions that may benefit from hypnotherapy include stress, weight loss, prolonged grief, addictions, low self esteem, undesirable habits, sexual/sporting/performance/test anxieties, overcoming phobias, and chronic pain.
There are a few popular misunderstandings about hypnotherapy. This kind of healing is not about mind control, and the patient remains in control at all times.
They can choose to accept or reject any suggestions made by the therapist, and are able to come out of the hypnotic state at any time, if they feel uncomfortable.
Hypnotherapy doesn’t involve touch, and some hypnotherapists work remotely, via phone or online. Some people only need one session, while for others it’s a regular, ongoing treatment.
It’s important to work with a qualified, trained hypnotherapist to ensure a safe and effective experience.
While hypnotherapy can been explored in various forms since the eighteenth century, in its modern form it is often applied in conjunction with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
Research in 2021 (published in the Journal of Affective Disorders) found that CBT alone led to a 38.5 per cent reduction in symptom severity for mild to moderate depression, but when hypnotherapy was added to the mix it resulted in a 44.6 per cent reduction.
While hypnotherapy can be an effective tool for treating a wide range of conditions, it’s not a universal panacea and doesn’t work for everyone.
Some people don’t find it easy to enter a state of trance, but those who can say hypnotherapy is a way to get in touch with your ‘better self’, transforming deep-seated thinking patterns and behaviours for a healthier life.