What is it?
Hypnosis is a state of human consciousness involving focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness and an enhanced capacity to respond to suggestion. During hypnosis, the hypnotist helps a patient fall into an altered state, where they are more susceptible to information. Once a person is in this state, the hypnotist introduces suggestions in order to change the individuals behaviour. These suggestions will offer new ways of thinking to the person. The patient is in complete control when they are in the altered state and does not have to take on suggestions if they do not want to.
What is it used for?
It is often used to treat conditions and change habits. These include smoking, IBS, sleep disorders, anxiety and depression. However, it is not recommended for personality disorders as it could make those conditions worse.
How effective is it?
A study examining the effects of hypnotherapy on quitting smoking found that 16/20 people that completed all 7 sessions of hypnosis were able to quit smoking. The authors concluded that quitting smoking through hypnosis can be effective.
Another study found that hypnotherapy was able to reduce anxiety in post menopausal women. Hypnotherapy also leads to positive results among patients who experience insomnia accompanied by rumination.
A number of studies show that hypnosis can reduce the pain experienced during burn-wound debridement, bone marrow aspirations, and childbirth. The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis found that hypnosis relieved the pain of 75% of 933 subjects participating in 27 different experiments
There are also some studies that question the effectiveness of hypnotherapy. One study found that hypnotherapy was no more effectibe then CBT. In 2016, a literature review published in La Presse Medicale found that there is not sufficient evidence to “support the efficacy of hypnosis in chronic anxiety disorders”. Two Cochrane reviews in 2012 concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support its efficacy in managing the pain of childbirth[ or post-natal depression
It doesn’t work if you don’t allow it work
Hypnotherapy often works better with people that are highly suggestible and not so well on people that resist the therapy. Research by Deirdre Barrett has found that there are two distinct types of highly susceptible subjects, which she terms fantasizers and dissociaters. Fantasizers score high on absorption scales, find it easy to block out real-world stimuli without hypnosis, spend much time daydreaming, report imaginary companions as a child, and grew up with parents who encouraged imaginary play. Dissociaters often have a history of childhood abuse or other trauma, learned to escape into numbness, and to forget unpleasant events.
Hypnotherapy is used for a wide variety of applications, and studies into its efficacy are often of poor quality which makes it difficult to determine efficacy. Several recent meta-analyses and systematic reviews of the literature on various conditions have concluded that the efficacy of hypnotherapy is “not verified”, that there is no evidene or insufficient evidence for efficacy. Whether hypnotherapy works may be down to the individual. If you believe it will, it may have an effect on you.
If you have had experience with hypnotherapy, let us know how it went below! Have you ever considered hypnotherapy? Do you think it works?