Updated: Jan 23
The idea of hypnosis inevitably brings up the image of a swinging pendulum and a cajoling voice, and many debunk the idea straight out of hand. But not so fast. Hypnosis—and hypnotherapy—have gained full scientific backing and have been used to treat a wide range of issues, from substance misuse to insomnia.
While there's still some debate over how hypnosis really works, the fact that it does work has been proven beyond dispute. Hypnotherapy's potential health benefits have been acknowledged by countless healthcare providers and organizations, including the American Psychological Association, the Mayo Clinic, and Stanford Medicine. If you're still dubious or would like to know whether hypnosis and hypnotherapy might be an option for you, read on.
What is hypnotherapy?
Hypnosis is a calm, trance-like state characterized by heightened relaxation that's induced by a trained hypnotist or hypnotherapist. Though we may think of hypnosis as mysterious, it's anything but. If you've ever been jerked out of a daydream by a loud noise or voice, you know what hypnosis feels like. Under induced hypnosis, however, people tend to be more focused and aware than in a regular daydream.
How does hypnotherapy work?
To induce a hypnotic state, a therapist will lead a guided visualization to a place that makes the client feel calm and safe, like a beautiful landscape or a favorite vacation spot, that's been discussed beforehand. As the client enters the visualization they fall deeper into an immersive, dissociative, and deeply relaxed state fairly quickly—so relaxed that hypnosis can be used instead of anesthesia in the operating room. Because people are more receptive in this state, the hypnotist can then work with them to make suggestions about behavioral changes or by reframing their experience to help bring about desired changes in waking life.
What is it for?
Done under the guidance of a trained hypnotherapist, hypnotherapy has been proven effective for a wide range of behaviors, from anxiety and mood disorders to chronic pain, sleeplessness, and certain addictions. Hypnotherapy is not controversial, but there is still some debate on its effectiveness for certain conditions. While scores of scientific papers have validated its use for the purposes listed above (and many more), scientists are still divided as to its effectiveness for treating trauma or other conditions that can involve memory retrieval, since memory is notoriously unreliable. On the other hand, therapists can use hypnosis to safely explore painful memories, since under its influence clients tend to be more detached and can more easily confront areas that have proven difficult to access or explore in normal consciousness.
How do I know if I can be hypnotized?
Not everyone can be hypnotized, but scientists estimate that about two-thirds of people can. If you're wondering, consider how easy it is for you to visualize things such as a beautiful sunset or the face of a movie star in your favorite movie. If that's easy for you, it's a good bet you can be hypnotized. Here is one reliable test to predict if you'd be a good candidate.
Who does hypnotherapy and how do I find them?
There are many ways to search for a hypnotherapist online, but do be sure that the person you settle on is fully certified by a legitimate institute, and especially one you feel you can trust. At Theravault we offer professional psychotherapists who are also trained and certified to provide effective hypnotherapy.