Treatments

Erika Slater Head and upper torso image2For many years health challenge treatments were focused on medications only. But there is a sweeping change upon us as medical science begins to understand the power of our own system to aid our wellness, and the harmful side-effects of many medications.

Treatments in many health issues today aren’t just about prescription drugs but includes therapies that tap into our body’s own ability to fight “invasions” using the power of our own mind. In most instances this isn’t instead of, but in addition to, prescribed medication. But where prescription drugs have not, or cannot, help, then other therapies are sought.

Treatments today need to provide long-term solutions and not just address symptoms, and the selection of materials you’ll find here cover insights into hypnosis, mental illness, cognitive behavioral therapy, stress and anxiety, and much more.

Enjoy the articles.

Suicide: Suicidal Thoughts and Prevention and Treatments

By Erika Slater
Woman sitting alone on rock staring out to sea in thoughtful pose

Woman sitting alone on rock staring out to sea in thoughtful pose

In this article you’ll discover:

  1. How to break through the stigma and start the discussion with those contemplating suicide.
  2. The four types of suicide and common myths surrounding those with suicidal thoughts.
  3. Current treatments and what you can do to help a loved one or friend, and those impacted by somebody who takes their own life.
  4. Further reading, studies and resource links around suicidal thoughts and treatments.

Suicide is one of the most difficult topics to talk about because of the stigma attached to it.

A few years ago, suicide jolted my life. I was in shock for a long time. But this isn’t the place to linger on my specific incident but it raised a lot of questions about suicide as a topic for me and it felt the right timing to do research to get some answers now there’s been some time distance since it happened.

It isn’t just the stigma alone that deters people from discussing it, but also the ‘concern’ talking about it may actually lead someone to contemplating it, or following through on thoughts they have about taking their own life. But research tells us this just isn’t reality. Not talking about suicide is more likely to lead to a tragedy.

Throughout time, suicide has been deemed; a ‘sin’, an act of cowardice, behavior that demonstrates complete selfishness, or a response to mental illness (depression), and even in some cultures, a dignified act under certain circumstances.

When you view suicide within any and/or all of these contexts, you can see why discussing it for some people would invoke the same feelings as discussing politics or religion. Most have different views about suicide, and it can be taboo to discuss it just like politics and religion.

The sad part is, when someone close to you, or someone you know or are aware of, takes their own life, regret becomes hindsight, which is always 20/20. The ‘ifs’ come into play – “If only I would have just listened to them, or encouraged them to talk about it…” Taboo and discomfort aside, suicide is, and should always be, a topic to put “out in the light” and discussed!

 

CHANGING THE CONTEXT AND DISCUSSION:

Man offering supporting hand to girl who is depressedOften times it takes a major media event to shed light and bring to the public’s attention how serious a problem suicide truly is. Moreover, when it involves an individual with celebrity status taking their own life, whether it be Kate Spade (American fashion designer) or Anthony Bourdain (CNN chef and storyteller) in 2018, the general public becomes ‘more’ aware suicide is indeed a problem and real.

The sad part is, people tend to become more cognizant of people taking their own lives when a celebrity commits suicide, that the majority of others taking their lives, perhaps numbering in the hundreds every month, are never made known to the public. The moral of the story, society grieves celebrities who take their own lives, but it doesn’t grieve enough for the everyday “Joe’s” and “Jane’s” who take their lives.

Suicide should not be glamorized or manipulated by the media to get ratings because someone famous has died. It should be discussed in the media, in schools, in households more often to not only inform people, but rather offer hope and support there is help out there. Too often times, this isn’t done and this is how in some cases, suicide can, or could have been, prevented.

If the way society approached suicide is ever going to change, it first has to change the way it perceives this horrific event. Throughout history, suicide has always been a topic of ‘tainted’ discussion. Many elementary schools and high schools have tended to shy away from discussing it as part of the curriculum, or as a general topic. Too many parents of the children in schools, and school boards have always viewed it as taboo – thinking… it may give children ideas.

Interestingly, in these same schools, iconic literary works such as Shakespearean plays as well as other novels are still a part of the curriculum having at the core of their romantic tragedies suicide as ‘the answer’, or suicide in some instances was the honorable thing to do for the main characters in the story’s plot. This is how most of us are introduced to suicide, but isn’t how it should be.

When people think about or read about suicide, they often compartmentalize it or stereotype it as being the mere act of one killing themselves because they are unhappy with their life or they’re deeply depressed. As true as this can be, suicide runs much deeper in terms or underlying causes, as well as one eventually following through in taking their own life.

 

THE FOUR TYPES OF SUICIDE:

Emile Durkheim did a study on the types of suicides nearly 70 years ago [1] and came up with four distinct causes or reasons individuals commit the act. He asserted suicide types will often times fit into one of these four categories; Egoistic, Altruistic, Anomic and Fatalistic.

Egoistic Suicide is the type of suicide most people associate with when they read about a death in the media or in schools. The suicide is based on extreme feelings of loneliness, or rebuff – either from a personal rejection, or overall from society. Over a period of time a sense of ‘loneliness’ will be perceived by the individual and this may lead to intense feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and haplessness.

Rather than dealing with this internal struggle of rejection, they choose to end their lives by believing they’ll find some sense of solace, or believe they’re doing others a favor by disappearing for good. Furthermore, some may even take their own lives to ‘punish’ those who have rejected them. Many of this ‘suicide-type’ have low self-esteem and often dissociate themselves from others.

Altruistic Suicide is the type of suicide often times associated with martyrdom, or a sense of self-sacrifice for the greater good. You read about this more in the media today when it comes to terrorism or cult affiliations destructive in nature. A suicide bomber is willing to walk into a market place (bomb strapped to their bodies) to die for the name of their group or cause. You see this also in some cult groups such as Heaven’s Gate, who killed themselves believing they’d catch the Hale Bopp Comet back in the late 1990’s, or the infamous Jonestown Massacre led by Reverend Jim Jones in the 1970’s in Guyana.

Anomic Suicides are usually the least predictable type of suicides carried out during intense periods of stress or frustration, or after a person has experienced a major traumatic loss in their lives. At the root of it, individuals believe they’ve lost their ability to control things, their lives, their personal relationships, etc. Whatever degree of balance and control they believed they had in their lives gets turned upside down and they feel vulnerable. Unfortunately, great financial loss is often times at the root of this type of suicide and you see it in some gamblers who’ve lost their entire savings.

Fatalistic Suicide is the final type of suicide. It’s a different type of suicide in that an individual perceives themselves as having little to no value, and literally struggles with an identity crisis – “Who am I?” In the past, this type of suicide was strongly linked to ‘countries’ or regimes where members of society were suppressed and oppressed. It was common in communist countries.

Today with more insight into spousal abuse or extremely abusive dysfunctional families, this type of suicide can be linked to one feeling overwhelmed and victimized whereby they develop intense feelings of hopeless, helplessness and haplessness. For them, suicide feels like the best and sometimes only option to be ‘free’.

 

TWO COMMON MYTHS ABOUT SUICIDE AND FOUR QUESTIONS:

Woman sitting on rock staring out to sea feeling depressedAs I mentioned earlier, there are common myths linked to ‘suicide’. The first is, feeling if you discuss it, it may lead someone to actually killing themselves. Secondly, if someone is talking about killing themselves, they probably are not serious because they wouldn’t be talking about it in the first place.

These are both dangerous myths which can lead to further isolation by those considering suicide.

Discussing suicide will not put ideas into peoples’ heads that weren’t already there. Just because someone is depressed or, down and out, doesn’t make them stupid! If they have thoughts about suicide, then those thoughts have most likely come long before your discussion with them.

All discussion or threats about suicide should be taken seriously!

Of course, if someone is ‘joking’ and using sarcasm to refer to themselves in that light, most individuals are wise enough to discern it isn’t a true threat. Conversely, if one is discussing suicide and death often, or out of context, then you should take it seriously and use what experts refer to as the ‘Four Questions’ – Why, When, How and Where?

The first question, which is perhaps the most obvious one to ask an individual who is threatening to commit suicide is, “Why do you want to kill yourself?” The reason this question is important is two-fold. First off, it assesses the degree of severity for how intent one is on following through with suicide. By asking this question, you see what the trigger or cause is, or was, that led the individual to want to take their own life.

Secondly, this question demonstrates the ‘thoughtfulness’ for the intent of taking one’s life. It first serves as thoughtful for the listener to gauge how serious they are in committing suicide. Next it demonstrates the severity of the potential act for the one wanting to commit it. They may have thought it through, but actually hearing it in a conversation with someone else may make them refrain from doing it, and following through, because they may have an ‘ah-ha’ moment whereby they realize how irrational their thinking is. For some potential suicide victims, they want to be heard, felt understood and wanted, so asking them ‘why’ may provide them with this.

The second question to ask a potential suicide victim is, “When are you planning to take your own life?” The rationale for asking this question is to determine not only how serious they are, but where they are in terms of planning the event. If they can offer you a specific date and/or time, they obviously have put some serious planning into it.

Furthermore, when they’re able to qualify the rationale for their timeline, the likelihood of them doing it goes up to an even higher level of concern. For example, if they inform you they plan on doing it after a major holiday or event because they don’t want to ruin things for their loved ones, or that this is going to be their final good-bye, you can be sure they’re extremely serious!

The third question to ask is, “How do you plan on taking your own life?” Do they have a plan in place and the means for carrying it out? When asking this question, you’re finding out if they already possess the means for taking their own life. If they inform you they’ve gotten sleeping pills because they’re afraid of a violent death and they ‘just want to go peacefully’, they have motive, rationale and means. Conversely, if they’re in possession of firearms and believe in a quick harsh type of death, then once again, they’re demonstrating their level of severity and intent.

Finally, you want to ask them, “Where do you plan on committing suicide?’, to see if their plan is complete and close to fruition. When they tell you, they plan on going to some secluded area, or even checking into a hotel so their loved ones will not be the ones to find them, they’ve also put empathy and sympathy into their equation, meaning they’ve totally thought their plan through. When they’re already demonstrating remorse before committing the act and ‘sorry’ to those who will find them, they are beyond a shadow of a doubt serious!

 

SUICIDE AND MENTAL ILLNESS:

Somebody with a serious or chronic mental illness is at an increased risk of suicide. This includes those people diagnosed with Schizophrenia, Bi-polar and PTSD [2] because these can have severe depression as a symptom and we know from experience depression can lead to people taking their own life if not diagnosed and treated. Depression itself can be treated with medication and other therapies [3] but we also know those suffering with mental illness can stop treatment and quickly slip back into being at risk once again.

However, research tells us a few things to be careful about assuming with mental illness. Not all people with mental illness have suicidal thoughts or are at risk, and not all people who commit suicide have a mental health issue causing them to suffer from depression [4]. One recent study in China has particularly thrown doubt on conventional wisdom and rethinking the role of mental illness in suicide [5].

If you’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness or caring for somebody who has it, then being vigilant and aware of the risks and ensuring treatment is ongoing can reduce anxiety over potential for suicide.

 

TREATMENTS AND WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Woman in counseling session looking depressedCrisis situations should be treated as an emergency calling 911 or a local emergency number. There is also the National Suicide Prevention Number at 1-800-273-8255. At the emergency room in a hospital you’ll be treated for any injuries, and if appropriate receive medications to help with the crisis and allow you to be assessed for any follow-up treatment you may need [6].

Non-crisis situations are usually addressed by common outpatient treatments depending on a professional assessment include: psychotherapy, medications, addiction treatment, and family support and education.

Psychotherapy by trained counselors and therapies used can include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) [7], Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) [8] and other therapies suggested by an attending psychiatrist.

Medications help reduce symptoms and tend to include those used for depression but because some of these provide an opportunity for overdose then the choice can vary. “Antidepressants, antipsychotic medications, anti-anxiety medications and other medications for mental illness can help reduce symptoms, which can help you feel less suicidal” [6].

As mentioned not all suicidal thoughts are rooted in mental illness, and drugs and alcohol addiction can spark situations and/or mood disorders leading to attempting suicide. Treatments include detoxification, addiction treatment programs and support groups. Primary physicians and addiction counselors can assess and recommend appropriate treatment and programs.

It’s often the case that family members, even immediate family, can be surprised by a suicide or attempted suicide. “I never knew” or “if only I’d known…” are frequent refrains. There can be a desire to “keep it under covers” or not subject others to guilt or shame of suicidal thoughts. The person may also feel if they share their thoughts it will create family conflict and doesn’t want to be bothered or deal with it. Because of HIPAA laws them medical professionals may feel they can’t reach out to the family unless the patient will harm themselves or others. However, if the patient is willing to share their situation with family then a strong family support network can be built and often provides the key to getting the person, not only the help they need, but providing support during their treatment.

But what can you do if and when you know or suspect someone is serious about committing suicide? There should be little to no hesitation on your part once you’ve examined the severity of the intent of the individual! The potential victim needs to be psychiatrically assessed and therefore needs to be taken to a hospital and receive the proper care and assessment.

 

HYPNOSIS AND SUICIDE:

There are few if any available studies published on use of hypnosis with those suffering with suicidal thoughts. There are studies on use in depression and I covered these in “Can Hypnosis Really Help with Depression and How Does it Work?” [3]. As depression is a common symptom in those considering suicide then hypnosis can offer an alternative if medication and other therapies have not helped or can provide complimentary therapy to these treatments.

As my article on depression mentioned hypnosis itself isn’t a therapy but a vehicle for providing treatment by a skilled therapist who may have a number of techniques with a patient in a trance state to help control symptoms. For those with suicidal thoughts not caused by depression but a traumatic life event, then a professional hypnotherapist can aid with helping the patient navigate through the loss and negative emotions they’re feeling.

For those suffering the loss of someone to suicide or anxious for somebody who is going through suicidal thoughts then hypnosis can provide reduction of stress or anxiety for family members or close friends. It is easy to overlook the grief or helplessness of others who are impacted by the knowledge or events of what somebody else is suffering.

We are social creatures and shouldn’t underestimate bonds we have with others be they family members or close friends, and our own sense of loss or being anxious about a potential loss. Of particular concern are best friends who are at risk of entering depression at the loss of somebody who they view as center to their life. There are hypnotherapists who specialize in grief through loss and helping people through an emotional and difficult time.

If hypnosis is an avenue you wish to explore then discuss with your primary physician who can help with a referral or perform your own scan and find a local hypnotherapist experienced in helping those with depression.

 

CONCLUSION:

Suicide is often considered a taboo topic to discuss and because of this it often goes unnoticed in ordinary day to day living until a celebrity commits suicide and then it becomes a media frenzy and topic for all the wrong reasons. Normal people are struggling with suicidal thoughts every day and looking for help and understanding. Important lives are being lost because the “cries for help” are going unnoticed or not acted upon by others.

Suicide isn’t just the domain of the mentally ill and depressed, although these with severe depression are higher risk. It also walks the corridors in those who’ve suffered a traumatic event or loss and immersed in a deadly cycle of grief. Whatever the cause the myths surrounding suicide, and its discussion, include those who feel if it’s talked about it’s more likely to make the person act on their thoughts. Alternatively, if somebody is talking about their suicidal thoughts, they’re not really serious about it as if they were, they’d keep it to themselves. Both of these we know are myths.

There are a number of treatments available for those considering suicide. These include medications and psychotherapy. Therapy allows a professional discussion to happen with the person in an attempt to begin the long-term healing process. Therapy to support or replace medication with particular diagnoses includes CBT, DBT, hypnosis and other specific alternatives.

In closing, all discussions or intended attempts with regards to suicide should always be taken seriously!

One talk may be all it takes to save someone’s life.

If you’re specifically grieving the loss of somebody close then you can download a free hypnosis session to help on coping with the suicide of a loved one here >>>

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES RELATED TO SUICIDE:

[1] Le Suicide – Emile Durkheim >>>

[2] Mental Illness and Suicide >>>

[3] Can Hypnosis Really Help with Depression and How Does it Work? >>>

[4] Examining the Claim that 80–90% of Suicide Cases Had Depression >>>

[5] Rethinking the Role of Mental Illness in Suicide >>>

[6] Suicide and Suicidal Thoughts – Mayo Clinic >>>

[7] Cognitive Behavioral Therapy 101 >>>

[8] Dialectical Behavior Therapy – Psychology Today >>>

Library of Self-Hypnosis Downloads Products >>>

Erika Slater CH
Free At Last Hypnosis
Massachusetts

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What are Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms and Treatments and Can Hypnosis Help?

