Does Hypnotherapy Work?

What is Hypnosis?

Researchers and therapists have liked to argue over whether hypnosis is anything special, does it even exist? It turns out neuroscience is the Hypnotherapist’s friend and is starting to provide evidence via brain imaging that hypnosis is a distinct form of consciousness.

Brain imaging has shown that when someone is in hypnosis, as compared to just resting or daydreaming, different patterns of brain activity are recorded. This includes differences in the areas of the brain associated with thinking or cognition. This research supports the Hypnotherapist’s view that hypnosis enables you to enter a state of internally focused attention, that allows you to become aware of thoughts, feelings and self-beliefs that are normally outside your conscious awareness. And change can follow awareness.

The Subconscious or Unconscious Mind

Therapists tend to refer to cognitive processes (i.e. thoughts and feelings) that are outside our conscious awareness as being part of our subconscious or unconscious mind.  This can be a useful model to help you understand how your day to day thoughts, feelings and behaviour could be negatively influenced by deeper thoughts and feelings that you aren’t aware of.

Shining a light on what’s happening outside your conscious awareness is the first step to changing it. Without this light you’re essentially working in the dark, wondering why you think and feel as you do and being frustrated you can’t change it.

Hypnosis provides the gateway to changing those thoughts and feelings.

What is Hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy is the use of hypnosis therapeutically to help people make positive changes and resolve the symptoms they are seeking help with. In the UK hypnosis practitioners tend to be called hypnotherapists, in the US the term hypnotist is more common.

Does Hypnosis Work?

I’m a hypnotherapist now because it worked for me over 15 years ago. I also have clients who book with me because I helped someone they knew. The NHS recommends hypnotherapy for the treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and some clients are signposted to Hypnotherapy by their GPs.

So hypnotherapy can work. However no type of therapy guarantees a positive outcome 100% of the time. Hypnotherapy can provide clients  with positive, life changing relief of symptoms. However change facilitated by hypnotherapy still requires commitment and work on the client's part. It's a team effort, not a "miracle cure".

What is hypnotherapy and how does it work?

Hypnotherapy utilises the altered state of consciousness of hypnosis to enable clients to become open to learning new positive ways of thinking, feeling and behaving to replace unwanted thoughts, feelings and ways of behaving. This learning takes place at the deep subconscious level and so as your mind accepts these changes permanent, positive change can follow.

A client may be guided into hypnosis by the therapist's voice, simply using words.  The hypnotherapist may guide the client into a deep hypnotic state or they may use "conversational hypnosis" which is a more informal approach. Conversational hypnosis as the name suggests will seem like just having a conversation. Many therapists will work in both ways, depending on which works best for the client.

Anyone can be hypnotised if they want to be. Equally people cannot be hypnotised if they don't want to be. The client remains in control throughout.

How can we use the past for positive change?

The state of hypnosis with its access to your subconscious mind enables access to your past experiences which are stored within your subconscious. For example if someone has lost confidence in their ability to do something we can draw on the past to re-connect them to those lost abilities. If someone feels they have always lacked confidence we can explore the past to see what may have contributed to that.

You may have connected with your subconscious mind before when a particular smell or sound perhaps resulted in you spontaneously recalling some long forgotten event or memory? Hypnosis is a way of connecting more directly to those events and memories which makes accessing them easier. Therapeutically this allows access to any past events that may be contributing to your current issue.

What can hypnotherapy be used to treat?

As a Clinical Hypnotherapist clients come to me for help with a wide variety of problems including:

  • Anxiety: GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder), Social Anxiety, Health Anxiety
  • Panic Attacks
  • OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
  • Fears and Phobias: Including Fear of Flying, Fear of Public Speaking,
    Dental Phobia, Fear of spiders, dogs, heights, claustrophobia, fear of water
  • Test Anxiety including Interviews, Exams and Driving Tests
  • Stress
  • Low self-esteem
  • Lack of Confidence
  • Depression
  • Trauma
  • Addictions
  • Insomnia and Sleep Problems
  • Chronic Pain
  • IBS
  • Quitting Smoking
  • Binge Eating
  • Weight Loss