When they hear the word “hypnosis,” many people think of some mysterious spell-like trance in which self-control is surrendered. That’s a pretty creepy idea.
The use of hypnosis in psychotherapy bears no resemblance to this kind of “stage hypnosis.” Hypnotherapy is simply the use of relaxation methods that allow the conscious mind to rest for awhile, giving better access to subconscious images and motives. We all become “hypnotized” when we daydream or when we get so involved in something we lose track of time. In therapy, this mental state makes it easier to relax and address problems or issues that may otherwise cause too much stress or tension.
Sometimes hypnosis helps access insightful early memories that are not consciously available. It is also useful to tame the anxiety or worry of life, and to restore a feeling of inner peace and relaxation. Patients can also benefit from positive statements given for their use following the session (post-hypnotic suggestions), because there is less guardedness and mental vigilance blocking the way to change.
Hypnotherapy and other relaxation techniques (guided imagery, progressive body relaxation, conscious breathing methods) are used in only a fraction of my sessions, and then only with the client’s agreement and collaboration. Not everyone responds to hypnosis, but those who do find significant benefit from it.