By Erika Slater
Young woman experiencing irritable bowel syndrome or other gut condition

Young woman experiencing irritable bowel syndrome or other gut condition

In this article you’ll discover:

  1. What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms and treatments, and current thinking around these topics.
  2. The psychological impact of IBS and how it can impact more than just your health.
  3. How hypnosis can help with the treatment of IBS and the expectations you should have for outcomes.
  4. Further reading, studies and resource links around IBS and various treatments.

While Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) has been around a long time, what’s different now is medicine is identifying it more readily, as well as more sufferers are seeking medical attention for treatment. Furthermore, the fact our diets of today have become more laden with additives and chemicals has also contributed to IBS being a more common condition.

IBS causes its sufferers tremendous discomfort, pain, and worry. Not knowing when it may strike causes psychological impact leading to stress in itself. For those with severe symptoms it can be a debilitating condition and impact quality of life.

Below I’ll discuss current thinking around what is IBS, its causes and symptoms, and treatments available. How it impacts more than just your health and who’s at greatest risk to develop it. Studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of various treatments in particular around integrative and alternative medicine. I’ll conclude with a section devoted to hypnotherapy and how it can realistically help as a treatment.

Let’s get going…

 

WHAT IS IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME (IBS)?

Man holding stomach experiencing gut painIBS is a functional gastrointestinal disorder with chronic, and even debilitating symptoms that often times include; abdominal pain, bloating, and altered bowel behaviors such as constipation and/or diarrhea, and most times alternating between these two symptoms.

IBS is the most common gastrointestinal condition worldwide and the most frequent disorder presented by patients consulting a gastrointestinal specialist – gastroenterologist [1].

IBS can begin in childhood, adolescence, or adulthood and can recur unexpectedly for periods at any age of the individual’s life.

Most people with IBS have unique experiences within the range of known symptoms. IBS conditions can significantly decrease a person’s quality of life.

It’s worth noting only about 40% of those who have IBS symptoms seek help from a physician [1].

IBS has been referred to by many different names – mucous colitis, nervous colon, spastic colon, and irritable colon. IBS often times gets confused with colitis or other inflammatory diseases of the intestinal tract.

 

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF IBS?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome often times has as its most prevalent symptoms abdominal discomforts such as bloating and cramping, and of course the more intense symptoms are chronic diarrhea and/or constipation. Most time individuals will experience a culmination of these symptoms, not only on a weekly basis, but on a daily basis. As the disorder progresses and becomes more intense, the symptoms appear more frequently. The individual who suffers with IBS recognizes the disorder is out of hand when the symptoms are so frequent and intense they hinder their daily living and lifestyles!

When an individual has IBS they’re more prone to a sensitive digestive system with heightened reactivity, so their gastrointestinal tract responds quite differently to normal gut stimuli, such as the passage of solids, gas, and fluid through the intestines. These less than normal movements may result in difficulty passing stool, or sudden and urgent elimination. Up to 20% of those who’ve IBS report untimely passage of stool [1].

Individuals with IBS who experience bowl disorders often times are experiencing stress and anxiety which can exacerbate or perpetuate the symptoms! Bowel experiences and their unpredictability can lead to a high degree of anxiety for IBS patients. Stool consistency may vary enormously, ranging from entirely liquid to so firm and separated that it resembles small pebbles [1].

There are a host of symptoms occurring outside of the digestive tract that often times related and comorbid to IBS. These include; sleep disturbances, fibromyalgia, chronic pelvic pain, back pain, interstitial cystitis, temporomandibular joint disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and migraine headaches.

There have been more current studies and stats showing even more prevalent symptoms that can be related to IBS. It was found female patients who have IBS have also reported discomfort during sexual intercourse (dyspareunia). One survey showed 32% have some form of mood disorder, 27% have gastroesophageal reflux disease, and 27% have anxiety disorder [1].

 

HOW IBS AFFECTS MORE THAN JUST HEALTH:

Depressed young woman sitting on floor cryingThe majority of people with IBS often feel they can’t engage in work or social activities away from home unless they’re certain there are easily accessible bathroom facilities available. Some sufferers are in such pain even the slightest movements makes them feel uncomfortable. The chronic and continual pain and frequent bowel movements and the preoccupation with an inability to eliminate stool may make school, work, and social situations difficult for many individuals with IBS.

What often times gets overlooked though are the psychological factors that accompany the illness. Many of those suffering with IBS experience a diverse wide gambit of emotions triggered by IBS that vary in intensity. These psychological and emotional symptoms usually include; anxiety, frustration, depression, shame, fear, self-blame, guilt, anger, low self-esteem leading also to a lack of confidence. This can then create a vicious cycle as the stress and anxiety of these emotional symptoms can lead to worsening of their IBS by “feeding” the condition.

 

WHAT CAUSES AND TRIGGERS IBS?

As of this moment the primary cause or causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome hasn’t been determined. IBS presents as a functional disorder with altered patterns of intestinal muscle contractions. According to the Mayo Foundation of Education and Research [2], there are a diverse range of factors contributing to IBS. These factors can include any of the following:

Nervous system issues: When you’ve abnormalities in the nerves in your digestive system, this may cause greater than normal discomfort when the abdomen stretches from gas or stool. Poorly coordinated signals between the brain and the intestines thus cause the body to overreact to changes that normally occur in the digestive process, which can result in pain, diarrhea or constipation.

Muscle contractions in the intestine: We all have muscles in our intestines that aid in moving food through the digestive tract. Unfortunately, sometimes these muscles contract too intensely which can lead to bloating, gas and diarrhea. Conversely, when the muscular contractions are weak, it can lead to constipation.

Inflammation in the intestines: In some instances, IBS sufferers may possess too many immune-system cells in their intestines which actually create the pain as well as the diarrhea.

Changes in bacteria in the gut: Everyone has what is called microflora, which are good bacteria that maintain positive health in the intestines. Research shows those with IBS may have differing microflora than healthy individuals.

Severe Infection: Research has also shown IBS may develop by a severe bout of diarrhea that was induced by a virus or infections.

There are a host of contributing factors leading to the triggering of IBS, even when its been controlled for a long period of time. Food allergies appear to be one of the leading causes of symptoms. Some people experience worse symptoms when they consume wheat or dairy products, and several kinds of fruits, legumes and cabbage. For some it can be spicy foods.

Some individuals have as their triggers, ‘stress’! Many sufferers will assert when they’re under prolonged stressful periods in their lives, or the stress is intense, their IBS flares up. It’s important to note stress exacerbates it, but does not actually cause IBS! Women who have IBS are more prone to develop intense symptoms triggered by hormonal changes. Many women report during menstrual periods, they experience their worst set of symptoms.

 

WHO IS AT GREATER RISK FOR IBS?

There seems to be various attributes which might make one individual a greater risk for IBS than others. According to the Mayo Foundation of Education and Research [2], a host of factors needs to be considered.

First off, it would appear IBS is more prevalent in females, at least in the USA. Research has shown estrogen therapy, before or after menopause, is a risk factor. It can be more age specific occurring more frequently in people under the age of 50. Furthermore, genes tend to play a role in IBS. Either shared genes or shared environments may come into play. It could also be families share similar eating habits. Finally, one’s mental health and emotional state can serve as triggers. IBS is more common during times of anxiety, depression and other mental health ailments. Furthermore, it’s been linked to mental, emotional, physical and sexual abuse.

 

IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME TREATMENTS:

Pathophysiology of irritable bowel syndrome chartThere are a range of treatments for IBS from medical to dieting to alternative therapies.

Medical treatments usually include; muscle relaxers, anti-diarrheal medications, stool softeners, as well as anti-biotics if there’s intestinal infections or viruses. No doubt these should be prescribed and monitored under the guidance of a medical physician after tests have been run to determine the type and severity of the IBS in a patient. Some doctors may also recommend medications for pain caused by the cramps and discomfort.

Some medical practitioners will prescribe laxatives as well as fiber-based products for those individuals with IBS who have constipation problems. Even though these medications do not need a prescription, they should first be approved by physicians.

For those individuals who suffer from mental illnesses, such as anxiety and depression, they may require anti-depressants and tricyclic antidepressants, a type of medication that relieves depression, as well as inhibit the activity of neurons that control the intestines to help reduce pain.

Most medical doctors will recommend improved dieting which can help reduce the triggers as well as the severity of IBS outbreaks. Doctors may refer patients to a dietitian to make sure they’re eating properly. Most dietitians will recommend patients with IBS to avoid problematic foods that can trigger their symptoms. Furthermore, practitioners will suggest patients’ ‘experiment’ with fiber. The hope with increasing and using fiber is it can reduce constipation. Unfortunately, in some cases the increased fiber diet can lead to gas and bloating, whereby a ‘fiber supplement’ may need to be used to eliminate the issue. This is why a good dietitian comes in to play to help the IBS patient find the proper balance!

There is evidence suggesting that conventional medicine alone isn’t as effective as integrative medicine where the focus is on controlling stress and relieving the symptoms. “In short, IBS is much better treated by integrative medicine than by conventional medicine [3]. There are alternative approaches too such as cognitive behavioral therapy [4], reflexology, reiki, meditation, and hypnosis. All of these approaches are aimed at helping patients with IBS manage and control their stress, which if left untreated can prime the IBS pump.

Hypnosis particularly has a long history of treating IBS and helping sufferers control their symptoms, and there has been sufficient scientific research and studies performed suggesting it as a viable treatment for IBS. It’s also beneficial because it can be applied ongoing. Because of this the next section is devoted to answering the question “can hypnosis help sufferers of IBS?

 

CAN HYPNOSIS HELP SUFFERERS OF IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME?

Walking talking with her therapistFirst off, some basics of hypnosis and how it works for IBS sufferers…

Hypnosis is an altered state of mind and leads to a heightened state of awareness. Individuals are able to shift their focus to specific qualities of an experience and hold them there. This means they can put their attention on thoughts leading to what they want, and avoid focusing on what they don’t want. Our brains are naturally wired to focus on what we don’t want, such as to avoid feeling the pain and stress of IBS leading to their symptoms.

Unfortunately, this negative focus tends to keep the problem in our subconscious. Under hypnosis we can learn to train the unconscious mind to instead focus on the positive – what we want!

In hypnosis, and through tunnel vision, you’re able to isolate, intensify and ingrate your focus on one key perception or experience and hold your concentration there. You only see, hear and feel what you choose to. Everything surrounding the experience gets blocked… the pain and discomfort of IBS!

Under hypnosis, the hypnotherapist offers post-hypnotic suggestions which can be used in the future by a patient. In this case whenever someone with IBS begins to get too stressed out, or they feel the pain from the symptoms of their IBS, the post-hypnotic cues kick in and the individual “nips things in the bud” so to speak before the symptoms overtake them.

Dealing with IBS using hypnosis is also called “gut directed hypnotherapy” and there have been studies conducted to determine the effectiveness for this treatment on IBS. One study was conducted with follow-up over 5 years [5]. Improvements in symptoms and quality of life were experienced by patients in the study. “The beneficial effects did not appear to decline with time since patients who had finished treatment more than five years ago maintained symptom improvement just as well as those who had completed only a year ago. Similarly, extra-colonic features, quality of life, anxiety, and depression scores were still better at follow up compared with pre-HT levels” [5].

The study concluded: “… the beneficial effects of HT are long lasting, with continued improvement in symptoms, thus giving patients better control over their condition” [5].

The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders – IFFGD –
wrote “research has found that hypnotherapy may help improve the primary symptoms of IBS. It may also help relieve other symptoms suffered by many people with IBS such as nausea, fatigue, backache, and urinary problems. Hypnotherapy appears to offer symptomatic, psychological, and physiological benefit” [6].

Multiple hypnosis sessions with a qualified hypnotherapist should be planned for gut hypnotherapy. The number of sessions can vary depending on type and severity of symptoms but will fall within the range of 2-12 weekly sessions. Ongoing therapeutic treatment can be accommodated by more sessions, use of recorded sessions on CD/MP3 media, and training for the patient by the hypnotist in self-hypnosis, or a combination of all of these. Most professional hypnotists can teach self-hypnosis to clients as part of their program. Self-hypnosis is the ability of a client to enter the hypnotic trance state by themselves without the guidance of a hypnotist.

While hypnosis offers an effective treatment for those suffering with IBS this doesn’t mean other treatments should be abandoned, and common sense would suggest paying attention to a healthy diet “soft on your gut” is an important component as well, and coming off medication should always be discussed with your doctor first.

Hypnosis offers a viable treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome and your next step should seek out a professional hypnotherapist with experience in treating the condition and discussing with them if it’ll be able to help and ease the symptoms you’re experiencing.

 

CONCLUSIONS:

Irritable Bowel Syndrome seems to be one of those modern conditions but in reality, has been around for a long time. IBS can be debilitating for sufferers impacting their quality of life and even making them housebound and shunning social contact outside their home.

While you should seek out advice from your Doctor and consider medical treatment for your symptoms, current thinking is integrative medicine and some alternative therapies offer more viable long treatment for the condition.

One of the treatments available is hypnosis, and this helps control common triggers for bringing on IBS. Because there’s a strong link between stress and triggering of IBS, hypnosis provides a treatment to reduce stress and lessen the symptoms of the condition. If Irritable Bowel Syndrome is putting limits on your life the check out this self-hypnosis session for IBS here >>>

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES RELATED TO IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME:

[1] Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) – Canadian Society of Intestinal Research >>>

[2] Irritable Bowel Syndrome – Mayo Clinic >>>

[3] Hypnosis for IBS? – Andrew Weil, M.D. >>>

[4] Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) 101 >>>

[5] Long Term Benefits of Hypnotherapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome >>>

[6] Hypnosis for IBS – International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders >>>

Library of Self-Hypnosis Downloads Products >>>

 
Erika Slater CH
Free At Last Hypnosis
Massachusetts

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Can Hypnosis Help as a Treatment for Sufferers of Tinnitus?

By Erika Slater
Tinnitus woman sufferer holding her ear with pain

Tinnitus woman sufferer holding her ear with pain

In this article you’ll discover:

  1. Different forms of Tinnitus sounds, and what can cause it including physical and psychological conditions.
  2. How to go about getting a diagnosis and the various forms of treatments available depending on the diagnosis.
  3. How hypnosis can help with the treatment of Tinnitus and the expectations you should have for outcomes.
  4. Further reading, medical studies and resource links around Tinnitus and various treatments.

Have you ever experienced ringing, pulsating sounds or buzzing in your ears? Have you had this problem for some time and it makes you feel uncomfortable, and at times disrupts your life?

This “ringing in your ears” is commonly referred to as Tinnitus. Tinnitus is believed to affect at least 10-15% of the general population, with 5% of those experiencing it are severely impacted in performing day to day activities.

Often times, it’s referred to as a phantom auditory sound as the noises someone with tinnitus experiences are present in the absence of external noise. Individuals suffering from tinnitus may also experience tension in their neck, jaw, and head, which can lead to headaches. Furthermore, when it’s acute tinnitus can lead to psychological issues such as an individual experiencing anxiety and depression.

The medical profession recognizes generally two types of tinnitus: Subjective Tinnitus and Objective Tinnitus.

Subjective tinnitus is “Head or ear noises that are perceivable only to the specific patient. Subjective tinnitus is usually traceable to auditory and neurological reactions to hearing loss, but can also be caused by an array of other catalysts. More than 99% of all tinnitus reported tinnitus cases are of the subjective variety” [1].

Objective tinnitus is “Head or ear noises that are audible to other people, as well as the patient. These sounds are usually produced by internal functions in the body’s circulatory (blood flow) and somatic (musculo-skeletal movement) systems. Objective tinnitus is very rare, representing less than 1% of total tinnitus cases” [1].

I’ve personally lived with tinnitus for a long time. Like so many I’ve got used to it and I’d consider it mild compared to many others. I’ve known people though at the extreme who’ve been driven to considering suicide. One of those I’ll talk about later and how they overcame it.

My goal in this article is to provide some general information about the tinnitus condition (specifically we’ll cover subjective tinnitus), various treatments available, and how hypnosis can realistically help sufferers. Let’s begin by discussing what tinnitus is all about and how it’s caused…

 

WHAT IS TINNITUS AND WHAT CAUSES IT?

Sound waves hitting ear for auditory testingTinnitus is the sensation of hearing sound when no external sound is present. Commonly known as “ringing in the ears” the sound and its level varies from sufferer to sufferer.

With some its a mild background noise with minimal impairment on daily life. With others it can be a constant uncomfortable sound causing major disruption in their lives.

The Mayo Clinic defines tinnitus and its symptoms as: “Tinnitus is the perception of noise or ringing in the ears. Tinnitus isn’t a condition itself – it’s a symptom of an underlying condition, such as age-related hearing loss, ear injury or a circulatory system disorder” [2].

