So, you’ve probably come across the word ‘hypnosis’ before. It’s one of those terms that gets bandied about a lot in pop culture, but there aren’t too many people out there who would be able to explain what clinical hypnosis actually is.
I’m going to do my best here to give you the knowledge necessary for understanding hypnotism and how it’s used today by clinical psychologists and psychiatrists.
So, what exactly is clinical hypnosis?
The answer might surprise you: clinical hypnosis isn’t really a form of sleep at all. The dictionary definition of clinical hypnosis will include words such as ‘suggestion’ and ‘trance’. However, clinical hypnotherapists have abandoned this traditional view of hypnosis – in fact, clinical hypnosis is simply a state of highly focused concentration.
Most modern day hypnosis practitioners try to remove the idea that hypnosis is in any way related to sleep, and more the idea that it is a form of intense concentration, a natural state that people go in and out of all the time. In actual fact, everyone experiences clinical hypnosis every day – just think about when you’re so absorbed in a task that you lose track of time or completely forget about your surroundings. You’ve probably experienced clinical hypnosis before without realising!
In a clinical setting, this trance-like focus is used to help patients go back to memories from their past which may have been causing emotional distress. The aim here is not to relive the memory, but rather to acknowledge the distressing aspect of the memory, then focus on letting it go. Once clinical hypnosis has been used to release these emotions, the memory should no longer be distressing. So clinical hypnosis is basically a means of working through anxiety and other emotional issues without having to worry too much about talking about how you feel face-to-face with your therapist.
How do clinical hypnotherapists put patients into this trance?
There are three main ways clinical hypnotherapists induce clinical hypnosis:
- Guided imagery – where the patient follows suggestions given by their therapist as part of their therapy session;
- Direct suggestion – where clinical hypnotherapists will give patients direct suggestions as part of their therapy sessions; and finally…
- Eye fixation or gazes – clinical hypnotherapists will have their patients fixate their gaze on an object for a certain amount of time, during which the clinical hypnotherapist gives suggestions to help with whatever situation the patient is in.
In addition, clinical hypnosis can also be used to treat a wide range of conditions including: anxiety and addiction disorders, pain management, as well as a variety of other common ailments.
As you can see, clinical hypnosis is very widely used by clinical therapists today. I think it’s always helpful for anyone interested in this style of therapy to know more about how it truly works, and what it means for those that use it to improve their mental health.