By: Laurie Sarah Baxter, CHt
If helping people overcome emotional and physical issues while teaching them to relieve stress from their lives is important to you, then becoming a certified hypnotherapist can be one of the most rewarding careers you’ll find.
The term "hypnosis" comes from the Greek word “hypnos”, which means "sleep." What many people don’t realize is that hypnosis is a completely natural state of mind. While under hypnosis you’ll feel very relaxed, just like that wonderful feeling when you’re tired and lying comfortably in your bed—those last five minutes before you fall asleep, or the first five minutes before you fully wake in the morning. Through simple hypnotic, relaxation techniques you can easily attain this state, at which time it becomes easy—with the help of a trained and certified hypnotherapist—to visualize yourself becoming healthier, happier, more confident, slimmer, or even a non-smoker; whatever it is that you want to achieve. Many people claim that they’re not able to be hypnotized, but will admit to having drifted off while thinking of a loved one, forgetting large chunks of time during a car journey (commonly known as highway hypnosis), or “getting lost” while reading a book or watching a movie. These are all examples of natural trance states. One of the great things about hypnosis is that, in the hands of a reputable and certified hypnotherapist, it’s harmless and produces no damaging side effects while still providing positive therapeutic benefits.
Most people are familiar with “stage hypnosis”, but the difference between this type of hypnosis and hypnotherapy is all in the word “therapy”. Hypnotherapy is a two-way process between the therapist and the client; a professional partnership. A person can never be hypnotized unless he or she agrees and cooperates; while being hypnotized, nobody can make you do anything you do not want to do. This cannot be stressed enough! Those who volunteer to go on stage have chosen to participate, and stage hypnosis is simply a form of entertainment. On the other hand, what certified hypnotherapists do is, by definition, therapeutic.
In 1958, both the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association recognized hypnotherapy as a valid medical procedure. Since 1995, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has recommended hypnotherapy as a treatment for chronic pain.
How does hypnosis work, and how many treatments will it take to produce lasting results?
When something happens to us, we remember it and learn a particular behavior in response to what happened. Each time something similar happens, our physical and emotional reactions attached to the memory are repeated. In some cases, these reactions are unhealthy. In some forms of hypnotherapy, a trained therapist guides you to remember the event that led to the first reaction, separates the memory from the learned behavior, and replaces unhealthy behaviors with new, healthier ones. During hypnosis, your body relaxes and your thoughts become more focused. Like other relaxation techniques, hypnosis lowers blood pressure and heart rate and changes certain types of brain wave activity. In this relaxed state, you will feel at ease physically yet fully awake mentally and may be highly responsive to suggestion. If you are trying to quit smoking, for example, a therapist's suggestion may help convince you that you will not like the taste of cigarettes in the future. Some people respond better to hypnotic suggestion than others. Each session lasts about an hour, and most people start to see results within four to ten sessions. You and your hypnotherapist will work together to monitor and evaluate your progress over time.
What illnesses or conditions respond well to hypnosis?
Hypnosis is used in a variety of settings from emergency rooms to dental offices to outpatient clinics. Clinical studies suggest that hypnosis may improve immune function, increase relaxation, decrease stress, and ease pain and feelings of anxiety. Hypnotherapy can reduce the fear and anxiety that some people feel before medical or dental procedures. Generally, clinical studies show that using hypnosis may reduce your need for medication, improve your mental and physical condition before an operation, and reduce the time it takes to recover. A hypnotherapist can teach you self-regulation skills. For instance, someone with arthritis may learn to turn down pain like the volume on a radio. Hypnotherapy can also be used to help manage chronic illness. Self-hypnosis can enhance a sense of control, which is often lacking when someone has a chronic illness.
Other problems or conditions that may respond to hypnotherapy include: irritable bowel syndrome, tension headaches, asthma, phobias, insomnia, addictions, fibromyalgia, labor and delivery, stress, weight loss, and pain management.