Tinnitus symptoms include these types of phantom noises in your ears: ringing, buzzing, roaring, clicking, or hissing.

The phantom noise may vary in pitch from a low roar to a high squeal, and you may hear it in one or both ears. In some cases, the sound can be so loud it can interfere with your ability to concentrate or hear actual sound. Tinnitus may be present all the time, or it may come and go” [2].

What is the cause of tinnitus?

Is it really a by-product of listening to blaring music as a kid, or having too much ear wax build-up? Not necessarily in all cases! It was once believed that tinnitus was caused by resultant damage to microscopic nerve endings in the inner ear. More current research asserts tinnitus is a symptom and not an actual disease, as a result of an injury to the peripheral auditory system, hearing nerve or auditory centers in the brain.

However, there are a variety of other causes that have been associated with tinnitus. The more common causes are eardrum perforations (sometimes the result of sticking Q Tips in your ears), over-wax buildup, ear infections, barotitis, which is when your ears get blocked after flying in an airplane, extreme noise exposure, head injuries, grinding your teeth, as well as advancing in age, while being exposed to noise over the years.

There are more complex causes of tinnitus, such as medical conditions referred to as otosclerosis, which is an abnormal bone growth in the middle ear. Also, intense periods of stress as well as certain medications, such as aspirin in high doses have also been linked to tinnitus.

The fact is tinnitus can develop at any time in a person’s life with many long time suffers not recalling when it started and what event brought it on.

In the next section I’ll cover getting a diagnosis for tinnitus and common treatments for it.

 

DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENTS FOR TINNITUS:

White noise machine

By Morn – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69998806

Regardless of how long you feel you’ve suffered with tinnitus if you haven’t been diagnosed before then you should make an appointment with your Doctor and get a referral for an audiological exam. Your Doctor can perform exams on your upper body and ears to rule out other causes of “ringing in your ears.”

The audiological tests can also help rule out other causes by comparing your hearing levels to what is normal for your age.

The sounds you hear can help your doctor identify a possible underlying cause” [3]. The pitch and the type of sound you hear can determine if the symptoms can be caused by muscle contractions, ear canal blockages, ear wax build up or a foreign body in the ear canal.

Certain heart and ear conditions can cause tinnitus symptoms which can be uncovered with physical exams and CT and MRI imaging tests.

However, in many cases the cause of the tinnitus won’t be found, and so the focus will be on treatments to reduce the impact on your life.

So, how does one treat tinnitus?

There is currently no scientific cure for tinnitus. The treatments mentioned below help reduce the impact on sufferers but there is no one treatment preferred over another as depending on the cause – if discovered – different treatments and sometimes in combination will help individual cases. It’s a question of trying and seeing which treatment(s) work for you under the guidance of your Doctor and potentially other specialists and professionals.

These treatments and tools, “help patients manage their condition; treatments that reduce the perceived intensity, omnipresence, and burden of tinnitus. These currently available treatments are not “cures” — they neither repair the underlying causes of tinnitus, nor eliminate the tinnitus signal in the brain. Instead, they address the attentional, emotional, and cognitive impact of tinnitus. They help patients live better, more fulfilling, and more productive lives, even if the perception of tinnitus remains” [4].

Common treatments include: ear wax removal, treating vascular conditions through surgery, medication changes if its known a medication you’re taking can cause tinnitus-like symptoms. Leveraging noise suppression devices can help such as white noise machines and other noise-masking devices along with hearing-aids. Tinnitus retraining involves “A wearable device delivers individually programmed tonal music to mask the specific frequencies of the tinnitus you experience. Over time, this technique may accustom you to the tinnitus, thereby helping you not to focus on it. Counseling is often a component of tinnitus retraining” [3].

Doctors suggest quitting smoking for smokers, as well as limiting consumption of alcohol, caffeine, salt in diets, and taking aspirin. In cases where the ailment causes concentration problems, fatigue, depression, anxiety and sleepless nights, medication is prescribed to help with these symptoms. Medications tackling tinnitus directly include Tricyclic antidepressants, and Alprazolam, although they don’t cure tinnitus and have potentially harmful side-effects and because of this tend to be used only in severe cases.

Many individuals have reported benefits using alternative therapies such as acupuncture, supplements and vitamins, and hypnosis. Hypnosis can be effective for helping in shifting one’s concentration off of the “ringing in the ears,” thus allowing sufferers to reduce the tinnitus to low-level background noise. As hypnosis as a treatment touches on my professional training I’m going to share current thinking on this as a treatment in the next section.

 

CAN HYPNOSIS PROVIDE TINNITUS RELIEF?

Mind conscious emotions connections conceptAs with other treatments you should consider hypnosis to help alleviate the impact of tinnitus on your life but not cure it completely. While organizations like the American Tinnitus Association (ATA) fund and promote for a cure for Tinnitus, current common treatments aren’t providing this cure. Likewise, while there is no literature identifying research on specific medications for tinnitus being undertaken by pharmaceutical companies, the expectation is it would alleviate symptoms rather than offer a common cure if a drug was successfully manufactured. In the U.S. we tend to look for a “magic pill” for anything as the ideal solution when it tends to only tackle the symptoms rather than offer a cure.

This is universal in chronic disorders impacted by our psychological condition.

Before approaching hypnosis work with your Doctor to ensure your tinnitus isn’t due to a medical issue such as a tumor or other physical condition that can be medically treated. A hypnotist would require you to do this before starting any program. There are also studies suggesting that sufferers with hearing loss are not helped using hypnosis.

Hypnosis also tends to be a last resort for many problems, when all other clinical treatments have failed to help. This skews the people who come to hypnosis to get relief as the most chronic sufferers who have tried everything else with no positive impact. Hypnosis generally then attracts the toughest and most stubborn conditions of tinnitus, when it can potentially provide help to all level of sufferers. This fact is frequently overlooked when researchers or the medical community compare hypnosis with other treatments.

As is similar to other conditions tinnitus sufferer’s impression of their own condition strongly affects the impact it has on them. Or, put another way, the intensity of the condition can be attributed to psychological reasons. This isn’t saying the sounds heard are not “real” just, like pain in a joint, the intensity level can vary day to day and so the impact can be influenced from a psychological perspective. As hypnosis has long been used to help with pain relief management [5] it shouldn’t be a surprise hypnotherapist’s offer sessions for tinnitus sufferers. Clinical literature has reported its use for tinnitus with case reports for 50-years or longer [Pearson M, Barnes L. Objective tinnitus aurium: Report of two cases with good results after hypnosis. J Phila Gen Hosp 1:134–138, 1950].

A study has been conducted on the applicability of self-hypnosis as a treatment for tinnitus [6] and concluded it can be a viable treatment. Self-hypnosis is when the patient enters hypnosis by themselves directly or by listening to a recorded session led by a hypnotist. Self-hypnosis provides the opportunity for a patient to leverage the benefit of hypnosis whenever needed without having to schedule an appointment with a hypnotist. Most professional hypnotists – myself included – can provide the training and/or recorded session, for a patient to enter self-hypnosis.

There are different hypnotic techniques used by hypnotists when working with tinnitus patients. One of the more prevalent used today is what is called Ericksonian Hypnotherapy. Milton Erickson is a famous psychiatrist who specialized in medical hypnosis and family therapy. He developed a style of hypnosis using indirect suggestions tapping into stories and metaphors rather than the more common direct hypnotic suggestions. A small clinical trial was conducted on specific use of Ericksonian Hypnotherapy and it demonstrated that “Ericksonian hypnosis, in particular using self-hypnosis, is a promising technique for treating patients with tinnitus” [7].

A criticism leveled at results of clinical studies using hypnosis as the main treatment for tinnitus is they’ve been mostly conducted by hypnotherapists so a bias was present from the start. In addition, the professional hypnosis field includes those who advocate only using the process they’ve developed and while using a professional hypnotherapist who has successfully helped tinnitus sufferers is a logical first-step, suggesting only one technique preferred by a psychologist or hypnotherapist is the answer is… illogical.

The translation of sounds into something we hear is complicated but we do know while the ears receive the sounds the actual interpretation of those sounds is produced in our brain. This has led to the belief that many cases of tinnitus are psychological in nature and can be influenced by treatments aimed at reducing negative emotional issues such as stress, anxiety, fear, and depression. As we know our emotions are controlled by our subconscious and as hypnosis works with our subconscious mind then treating tinnitus conditions this way is a viable treatment.

Hypnosis has also long been used to change habits such as addictions for example smoking and unhealthy eating. Charles Smithdeal, MD, FACS, C.Ht, is a former tinnitus and hyperacusis sufferer, a board-certified Hypnotherapist and Otolaryngologist, and has argued “The most crucial factor in whether we’re able to ignore (habituate) a stimulus is whether it’s associated with a positive or negative emotional response.” He’s also written “Your conscious mind can pay attention to about a hundred bits of information at any given instant; however, there are millions of information bits bombarding you constantly, some deemed by your mind to be more important than others. These bits, or stimuli, include sight, touch, smell, taste, and hearing. The relative importance of the stimuli is always changing, so the degree of attention you grant them also changes. Your conscious mind chooses to ignore any not deemed threatening, challenging, exciting, rewarding, or essential to your survival. That is, your brain ignores things it considers unimportant” [8].

On the other hand, your brain will not allow you to ignore any stimuli associated with dangerous or unpleasant situations. While you certainly wouldn’t want to teach your brain to ignore life threatening situations nonetheless turning down the volume dial on emotions that impact the level of suffering invoked by pain or tinnitus is a valid therapy to consider.

Back to Charles Smithdeal again “Many people who undergo hypnotherapy are able to influence the characteristics of their tinnitus, and some can actually reduce its volume, just as people learn to reduce pain through hypnosis” [8].

Kevin Hogan is another psychotherapist specializing in hypnosis and who is also a sufferer of tinnitus and advocate of hypnotherapy use in relieving tinnitus. Hogan’s tinnitus at one point was impacting his life to such a depth he freely admits he was considering suicide and writes about this in a personal account and how he recovered [9]. Hogan is an accomplished Psy.D and a straight-shooting down-to-earth psychologist, and used self-hypnosis in order to successfully bring his tinnitus under control to the point where it doesn’t impact his life any longer. Hogan wrote a book called “Tinnitus: Turning the Volume Down” and has also developed a CD/DVD self-hypnosis program – Tinnitus Reduction Program – both aimed at tinnitus sufferers [10].

Similar to Smithdeal, Hogan advocates seeking out a hypnotherapist specifically trained in dealing with tinnitus. Many people prefer seeing initially a hypnotherapist before moving into self-hypnosis, particularly with an issue like tinnitus. This helps speed up the process and provides professional guidance to get the patient moving in the right direction quickly rather than being distracted by also learning the techniques and nuances of self-hypnosis. Most hypnotists can provide self-hypnosis training as part of their tinnitus program.

There are different hypnosis techniques used by hypnotherapists in dealing with tinnitus. These include Regression Therapy, Ericksonian Hypnosis (or indirect suggestion), and traditional direct suggestion therapy. There is no one size fits all for a specific client and an experienced hypnotherapist should be able to determine the right approach to help a client, and it could be a combination of these techniques plus other therapies such as EFT – Emotional Freedom Techniques.

Regression therapy takes you back to a point in time before tinnitus was impacting your life to determine the cause or trigger of the onset. Once this trigger is identified then the therapist can work using other techniques to help reduce the impact. Many times, patients cannot recall the event or time when it first started but under hypnosis the unconscious mind can often yield up the event.

Ericksonian or indirect hypnosis as I discussed earlier uses hypnotic techniques such as stories, metaphors and other language techniques to produce outcomes, rather than direct suggestions to get a patient into trance and provide indirect suggestions once in there. Many professional hypnotists learn traditional direct suggestion hypnosis when starting out as their primary therapeutic technique, and advance to Ericksonian and Regression therapy in order to provide more options for different types of issues and client responsiveness [11].

To be clear using hypnosis for tinnitus is not as a cure, but it has been successful in reducing the volume of tinnitus to a point where for some it’s not noticeable at all, and for others its impact is minimal and still allows them to lead a normal life. Use the resources identified below to find out more about the treatments for tinnitus and in particular about hypnosis and your next step should this be an avenue you determine makes sense to explore further for your condition.

As Tinnitus is one condition that can be classified under the general term of noise sensitivity – Hyperacusis is also included – then you may be interested for further reading on an article I updated recently called “Treatments for Noise and Sound Sensitivity Including Misophonia and Hyperacusis” and linked below in the resource section [12].

 

CONCLUSIONS:

Tinnitus is a condition that can be caused by different physical and psychological issues. There is no known cure for it but an array of treatments is available and some can be used in combination and aimed at lessening the impact on a sufferer so they can lead a near normal life. The intensity of the sounds varies and this can dictate what type of treatment is used.

Anybody afflicted with Tinnitus at the onset should seek medical evaluation in case it is caused by a medical condition requiring surgery or can be lessened by other medical procedures. Once its determined the sound is psychological in nature then hypnosis is a viable treatment for many people and both used as the primary treatment or in combination with other forms.

Discuss your condition with an experienced hypnotherapist trained in Tinnitus recovery and who can also teach you self-hypnosis so you’re able to continue with hypnosis outside formal practice sessions. The relief for most Tinnitus sufferers is a reduction in volume so the remaining noise can be effectively “tuned out.”

You can get a sense of a self-hypnosis session aimed at reducing tinnitus noise using hypnosis here >>

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES RELATED TO TINNITUS:

[1] Understanding the Facts – ATA >>>

[2] What is Tinnitus – Mayo Clinic >>>

[3] Tinnitus Diagnosis and Treatment – Mayo Clinic >>>

[4] Treatment Options – ATA >>>

[5] Hypnosis for Management of Pain Relief – A History and Uses >>>

[6] Efficacy of Self-Hypnosis for Tinnitus Relief >>>

[7] Ericksonian Hypnosis in Tinnitus Therapy >>>

[8] Hypnotherapy and Tinnitus >>>

[9] Recovering from Tinnitus – Kevin Hogan Personal Account >>>

[10] Hypnosis: Can It Really Stop Tinnitus? (Updated July 2018) >>>

[11] Who Invented Hypnosis and What’s the History of Hypnotherapy >>>

[12] Treatments for Noise and Sound Sensitivity Including Misophonia and Hyperacusis >>>

Library of Self-Hypnosis Downloads Products >>>

 
Erika Slater CH
Free At Last Hypnosis
Massachusetts

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The Pros and Cons of Group Hypnosis Vs Individual Sessions

By Erika Slater
Girl weighing pros and cons of a decision

Girl weighing pros and cons of a decision

In this special hypnosis brief I want to tackle the major differences between Group and Individual Hypnosis Sessions and what you can expect as a client so you can choose what might work best for you.

Be aware many hypnotherapists only offer individual sessions. So, depending on who you choose you may not even have an option. However, most professional hypnotists offer group sessions so they can reach a wider audience and thereby help more people.

You may find hypnotists who only offer group sessions, and this can be because they’ve decided they want to reach as many people as possible, or they offer online group hypnosis sessions which is an excellent compromise between being part of a group but being in your own private “space.”

The choice then of offering group or individual only, or offering both types of sessions, is down to the individual hypnotist, and the way they prefer to deliver their services to be most effective for them and their clients. For example I offer both private and group sessions for my quit smoking hypnosis programs.

So, let’s dig into each format and discuss the pros and cons for you.

 

GROUP HYPNOSIS SESSIONS:

Group of [people in a therapeutic sessionMost people’s introduction to group hypnosis is watching a stage hypnotist performance for entertainment. This where a hypnotist is calling members of the audience onto a stage and hypnotizing them as a group, or one by one to be a part of a collective group.

If you witnessed this, you were probably amazed, if not astonished, how it appeared one individual had so much power over a group of individuals and was able to make them do whatever was asked of them. Most likely part of you thought it ‘wasn’t real’, or the group was simply ‘playing along’ with the hypnotist.

Without spoiling the fun of the entertainment if you enjoyed this, the truth is, you’re probably right… it wasn’t real.

If you want to know more about what’s going on here then you can read Terrence Watts’ article “Stage Hypnosis – How and Why it Works”.

The fact is, what you saw happening in stage hypnosis show isn’t anything like a group therapeutic hypnosis experience. So, I would caution you about making a choice just based on what you saw in a stage show.

The number one reason people choose group hypnosis is its cost effective. Group hypnosis sessions tend to be less expensive than individual sessions, and for those on budget this can be their primary factor, particularly if you’re looking at tackling a change requiring multiple hypnosis sessions.

