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SMASHING THE 8 MYTHS OF HYPNOTHERAPY
Volume 35

What Hypnotherapy Is

Hypnotherapy may seem like one of those new age healing modalities but it is, in fact, backed by science and has proven helpful in many areas of life.

Hypnotherapy is actually a type of psychotherapy. Clinical hypnotherapy can treat phobias, addictions, relationship issues, work issues, sleep difficulties, anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), grief, obesity, unwanted habits and a host of other emotional issues.

In addition, hypnosis and hypnotherapy can increase motivation; many athletes use hypnosis to improve sporting performance.

Hypnotic Induction

Hypnotherapy is a kind of mind body medicine, and it uses the tool of hypnosis to induce deep relaxation and deep concentration to create change. A skilled and qualified hypnotherapist uses verbal cues, repetition and imagery to induce this deep state of focus and relaxation called a trance state. The process of inducing a trance state is called hypnotic induction.

When in a trance state, the subject is at a very deep level of focus and concentration, which enables them to block out common distractions and become more receptive to ideas, suggestions, etc. In other words, the subject becomes more ready and receptive to change whilst in a trance state.

For example, the subject may be given a suggestion to make adjustments that can improve their mental well-being. At times, the therapist may get the subject to modify or change a negative memory or trauma in the subconscious mind. Healing occurs when the subject starts to interpret situations, feelings, or events from the past differently because of this “change” in consciousness.

THE 8 Common Myths

What Hypnotherapy Is Not

Hypnotherapy is systematic and safe but a majority of people still fear the process. “There are numerous myths regarding hypnosis, most of which come from media presentations.” says Irving Kirsch, a lecturer, head of the Program in Placebo Studies at Harvard Medical School. Such media include fictional films, books and the like.

1. Hypnosis isn’t real. It’s entertainment.

It’s true that there are hypnotists who use hypnosis as entertainment in stage shows. Therefore, one needs to search for a qualified and ethical hypnotherapist who can help one manage one’s emotions. Clinical hypnosis is a kind of medical therapy frequently used in conjunction with established medical techniques. For example, 61% of outpatients accessing daily hospice care who had hypnotherapy improved their ability to cope with their illness1.

2. You lose consciousness or have amnesia when you’re hypnotized.

Most people remember everything that happens when they are hypnotized. Hence, you remain aware of who you are, where you are, and what happens during a hypnosis session. In fact, you become much more focused, and your ability to recall past memories may be sharper.

3. You’re under the control of your hypnotherapist when you’re hypnotized.

Hypnosis is guided by your hypnotist or hypnotherapist, but hypnosis is something you do for yourself. The hypnotherapist is only your facilitator, but you are the one who is the change agent. You cannot be coerced into doing something against your will. You won’t divulge any information that you want to keep private. You do not lose control of your behavior. Instead of letting pain, anxiety, or other unhelpful states take over, hypnosis enables patients to gain more control over their thoughts and perceptions2.

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4. Hypnosis is nothing more than deep sleep.

Hypnosis is not all about sleeping. Yes, you will enter into a specific sleep cycle where your conscious analytical mind (I call it the “stubborn” mind) shuts down and your subconscious mind (the one where emotions are stored) becomes more aware. Some deeper forms of hypnosis may enable your body to appear asleep because it becomes so still and quiet, but you are not asleep.

5. People who get hypnotized are weak-minded.

It is, in fact, the opposite. People who can keep a focused attention and have a creative imagination find it easier to reach a hypnotic state. It takes a very strong person to want to change and seek help to make that change.

6. You can get stuck in hypnosis and be unable to wake up.

Hypnosis is a natural and typical state we all regularly find ourselves in. You will not be “trapped” in hypnosis; the worst that can happen is that you fall asleep — naturally. Hypnosis is safe; the client can easily exit the hypnotic state by opening their eyes, stretching, or speaking.

7. Hypnotherapists have special powers.

Hypnotherapists do not read minds! A hypnotherapist is someone who is trained in the art and science of hypnosis and academically qualified in psychology. Hypnotherapy is merely a practice tool to guide a client toward their self-discovery and personal development. The hypnotherapist understands the mind-body connection and therefore acts as a facilitator for the client to manage issues. In a systematic evaluation of hypnotherapy for terminally-ill adult cancer patients, hypnosis was used to treat several symptoms including pain, anxiety and grief3.

8. I have never been under hypnosis before.

You may be unaware that we all experience the state of hypnosis at least twice a day: shortly before falling asleep at night and just before getting out of bed in the morning. Many people may fall into a state of “environmental hypnosis” while watching TV, driving, reading a book, or watching a movie.

Now that we’ve debunked the myths about hypnotherapy, it does not seem so scary after all, right?

If you’ve ever been hesitant about going through a hypnotherapy session, it’ll be a good time to give it a try now that you have more information about it but you can, and should, still do your own research to find out more). You can be assured that the benefits of hypnotherapy will outweigh the stigma that comes with it.

Hypnosis is safe for all. It can even help those with more severe mental disorders, but please make it a point to find an experienced and trained hypnotherapist who truly understands the disorder. Once you place your trust in your therapist, the healing process will be fast and effective.

Again, if you decide to undergo hypnotherapy, please choose the right qualified hypnotherapist who is ethical and experienced to help you with your issue.

Now that we’ve debunked the myths about hypnotherapy, it does not seem so scary after all, right?

If you’ve ever been hesitant about going through a hypnotherapy session, it’ll be a good time to give it a try now that you have more information about it but you can, and should, still do your own research to find out more). You can be assured that the benefits of hypnotherapy will outweigh the stigma that comes with it.

Hypnosis is safe for all. It can even help those with more severe mental disorders, but please make it a point to find an experienced and trained hypnotherapist who truly understands the disorder. Once you place your trust in your therapist, the healing process will be fast and effective.

Again, if you decide to undergo hypnotherapy, please choose the right qualified hypnotherapist who is ethical and experienced to help you with your issue.

Reference:
1. Finlay and Jones (2011)
2. Heid (2021)
3. Rajasekaran et al. (2005)

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Joyce Hue (Relife Mental Health Clinic Sdn Bhd) is a Mind Therapist, a term she coined for herself as she uses a mix of modalities to help her clients with their issues. She focuses on the subconscious mind and uses techniques like Hypnotherapy, EMDR, Schema Therapy, EFT and Counselling to assist and empower clients to help themselves. She is also active in educating the public and also conducting workshops on psychology related topics. You can reach her at IG @relifementalhealthclinic