What is Hypnotherapy?

29 Sep 2017
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How does it work, and how can it help you?

Hypnosis applied in therapy has been around for more than 200 years, however it has remained on the fringes of ‘quackery’ since the 18th Century. During the 20th and 21st Centuries hypnosis moved from the parlour-room into serious medical realms, and in current times it is fast becoming a popular alternative to traditional treatment for many conditions.   

Hypnotherapy is being embraced by the medical profession and is even moving into mainstream treatment: in April 2015 the General Medical Council announced that hypnotherapists who meet set accreditation requirements can now provide hypnotherapy services and treatments via the NHS.
In more recent times specialists have gained a better understanding of what hypnosis is and how it can help. 
So, how does it work?  
The word ‘hypnosis’ is derived from the Greek word ‘sleep’. Hypnotherapy replicates part of the sleep phase called REM (Rapid Eye Movement), this is when our brains process events that we have gone through during the day, or week, month or even from years ago. During the REM phase our brain will re-run the event either in clear (repeating it exactly as it happened) or metaphorically (a dream which might not make much sense), and it examines the event to decide whether we need to hold on to the event or if we can move it on into our memory banks. In doing so, the event changes into a narrative form, so the emotional attachment is removed.
An example of this would be going through the grieving process – initially you feel huge, overwhelming sadness, but as time goes on your brain processes the event making it easier to cope with. This doesn’t mean you forget the person or event, but the emotional attachment to the event is reduced and the physical feelings dull. This is a coping mechanism which helps us survive and it is the same process for all our experiences, large and small.
In effect we are processing stress, and we do this every single night. Hypnosis replicates the REM phase so the hypnotherapist is helping the client to manage their stress.
There are two parts to hypnosis in therapy:
Firstly, the induction delivered by the therapist that elicit seemingly involuntary responses, namely leading the client into a state of deep relaxation.
Secondly, the ‘change work’. Prior to the hypnosis, discussion will have taken place to ascertain what the client wants to achieve and the therapist will usually incorporate them as suggestions into the change work, the part of the trance when specific suggestions are made whether it’s to do with weight loss, stop smoking, coping with anxiety, building confidence, etc.
Anyone can be hypnotised although some people are more ‘suggestible’ than others, making them easier to work with. In recent times scanning techniques have allowed greater access into the brain and researchers have found indications that highly suggestible people exhibit higher activity levels in the prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate areas of the brain during different phases of hypnosis. This does not mean that less suggestible people cannot be hypnotised only that they may take longer to go into the state of deep relaxation, however with repetition, they too will become adept at achieving this stage more quickly.
As we need to process events in order to maintain a state of equilibrium in our day to day lives, by using hypnotherapy we can support our own natural REM as well as using it to effect positive change whether it is removing negatives habits (stop smoking, getting rid of fears or phobias), building confidence or motivation, changing mindset (for weight management, coping with stress, anxiety or depression) and a number of other life issues.
In common with other talking therapies, hypnotherapy can be delivered in person or via technology such as skype. As long as the client and therapist are comfortable with this and discuss the best set-up (i.e. the client should be able to recline or lie down fully during hypnosis) there is no hindrance to the process – and absolutely no possibility of the client being left ‘under’ should the technology fail mid-session.
If you would like to find out more about how hypnotherapy can help you, do get in touch on 01798 344879 or email geraldine@questhypnotherapy.co.uk

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