Another reason people choose group hypnosis is wanting to be part of a group working towards a common goal. Some people enjoy the comradeship of having others to feed off in a group setting. In addition, the group environment can create some competition, especially if the topic is weight loss and help push people along. The fact is, we also learn from others and their experiences and can even help them. We are after all social animals so wanting to achieve an outcome as part of a group helps many to stay engaged and see it through.

On the other hand, some of us are more private and so tackling a problem or challenge with a group of strangers may just not fit your profile, and would make you feel intimidated, particularly if the group has some personalities and dynamics in the membership which impact inclusion in the group.

By attending a group hypnosis session, it enables those who are hesitant about trying hypnosis, a great sense of comfort. By attending group sessions, especially with friends, it can create a sense of comradery, and ease any stigmas and apprehensions associated with misconceptions about hypnosis.

Groups can also be more difficult for the hypnotist to manage and get effective outcomes for all. This is a primary reason why some hypnotists don’t offer group sessions. But its more around the personality and beliefs of the hypnotist than hypnosis skills. Hypnotists, after all, are folks just like their clients and come to the table with their own styles and preferences which dictate the format of supporting their clients which works best for them.

A major drawback of groups is the necessary generic nature of the sessions, one-size fits all is confining and makes tackling individual challenges for each participant unrealistic and one of the reasons why I keep my groups small – max. 10 people. Small groups do allow some individual coaching work to happen especially if a number of people are experiencing similar challenges.

Although you don’t get the one on one attention you would in an individual session, you’re still getting the ‘hypnosis’ experience, as well as suggestions and cues offered by the hypnotherapist. If you’re able to focus and not be distracted or intimidated by others in the group then a group program can work for you.

Another constraint about group sessions is they come with fixed dates and times set in advance and usually no make-up sessions if you miss one or two in the program for any reason. So, there’s little to no flexibility on session availability. Finally, you’ll usually be expected to pay the full cost of the program up-front with no refunds for missed sessions. This is understandable as you’re getting a steep discount anyway because of the group nature of the program.

Bottom-line for group hypnosis then is commit to the program and show up!

 

INDIVIDUAL HYPNOSIS SESSIONS:

Hypnotherapist holding patient wrist in her office during sessionThe primary benefit of individual hypnosis sessions is a one-on-one session is more personable, private, and you get the hypnotist’s full attention to address individual challenges, while at the same time you can focus and concentrate on giving the hypnotist your full, undivided attention.

Some people find going into hypnosis in an individual session is easier than in a group session. In theory this shouldn’t be a factor as when your eyes are closed you’re hearing the same voice and instructions as in an individual session. However, if you’ve been exposed to both then again it comes down to your preference.

Unlike groups, individual sessions can be scheduled to suit you and the hypnotist, and if something urgent crops up then it can be rescheduled without any loss of sessions.

This also allows you to dictate the pace of a program as well. For single individual session programs, such as stop smoking, then a follow-up can be scheduled if needed as part of the program and included in the cost. This generally isn’t offered in groups in order to keep costs down.

Because of the individual attention you receive, and the ability for the hypnotist to address your specific challenges to help you achieve the outcome you want, then, individual hypnosis programs are more expensive than groups. Most hypnotists price their sessions by a fixed hourly rate, although for programs requiring multiple sessions generally you’ll find you can get a discount if you commit to a minimum number of sessions – like a block discount.

Personally, I feel individual hypnosis sessions always win out over group sessions for overall fast outcomes. I can make more progress in one individual session than in an equivalent group session.

 

LAST WORD:

I mentioned earlier about online group hypnosis sessions. But these can be both individual and group. They provide a number of benefits, reducing travel time, in the comfort of your own home, etc. In a group program they also provide some of the private elements you obtain in individual sessions. Again, it comes down to preference for the client. Some people want to avoid the distractions of the home for their hypnosis sessions and I understand this and so offer both online and in-office sessions for group and individual hypnosis programs.

What is really interesting these days is more folks are actually opting to have ‘home’ hypnosis parties. I’m sure you’ve heard of lingerie parties, Avon parties, psychic parties, etc. Hypnosis parties are becoming the new fad in many homes and individuals are getting to experience it first hand in a group environment which makes it less threatening and fun to try.

Although hypnosis tends to be more common among women overall, especially in these party-type atmospheres, it’s becoming more common among men. Did you know more men are actually considering hypnosis not only for quitting smoking and weight loss, but things like improving their golf game!

I hope you found this hypnosis brief helpful in deciding the pros and cons of Group, and Individual hypnosis sessions. Leave a comment below if you did and let me know how I could improve it for you.

You can find more information about my own Individual and group hypnosis services here >>> and yes, I do offer online sessions for both types as well.

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES RELATED TO GROUP HYPNOSIS MENTIONED IN ARTICLE:

Why is it So Darn Hard to Quit Smoking and Ways to Make it Easier >>>

5 Tips on Choosing a Hypnotist >>>

 
Erika Slater CH
Free At Last Hypnosis
Massachusetts

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What is Neuroscience and How Can it Help You?

By Erika Slater
Neuroscience banner

Neuroscience banner

In this article you’ll discover:

  1. What is neuroscience and the promise it holds for understanding our brain and its connection to influencing the health of our body?
  2. Current thinking around how neuroscience can help us in the future and the bridge to psychology to aid in influencing negative thoughts and emotions impacting our well-being.
  3. The important link between neuroscience and the mind body connection.
  4. Further reading, research, medical studies and resource links around neuroscience and papers on use of hypnosis as it relates to furthering the knowledge of the field.

The word Neuroscience seems to be everywhere today. It jumps out at you from articles in magazines or online.

TV talk shows and documentaries march forth the leaders in the field who dish-up their complicated and emotional appeals of a new field of science about to burst forth and provide a unifying theory about our brain and mind, and what it means to be human and the thoughts and feelings that make us different from other animal species.

But what exactly is neuroscience as to most it remains a mystery?

Neuroscience (or neurobiology) is the scientific study of the nervous system. It is a multidisciplinary branch of biology, that combines physiology, anatomy, molecular biology, developmental biology, cytology, mathematical modeling and psychology to understand the fundamental and emergent properties of neurons and neural circuits. The understanding of the biological basis of learning, memory, behavior, perception and consciousness has been described by Eric Kandel as the ‘ultimate challenge” of the biological sciences’ [1].

In the end, the best way to describe neuroscience is “biology meeting psychology

Neuroscientists and professionals in this field usually focus on one part of the central nervous system, often neurotransmitters, or specialize on specific behaviors that relate to psychiatric disorders.

Because the field has exploded in the last 50 years with the number of people who study the nervous system, a number of organizations were formed, and the most prominent include: the International Brain Research Organization, the European Brain and Behaviour Society, and the Society for Neuroscience.

So, we have a new field of science but what promise does it hold for the everyday person? How will it help our understanding of ourselves? And how will it impact our future? Particular to me is how it can expand our knowledge of the mysteries of the brain and aid hypnotists to help more people?

These questions we’ll explore below with the help of some of the leading experts in Neuroscience today. Fasten your seat-belt because the ride isn’t smooth and has controversy!

 

WHAT IS THE PROMISE OF NEUROSCIENCE?

Psychology and head showing puzzle piecesOur brain is an amazingly complex organ. “Scientists still have not uncovered the full extent of what the brain can do. This single organ controls every aspect of the body, ranging from heart rate and appetite to emotion and memory. The brain controls the immune system’s response to disease and determines, in part, how well people respond to medical treatments. It shapes our thoughts, beliefs, hopes, dreams, and imaginations. It is the brain’s ability to perform all these functions that makes us human” [2].

Often times you hear neurology or neuroscience related to the mind, as well as psychology. Are they one and the same? There is a main difference!

While there’s only one study of neuroscience, there are many branches of psychology.

Overall, the biological functioning of the brain is much easier to codify and qualify than personalities, which you study in psychology. There are many differing approaches to the study of psychology, but none of them can claim to universality, unlike the neuroscientific view of brain biology.

So, neuroscience can’t tell you a whole lot about psychology or mental healing.

With that said, psychological studies and mental health issues may be able to lead practitioners to find dysfunctions in one’s neurochemistry, as well as their brains.

A primary promise of neuroscience is when you use it to explain why one thinks, feels and acts a certain way, it bridges the gap between itself, and the fields of psychology and mental health.

David Ludden Ph.D. explains, “The problem is that, unlike the natural sciences, psychology has no grand unifying theory (or GUT) that ties the whole enterprise together. The list of topics that psychology includes is vast, but it’s not really clear what they all have in common. The allure of neuroscience is that it may finally give psychology a GUT. This is because neuroscience is based on the premise that all psychological processes can ultimately be explained in terms of brain processes. This new hope for psychology has spawned a veritable neuro-zoo, as each sub-discipline now has its own neuro-doppelgänger” [3].

Neuroscience will help correlate the psychophysics and how it relates to perception. It looks into systems of behavior, cognition, and systems for acting and reacting. Moreover, neuroscience also investigates plasticity and neural development, clinical and experimental neuropsychology, as well as neuropsychopharmacology – the effect of drugs and substances on one’s mind and central nervous system.

But there’s controversy lurking in the promise.

Our concept of the “mind” is much like that of our “soul.” As you can’t point to the soul in a diagram of our body and organs, so, you can’t point to the mind in a diagram of our brain no matter how detail or complex the diagram. The mind remains allusive as it’s a concept only. It’s our ability to think of these concepts that makes us human.

Some neuroscientists feel though all psychological processes can be reduced to brain functions, or put another way, our mind is a product of our brain, rather than being separate. The concern though is this stance can take us down the road of thinking we can reduce the mind to nothing more than brain activity. And with the expected advances in MRI technology in the future there could be a time when we can monitor our thoughts and feelings using brain scans, and even predict and change? Scary maybe, impractical… probably.

Seth Schwartz and his colleagues argue the case around inclusiveness between the fields of neuroscience and psychology to avoid the fields excluding each other from their discussions in attempting to explain our brain’s working and the impact on our individual psychology [4].

When trying to understand the mind-body connection [5] then neuroscience helps to piece our current theories together that our mind is a product of our brain and its state – positive and negative – and influences the state of our body – good and bad.

Our understanding of the brain has grown in the last century to the point we know about neurotransmitters and how they work in our brain passing messages from one part of the brain to another so they can be acted upon. We know this is all just chemical reactions and electrical signals, but this chemistry by itself doesn’t explain consciousness. But somehow in these exchanges neurons help create consciousness, our thoughts and concepts of the mind and soul, and ability to even think and communicate about this topic.

So, as neuroscience informs us more about how our brain works to make the connections we seek in psychology we look to understand what makes us human, and for those seeking help from the field of psychology to understand our personalities, why we act the way we do, and importantly what needs to be fixed when the brain doesn’t function the way we expect and produce serious brain and mental illnesses.

 

HOW WILL IT HELP US IN THE FUTURE?

Collage of emotionsNeuroscience and psychology are the perfect marriage when you put them together! The two disciplines are not polar opposites in their approaches, rather they inform, clarify and even challenge the findings each puts forth. At the end of the day, the two approaches explain thoughts, feelings and actions, and better helps with understandings in complex situations.

There have been, and there are so many influential neuroscientists in the field today, who are making the study of neuroscience more applicable to everyday living.

Joseph LeDoux is one of the most successful neuroscientists in his field. LeDoux is a professor of Neuroscience, Psychology and Science at the University of New York. He is also the Director of the Center for Neuroscience of Fear and Anxiety. His work in the field has been paramount in helping people.

LeDoux goes beyond the instinct of threat which we share with animals and commonly attributed to our circuits in the amygdala as in “fight or flight” instinct. LeDoux now feels this is unconscious instinct, but the ability to wake up at night worrying about the state of our bank account is about fear and anxiety which is a human trait and not shared with the rest of the animal world.

His neuroscience work believes its only after the unconscious threat systems have detected danger that the emotions of fear and anxiety “rise into consciousness – and only if, LeDoux says, ‘you have a brain that can be conscious of its own activity,’ a brain with the ‘ability to conceptualize all of that, to label it linguistically, and to integrate it with thoughts and memories.’ In other words, fear and anxiety are not wired into the brain as basic responses to the world around us — rather, the responses that lead to them are, and they only coalesce into fear when the brain interprets them as such” [6].

LeDoux says “To feel afraid is to be conscious of fear — so the question of where exactly feelings like fear and anxiety arise in the brain is intimately tied to nothing less than the ongoing mystery of how our brains pull off the great feat of consciousness itself.”

LeDoux believes his vision of fear and anxiety has implications not only for drug development but as well as for psychotherapy. If — to rephrase Kierkegaard — anxiety is the price humans pay for freedom, LeDoux thinks that that cost can be reduced by incorporating a more sophisticated understanding of the brain into the psychological treatment of fear and anxiety disorders. Because there are both conscious and unconscious processes at work when anxiety spirals out of control, LeDoux believes that effective treatments would have to engage differently on each level – the whirling subliminal, automatic circuitry that patients aren’t even aware of needs to be subdued before the second-step project of addressing the higher level of conscious thoughts and feelings can begin” [6].

LeDoux’s neuroscience research then focuses on emotions and memory, whereby he uses research to understand pathological fear and anxiety in human beings. He, along with others, are taking neuroscience to new levels to help understand behavior and the human brain better.

Another expert in the neuroscience field is Antonio Damasio, and he opened a 2015 lecture with these words. “I am delighted to be amongst so many people who believe that it is possible to change human behavior by acting on the main agent of that behavior, which is the brain, and to bring about a change that will make human beings better, happier, more satisfied, and contributing more to culture” [7].

Damasio argues what the body feels is every bit as significant as what the mind thinks. We have learnt enough in the last 150-years about the areas of the brain where our emotions are centered, but we can’t say the same for feelings. And yet it’s our feelings in response to our emotions that are central to what happens to our body. He explains, “If it weren’t for feelings, we would never have been aware of what is happening to us and in our environment.

For example, the emotion of fear helps protect us from danger but it’s a negative emotion and not something we want in our lives every day. Emotions like happiness are positive and produce, as Damasio explains, “… drive that comes from conscious feeling has allowed us to devise solutions for the many, many problems that nature did not solve for us.

Damasio talks about neuroscience and stress. Stress, as I’ve written before, is part of life. You can reduce it but not eliminate it entirely. And if you live in an urban environment, you likely suffer more consistent stress over a long time. Neuroscience tells us stress has the brain release hormones that are not helpful to us. On the other hand, Damasio says, “it so happens that the brain is very good at detecting dissonance and harmony. If things are fairly harmonic in our life, the brain works in a harmonic way. One of the ways in which it expresses that harmony is by producing a variety of chemical molecules that maintain the [body and brain] tissues in good health.” Living a healthy life helps with this harmony. Being physically active, keeping yourself mentally active, and eating healthy foods all provide the brain and body with the environment and fuel it needs to help you deal with diseases of the day.

Nobody in Neuroscience is saying you won’t get Alzheimer’s or cancer, or heart disease but Damasio says, “The more you put your brain to work, not only as a child but as an older person, the more likely it is that your brain is going to be in good condition and offset the ravages that may come from disease.”

So, neuroscience is helping us make connections between our brain, mind, body and our behaviors. If we want to achieve everything we desire and live a long and healthy life then the choices we make about work, play, environment, exercise, and diet are important but supporting this equally is our habits and behaviors around our emotions and feelings they produce.

This leads in nicely to my final topic today, and this is discussing how hypnosis informs us about neuroscience and vice versa, and how hypnosis can help with the mind body connection.

 

HYPNOSIS AND NEUROSCIENCE:

MRI brain scan activityDavid A. Oakley and Peter W. Halligan write, “Hypnosis uses the powerful effects of attention and suggestion to produce, modify and enhance a broad range of subjectively compelling experiences and behaviours. For more than a century, hypnotic suggestion has been used successfully as an adjunctive procedure to treat a wide range of clinical conditions. Recent studies using hypnotic suggestion show how it can provide insights into brain mechanisms involved in attention, motor control, pain perception, beliefs and volition. Moreover, they indicate that hypnotic suggestion can create informative analogues of clinical conditions that may be useful for understanding these conditions and their treatments” [8].

Scientists and researchers studying hypnosis and neuroscience fall into two categories.

The first uses hypnosis to conduct laboratory study to help understand our brain and cognitive capabilities, and even to help understand consciousness. Highly suggestible hypnotic subject’s voluntary submits to experiments aiming to understand our brain working using fMRI technologies when in hypnosis and asked to think specific thoughts about color and or physical pain. The outcome being, for example, to see what part of the brain is being activated when we’re asked to not see colors, such as think gray, or to see blue color when we are shown pictures of red color. Understanding the areas of the brain participating in this “influence” helps neuroscientists piece together how the brain (and mind) accomplishes this.

