What is Hypnotherapy? Is it FAKE or REAL therapy?

kati morton

Hypnotherapy is a form of psychotherapy in which a patient is guided into a deep state of relaxation or trans-like state, and once in that state the therapist works with the patient to help them create the change they are looking for in their life.

This is done by the therapist using different guided relaxation techniques, visualizations, and even increased awareness of the mental and physical state, all of which help us slip into this trance.
While in this state, a person is able to shut off any outside noise, worry, or distraction and focus in on specific thoughts or tasks. Since this is done in such a state of relaxation, it can be helpful to try out hypnosis as a way to tap into any memories or experiences that may be too painful to recall consciously. Hypnosis is almost always done in combination with regular psychotherapy treatment.
Being in this trance like state makes us more open to suggestion and change, so it’s VERY important that you know and trust your hypnotherapist. Most commonly, hypnotherapy is used for 2 purposes. 

1. For suggestion. Meaning that people will seek out hypnosis as a way to have someone help them change a behavior they haven’t been able to change on their own. Such as smoking, overcome test anxiety, or even stop nail biting. Many people have also reported using hypnotherapy as a way to better manage chronic pain. 

2. Analysis: Meaning that we would try out hypnosis as a way to explore a very painful root of our issue. For example, let’s say we could never really process through the abuse that caused our eating disorder. Every time it was just too painful and we would dissociate or completely shut down. Hypnosis is another option that can allow us to finally get to the root of our struggles and bring it into our conscious mind. 

ISSUES WITH HYPNOTHERAPY
Due to the suggestive nature of hypnotherapy it is actually a very unreliable form of treatment. While many people have used it to uncover repressed memories, research shows that the quality and validity of these newly found memories isn’t very reliable. Hypnotherapy can even create false memories simply because the therapist could lead us or suggest something to their patient while they are hypnotized. I am not saying that that is done on purpose, but being in that vulnerable of a state can allow us to go along with whatever the therapist says. Hypnotherapy is also not appropriate for anyone with psychotic symptoms such as delusions or hallucinations.

Due to all of these very serious concerns, hypnotherapy isn’t very widely used anymore. While hypnotherapy isn’t brainwashing or a form of mind control, it can lead us to create false and possibly harmful memories, and possibly make our mental illness worse. It is recommended that anyone struggling with a mental illness or mental health issues seek out traditional therapy practices first since they are supported in research and have positive data to support it.
Also, in order for someone to actually be considered a hypnotherapist who can help you better manage any mental health issues you are having they have to be a fully educated and licensed therapist with and then get a certification or license for hypnotherapy. So know that you can ask them what their credentials are prior to making an appt to see them.

Last, know that I am not ruling out hypnosis from helping some of you out there, I just feel it’s important for us to be completely informed and careful when finding the right treatment. Just like I would want you to make sure you like and feel connected to your therapist, I also want you to find a safe and effective treatment for whatever is upsetting you.

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