Hypnotherapy

What is Hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy is an alternative or complementary therapy that aims to help a person better understand and manage a range of psychological, physical and emotional issues. It seeks to re-program or modify patterns of thought and behaviour by making suggestions to the client while they are in a trance-like state. In this state, the client is responsive to the therapist while remaining conscious and aware. The therapist guides the process but does not control the client’s mind.

How does Hypnotherapy work?

Hypnotherapy uses guided relaxation, intense concentration, and focused attention to enable the individual to explore painful thoughts, feelings, and memories, including those they might have hidden from their conscious minds. The therapist uses words, phrases and techniques to guide the client into a state of deep relaxation. As the client moves into this state their breathing becomes slower and deeper and their metabolic and heart rate fall. They become detached from their external environment and focussed on their inner experiences. At the same time, the client becomes more open to discussion and guidance from the therapist. Effective hypnotherapy may equip the individual to make positive changes in their life.

What is Hypnotherapy used for

Hypnotherapy is used both as a stand-alone therapy and in conjunction with other therapies. The literature identifies a range of conditions and disorders where hypnotherapy has been used successfully. These include phobias, fears and anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, eating disorders, chronic pain management, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder. Therapists generally consider hypnotherapy to be a safe treatment option, with minimal side effects.

What can I expect from Hypnotherapy

A hypnotherapy session usually lasts about an hour. While one session can be helpful for some people, several sessions are usually recommended. The first session may not involve hypnotherapy. Instead, the client and the therapist may work together to explore the issues the client wishes to manage, to set goals and develop a treatment plan. The therapist may also explain the hypnotherapy process.

Sessions are conducted in a comfortable setting with the therapist using various relaxation techniques to guide the client into the trance-like state. Once this state is achieved, the therapist may introduce several techniques to help the client manage their issues and achieve their goals. These could include exploration of past experiences, talking about the problem that the client is trying to overcome, visualising feeling relaxed when confronting a problematic situation, and developing cognitive-behavioural coping skills that can be used when experiencing anxieties. The therapist may also gently suggest changes in behaviour that may help the client manage the problem. The specific suggestions made by the therapist will depend on the condition or issue the client is seeking to manage. At the end of the session, the therapist will end the trance-like state, bringing the client back to full consciousness.

When doesn’t Hypnotherapy work

While research suggests that hypnotherapy can be helpful for managing many conditions, it may not be appropriate for individuals with severe psychiatric disorders. It should be noted that hypnotherapy is not a recognised alternative to established treatments for disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.
It’s also possible that hypnotherapy is not an effective treatment method for some individuals. The therapy requires a person to focus and enter a trance-like state of hypnosis. For some people this can be very difficult. Also, hypnotherapy may not be an appropriate therapy for individuals suffering from delusions, hallucinations, or other psychotic symptoms.

Things to consider before choosing Hypnotherapy

There is some scientific evidence to suggest that hypnotherapy is a promising treatment for a number of psychological and physical issues. It is generally well-tolerated by clients undergoing the therapy although some people may experience mild-to moderate side-effects such as headaches, drowsiness, dizziness or situational anxiety. To maximise the use of hypnotherapy as a safe alternative therapy option, a trained and certified therapist should be consulted.

Harshani Algiriya - Psychologist at Counselling in Melbourne


This content has been reviewed and edited by Counselling in Melbourne Counsellor Harshani Algiriya.

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