The other set of experiments aims to use our understanding of neuroscience to explain and capture hypnosis and how it works rather than rely on so-called first-person explanations of those who benefited from hypnotic intervention. This path of understanding is aimed at allowing us to capture what clinical opportunities we have for intervention in symptoms that hypnosis can aid in overcoming, or at least controlling. This path of experiments also helps in confirming our ability to control what scientists label as automatic processes which covers our habits. It’s long been determined that hypnosis can help individuals help overcome and/or replace habits which have an automatic trigger such as smoking or unhealthy eating.

Various scientific papers tackle these topics, particularly the one cited already from Oakley and Halligan [8], and one covering hypnosis research conducted over the last two decades [9]. Both these types of experiments advance our understanding of hypnosis and its clinical use and of understanding our brain neurology and how this is linked to our “mind” concept.

As neuroscience progresses hypnosis and our understanding of how both can impact our mind and body, then, we begin to really bridge how the most important mechanism for controlling the physical condition of your body is your mind. “In order to truly apply the benefits of the mind body connection to your life, you need to first understand and accept what you are currently is the result of your thinking. If you go there in the mind, then you will most likely go there in the body!” [5]

This concept is a basic one in the mind body connection and shouldn’t be alien to you if you’ve ever gotten into poor outcomes and can trace it back to your thinking in certain situations at the time, as in… “whatever was I thinking…?

Hypnosis, we know, helps us focus intently on a topic or outcome while in a relaxed state. “Discipline and concentration are the keys for understanding and working the mind body connection. You realize your mind is your primary mover or catalyst which has the complete abilities to take you where you want to go. How is this achieved? It is best achieved through tunnel vision, a heightened state of awareness, highly focused thinking — HYPNOSIS!” [5]

Now, meditation and other forms of relaxation, are similar to hypnosis to help with the same mind body connection, but hypnosis allows us to get to the same place quicker and with a deep focus in our unconscious mind, either through practiced self-hypnosis or with guidance from a hypnotherapist. Hypnosis is beneficial for replacing negative thoughts with positive ones, which helps in a positive mind body connection to achieve the outcomes we want.

So, neuroscience offers up many promises for our future. Discovering the secrets of our brain (and mind) and its intricate workings and impact on us provides the opportunity to understand how to influence it. Being able to influence it, using powerful tools such as hypnosis, means our bodies will benefit if harnessed into our mind body connection as we strive for successful living and outcomes.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief introduction to neuroscience and will use the resources below to explore it further. Our brain is a marvelous and complex organ and at the center of not only controlling our bodies but influencing our thoughts and feelings that lead to the quality of our life, and the condition of our body. It is in bridging these two we look towards neuroscience to decipher and educate us on how we can influence our brain to achieve our desires for our life.

 

CONCLUSIONS:

Neuroscience is a relatively new field of science and is the study of the nervous system which is all controlled from our brain. So, those studying in neuroscience are heavy into understanding how our brain and its processes work. But we know a lot more about the brain today than how it influences our thoughts, emotions and feelings and other aspects of psychology. A large promise of the field is in bridging the gap between itself, and the fields of psychology and mental health by being able to explain why we think, feel and act a certain way.

Neuroscience informs us more about how our brain works to make the connections we seek in psychology where we look to understand what makes us human, and for those seeking help from the field of psychology to understand our personalities, why we act the way we do, and importantly what needs to be fixed when the brain doesn’t function the way we expect and produce serious brain and mental illnesses.

Thought provokers in neuroscience argue what the body feels is every bit as significant as what the mind thinks. After all, they argue, it’s our feelings in response to our emotions that are central to what happens to our body.

Discovering the secrets of our brain (and mind) and its intricate workings and impact on us provides the opportunity to understand how to influence it. Being able to influence it, using powerful tools such as hypnosis, means our bodies will benefit if harnessed into our mind body connection as we strive for successful living and outcomes.

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

[1] Neuroscience – Wikipedia >>>

[2] Society for Neuroscience >>>

[3] Is Neuroscience the Future or the End of Psychology? >>>

[4] Schwartz, S. J., Meca, A., Lilienfeld, S. O., & Sauvigné, K. C. (2016). The role of neuroscience within psychology: A call for inclusiveness over exclusiveness. American Psychologist, 71, 52-70. >>>

[5] The Mind Body Connection – Six Part Series >>>

[6] A Neuroscientist Argues That Everybody Is Misunderstanding Fear and Anxiety >>>

[7] How Neuroscience Helps Us to Understand Human Nature >>>

[8] Hypnotic Suggestion: Opportunities for Cognitive Neuroscience >>>

[9] New directions in hypnosis research: strategies for advancing the cognitive and clinical neuroscience of hypnosis >>>

 
Erika Slater CH
Free At Last Hypnosis
Massachusetts

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Can Hypnosis Help as a Treatment for Anxiety Disorders?

By Erika Slater
Anxiety Disorder depiction for woman

Anxiety Disorder depiction for woman

In this article you’ll discover:

  1. Different forms and types of Anxiety Disorders, and what this means for you.
  2. Common treatments for the disorders and details about the medications and therapies used in providing relief of symptoms.
  3. How hypnosis can help with the treatment for anxiety disorders to provide quick relief of symptoms as an alternative to other therapies or as an adjunct.
  4. Further reading, medical studies and resource links around the disorders and various treatments.

It’s estimated at least one quarter or more of the U.S. population suffers from anxiety or some anxiety-related disorder at any given time in their lives. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about 40 million American adults in any given year are affected by anxiety disorders [1].

The fact is, Anxiety Disorders are a recognized mental illness [2] and not a disorder that’ll naturally cure itself with time, but rather a persistent illness that if left untreated will likely worsen and impact an individual’s quality of life. There are a number of treatments medical professionals use to help affected individuals, which often includes combinations of both prescribed medication and therapies.

This article has been written for sufferers of anxiety disorders. In it, I’ll provide information and other resources for you on different forms and treatments, including the use of hypnosis as a therapy gaining traction in providing both quick and long-term relief for patients. I’ll reference studies [16] conducted using hypnosis as a treatment and offer my own experience on what to expect from using it for my clients.

Let’s get going though by describing what is included in the Anxiety Disorder grouping…

 

DIFFERENT FORMS OF ANXIETY DISORDERS:

Woman feeling anxiousWe hear the terms anxiety and stress used often these days – people in conversations use the words interchangeably – but from a diagnosis and life impact perspective the conditions are significantly different.

Feeling anxious and under stress is a normal part of life. Stress particularly is persistent but normally the levels come and go in specific situations, and we find ways of coping or reducing it. However, stress can cause short-term physical symptoms similar to anxiety such as rapid heart rate, muscle tension and headaches.

Stress is your body’s reaction to a trigger and is generally a short-term experience. Stress can be positive or negative. When stress kicks in and helps you pull off that deadline you thought was a lost cause, it’s positive.

When stress results in insomnia, poor concentration, and impaired ability to do the things you normally do, it’s negative. Stress is a response to a threat in any given situation” [3-4].

Anxiety, on the other hand, is a sustained mental health disorder that can be triggered by stress. Anxiety doesn’t fade into the distance once the threat is mediated. Anxiety hangs around for the long haul, and can cause significant impairment in social, occupational, and other important areas of functioning” [3].

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health concern in the United States. Let’s look at these identified in the DSM-5 Handbook used by professionals and published by APA [2].

Panic Disorder (including Agoraphobia):

Panic Disorder is marked by sudden feelings of terror leading to panic attacks which can strike repeatedly and without warning. These attacks can cause physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, heart palpitations, dizziness, and chest pains. People with this disorder will go to great measures to avoid having an attack, including avoidance of places and situations (agoraphobia) where attacks have occurred in the past.

Phobias:

Phobias are a persistent and irrational fear of a specific situation such as flying, driving, and heights. To avoid a panic sensation people with a phobia, avoid triggers, and this attempt to control the triggers can seem to take over a person’s life. There can be many types of phobias and the DSM-5 APA [2] lists 5 subtypes: animal, natural environment, situational, blood-injection-injury, and other.

In my hypnosis practice I have seen and worked with a number of phobias the most common ones being fear of heights, driving, public speaking, performance anxiety, and flying. Hypnosis as a sole treatment for specific phobias can be effective or used as an adjunct to another therapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD):

Those who suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) experience chronic anxiety and difficulty controlling their worry most of the time about different situations and activities. Symptoms include restlessness and being easily fatigued, headaches, muscle tension, nausea, sleep problems and sweating. People with GAD can find it hard to concentrate or complete routine daily tasks.

Social Anxiety Disorder:

Social Anxiety Disorder or SAD is a persistent fear or worry about social and performance situations”, from DSM-5 APA [2]. SAD can impact people in a specific situation, such as eating in front of people, or generalized where people fear most social situations and interactions with others. Unlike shyness and social awkwardness, this disorder causes irrational worries about conversations or participating in class discussions, causing isolation. People with Social Anxiety Disorder have a hard time making and keeping friends, blush and sweat a lot around people, and are afraid they’re being judged all the time.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD):

I’ve covered Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and use of hypnosis for this condition in an earlier article “Can Hypnosis Really Help with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – OCD?” here [5].

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a reaction to traumatic stress and gained substantial recognition in recent times due to men and women in military service experiencing combat and assault events suffering from this disorder. Known as “shell-shock” when recognized in the World Wars of earlier generations, it can also be diagnosed in survivors of sexual or physical assault or those subjected to natural disasters or accidents. Information on Hypnosis use for PTSD can be found in Spiegel and Cardena J Clin Psychiatry. 1990 Oct;51 Suppl:39-43; discussion 44-6 [18].

Causes, Risk factors, and Diagnosis:

Similar to many mental illnesses professionals are concluding genetic and environmental factors are a prevalent cause and risk factors for anxiety disorders. Some families experience higher-than-average members with anxiety issues. In addition, professionals also believe stressful or traumatic events such as abuse, death of a loved one, violence or prolonged illness is often linked to the development of an anxiety disorder. However, genetics and environmental factors are risk factors rather than they predict the disorder in somebody.

Because many of the physical symptoms of an anxiety disorder can also be found in other medical conditions, a Doctor will perform a physical examination and lab tests on you to rule out those other conditions. The physical symptoms of an anxiety disorder can be easily confused with other medical conditions like heart disease or a thyroid condition. Therefore, a Doctor will rule out a medical illness first, then recommend you see a mental health professional to make a diagnosis.

 

TREATMENTS FOR ANXIETY DISORDERS:

Psychologisy helping woman overcome fearsIf you’ve been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder then there’s good news for you, you’ll likely experience significant improvements in symptom relief and quality of life with professional treatment. The type of treatment you need will depend on your symptoms and type of disorder. There’s no one treatment fits all, so, you may need to try different, or combination of treatments, before settling on what works best for you.

Anxiety, like stress, can’t be cured, but can be reduced and controlled. I talked about the difference between anxiety and stress earlier, so, the treatments are aimed at helping you control your disorder so it doesn’t have the type of impact on your life it has at the moment. The therapies described below help build coping and relaxation skills, along with behavioral modification to help control symptoms.

Medication:

While medication is commonly used for treating patients diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, research studies suggest better outcomes are obtained by a combination of medication and therapy treatments. Medication treatment falls into two general types; antidepressants, and anti-anxiety (anxiolytics). Your Doctor may prescribe a mixture of medications and perform trials to find the right combination and/or dosage to help your symptoms.

Antidepressants [6] are used to treat depression but are also found helpful in treating anxiety disorders. Frequently the first choice of medical professionals for panic disorder or social phobias they’re not a problem for most adult people to take but require close monitoring.

Anti-anxiety medications (benzodiazepines) [6] tend to be preferred for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Medications known as Beta-blockers [6] are also prescribed to help with the control of physical symptoms of anxiety, such as rapid heartbeat, shaking, sweating and trembling. Beta blockers work by blocking the effects of norepinephrine, a stress hormone triggered when you perceive you’re in danger or under severe stress.

Medications can have serious side effects on some individuals such as suicidal thoughts, nausea, insomnia, weight gain, dizziness, and headaches. In addition, not everybody does well on meds or benefits from them.

Psychotherapy Treatments:

Most treatments plans include a combination of medication and therapy. Up to recent times the most common form of psychotherapy to treat anxiety disorder is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT isn’t a quick fix for anxiety but it has a reputation for providing long-term relief. It can involve months of sessions before results are seen, and health insurance coverage can therefore be an issue. The sessions are aimed at identifying and changing unhealthy and harmful thought patterns you experience that can lead to your anxiety. Essentially, you’ll learn positive behavioral change techniques you can use to monitor and change your own thoughts. It takes diligent practice and homework, and these, along with time and money, are some of the criticisms leveled at this therapy, and the reasons patients drop out of treatment early [7].

Another therapy for anxiety is Exposure Therapy. Exposure therapy uses different methods of controlled exposure to fearful situations for a patient, which is intended to lead to decreased anxiety and distress in these real-life situations. The exposure is performed in a safe environment by a psychologist. The treatment is based on the premise confronting our fears helps overcome them in the long-term. While avoidance can help in the short-term, it can lead to making the fears increase over time. Various studies have concluded its effectiveness in the treatment of disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, PTSD, and specific phobias [8].

Exposure therapy can be done progressively over multiple sessions or “flooding” as in somebody with a spider phobic being put straight in a room full of spiders. The professional concern on exposure therapy is for specific patients it can be disturbing and lead to them dropping out of the treatment early. Additionally, care must be taken not to re-traumatize a patient.

Mindfulness Techniques:

Structured Mindfulness is a form of meditation and has become common vocabulary in the treatment of many conditions involving stress and worry. It’s based on Asian practices of meditation and brought to USA in 1992 by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Kabat-Zinn who also pioneered work in its use in Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) treatment programs for anxiety disorders and conducted a number of studies [9].

According to Psychology Today magazine, “mindfulness” is a state of active and open attention on the present moment. Sometimes described as “… in a state of living in the moment. When you’re able to do this, you become capable of just observing your thoughts as a viewer without judging them as being either good or bad” [10].

So, what’s the intent of mindfulness compared to other anxiety treatments? Its main focus is to help you calm yourself and to get in a relaxing and accepting state. It doesn’t focus on confronting or exposing of fears but more on controlling your thoughts in the present and importantly not struggling to control distressing thoughts which can only intensify your anxiousness.

Mindfulness isn’t necessarily about formal meditation, although this can be one aspect if meditation has helped relaxation in the past for you, but it can also be practiced as you go about your everyday activities. So, you can adopt a mindful attitude when eating, listening, walking, and working, being nonjudging, with openness and gentleness. If this sounds strange and unnatural to you, then, consider the roots of mindfulness comes from cultures where these attitudes expect this should be your natural state of mind anyway, so practicing “meditation” to achieve your default state is considered positive for your health and body.

Mindfulness isn’t the only stress-reduction management technique that can help with anxiety, but cited studies have shown, “… mindfulness has indeed proven somewhat effective in the treatment of anxiety and should therefore be considered as a viable treatment alternative” [9].

There’s no shortage of mindfulness training these days. If you’ve a local yoga or meditation studio available near you likely there will be sessions or short courses available at them. The difficulty is not in learning mindfulness but in practicing it. Controlling your thoughts around anxiety and the symptoms you experience when it happens requires learned techniques and confidence you can control then, and this will take dedicated and focused practice. For this you may need professional help from a practitioner of mindfulness with experience in helping others with anxiety disorders.

Hypnosis:

I’ve written extensively about hypnosis in previous articles and covered its use in clinical and medical issues. When people describe hypnosis they usually also include the work done under hypnosis to make changes, but hypnosis is really a state separate from the therapeutic work done when in a hypnotic trance. Hypnosis then is “… a heightened state of awareness which means your mind becomes more focused. Individuals are able to shift their focus to specific qualities of an experience and hold them there. This allows people to place their attention on things they want to change and avoid focusing on the things they don’t want to think about. Wherever your thoughts go, this is what you’re going to focus on most, and continually bring it into your personal awareness” [11].

A patient, once in hypnosis, will receive therapeutic and post-hypnotic suggestions from a hypnotist while in a trance-like state to help control thinking of thoughts triggering anxiety. Self-hypnosis is often used to aid patients in controlling issues without the need for a therapist to guide the session. Most hypnotists can provide self-hypnosis training to a client in 2-3 sessions. This helps minimize costs and also provides empowerment to the client in dealing with any anxiety that may appear later.

While on the surface mindfulness and hypnosis share common characteristics, and sometimes even techniques of achieving relaxation and focus and an attention on breathing, the approach to obtaining outcomes is different. Whereas mindfulness promotes acceptance of the way things are through focusing on your state of awareness, hypnosis uses change and goal-orientated language in its suggestions to control symptoms. Hypnosis also benefits from the ability to address specific symptoms.

