Hypnotherapy involves the use of hypnosis to treat conditions or alter a person’s habits or behaviours.
It can help people with low self-esteem and obsessive thoughts by helping them clear their minds of the thoughts that are the root of the issue.
Hypnotherapy has the advantage of not causing the side effects that medication does and many people will also choose to try it if other forms of NHS-prescribed therapy such as counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy.
Some people may feel the benefits after just one session, whereas for some people, tackling their condition or habit may require many hypnotherapy sessions.
The therapy involves discussing with the hypnotherapist what the goal is for the session or course of sessions, before the therapist decides what methods of hypnotherapy to use.
Broadly speaking, hypnotherapy involves being led into a deep state of relaxation before talking through thoughts, feelings and behaviours and how they might be combatted. The therapist will then lead the patient out of the trance.
The means of triggering the hypnotic state is known as an ‘induction’ and hypnotherapists may use relaxation, movement or confusion techniques to bring this about in their patient.
Someone undertaking hypnotherapy may also be given ‘homework’ to do outside of sessions. This may involve reinforcement of new thought patterns and behaviours – or putting into practice what the hypnotherapist suggests during the hypnotic state.
The hypnotic state is one of waking awareness but involves a level of detachment from external goings-on and instead, induces deep focus on the self and internal experiences. This focus allows the person to become more open to the suggestions of the hypnotherapist, which in turn allows them to begin to tackle engrained behaviours and thoughts.
The person being hypnotised is in control throughout the session and cannot be hypnotised if they are resistant to the therapy. The person experiencing hypnotherapy will also be able to recall what happens during the session afterwards.
Hypnotherapy is not typically available on the NHS, but a GP can still advise on whether hypnotherapy would be an appropriate treatment for an individual. There are some mental health conditions such as psychosis which can be exacerbated by hypnotherapy.
It is recommended that a person looking to have hypnotherapy does research into their hypnotherapist. This is because in the UK, a hypnotherapist does not need to have a healthcare background or any specific qualifications in order to practise.
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