What are the benefits of Clinical Hypnotherapy?
Updated: Jul 26
By Melani De Sousa, Founder, Wellness & Intuitive Eating Coach at The Wellness Workshop.
Clinical hypnotherapy is a combination of hypnosis and psychological treatment administered by a trained professional such as a Clinical Hypnotherapist, Psychologist, Mental Health Worker or even a Medical Doctor. The practice of hypnosis for therapeutic purposes involves getting into a relaxed state of mind where your therapist communicates with the subconscious part of your brain and makes suggestions relevant to specific symptoms like pain, anxiety, or addiction. Think of hypnosis as a “connector” linking your subconscious mind to your conscious mind – otherwise referred to as being in a trance like state. By accessing deeply buried memories, experiences and repressed emotions, we can more efficiently identify the root cause of destructive behaviour/habits that may otherwise have taken weeks to uncover. For this reason, many medically trained and allied health professionals are relying on hypnotherapy to fast-track results with their clients.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CLINICAL Hypnotherapy?
1. Reduced chronic and acute pain
A Clinical Hypnotherapy study in 2009 comparing the results of 13 different trials that analysed outcomes from hypnosis treated pain, found in almost every case hypnosis intervention consistently produced significant decreases in a variety of chronic-pain issues. (Elkins, Jensen & Patterson 20019) Chronic pain is defined as pain that persists for at least 6 months or longer and may cause considerable suffering and distress. Clinical hypnotherapy that involved practitioner-lead instruction (during a session) as well as self-hypnosis education for the patient (outside of a session) helped in reducing pain associated with arthritis, fibromyalgia, physical disability, lower back pain and even cancer. The hypnotic method used for treating patients included enhancing patient competency and mastery in managing pain and stress by envisioning competing sensations in affected areas.
2. Reduced anxiety and symptoms of depression
With one in seven Australians experiencing depression in their lifetime, and one in four experiencing anxiety (Beyond Blue 2020), mental health disorders are rapidly becoming Australia’s largest national health issue. Clinical hypnotherapy may assist individuals struggling with anxiety and depression by improving physical and emotional control, reducing self-consciousness and channeling focused attention (Stanford 2016). During hypnotherapy, our Clinical Hypnotherapist will guide you into a relaxed state before suggesting coping techniques that may help you manage your symptoms of anxiety and depression. Using phrases like “when you begin to feel stressed or worried, you will pause, breathe and count to three” your mind will learn how to better respond, rather than react to difficult situations or emotions. During the trance-like state experienced in hypnotherapy, your mind is much more open to suggestion than usual.
3. Management of phobias or fears
One of the most popular uses for Clinical Hypnotherapy is in the management of phobias and fears. A phobia is defined as “a marked and persistent fear of the presence or anticipation of an encounter with a specific object or situation”, for example flying, spiders, large crowds…etc (Fredette, El-Baalbaki, Neron & Palardy 2012). For sufferers, this may elicit a sense of panic and/or anxiety accompanied by physical symptoms such as sweating, heavy breathing and an increased heart rate. A 2008 study in California, USA, found all participants receiving hypnotherapy for a set of specific phobias including the fear of snakes, driving and heights experienced an average 56.46% decrease in symptoms in comparison to their baseline score (Alliant International University, San Diego). Similarly, a 1993 published article from the American Psychological Association found that “both common and uncommon phobias have been treated successfully with hypnosis” usually involving image-based therapy and suggestive desensitisation techniques.
4. Addiction and substance abuse
Clinical hypnotherapy can provide a drug-free alternative to managing addiction and substance abuse for individuals struggling with drugs, alcohol, gambling, food, sex and a range of other issues. While in a hypnotic state, you are more open to suggestion and less resistant to exploring deep emotional trauma and memories which may have contributed to, or initiated your addiction. Clinical Hypnotherapy may also present a more optimistic outlook to your problem, giving you the confidence and will power to break free of bad habits. In a 2017 study by Sawni & Breuner, clinical hypnotherapy was shown to strengthen participant’s willpower to overcome addictive urges and cravings. The study also demonstrated that hypnosis can “potentially effectively alter the neurophysiological networks capable of rewiring certain patterns and conditioning” in the brain. This is particularly useful in the treatment of habits and addictions.
*When considering clinical hypnotherapy for drug or alcohol addiction, it’s important to consult with your Doctor first to determine if it is right for you.
5. Self-esteem and relationship issues
Arguably one of the most underrated applications of Clinical Hypnotherapy is its efficacy in improving interpersonal relationships and self-esteem. Hypnotherapy has been described as a “psychological or mental healing process (that can be used) to achieve desired goals like changing current feelings or behaviours” (Kircsh 1995) These feelings or behaviours can often involve the negative attitudes, beliefs and values we have of ourselves and our relationships; which can be detrimental to our growth and/or success. By allowing you to dig deeper and explore underlying emotions and memories during hypnosis, you enhance your ability to identify patterns in your actions which may be contributing to negative outcomes. Using suggestive techniques, our hypnotherapist will begin to positively change the way you talk to yourself, value who you are, process situations, interact with others, and see life events from a different perspective.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Melani De Sousa is an Accredited Wellness Coach and founder of The Wellness Workshop, a Health At Every Size (HAES) wellbeing centre. She is also an Intuitive Eating Coach, Personal Trainer, magazine contributor, blog writer, and presenter.