Hypnosis can be used as the sole treatment for anxiety disorder or as an adjunct to other psychotherapy treatments such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBHT), or along with use of medication. I want to explore the use of hypnosis in treating anxiety disorders in more depth and so the next and final section will provide you realistic assessment of what we know today about its effectiveness, and what you can realistically expect from hypnosis as a treatment for anxiety disorders.

 

CAN HYPNOSIS REALLY HELP WITH ANXIETY?

Woman smiling after therapy sessionHypnosis offers an alternative therapy that can be used to tackle specific symptoms quickly and address anxiety over long-term.

It can also be used as an adjunct to medications and other therapies such as CBT (called CBHT), or mindfulness, to help speed up outcomes to experience relief and positive outcomes.

In my own practice, where my main focus is on providing help for people with smoking cessation, stress, weight loss and control, and phobias, I use hypnosis almost exclusively in my therapeutic sessions. While my client hypnosis sessions often include elements of neuro-linguistic programming or NLP [12], and where appropriate for client resources and homework Emotional Freedom Techniques or EFT [13], the bulk of the change work achieving outcomes are in the hypnotic suggestion session work.

In clients experiencing trouble quitting smoking or with obesity, there is often an undercurrent of anxiety and stress blocking an effective outcome for them. Where this is the case addressing the anxiety is the first step before tackling any negative habit changes. As chronic anxiety is considered a mental illness and intervention is mostly at the hands of medical doctors, then the question for you is can hypnosis help you with anxiety and what proof is available it even can?

Where’s the Proof?

You can read studies and research on the medical use of hypnosis which has proven a viable and effective solution to treat chronic pain, pre- and post-surgery stress and discomfort and emotional upset, labor, sleep problems, dentistry-related procedures, and irritable bowel syndrome [19-26]. “Of note is that in the medical environment, clinical hypnosis is provided as an adjunct to medical treatment. Intervention is often provided at bedside, or in preparation and during medical procedures away from the usual office-based psychotherapy setting” [16].

Dr. David Spiegel – Medical Director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine – is an advocate of hypnosis and used it on himself for pain management after surgery. Spiegel says “Hypnosis can be an effective method for managing pain and treating anxiety and stress-related disorders” [14].

In another study on “Hypnosis in the Treatment of Patients with Anxiety Disorders”, the authors conclude, “The obtained results reflect the fact that both the intervention based on cognitive-behavioural methods and the one using specific hypnosis strategies and cognitive-behavioural techniques have led to reducing the anxiety, the level of depression and the level of negative mood into the experimental groups” [28].

But Will Hypnosis Work for Me?

Most people can be hypnotized as it happens to us naturally regularly. Being relaxed and focused is all it takes. If you’ve ever been absorbed in a book or movie to the extent of being oblivious to other people or what’s going on around you, then you’ve been in trance. A small percentage of people are poor candidates for hypnosis, and if you fit in this category, then, this will become apparent to the hypnotherapist during your first session. There are no guarantees for any therapy treatment or medications for that matter.

Whether you’re taking medications or currently in therapy, such as CBT, then hypnosis may be able to help you get to faster and better outcomes. There’s enough evidence to consider hypnosis as a serious alternative, or adjunct, to your current treatment for your anxiety disorder.

How Do I Get Started on Hypnosis Therapy for My Anxiety?

Getting started with hypnosis is about finding a local hypnotist you can work with and this will involve interviewing a few to find one who has experience in anxiety disorders. Do your research and take some time choosing. Experience and trust should be your guiding beacons in choosing somebody to work with you. You’ll find an array of people who practice hypnosis and these include licensed psychologists who also have training in hypnosis, to professional therapeutic hypnotists. Generally, professional therapists will offer you a free consultation where they can discuss your case and symptoms and you can ask them about their experience and methods, and of course timelines and costs. I’ve found confident and experienced professional hypnotists are not threatened by these questions and welcome them because it conveys you’re serious about achieving outcomes.

Finally, I want to expand further on self-hypnosis as it provides ongoing therapy for your anxiety without the need to see your therapist regularly. A professional hypnotherapist can teach self-hypnosis and/or provide custom-tailored recorded sessions for you. Learning self-hypnosis can take a few sessions but like mindfulness it provides a practical way of controlling situations that normally cause anxiety by bringing quick relief. When interviewing your hypnotists be sure to discuss this and choose one that advocates for self-hypnosis and a willingness to teach you. If you’d like to work with me directly on learning self-hypnosis either online or through my in-office sessions then check out my Hypnosis Services or you can contact me here.

I hope this article has provided you further insights into anxiety disorders and options available to you to get relief.

 

CONCLUSIONS:

While we all get anxious and stressed at various times in our life and work, having an anxiety disorder impacts your life daily and is a recognized mental illness. The disorder can range from causing panic attacks, phobias, OCD, PTSD, social anxiety where we avoid any contact with others, to Generalized Anxiety (GAD) where you worry constantly about many different situations and activities.

Treatment for these disorders includes medications and various therapies and most people are prescribed both. Typical medications include antidepressants and specific anti-anxiety prescriptions. The most common therapy used is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), but more recently other therapies have met with success either as an alternative therapy or in combination with CBT. These include: Exposure Therapy, Mindfulness, and Hypnosis.

Whereas many of the therapies can require significant numbers of sessions before improvement is seen, hypnosis can help provide quick relief from your symptoms and also provide ongoing help by learning self-hypnosis under the guidance of a professional hypnotist.

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES RELATED TO ANXIETY DISORDERS:

[1] Anxiety Disorders: National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) >>>

[2] DSM-5 – Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – APA >>>

[3] Stress vs Anxiety: How to Tell the Difference >>>

[4] Why is it So Darn Hard to Cope with Stress? Ways to Reduce It >>>

[5] Can Hypnosis Really Help with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – OCD? >>>

[6] Common Medications for Anxiety Disorders >>>

[7] The Benefits and Criticisms of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy >>>

[8] What is Exposure Therapy? – APA >>>

[9] Hypnosis and Mindfulness for the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders: Empirical and Applied Perspectives >>>

[10] Introduction to Mindfulness – 4-Part Series >>>

[11] What is Hypnosis and How Does Hypnosis Work? >>>

[12] Introducing a Primer for Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) >>>

[13] 5 Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT Tapping Benefits for Stress, Pain & More >>>

[14] Transformation – David Spiegel on how hypnosis can change your brain’s perception of your body >>> 

[15] Therapy Session Case Study: Dealing with Anxiety, Stress and Poor Self-Confidence >>>

[16] Using Hypnosis in the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders: Pros and Cons >>>

[17] Overcoming Generalized Anxiety Disorder in Kids and Teenagers >>>

Library of Self-Hypnosis Downloads Products >>>

 

CITATIONS:

Access to the full text of these medical journal articles may require a free membership account to journal websites:

[18] New Uses of Hypnosis in the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Spiegel D, Cardena E.

[19] Neron S, Stephenson R. Effectiveness of Hypnotherapy with Cancer Patients’ Trajectory: Emesis, Acute Pain, and Analgesia and Anxiolysis in Procedures. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. 2007;55(3):336-54.

[20] Montgomery GH, Bovbjerg DH, Schnur JB, David D, Goldfarb A, Weltz CR, et al. A Randomized Clinical Trial of a Brief Hypnosis Intervention to Control Side Effects in Breast Surgery Patients. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2007;99(17):1304-12.

[21] Snow A, Dorfman D, Warbet R, Cammarata M, Eisenman S, Zilberfein F, et al. A Randomized Trial pf Hypnosis for Relief of Pain and Anxiety in Adult Cancer Patients Undergoing Bone Marrow Procedures. Journal of Psychosocial Oncology. 2012;30(3):281-93.

[22] Lang EV, Berbaum KS, Faintuch S, Hatsiopoulou O, Halsey N, Li X, et al. Adjunctive Self-Hypnotic Relaxation for Outpatient Medical Procedures: A Prospective Randomized Trial with Women Undergoing Large Core Breast Biopsy. Pain. 2006;126(1-30:155-64.

[23] Jensen, MP, Gralow JR, Braden A, Gertz KJ, Fann JR, Syrjala KL. Hypnosis for Symptom Management in Women with Breast Cancer: A Pilot Study. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. 2012;60(2):135-59.

[24] Harandi AA, Esfandani A, Shakibaei F. The Effect of Hypnotherapy on Procedural Pain and State Anxiety Related to Physiotherapy in Women Hospitalized in a Burn Unit. Contemporary Hypnosis. 2004;21(1):28-34.

[25] Landolt AS, Milling LS. The Efficacy of Hypnosis as an Intervention for Labor and Delivery Pain: A Comprehensive Methodological Review. Clinical Psychology Review. 2011;316(6):1022-31.

[26] Mackey EF. Effects of Hypnosis as an Adjunct to Intravenous Sedation for Third Molar Extraction: A Randomized Blind, Controlled Study. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. 2009;58(1):21-38.

[27] Lynn SJ, Green JP. The Sociocognitive and Dissociation Theories of Hypnosis: Toward a Rapprochement. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. 2011;59(3):277-93.

[28] Hypnosis in the Treatment of Patients with Anxiety Disorders. Holdevici I, Craciunb B.

 
Erika Slater CH
Director
Free At Last Hypnosis
Massachusetts

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Is Hypnosis Real or Fake and is it Legitimate Science?

By Erika Slater
Real or Fake and related words with magnifying glass

Real or Fake and related words with magnifying glass

In this article you’ll discover:

  1. The answer to the question is hypnosis real or fake, and a better question to be asking?
  2. What is the science behind hypnosis, and what is the view of the medical community of hypnotherapy as a treatment?
  3. Who and what can hypnosis help with, and why isn’t it for every person?
  4. Further reading and resources for help in determining if you should consider hypnosis to help you with personal challenges and self-improvement.

If you’re considering hypnosis to help heal, overcome a challenge, or achieve an outcome, then you may be thinking “is hypnosis is real or fake” and if there’s any ‘legitimate science’ in support of it? After all, why spend time investing in a therapy if it’s a waste of your effort and no chance of helping you achieve your outcome?

There’s a lot of myths and confusion surrounding hypnosis and our understanding of it. History hasn’t always been kind to hypnosis, and for the longest time the medical community viewed hypnotism with skepticism. Also, at times practitioners of hypnosis made outrageous claims, and marketed it more as a commodity service with a guarantee, and emphasizing price, than a legitimate therapy that may or may not be able to help an individual.

So, in this article I’ll provide my answers, based on professional experience and my own study of scientific research on:

  1. Is Hypnosis real or fake?
  2. What is the science behind hypnosis?
  3. Who and what can hypnosis help?

That’s a lot of ground to cover so let’s get going…

 

IS HYPNOSIS REAL OR FAKE?

Scientific data study with researcher contemplating resultsI’ve been a professional hypnotist since 2004 and consider myself a logical-minded person – I’m a former computer analyst and left brain dominant! So, I form my opinions by research and cause and effect experience. I need to understand the science behind anything before accepting and adopting it. In my profession I’m a student of the mind. Our mind is a complex scientific topic and frankly we still lack precise understanding of how it works in unison with our body – it’s a relatively new field called neuroscience.

However, there’s enough evidence and experience now to say hypnosis is real and not fake therapy.

But before you skip off because you feel its vindicated your belief it works, or you’ve decided I’m biased and it doesn’t work… it’s also not “magical fairy dust” which once sprinkled over you all your problems dissolve away.

False expectation of hypnosis contributes unfairly to opinions its fake and not real. The more probing and relevant question for you is “can it help you for what you need?” As part of my intake process of clients for my stop smoking hypnosis programs I vet them to determine if they’re ready to quit and if they’ll make a good hypnosis subject to benefit from the therapy.

To explain the reality of hypnosis you need to know key fundamental points as a “consumer” of it before forming your own opinion.

So, What is Hypnosis?

Wikipedia defines hypnosis as “… a state of human consciousness involving focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness and an enhanced capacity to respond to suggestion.” It’s a solid definition. Notice there is nothing about what is done when in hypnosis.

Hypnosis then is the way of getting you into a state where a skilled hypnotist can work with you to achieve your goals for the session. Notice I used the words “work with you” to imply this is a partnership between the hypnotist and you. There’s nothing about you being a passive bystander in the relationship, and letting the hypnotist wave their “magic wand” to fix whatever ails you.

What’s the Difference Between Stage Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy?

The term hypnotherapist came about to distinguish between hypnosis used to entertain such as by a stage hypnotist, and therapeutic hypnosis to help achieve a life outcome. Some hypnotists do both. There’s nothing wrong with stage hypnosis shows as long as you realize its just for entertainment. If you want to know what’s really happening to people in a stage hypnotist show then I’ve placed a link to a detailed explanation in the resource section at the end of this article.

Who Practices Hypnotherapy?

In the U.S. there’s no consistency in the oversight of hypnotists or hypnotherapists in the states. Some require licensing for a hypnotherapist and others don’t. So, depending on where you live anybody can call themselves a hypnotherapist after getting a business license. Even in those states requiring formal certification they can hang a sign on a door as a hypnotist and they’re good to go. There are bodies formed that provide training and certification for hypnotists to support those who wish to distinguish themselves as professionals. One such organization is called the National Guild of Hypnotists and they’re the largest in the world.

For a consumer the best preparation is to interview any hypnotist and ask about their qualifications and experience in hypnosis. A professional hypnotist will answer any questions without feeling threatened. I welcome it in my practice as it shows a person is serious in getting an outcome. It also provides me an opportunity to determine if I should take them on as a client.

Can You Get Real Results from Hypnosis?

There are no guarantees in hypnosis, just as there aren’t 100% guaranteed results in every medical procedure. Hypnotherapists can’t guarantee a client’s behavior after the session, the same a Doctor can’t guarantee a patient will take the medication he prescribed.

Getting a lasting outcome from hypnosis requires a number of factors to be in place, not the least is the skill of the hypnotist. After all, there are mediocre medical practitioners out there so it’s no surprise competence is a primary factor. A hypnotist specializing in the area a patient needs help with is also a predictor of success.

Additionally, the client comes to the table with a number of factors dictating success… or failure. These include: mindset and attitude, belief, commitment, expectations, having an open mind, and willing to actively participate in sessions and use the resources provided after the session is over.

In the next section I’m going to tackle what science understands about hypnosis today…

 

WHAT IS THE SCIENCE BEHIND HYPNOSIS?

Research and study results in binders on tableHypnosis is about reaching and maintaining a trance-like state. People in a hypnotic state are relaxed and have a focused intent. It may surprise you to learn most of us enter a hypnotic state regularly. Common examples are being absorbed in a book or a TV program to the point where your peripheral environment is blocked out. Another example is driving a car on a frequent commute and reaching the destination without remembering much about the journey. These are simple examples of a hypnotic state.

Therapeutic hypnosis isn’t about being under somebody’s spell. It also isn’t about losing control or being asleep. In fact, when in hypnosis, the hypnotist doesn’t want you to fall asleep. You also won’t do anything against your moral code so you can’t be hypnotized to rob a bank! A client is always in control and can come out of hypnosis whenever they want.

For those expecting to be mesmerized and not remember anything sorry to disappoint. Most of the time you’ll be aware of your environment and other noises and remember most of what the hypnotist says.

Conscious Mind vs Unconscious Mind:

For explanation purposes of this article you have two minds in one brain: conscious mind, and unconscious mind (sometimes known as subconscious mind). The conscious mind is active when you’re awake and alert and helps you make decisions throughout your day. Your conscious mind for example is reading this article and generating your thoughts as you read it. Your unconscious mind for the sake of our discussion today, controls your habits and reactions based on passed experiences, and also helps protect your survival. At its most basic it manages your essential functions such as breathing during sleep.

So, the two-mind concept work in unison when you’re awake but when you sleep your unconscious mind takes over. Despite this knowledge we still can’t point to our conscious and unconscious minds on a picture of the brain. It remains for the moment conceptual.

Science and Hypnosis – Studies and Research:

Likely you’ve heard of the placebo effect? It’s defined as “a beneficial effect, produced by a placebo drug or treatment, that cannot be attributed to the properties of the placebo itself, and must therefore be due to the patient’s belief in that treatment.” In other words, the mind produced the effect. So, science acknowledges in some instances you possess the capabilities of healing yourself using the power of your own mind.

So, what evidence does science have of hypnosis as a therapy and its ability to contribute to healing and improving our condition? While scientific research and study has been conducted on identifying the parts of the brain affected by hypnosis, and produced theories around how it may work, there’s still much about our brain we don’t understand so its pioneering work today.

