Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy is a type of psychological treatment that can tap into an individual’s inner resources and strengths to bring about lasting, positive changes.

What is Hypnotherapy?

Some people might associate the word “hypnosis” with a loss of control or stage tricks by a magician in a cape, but that is a gross mischaracterization of what hypnotherapy really is. Doctors and mental health practitioners around the globe recognize it to be a serious science that reveals the brain’s ability to reduce symptoms in several psychiatric disorders and medical conditions.

The therapeutic practice of hypnotherapy often uses guided imagery or other relaxation techniques to help a patient shift into a trance-like state of awareness, while staying fully conscious and retaining their free will. During the sessions and under the guidance of a hypnotherapist, people learn to tune out distracting thoughts while focusing inward. Through this process, they can identify or find resources within themselves that they can harness to help them achieve a certain desired outcome related to the symptoms for which they are being treated.

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Why Choose Amen Clinics for Hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy has been practiced at Amen Clinics for more than 30 years. When Daniel Amen, MD, was a medical student, he watched a demonstration of hypnotherapy on a patient and was so fascinated by it, he took a course to become trained in it. During his internship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, he quickly discovered that hypnotherapy was equally effective as sleeping pills for his patients with insomnia—and far less damaging to their brains.

Dr. Amen and the other psychiatrists and clinicians at Amen Clinics have since utilized hypnotherapy as an adjunct treatment for a wide range of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), phobias, smoking cessation, necessary weight loss, stress management, substance abuse, and numerous other conditions that interfere with optimal functioning and well-being.

What are the Benefits of Hypnotherapy?

Simply put, people who undergo hypnotherapy sessions with a trained practitioner often experience lasting positive changes. One of the reasons for this is that treatment involves self-healing by accessing and harnessing inner resources that a patient may not have previously been aware of.

When in a deep state of relaxation, individuals can become more open to alternative suggestions given by the therapist that help break maladaptive coping, thinking, or behavior patterns that have perpetuated symptoms related to the problem they are trying to overcome. For example, a person who struggles with anxiety or panic can experience the ability to shift themselves into a calmer and more relaxed state when confronted with potential triggers. The skills patients learn in hypnotherapy build up over time, so it is important that they are practiced.

To enhance the benefits gained during their sessions, many hypnotherapists teach their patients how to do self-hypnosis. This can strengthen an individual’s ability to improve control of their symptoms, thoughts, or behaviors. Although approximately 25% of people are not hypnotizable—perhaps due to their fear of losing control or doubting its efficacy—most people who undergo a regular series of sessions with a trained hypnotherapist benefit by being able to make lasting changes that support their mental and physical health.

Ready to learn more? Contact a care coordinator today!

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Who Can Benefit from Hypnotherapy?

Many people can benefit from hypnotherapy. The American Medical Association recognized hypnotherapy as a standard medical treatment in 1958, and the American Psychological Association followed suit by endorsing it as a branch of psychology in 1960. Since then, it has been used by physicians, psychologists, and other mental health professionals to help people overcome or better manage symptoms associated with numerous conditions, including, but not limited to:

  • Addiction
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Obesity
  • Pain
  • Phobias
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Hypnotherapy is frequently used in conjunction with other treatment methods to enhance their effectiveness.

 

“With A Better Brain Comes A Better Life”

– Daniel G. Amen, M.D.

 

What the Research Says About Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy has been practiced since the 1800s, although it has been refined in modern times. There is a wealth of research that supports its utility in clinical settings for different types of conditions, such as:

Depression

A randomized controlled trial compared cognitive hypnotherapy—a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and hypnotherapy—to CBT alone. This study found that while both groups had significantly improved symptoms after 16 weeks, the group that underwent cognitive hypnotherapy had up to an 8% greater reduction in depression, hopelessness, and anxiety that was still maintained at their 12-month follow-up assessment.

Dental Phobia

Having good dental hygiene is important for your smile, and it is critical for the health of your brain and body. This is because periodontal (gum) disease is associated with dangerous inflammation that can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other serious problems.

However, some people are so fearful of going to the dentist that they avoid it at all costs. Hypnotherapy can help them. A 2022 meta-analysis on the effects of hypnotherapy for anxiety or phobia related to dental office visits concluded that it can be an effective and powerful treatment to lower anxiety in patients.

Insomnia

A 2017 research study recruited patients who had difficulty falling asleep at least 3 times per week due to rumination, which in this case was difficulty turning off their negative thoughts at bedtime. After 4 weeks of undergoing hypnotherapy that included positive self-suggestion and relaxation techniques, the study participants were able to sleep better and had an improvement in their mental health symptoms.

Pain Management

Chronic pain not only has a debilitating effect on the body, but it also impacts a person’s mental health. And medications, such as opiates, are addictive and hurt the brain. Fortunately, hypnotherapy has been found to be an effective treatment for persistent pain, according to research published in 2020 in the Journal of American Psychiatric Nurses Association.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Research published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis analyzed the outcome of a half-dozen studies on hypnotherapy for PTSD. The results found the treatment was effective in reducing symptoms and that the improvements the patients gained were maintained at the 4-week and 12-month follow-up assessments.

Weight Loss

A meta-analysis that looked at 18 published scientific studies found obese patients who underwent hypnotherapy along with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) lost twice as much weight compared to the obese patients who only had CBT treatment. In addition, the hypnotherapy-CBT group kept the weight off during the year-and-a-half follow-up period.

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