Hypnosis is one of several relaxation methods helpful for treating chronic pain, alleviated anxiety, reducing the frequency and severity of headaches, controlling bleeding and pain during dental procedures, quitting smoking and ending alcohol dependence.
Hypnosis achieves focused attention. It is like using a magnifying glass to focus the rays of the sun and make them more powerful. When our minds are concentrated, we are able to use them more powerfully. Hypnosis—also known as hypnotherapy or hypnotic suggestion—has been a healing practice for thousands of years.
Under hypnosis, you're more open than usual to suggestions, and this can be used to modify your perceptions, behavior, sensations and emotions. Although you're more open to suggestion during therapeutic hypnosis, your free will remains intact and you don't lose control over your behavior.
Before using hypnosis, you should wear comfortable clothing to help with relaxation and make sure you're well-rested so you won't fall asleep during the session.
Choose a therapist or healthcare professional to perform hypnosis. When you do find a potential hypnotherapist, ask lots of questions, such as:
- Do you have training in a field such as psychology, medicine, social work or dentistry?
- Are you licensed in your specialty in this state?
- Where did you go to school; where did you do your internship, residency or both?
- How much training have you had in hypnotherapy and from what schools?
- What professional organizations do you belong to?
- How long have you been in practice?
- What are your fees?
- Does insurance cover your services?
In general, a hypnotherapist explains the process of hypnosis and reviews what you both hope to accomplish. The hypnotherapist usually induces you into hypnosis by talking in a gentle, soothing tone and describing images that create a sense of relaxation, security and well-being.
When you're in a deep trance-like state, the hypnotherapist suggests ways for you to achieve specific goals, such as reducing pain or eliminating cravings to smoke. The hypnotherapist also may help you visualize vivid, meaningful mental images in which you picture yourself accomplishing your goals. When the session is over, either you are able to bring yourself out of hypnosis or your hypnotherapist helps you end your trance-like state.
A typical hypnosis session lasts about 30 to 60 minutes. You may benefit from just one session or several sessions of hypnosis. You can usually resume normal activities immediately. You may eventually be able to practice self-hypnosis.
The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis recommends that you choose a healthcare provider who is properly trained, licensed and credentialed. This means that the individual has graduate training and holds a currently valid license in a healthcare field, such as medicine, dentistry, psychiatry, psychology, social work or nursing.
This generally also means that the individual holds an academic degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher education, and has had supervised experience in offering professional services to clients and patients. An additional benefit of choosing a licensed healthcare provider is that your healthcare insurance may reimburse for services provided, although you should determine this in advance by contacting your insurer or asking your provider.