However, this doesn’t mean hypnosis isn’t real or is fake, it just means science can’t explain its workings. This is not an unusual phenomenon though. For example, antipsychotic drugs work to help reduce mentally ill patient’s symptoms, but medical science doesn’t really understand how they work. Psychiatrists have theories but concrete understanding remains elusive. But this doesn’t mean they don’t ease symptoms of the illness and help.

Dr. David Spiegel of Stanford University Medical Center and a team did a study to determine what area of the brain is affected by hypnosis and I’ve put a link to this study in the resource section below – Stanford Medical Study identifies brain areas altered during hypnotic trances.

Studies have also been conducted on post-surgery healing, and one such concluded: Surgical Wounds Healed Faster with Hypnotic Visualization Techniques Broadbent, E., Kahokehr, A., Booth, R. J., Thomas, J., Windsor, J. A., Buchanan, C. M., . . . Hill, A. G. (2012). A brief relaxation intervention reduces stress and improves surgical wound healing response: A randomised trial. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 26(2), 212-217. doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2011.06.014

Another study and its positive results on healing is “Ginandes C, Brooks P, Sando W, Jones C, Aker J. Can medical hypnosis accelerate post-surgical wound healing? Results of a clinical trial. Am J Clin Hypn. 2003;45(4):333-51” and a link can be found in the resource section below.

One more citation related to smoking cessation and hypnosis and its results is “Johnson DL, Karkut RT. Performance by gender in a stop-smoking program combining hypnosis and aversion. Psychol Rep. 1994;75(2):851-7” and you’ll also find a link to it below.

How Does the Medical Community View Hypnosis?

The medical community was slow to embrace hypnosis as a viable treatment and there remains prejudice among some older Doctors. However, today hypnosis, in partnership with other medical treatments, is accepted in pre-surgery and post-surgery work, and in unison with medication to help reduce dependency on drugs with harmful side effects. The medical community struggles with patients who smoke or are overweight and lead unhealthy lifestyles. Because these are behavioral issues and negative habits which the pharmaceutical companies or nutritionists can’t help, then, alternative treatments such as hypnosis are now sought out by healthcare professionals for their patients.

But hypnosis isn’t a panacea and doesn’t help everybody or heal everything. Those conveying otherwise do an injustice to the field of hypnotherapy and create false hope in those desperate for a solution.

In this last section then I’m going to explore who and what hypnosis can help…

 

WHO AND WHAT CAN HYPNOSIS HELP?

Therapist working with patientMost people can fall into a state of hypnosis. As I mentioned earlier being relaxed with a focused intent is what you experience when being absorbed in watching a compelling program on TV. However, there are diagnoses and illnesses, particularly serious mental illness, that can prevent people from doing this easily. In addition, if you posses a mindset that’s convinced you can’t be hypnotized, or feel being hypnotized conveys loss of control, then, you’re not a good candidate for hypnosis therapy. Any hypnotist will tell you they’ve had clients where there was a barrier preventing the person from going into the level of hypnosis necessary to do the change or healing work.

Some people are highly suggestible and these usually make ideal clients for a hypnotist. These are the people stage hypnotists single out from the volunteers to take part in the show.

Its not necessary for everybody to be highly suggestible to benefit from hypnosis, but there is a section of the population hypnosis won’t be able to help due to experiencing a barrier to entering hypnosis and/or not accepting of hypnotic suggestions.

What Type of Individuals Benefit from Hypnosis?

I briefly touched on client factors that dictate success with working with a hypnotist. I also mentioned clients having expectations around active participation and treating the work as a partnership with the hypnotist. If you’ve smoked for 30 or 40 years or been overweight most of your life then you’ve got ingrained habits and poor lifestyles to be erased. So, it’ll take work and commitment from the client to get a positive outcome.

In my practice I’ve found I can help most people who show a strong commitment to follow what I ask them to do, both during and after the hypnosis sessions, and using the resources I provide. On the flip side a predictor of failure is somebody who is looking for a “magic wand” or seeking help to overcome an issue because somebody else wants it for them more than they do.

What Can Hypnosis Help With and Can’t Help With?

Common issues hypnosis can help with are aiding people to stop smoking and those seeking weight loss. Other issues are reducing stress, various sleep problems, and most types of phobias. I’ve seen an increase in clients looking to improve their confidence in specific activities and around sports performance. Use of hypnosis in professional sports using visualization techniques has long been studied and employed by sport psychologists.

Other areas hypnosis helps are in pain management and addictions. In particular pain medications can be addictive for patients, and so being able to manage pain but also reduce dependency on drugs is uppermost on Doctor’s minds these days.

Addictions such as drug and alcohol abuse can also be helped employing hypnosis in conjunction with other therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – see article linked to in resource section for more on this therapy. Most professional hypnotists will look for a referral from a medical Doctor before helping with treatment for pain management and addictions. This is to ensure they understand the role it will play in a patient’s overall treatment plan being led by a physician.

Hypnosis isn’t likely to be successful in situations where serious mental illness symptoms are prevalent, and where the patient is in denial and/or where the client has an inability to relax and focus long enough to stay in a hypnotic trance. When medications help reduce symptoms, then, there are psychotherapists trained in hypnosis who use it as a compliment to other techniques, such as previously mentioned Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. So, hypnosis can be an additional resource to help increase positive outcomes in conjunction with other therapies.

What is Self-Hypnosis?

You may have heard the term self-hypnosis and wondered what it’s all about?

Let’s turn again to Wikipedia for help with a definition. “Self-hypnosis or auto-hypnosis (as distinct from hetero-hypnosis) is a form, a process, or the result of a self-induced hypnotic state. Frequently, self-hypnosis used as a vehicle to enhance the efficacy of self-suggestion; and, in such cases, the subject ‘plays the dual role of suggester and suggestee’.

What this means is you don’t need a hypnotist to induce you into state of hypnosis or guide you through a session and offer suggestions. You can do this yourself. If you listen to sessions on CDs or MP3s you’re still having a therapist guide you as you listen to their voice and absorb their suggestions.

You’ll often hear hypnotists say all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. To a degree it’s true if you look at the work done under hypnosis as all being directed at the client, and it’s the client’s ability to accept the suggestions into their unconscious mind where the real changes take effect. However, in my opinion, it underplays the importance of a hypnotist in providing the guidance and resources to the client which is key to having a successful outcome. While I’ve trained individual clients in self-hypnosis, I’ve found most prefer to be guided in their hypnotic journey.

 

CONCLUSIONS:

Now it's your turn to decide and have opinion wordsHypnosis is real and not fake. But it isn’t effective for everybody and doesn’t work to solve all problems. A successful outcome isn’t only dictated by the skill of a hypnotist and setting the right expectations for a client to avoid disappointment, but their commitment to do whatever it takes.

A client works in partnership with a hypnotist to achieve a specific outcome and so they’re not a passive bystander waiting to be “fixed” by the hypnotist. The hypnotherapist guides the client under hypnosis to their own resources in their unconscious mind and by making hypnotic suggestions throughout the session using various techniques specific to the problem to be solved.

The medical world and science was initially cautious and skeptical about the claims of hypnosis. They considered it unproven and unscientific, and there were no real independent studies to support the claims. There are now studies to not only support hypnosis but also to begin to understand how it works, and what happens in the brain. While our understanding of how the brain works is still in its infancy, nonetheless the medical community now looks to supplement their treatments with hypnosis where it can reduce reliance on medications and overcome stubborn unhealthy habits such as smoking and poor diets causing weight gain.

Most people are hypnotizable and accepting of hypnotic suggestions while in hypnosis, but there is a section of the population who have illnesses or personal barriers making hypnosis ineffective for them.

We’ve come to the end of this article. I hope you’ve found it informative and it spurs you to learn more. Spend time on this blog where I cover a lot more about other questions you may have on hypnosis, or its use for a specific treatment or condition. If you’d like to work with me directly then check out my Hypnosis Services I offer online or in-office here >>>.

Please leave a comment below to let me know if this article helped you in your decision and how you think I can improve this article for you and others.

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES RELATED TO HYPNOSIS:

Stage Hypnosis – How and Why it Works by Terence Watts >>>

Here’s What Hypnosis Does to the Brain – What Happens to Your Brain on Hypnosis Revealed – Erika Slater >>>

Why is it So Darn Hard to Quit Smoking and Ways to Make it Easier >>>

Stanford Medical Study identifies brain areas altered during hypnotic trances >>>

Can Medical Hypnosis Accelerate Post-Surgical Wound Healing? Results of a Clinical Trial >>>

Performance by Gender in a Stop-Smoking Program Combining Hypnosis and Aversion >>>

The Benefits and Criticisms of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Erika Slater >>>

Library of Self-Hypnosis Downloads Products >>>

 
Erika Slater CH
Free At Last Hypnosis
Massachusetts

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Free At Last Hypnosis Opens New Office in Mashpee Cape Cod Serving Barnstable County & Islands Towns

By Erika Slater
Free At Last Hypnosis Mashpee Office front entrance
Free At Last Hypnosis Mashpee Office front entrance

400 Nathan Ellis Hwy Mashpee Office Entrance

Free At Last Hypnosis has moved its office location to Mashpee, Massachusetts and closed its Hyannis location as of March 31st, 2018.

The new office location is better for me and my clients as I was seeing mostly people from the upper cape towns and those just over the Bourne Bridge, such as Falmouth, Mashpee, Sandwich, Bourne and Wareham.

I began my hypnosis business in 2004 in the Worcester County area, and moved my family to Cape Cod in fall of 2016.

My new office is located close to Mashpee Commons shopping center on Route 151 and here is contact information:

Free At Last Hypnosis
400 Nathan Ellis Hwy, Suite B
Mashpee, MA 02649
508.269.0109

Here’s a map to help you…

For office hours and direction check out Free at Last Hypnosis office information page here >>>

 

HOW TO KEEP WORKING WITH ME:

Erika Slater headshot photo 300x300One of the strategic transitions I’m making with my business is helping more clients through online sessions.

This isn’t new to me but most likely for current clients it will be.

I’ve been working with people online for the last two years, and in fact all my group sessions in the last year have been conducted online. Many other hypnotherapists only conduct their sessions online.

While I’ll still have an office for those wanting a private face-to-face traditional session, all my groups moving forward will also be online.

For the moment, I’m offering private hypnosis session online and in-office.

There are many benefits to online hypnosis sessions including being able to provide a recording of the session so people can access it whenever they want, and it also saves on travel time and more convenient for my clients.

The technology for conducting online hypnosis sessions has become faster and more reliable than even just a few years ago. I use a technology called Zoom for the sessions as its more reliable and consistent than Skype.

So, while I’ve moved a few towns away I’m still available to you in the Hyannis area if you’re willing to travel or have your sessions conducted online.

Contact me if you want to continue working with me from the comfort and convenience of your own home. Just make sure you’ve got a reliable Internet, PC or Mac, and a microphone to interact. Headset/headphones is preferred to get best effect as it creates a quieter environment.

Please check out my hypnosis Services here >>> 

Feel free to reach out to me if you want to discuss a service not listed here.

I’m looking forward to my new business location and model and invite you to join me for sessions online or in my new Mashpee office

I look forward to hearing from you on how I can help you.

Erika Slater CH
Director
Free At Last Hypnosis
Massachusetts

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Who Invented Hypnosis and What’s the History of Hypnotherapy?

By Erika Slater
hypnotherapy word cloud

hypnotherapy word cloud

In this article you’ll discover:

  1. The roots of hypnosis and the history of hypnotherapy from obscurity to acceptance as a healing therapy.
  2. All about modern day hypnosis and its advancement with Dave Elman, Milton Erickson, and David Spiegel, MD.
  3. Why hypnosis isn’t really a therapy in itself and its ability to prepare for change work using the unconscious mind.
  4. Further reading and resources for help in history and understanding of hypnotherapy.

If you’ve ever wondered about using hypnosis to stop smoking or help on weight loss or something else you may be struggling to overcome then its no surprise you’ll want to know about who “invented hypnosis” and what’s its background and history.

Where did hypnosis come from in the first place and who discovered it?

Is hypnosis normal, as in a naturally occurring phenomenon? How has it been used in the past and who used it for what?

These questions on the roots and development of hypnosis bring up some interesting questions, and where it began and how it’s viewed today by consumers and medical professionals alike.

The fact is no one person really “invented” hypnosis, but it did evolve out of a fascination and desire to understand the human mind. This desire for understanding dates back hundreds of years when, and just like the medical world at those times, there were strange theories promoted to explain what people experienced and saw.

So, let’s start by tracing the roots of hypnosis, and how we advanced to where we are today with hypnosis accepted, and used daily, as a therapy to help people overcome major challenges and provide support to the medical community.

 

TRACING THE ROOTS OF HYPNOSIS:

Franz Mesmer PortraitWhile early writings allude to the ability of the human mind to be suggestible, and its use of relaxation and focused imagination to put some people into a trance-like state, there wasn’t an understanding on what was really happening.

It wasn’t until Franz Mesmer came on the scene in the late eighteen century talking about magnetism and its use as a therapy and cure we see the beginnings of different theories on how this works.

Franz Mesmer was a German physician who lived from 1734 to 1815 in Germany.

Mesmer had a strong interest in astronomy which led him to theorize a natural energetic transference of energy occurred between all animate and inanimate objects which he coined ‘animal magnetism’. Mesmer made a distinction between physical magnetism used to explain what we see in the external physical world, to magnetism within human bodies and those of other animals, that could be influenced with the use of magnets to perform healing.

This magnetism created a focus and attraction which would later be called mesmerism. The roots of hypnosis began to grow with Mesmer’s theory.

From his work came the term “mesmerized” which means to have your attention so focused that an individual appears to be in a trance-like state.

Mesmer’s theories gained many followers in Europe and its practitioners were known as magnetizers. Mesmer’s theories and ideas were met with skepticism, and eventually he retired from the public world and died in obscurity in 1815. As Mesmer is an important figure in the history of hypnosis I’ve included a link in the additional resource section below to more information about his life and work.

We first see the use of the terms hypnosis and hypnotism around 1820 and these were credited to Étienne Félix d’Henin de Cuvillers who was a follower of Franz Mesmer but offered an alternative theory on how magnetism affected our body to help heal it.

There was no real credibility to earlier work on hypnosis and hypnotism until James Braid, a Scottish surgeon took Mesmer’s work further in the early to mid 1800’s and became known as ‘the Father of Modern Hypnotism’.

Braid studied hypnosis and also conducted ‘self-hypnosis’ experiments using himself as the subject. Braid discovered he could use hypnotism in medicine while treating his patients, as well as using ‘induction’ techniques to put them into hypnosis.

Braid adopted the term hypnotism from Étienne Félix d’Henin de Cuvillers work, but used it to describe the state of a subject rather than any techniques used once in hypnosis.

Although a medical doctor, Braid’s assertions were met with much criticism when it came to hypnosis, but his theories and descriptions moved the field of hypnosis forward and paved the way for others to advance his theories.

It was the ‘Father of Psychoanalyses’ psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud who used hypnosis in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, thus offering it a greater credibility. Given his reputation as an expert in psychology and working with the mind, Freud used hypnosis to treat psychoses and neuroses in patients, (namely anxiety and hysterias), and also used it to tap into one’s unconscious mind to help them recall memories that created profound negative influences on one’s current quality of living.

Freud had tremendous success using hypnosis and it grew to be seen less as mystical mumbo jumbo, and more as a useful tool. But as Freud’s theories advanced in psychiatry he eventually introduced other techniques. Hypnosis floundered for a number of years and was kept alive mostly by stage hypnotist practitioners.

While it just appears hypnosis floundered in the “therapy” basement for first half of twentieth-century it was in fact still be practiced beyond the entertainment stage, and there were those working behind the scenes to develop its use as a serious therapy alternative.

During this period, and even today, pharmaceuticals took over the medical world and prescription drugs became the preferred method of dealing with many physical and mental symptoms.

For the longest time this relegated alternative therapies such as hypnosis to the “shadows”, and not even considered by the medical community as viable treatments for their patients except in situations where they were stumped or the patient didn’t respond to their help.

Unfortunately, this meant the patients seeking out hypnosis were many times in “last resort mode” and felt abandoned by the medical community, and the most difficult cases for a hypnotist to help.

We’ll move on now to identifying those people who’ve helped move hypnosis into our modern-day world and take it to a point where it’s used in conjunction with other medical treatments and used to help overcome stubborn challenges people have in achieving goals they set for themselves.

