What is Hypnosis?
Although Dr Charles Smithdeal and Dr Deborah Smithdeal are both board-certified hypnotherapists, we rarely use conventional hypnosis anymore.
The reason is that for stress relief and most anxiety related conditions, the results from Anxiety Relief Techniques® (ART) are faster and more reliable than with hypnosis.
Having said this, we find that self-hypnosis can be a helpful addition to ART. We provide our own self-hypnosis CDs that our clients can listen to at bedtime.
In our experience, many people have a greatly distorted view of what hypnosis is and how it works.
NOTE: For this discussion, we use the terms hypnosis and hypnotherapy interchangeably.
Can I Be Hypnotized?
People often ask, “How do I know if I can be hypnotized?”
Before answering, we ask them two questions.
1) Do you at least have average intelligence?
2) Can you follow simple, clear instructions?
Anyone of normal intelligence who can and will follow simple instructions, can be hypnotized.
We also ask:
1) Are you afraid to be hypnotized?
2) Do you really want to be hypnotized?
Individuals who have received either bad information or no information about hypnosis are sometimes fearful of it. Regardless of what you may have been led to believe up till now, nobody can be hypnotized against their will. As soon as you understand what hypnosis actually is and how it works, you’ll realize there is nothing to fear.
To provide an illustration, have you ever become so engrossed in an activity or TV program that you did not hear someone calling your name? Or have you ever been so preoccupied with some situation while driving your car that when you arrived at your destination, you could not remember the details of your trip?
In both of the above examples, you were in a light hypnotic trance. Your concentration was so selectively focused that you tuned out your conscious awareness of everything else around you.
Could you have emerged from that hypnotic trance anytime you wanted? Yes.
Could you have responded to an emergency situation if needed? Absolutely.
Were you unconscious? No.
What about during a formal hypnotherapy session? Are you unconscious during such a session? No.
Do you give up control of your mind during hypnosis? No way.
Contrary to what you may have seen in some really bad late-night TV movies, hypnosis is not a Voodoo-like mind-control game.
The medically accepted definition of hypnosis is: “An altered state of consciousness in which the conscious mind is temporarily bypassed, so that the subconscious mind becomes highly receptive to selective, positive suggestions.”
During hypnosis you hear every word your therapist says. If you did not, how would you benefit from the suggestions? What’s more, if you don’t agree with a particular suggestion, you will automatically reject it.
Can you be made to do things you don’t want to do? Absolutely not.
Stage hypnotists rely upon identifying favorable subjects who actually enjoy helping them achieve their desired results. Though they may deny it later, such willing subjects are eager to “cluck like a chicken,” or perform similar amusing acts for an audience.
Will you disclose your deepest secrets during hypnosis? No.
In fact, if asked a question, a hypnotized subject can choose to answer it, not answer it, or even falsify the answer.
All right. If you are still in control when in a hypnotic trance, what does the hypnotherapist do?
A hypnotist or hypnotherapist serves as a professional guide who shows you how to set aside your critical and judgmental conscious mind, to then enable direct communication with your far more powerful subconscious mind.
Stress Relief, Hypnotherapy, & The Subconscious Mind
Your subconscious mind is truly amazing. It is the seat of your memory, your emotions, and your imagination. Think about that for a moment. These three things represent a huge part of who you are.
The subconscious is also in full control of your body’s autonomic (without conscious thinking) functions, such as breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, temperature regulation, perspiration, elimination, hormone and insulin levels, and on and on. You trust your subconscious with your life every day.
All of our habits, both good and bad, reside in the subconscious. Why do you think it’s so difficult to break a habit such as smoking, drinking, or biting your nails? Because when you make a conscious decision to stop, that decision has virtually no effect on your subconscious, where the original reason for the habit exists. Giving up a habitual behavior using “will power”(a conscious decision) works for about one day before most people become exhausted and give up.
A skilled hypnotherapist, however, understands how to help you communicate directly with your subconscious to remove the desire for the habit, or to substitute a more desirable behavior. When we truly no longer desire something, it’s quite easy to eliminate it from our lives.
As good as hypnosis was for dealing with such issues in the past, we find Anxiety Relief Techniques® (ART) even better.
Hypnosis in Modern Medicine
Pain can be made more tolerable, or eliminated in some cases, by reducing the anxiety that generally accompanies pain-generating conditions.
Several prominent medical centers now associate hypnotherapists for pain relief as well as to help diminish pre-surgical anxiety. Some Obstetrical services offer hypnosis to provide pain-free childbirth without the use of analgesic drugs or anesthetics. Burn centers have reported extremely favorable results by having hypnotherapists hypnotize patients prior to painful treatments such as dressing changes. It is particularly effective for pain relief in children.
Anxiety Relief Techniques® (ART) is also quite effective for relieving pain. Our experience is that this newer method is superior to hypnosis in most instances. There are times, however, when using both methods can improve the final results.
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