Hypnosis. The very word conjures visions of pocket watches, hypnoscopes, and people doing outrageous things such as barking like a dog or clucking like a chicken only to find themselves standing, often quite embarrassed, once the show is over.
However, most don’t realize a form of hypnosis, called hypnotherapy, has been successfully used to help people stop smoking, lose weight, improve their confidence and motivation, help people increase their sales, and even improve their sports game. As part of a health care team consisting of other licensed providers, hypnotherapy may be used as an adjunct therapy to help patients who suffer from chronic pain, anxiety, or a multitude of other medical issues. Some conservative providers may not be open to working with a hypnotherapist saying it does not work or that not everyone can be put into a trance. However, the world renowned Mayo Clinic recognizes the benefits of hypnotherapy and provides this service. For the critics saying not everyone can be hypnotized, while it is true some people are easier to hypnotize than others, everyone can be put into a trance of some form. It works the best for people of normal to above average intelligence. If you have ever experienced drifting off into a good book or gotten lost in a movie, that was a state of trance.
So what is hypnotherapy like? It starts off with a trained provider helping the client to experience deep relaxation, almost a sleep like state where the provider has access to the subconscious part of the brain and help allow the mind to visualize new possibilities. A weight loss client may visualize himself or herself at her intended weight extensively while a smoking cessation may focus on being able to see his or her grandchildren grow up. A golfer may visualize themselves improving their golf game and reducing their golf game by 18 strokes. A cancer patient, with the approval of their doctor, may require stress reduction and then may use visualizations to watch a tumour become smaller. These visualizations may be repeated over a few hours or days or weeks until the change is more permanent.
With so many training courses claiming to train someone in hypnosis in a weekend, attempting to locate a suitable provider can be a challenge. There are many certifying agencies with National Guild of Hypnotists, the Hypnotherapist’s Union Local 472 (AFL-CIO), and National Board for Certified Clinical Hypnotherapists tending to require higher standards although these standards vary between them. The provider should have at least 300 clock hours of hypnotherapy or psychology specific training from an accredited college or organization and another one to two hundred hours of clinical hypnosis experience before they enter into private practice as a certified hypnotherapist. Ideally, they should also have a license as a health care worker or mental health provider and be covered by malpractice insurance. Psychology today offers a list of several reputable and vetted hypnotherapy practitioners in the area.
As always, you may wish to consult your doctor before beginning hypnotherapy.
– Melvin S Marsh, Harlem Weekly, Harlem GA, to be published May 2017
Melvin S. Marsh is a practicing hypnotherapist serving the CSRA Augusta, Georgia area. He can be reached at http://www.afterhourshypnotherapy.com or afterhourshypnotherapy @ gmail.com to make an appointment.