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  • Pierre Immelman

Hypnosis and Medicine



What’s the difference?

Hypnotherapy is a non-invasive therapy, complementary to orthodox medicine. Hypnotherapy is a quick and effective treatment for psychological and emotional problems with few risks and side effects. Hypnotherapy can accelerate the healing process in physiological problems, e.g. digestive problems, IBS. and in recovery from surgical procedures.

What is hypnosis?

It is imperative that it is understood that there is no such thing as a “special” state of hypnosis. Hypnosis is a trance-like state in which you experience increased attention, concentration, and suggestibility. Hence, while hypnosis is often described as a sleep-like state, it is better expressed as a state of focused attention, heightened suggestibility, and vivid fantasies. People in a hypnotic state often seem sleepy and zoned out, but they are in a state of hyper-awareness. Hypnosis is really a very natural phenomenon that we pass in and out of several times every day. A hypnotic state is simply put a feeling of being relaxed coupled with a heightened state of awareness, all of which is brought about by suggestion.

What is the difference between hypnosis and hypnotherapy?

Hypnosis is a completely normal state of mind that we all go into several times a day. Daydreaming, driving home from work on autopilot, reading a book, and forgetting what you just read after turning the page are all examples of the state of mind, we call hypnosis.

Hypnotherapy is an application of therapeutic methods whilst the patient is in the state of hypnosis. It adopts two different forms in its therapeutic application.

1. Suggestion Therapy: this form of treatment is ideal for helping people cope with such things as smoking, some weight-control problems, stress, hypno-healing (working with the body`s immune and healing systems) and so forth.

2. Analytic Regression Therapy: this approach is used to find and eliminate the causes of the more deep-seated underlying problems, e.g. Irrational fears, emotional problems, sleeping difficulties, stuttering/stammering, anxiety, depression, phobias, etc.

Is there anything magical about hypnosis?

The main worry of most people is that the hypnotherapist will have some sort of magical power over them. There is no magic and the only power used is the power of the subject's own mind.

Will the subject be totally unconscious?

During hypnosis, EEG recordings show that patients are more alert than during the waking state. There is, however, a focusing of attention inwards so that outward attention becomes less, which is like daydreaming or to how you feel in the few seconds before you drop off to sleep. Whilst the person is in a state of deep relaxation, the analytical part of the mind closes, and the unconscious mind opens to listen and to react.

Is the patient subject under the therapist's control?

No. When ‘’under ‘’ hypnosis, the patient does not lose his /her free will. The patient is fully awake throughout the entire session. It is like daydreaming.

How often and for how long will the patient need to attend hypnotherapy sessions?

The average session lasts between 30 - 90 minutes. Ideally, a client should be seen weekly for as long as the symptoms affect daily functioning in terms of emotional, social, and occupational relationships persists. Practice indicates that 3 to 10 sessions helps the client achieve the desired outcomes - the formula for success depends on how motivated the client is in wanting to achieve the desired outcomes, (10% conscious willpower plus 90% subconscious agreement).

What can a you expect to notice whilst in a trance?

Many people are aware of their breathing and what they are paying attention too - some report that trance gives them in many ways a wonderful sense of wellness and tranquillity.

Does hypnotherapy help improve emotional resilience?

Hypnotherapy, particularly ego strengthening, is immensely helpful in developing resilience, whether it is for ourselves, or for our clients. One needs to consider that there isn’t a single ‘magic script’ that does the all-inclusive trick, as for everyone, developing resilience is a personal experience. We each react to stressors differently. What would be a great approach to build my resilience, may have no impact at all on yours, as you might already be sufficiently developed in that area. Also, within the overall domain of ‘individual differences’ are cultural influences, both for an individual’s origin, and the cultural influences of their present circumstances. Childhood can also influence an individual’s resilience. Prof Gunnestad suggests that intellect, physical robustness and emotional stability are foundations for resilience and that these are influenced by a child’s culture and their experiences (see ‘The Handbook for Working With Children and Youth’ for a brief introduction to these concepts). However, studies indicate that hypnotherapy may stimulate the hypothalamus which is involved in releasing neuropeptides that regulate stress and release serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins. Serotonin acts as a natural antidepressant. Dopamine stimulates the reward centres of the brain and the endorphins are natural painkillers.

What tips can I give clients regarding hypnotherapy?

I encourage clients to only relax as much as is good for them during sessions. To experience what they experience next in a way that benefits them and to relax their bodies at a pace that is right for them or to relax their conscious mind as they relax their body.

Clients often ask how quickly they will experience the positive results from hypnotherapy. My reply normally is that there are many relevant factors – such as motivation levels and commitment, which means that when motivation levels and commitment are high, positive results may occur quickly. This means that the client only set the goals and envisage the outcomes, he/she wants from therapy.

Other factors determining success can include the client’s comfort levels, respect and rapport experienced towards me, (the hypnotherapist). The more questions the client ask the more misconceptions can be address and the more comfortable the client makes her/himself the more she/he can relax.

What are the advantages of hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy is a quick and effective treatment for psychological and emotional problems with few risks and side effects. Hypnotherapy can accelerate the healing process in physiological problems, e.g. digestive problems, IBS. and in recovery from surgical procedures. Hypnotherapy can assist in the attainment of a profound level of relaxation with reduction in stress levels. Doctors are becoming increasingly supportive of hypnotherapy as an aid to better health. It is a non-invasive therapy, complementary to orthodox medicine.

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