 

MODERN DAY HYPNOSIS:

Milton Erickson at CollegeThe stimulated interest, and advancement in hypnosis in the last 60 years, grew out of many circumstances of people understanding fixing symptoms doesn’t solve the underlying problem which returns once the medications are stopped, or where drugs don’t help at all in the first place.

Before we move into the tide that changed towards hypnosis its important to explain about the term hypnotherapy.

Hypno-therapy describes the use of hypnosis to perform therapy. This is distinct from hypnosis used for other reasons, be it entertainment or just going into hypnosis without realizing it, such as becoming absorbed in a book or movie when we become so focused on something we enter a trance-like state.

Hypnosis in itself is not a therapy.

A hypnotist uses hypnosis to put a subject into a trance-like state of relaxation and focus in order to then use a mixture of techniques to work with the subject to effect change. The skill of the hypnotherapist then is less about the process of getting somebody into hypnosis, but more on being able direct the subject to use their unconscious mind to make the changes they desire.

Think of a surgical operation and the prep-work prior to performing the surgical procedure. One of the key elements is anesthesia, which involves the choosing of the appropriate and safe anesthesia to administer based on the history of the patient and the procedure to be used. Once the patient is “unconscious” then the surgeon’s specific skills to the procedure they’ll use comes into play to perform the operation to get the expected result for the patient.

Think of hypnosis as basically equivalent to anesthesia to get the patient into the required relaxed yet focused trance-like state, and ready for the hypnotherapist to perform the partnership work with the client on the changes they want to see.

Since Freud there are many people who have advanced the use and acceptance of hypnosis in the modern era. I’ll pick three names that have helped advanced hypnosis’ credibility in my view.

The first is David Elman. Elman is famous for introducing to hypnosis rapid inductions. Inductions are the methods used to get people into the trance-like state. There are many methods and each hypnotist have their favorites they’ll use on a patient. Elman’s method though is used world-wide and the preferred method of many practitioners.

Elman’s path to promote the use of hypnosis, especially to the medical field, is unusual. His background is one of a radio host and songwriter but he began to pursue hypnosis in late 1940’s and begun teaching it to doctors and dentists after he perfected his technique.

In the next 13 years through to early 1960’s Elman performed training through his courses in hypnosis and published audio recordings of sessions he did. In his last years Elman dedicated his work to writing a book on hypnotherapy and this is available today simply titled “Hypnotherapy.” Elman died in 1967.

It was American psychiatrist and psychologist Milton Erickson who brought hypnosis to legendary status with his ‘miracle cures’ and storytelling that appeared to heal patients who had struggled with medical and mental health issues for years.

Erickson introduced hypnosis into his medical practice, as well as his family therapy practice, and the results were exceptional. Patients started preaching of his abilities to ‘heal’ and treat them using hypnosis, and hypnosis grew in acceptance as a credible therapy. He believed a patient’s background, beliefs, habits and own experiences should be used to help them make changes, and this knowledge should be weaved into the stories told back to the patients during sessions.

Here is a section from his biography at a site dedicated to Erickson and his work:

The Ericksonian approach departs from traditional hypnosis in a variety of ways. While the process of hypnosis has customarily been conceptualized as a matter of the therapist issuing standardized instructions to a passive patient, Ericksonian hypnosis stresses the importance of the interactive therapeutic relationship and purposeful engagement of the inner resources and experiential life of the subject. Dr. Erickson revolutionized the practice of hypnotherapy by coalescing numerous original concepts and patterns of communication into the field.”

Today, many of his methods, namely NLP (neurolinguistics Programming) are widely used by hypnotherapists, psychologists and psychiatrists around the world. Hypnosis is no longer viewed as fiction, myth or mysticism, rather a method to treat the human mind to help heal.

For more about Erickson and his life and work I’ve added a link to a biography in the resource section below.

As the medical community accepted hypnosis as a therapy to assist with healing of their patients then powerful voices begun to adopt and experiment with advancing our understanding of hypnosis. One of these is David Spiegel, MD, who is a professor and associate chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Spiegel has conducted published studies about hypnosis and used it himself to recover from shoulder surgery, and in advocating its use in pain management to reduce dependency on prescription drugs with major side-effects.

Spiegel, and many others like him in the medical world, have reached beyond questioning hypnosis and if it is real, and rather asking more advancing questions on how it works with the unconscious mind to help with healing our physical bodies and mental health. I wrote about this in an earlier article “Here’s What Hypnosis Does to the Brain – What Happens to Your Brain on Hypnosis Revealed”, and there is a link to it below in the resource section.

This is the place we are at today with hypnosis being a natural therapy without negative side effects but being able to deliver healing and positive changes in the hands of a skilled hypnotist. If you’d like to work directly with me then check out all my online and in-office Hypnosis Services here or contact me here.

 

CONCLUSIONS:

The effect of hypnosis has been documented for hundreds of years but it’s only in the last two hundred years the terms hypnosis and hypnotism were coined and were used widespread. For most of these years hypnosis was rejected by the medical community and considered unproven.

As the discipline of psychiatry was accepted as a medical discipline, the techniques of psychiatry and those who practiced it began to include hypnosis and hypnotism. It took more years before an understanding of what happens in hypnosis to effect healing and change became accepted, and the medical world begun to take notice of hypnotherapy as a credible therapy.

In this century two powerful figures advanced hypnotherapy and its use, particularly around the medical community. These were David Elman and Milton Erickson. Today thanks to their work and published findings, and many others who have focused on hypnosis as a way to help people overcome challenges, hypnosis lives and breathes each day in helping people overcome personal challenges and live a better life.

If you’d like to discover more about hypnosis then check out this Free 5-Day hypnosis course here >>>

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES RELATED TO HYPNOSIS:

Franz Mesmer – Wikipedia >>>

Here’s What Hypnosis Does to the Brain – What Happens to Your Brain on Hypnosis Revealed – Erika Slater >>>

Why is it So Darn Hard to Quit Smoking and Ways to Make it Easier >>>

Milton H. Erickson – Biography >>>

Library of Self-Hypnosis Downloads Products >>>

 
Erika Slater CH
Free At Last Hypnosis
Massachusetts

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Can Hypnosis Really Help with Depression and How Does it Work?

By Erika Slater
Sad and depressed young woman holding a pillow sitting on a bed

Sad and depressed young woman holding a pillow sitting on a bed

In this article you’ll discover:

  1. The different forms of depression and common symptoms impacting those who suffer with it.
  2. Common treatments used to help with the symptoms covering medications and traditional therapies including the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
  3. Use of hypnosis as an alternative or supplemental treatment to answer the question can hypnosis help with depression.
  4. Further reading and hypnosis resources around depression covering the treatments, research, and information with this mental health disorder.

Depression is a recognized mental health disorder affecting millions of people on a daily basis.

It can happen as a secondary diagnosis of another issue such as Schizophrenia or be the primary diagnosis. We’ll discuss different types in this article.

Unfortunately for many, it can affect them for years, and even their entire lives. Depression comes in various types, so, finding the actual cause and proper form of treatment for each person may vary. Getting the right diagnosis and treatment for depression can take a while.

In this article I’ll focus on the current thinking around questions such as can hypnosis help for treating depression? Can it help alleviate the symptoms or the causes? Hypnosis is being used to treat a variety of other mental health issues so, can hypnosis cure depression?

Cure” is a strong word and avoided by most of the medical world when it comes to mental health. Serious mental health diagnosis such as schizophrenia and bi-polar have treatments but not cures. So, for some types of depression we’re not talking about cure but that doesn’t mean the impact on a personal life can’t be helped.

Let’s begin by covering some different forms of depression…

 

DIFFERENT FORMS OF DEPRESSION:

Grieving sad and crying friends embracing each otherThe type of depression most people are familiar with is ‘Major Depression’ also known as Major Depressive Disorder, clinical depression or MDD.

This is the most serious primary type of depression, in terms of number of symptoms and severity of them, but there are significant individual differences in the impact on a person as the length and frequency of the bouts of depression. People suffering have trouble identifying the cause but have low-esteem, low mood and loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities.

Genetics, biological and possibly environmental causes can bring the onset of this illness. However, there’s no lab test to identify major depression.

Its identified by the completion of an evaluation and examination by a qualified professional. During this review physical conditions that could contribute to depression are ruled out.

While many people consider suicide as being one of the outcomes of depression the fact is you don’t need to feel suicidal to have major depression, and you don’t need to have a history of hospitalizations either, although both of these factors are present in some people with major depression.

Persistent Depressive Disorder or Dysthymia or dysthymic disorder is often times mistaken for a major depression but when the duration isn’t consistent or long, it’s easier to discern. It’s a low to moderate level of depression that persists for at least two years, and often longer. While the symptoms are not as severe as a major depression, they’re more enduring and resistant to treatment. For more information about these types of depression see the link in the resources section to the Mayo Clinic article covering Persistent Depressive Disorder.

Bi-Polar Disorder, also known as ‘manic depressive’ is one of the more difficult types of mood disorders to treat. This type of depression includes both high and low mood swings, as well as a variety of other significant symptoms not present in other depressions.

Schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder both can contain symptoms of depression. It’s medically accepted now through studies that close to 50% of folks with schizophrenia are not aware they have an illness, and this poses a challenge for those trying to help get treatment for these people. However, that doesn’t mean those with poor insight don’t suffer with depression with their illness.

Yes, depression can be complicated in mental illness.

Situational depression is one of the most common types of depression affecting the majority of the North America population throughout the course of their lives. At some point individuals are most likely to experience this kind of depression. This can range from a spell of sadness, which we’re all subjected to after a loss of something dear to us, to a feeling of hopelessness that persists beyond the event and “normal” acceptable grieving period. A loss of a parent, sibling, or close friend can invoke sustained situational depression.

This category of mood disorders describes depression that occurs in response to a major life stress or crisis. It is sometimes referred to as ‘Adjustment Disorder’. In this type of depression, an individual may experience a sudden loss or change in their life which leads them to become stressed, sad, and depressed, potentially leading them to feel hopeless and helpless.

There’s a wide range of symptoms associated with depression and used by people in describing how they feel. The include some of the following:

  1. A general feeling of hopelessness, numbness and helplessness. The joy of life evaporates and a feeling of sadness prevails causing each day to seem dark and overwhelming.
  2. Getting out of bed and starting the day takes an immense amount of effort. Sleep problems often accompany depression and a feeling of exhaustion even on waking.
  3. Lack of interest in doing anything that involves fun or interacting with people. Isolation and food can become a focus and cause weight gain and/or slipping into unhealthy eating habits. On the other end of spectrum can be a loss of appetite.
  4. Emotional triggers can be frequent and seemingly uncontrollable with frequent crying bouts. A feeling of “falling apart” and spiraling down towards a bottomless pit.

Any of these symptoms justify a discussion with your primary physician to determine a treatment plan moving forward.

 

TREATMENTS FOR DEPRESSION:

Depressed young woman looking at pillDrugs prescribed by a doctor are usually first line of defense for those suffering with depression. Anti-depressants and sleep medication can help with the symptoms and for many people this is enough to help them out of situational depression.

For those with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia and bi-polar, and when the depression has a biological or environmental cause then as likely these people will already be on medication, and the choice of additional medication to combat depression should be undertaken by the attending psychiatrist.

As noted prescribed drugs can help with the symptoms, but if its required to get at and heal the underlying causes then beyond medication there are additional treatments covering counseling, psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and hypnosis.

Counseling and psychotherapy include traditional talk therapies where the patient discusses their feelings with the therapist to work through solutions and positive thoughts along with positive affirmations and using other techniques.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be effective because it does three important things for clients or patients using it. First it helps teach individuals to assume a sense of self-empowerment – that is assuming responsibility for thinking the thoughts that lead to the feelings they’re experiencing. CBT asserts that thoughts lead to feelings.

The second aspect of CBT is the emphasis it places on the client’s self-efficacy. The individual assumes all responsibility for not only what they think leading to what they feel, but also who and what they want to become. CBT teaches individuals they have the accountability to choose whatever they want to think and feel.

The third aspect of CBT is that it teaches individuals to live in the here and now. As they think so will they feel. So, it helps in changing their mindset.

If you’d like to read more about CBT then I’ve provided a link in the additional resource section to an article called “The Benefits and Criticisms of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.”

A number of the treatments mentioned above can help with depression but as with many issues a combination can provide relief and stabilization. Hypnosis can be used to help augment other treatments such as medications, psychotherapy and CBT in treating depression. I want to spend rest of this article talking about hypnosis and when it can help with depression.

 

CAN HYPNOSIS HELP WITH DEPRESSION?

Hypnotherapist holding patient wrist in her office during sessionHypnosis in itself is not a therapy. Some hypnotists describe it more as a delivery system for treatment. Hypnosis can be considered then as various techniques to help put a patient into a relaxed and focused state. In this state it is possible to work directly with the client’s unconscious mind. Once in this state a skilled therapist can then perform the work to help a client.

Hypnosis is most likely to be effective with those suffering from dysthymia, situational depression and adjustment disorder as these are brought on by life changes and stressful times in an individual’s life. As these forms of depression don’t tend to be brought on by genetics or biological aspects of an individual then relief is more likely to be provided by therapies used while in hypnosis.

Mark Tyrell of Uncommon Knowledge discusses the use of hypnosis in depression in an article I’ve linked to in the resource section below entitled “Should Hypnosis Ever Be Used to Treat Depression?” Mark maintains “… if the therapy is focused on bringing up lots of painful memories, essentially giving their feelings of misery a ‘booster’, it’s no wonder depressed clients could suffer.”

Here Mark is not talking about hypnosis itself but the therapy used by the hypnotherapist when the patient is in hypnosis, which if focused on bringing up painful memories and reliving the past can be toxic to their depressed state. He says “hypnosis simply powers and magnifies whatever therapy is being given through it.” Tyrell adds, “When the aim of therapy was to find out what happened or ‘release suppressed memories‘, there was no way applying hypnosis could turn out well.” After all he says “…there’s no evidence that hypnosis can be used to ‘find out what happened’. And second, there’s no evidence that finding out the cause of a problem solves the problem anyway.

Tyrell argues hypnosis mirrors two primary trance-like states people with depression experience; catalepsy and an inward focus. Depressed people can exhibit emotional numbness or sit almost motionless for hours, and in addition appear withdrawn and disconnected from the outside world.

Tyrell concludes in his article, for those depressed people who are already experiencing the features of the trance state then hypnosis as a mechanism can resonate strongly. In the hands of a skilled hypnotherapist who can deliver “… positively orientated therapy enabling, constructive, and solution-focused outcomes, then hypnosis can magnify those benefits hugely.”

Some factors to consider before embarking on hypnosis. Hypnosis isn’t something “done to you.” It’s not a magic bullet for resolving issues but done in partnership with a willing, motivated, and open-minded subject. For something like situational depression, it will take multiple sessions and so you’ll need to stay with it to see results.

Check out the experience and qualifications of hypnotists you may be considering to help or better still ask for a referral from a medical practitioner. There are many hypnotists these days who specialize in medical hypnosis and they make themselves known to providers. Skills in hypnosis and client interactions vary regardless of background and training in hypnotherapy. Choose somebody you feel you can work with and trust. If you’d like to consider working directly with me then check out all my online and in-office Hypnosis Services here or for specific help then contact me here.

Use the resources below to get further background information and talk with your primary physician and/or treatment provider about your current condition before supplementing your current treatment plan.

 

CONCLUSIONS:

There are many forms of depression, some categorized as serious mental illness such as major depression and bi-polar, and brought on and influenced by genetic, biological and environmental aspects. Other forms of depression are more situational and happen due to major life changes and stresses.

Depression caused by those suffering from dysthymia, situational depression and adjustment disorder can benefit from hypnosis. In these instances, hypnosis can be used to supplement other treatments such as medication, psychotherapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Where hypnosis is used to provide relief, the focus is on the present and future rather than attempting to understand the past and causes of depression which can lead to a more toxic state for the patient. Hypnosis used as a delivery system for therapies can mirror the current trance-like state the depression causes in a patient making the client feel more at ease during the sessions.

If you want to learn more about how hypnosis could help with your depression then you can check out this self-hypnosis program on depression which you can try the first module for free here >>>

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES RELATED TO HELP FOR DEPRESSION:

Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia) – Mayo Clinic >>>

The Benefits and Criticisms of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Erika Slater >>>

Summertime SAD – Summer Depression and What to Do About it! >>>

Five Ways to Treat Depression with Hypnotherapy – Diane Zimberoff >>>

Should Hypnosis Ever Be Used to Treat Depression? – Mark Tyrell >>>

Library of Self-Hypnosis Downloads Products >>>

 
Erika Slater CH
Free At Last Hypnosis
Massachusetts

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