If you’ve ever watched hypnosis on TV then you probably know the drill. A “hypnotist” holds a pocket watch on a chain and then begins to swing it from side to side in front of the patient’s face, softly repeating, “You’re getting sleepy, very sleepy,” until the individual is fast asleep.
Hypnosis is often mimicked or joked about, but it can actually be a part of real healing and therapy. In fact, there is an American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH) which ensures hypnotists are licensed and registered.
What is hypnosis?
According to the ASCH, hypnosis is a state of inner absorption, concentration and focused attention. When our minds are focused it opens up a realm of healing, helps reach potential and can even improve self-control.
Although it has been established that hypnosis does effect the mind, mixed results leave researchers unsure of how exactly it works. A variety of theories have emerged to better understand how a person may react to hypnosis. Some research suggests that hypnosis works best on individuals of a certain height, weight and age. Others believe reactions to hypnosis are based on cognitive and interpersonal components. One thing for certain is that research does support the power of hypnosis to change aspects of a person’s physiological and neurological functions.
Clinical hypnosis is used in three main ways: to encourage imagination, present ideas or suggestions and explore the unconscious.
For the first technique, to encourage imagination, the person under hypnosis may be asked to imagine something in particular. For example, if they have ulcerative colitis, they may be asked to imagine what that looks like. Depending on their depiction they may be asked to imagine the colitis improving and be asked what that, in turn, would look like. Although this may seem symbolic it still proves to be powerful in opening the mind.
Presenting ideas or suggestions which correspond with the patient’s desires is also successful; the person may come out of hypnosis with a stronger drive to complete their goals.
Lastly, exploring the unconscious helps to better understand motives or experiences linked with a problem. It avoids the conscious mind and digs deeper to get at the root of the problem.
5 Benefits of clinical hypnosis
There are many benefits of hypnosis which are backed by research. Here are five benefits one can receive from clinical hypnosis.
1. Improve deep sleep: Swiss researchers measured brained activity in young men and women. They listened to a hypnotic recording or neutral spoken text and then napped for 90 minutes. Although the women were more susceptible to the hypnosis in comparison to the men, both groups who listened to the hypnotic tape experienced deeper, restorative sleep.
2. Ease symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): A 2003 study revealed a 73 percent improvement of symptoms in 204 patients with IBS after undergoing 12 weeks of hypnosis therapy. After six years, improvement was seen in 81 percent of patients.
3. Reduce hot flashes: A 2013 study revealed that women who were reporting at least 50 hot flashes a week reduced their hot flashes by 74 percent after five weekly hypnosis sessions.
4. Pain relief: Two studies confirmed that with hypnosis pain can be greatly reduced, even pain associated with fibromyalgia.
5. Calm nerves: Hypnosis is often employed to relieve anxiety symptoms. There are additional studies in the works to test hypnosis’ effect on depression.
Hypnosis can open up areas of the mind that you may not even be aware of. If you’re interested in trying hypnosis ensure the hypnotist is licensed and registered with the ASCH.
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