How hypnotherapy can help improve your health and wellbeing
Dec 14, 2021, 4 min read
Hypnotherapy has been around since the 1800s. Before the advent of chemical anaesthetics, Scottish surgeon James Esdaile performed hundreds of operations in India using hypnotherapy as an effective anaesthetic. Ever since the late 20th century, hypnotherapy has served as a powerful complementary therapeutic and wellbeing tool. How does hypnotherapy work and how can it help?
How does hypnotherapy work?
During hypnotherapy, therapists guide clients into a state of deep relaxation and peace. They do so by speaking in a gentle, soothing tone, often describing images that create a sense of security and well-being. This relaxed state gives us a way to bypass the conscious levels of the mind and tap directly into deeper, subconscious where our thoughts, feelings, or urges are beyond our control.
While its mechanism of action is still unclear, research has shown that when under hypnosis, patients reveal less “mind wandering”, however it is not clear if this is due to the hypnosis itself or the relaxation state that the hypnosis puts them in.
Working with a trusted, qualified hypnotherapist, you can make changes to your feelings, habits, and even your body.
4 ways hypnotherapy can help improve your health and wellbeing
You may have heard of people using hypnotherapy to help them stop smoking, but its benefits have been shown to extend to a wide variety of problematic habits.
Some studies show that hypnotherapy can be effectively combined with nicotine patches to help people stop smoking. While hypnotherapy won’t remove the need to exercise your willpower, it can help change the way you think about smoking.
There is also strong evidence that hypnotherapy alongside diet changes and exercise routines can help clients lose weight. One 2014 study of 60 obese women found that hypnobehavioural therapy helped participants lose weight, helped them change their eating behaviours and improved their self-image.
Clients with insomnia and other sleep disorders can also benefit from hypnotherapy as part of their efforts to develop good sleep hygiene. A 2008 study looked at the effectiveness of hypnosis when used in conjunction with other sleep disorder treatments. Researchers found that hypnotherapy helped patients with acute and chronic insomnia respond better to relaxation therapies and was helpful in treating parasomnias like bedwetting and sleepwalking.
Gut and digestive issues
Hypnotherapists have been offering treatments for digestive conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) since 1984. And while we’re still not sure how it works, hypnotherapy seems to help ease symptoms from these conditions.
During treatment, a hypnotherapist typically explains to patients how the gut functions, getting them to use various visual and tactile sensations to imagine their bowel working normally. Over time, direct physical effects can emergel. For example, reducing bowel contractions or the bowel lining becoming less sensitive to pain.
More recently, medical science has found extensive evidence of the mind-gut connection. Researchers into mental health have started to examine the gut biome for insights into depression or anxiety disorders.
Depression, anxiety and panic disorders
Depression, anxiety and panic disorders are all complex conditions, and different clients respond to different treatments. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, and nor should there be, given that these conditions affect individuals in different ways. Hypnotherapy can be helpful for many clients, especially in conjunction with more traditional treatments like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
Hypnotherapy can help clients manage symptoms of depression like intrusive thoughts or rumination, and help clients manage thought processes and attentional focus. Hypnotherapy is earning its place in the range of treatments for clients with depression.
For clients who struggle with anxiety, the experience of entering a relaxed state alone can be deeply healing. This deep relaxation associated with hypnotherapy is more than just a respite. A skilled hypnotherapist allows clients to examine how they experience their panic attacks or anxiety without the overwhelming fears accompanying the actual attacks. They can think back to the causes of their anxiety and explore their coping strategies from a place of emotional safety.
Hypnotherapy is an incredible process that allows us to open up the communication between our conscious and subconscious. Giving us access to the deeper levels and parts of ourselves that we can’t access in our normal waking conscious state. Access to these deeper levels enables us to work on letting go of negative experiences, thoughts, feelings, self-beliefs and coping mechanisms that can be at the root of the anxiety and depression symptoms that at least 1 in 4 adults are experiencing every year - Caroline Michael, hypnotherapist at Augmentive
Hypnotherapy can also be a significant step in the desensitisation process for specific phobias. The calm state clients find themselves in allows them to think about their phobias in a secure environment, which weakens the connection between the phobic object and their stressful, adrenaline-based response.
Pain management and relief
Pain management through hypnotherapy can be an effective way to help clients deal with a wide variety of different types of pain, both acute and chronic.
Hypnotherapy designed to help clients deal with pain is typically focused on teaching the skills required for self-hypnosis and management. Clients learn how to identify the onset of pain, place themselves into the necessary trance state, and deal with their symptoms.
Hypnotherapy-based pain relief can have several advantages over pharmaceutical options. Opioids have a high risk of dependency. Many high-strength painkillers come with side effects such as nausea or vomiting and can lose effectiveness over time. Hypnotherapy can help to mitigate pain with none of these risks. Additionally, research suggest that patients who treat their pain with hypnotherapy spend less time in the hospital and have better overall outcomes.
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