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You’re trying to stop smoking or cure insomnia and you’ve tried all sorts but you’re not really noticing a difference. Someone has suggested hypnotherapy might be able to help. But you’re sceptical - does it really work?
Hypnotherapy is a complementary therapy that uses hypnosis. A hypnotic state, in the medical sense, is the altered state of consciousness you enter when you’re bored, relaxed or doing something repetitive1 – so nothing like the zombie-like stupor popularly depicted in fiction. Nor will anyone click their fingers and instantly send you to sleep. On the contrary, entering a hypnotic state can be a useful tool to help you access your subconscious… and change it.
Hypnotherapy is often promoted as a way of breaking a bad habit, or getting into a good habit. People who are trying to quit smoking, conquer a phobia or overcome insomnia (for instance) may find it helps.
What happens during a hypnotherapy session?
You meet with a therapist to discuss what you want to achieve or change. Together you’ll set out a realistic goal. Achieving your goals may take one, a few or many sessions, depending on the problem. It is advised to keep the number of sessions you need as low as possible, to ensure hypnosis doesn’t become a crutch.
Everyone’s reaction to hypnotherapy is different, and some people require many sessions before they notice an improvement. During or after your session you may find that you become emotional or euphoric, or feel more relaxed or confident. Some patients report sleeping better.
How does it work?
The British Society of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis states: "In therapy, hypnosis usually involves the person experiencing a sense of deep relaxation with their attention narrowed down, and focused on appropriate suggestions made by the therapist."1
In essence, medical hypnosis is a powerful relaxation technique, which allows your brain the time and space it needs to resolve whatever it is that’s troubling you. Scientists can’t agree on how it works, but it does seem to have an effect nevertheless.
One thing that we know is that hypnotherapy will only work if you engage with it1; if you don’t want to become hypnotised, you won’t. You will need to enter any hypnotherapy session with an open mind and a real will to change the problem.
Are there any risks involved?
There are no physical risks involved with hypnotherapy. If you want to stop a hypnotherapy session, you can do so at any point. You’re always in control.
Hypnosis can be particularly useful when employed as part of a holistic course of treatment, in conjunction with medication – especially with things like addictions, which may be both physical and mental.
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