Expert says diets fail because people don't address the emotional aspects of food.
Credit: Orlando Health, Science Daily
Summary: The results of a national survey about weight loss barriers finds 90 percent of respondents discounted one of the most important factors -- your mind. A neuropsychologist says the most crucial factor is your psychological relationship with food and exercise, yet the majority (60 percent) listed diet and exercise to be the biggest barriers of weight loss, and only 10 percent of people thought psychological well being was the biggest barrier to weight loss.
Tens of millions of Americans vow each year to lose weight in the New Year, and while their intentions are good, most of the time their results are not. It's estimated that only 8 percent of those who make New Year's resolutions actually keep them.
Even if weight is lost initially, it usually returns. Studies show nearly 2 out of 3 people who lose 5 percent of their total weight will gain it back, and the more weight you lose, the less your chances of keeping it off."That's not surprising," said Diane Robinson, PhD, a neuropsychologist and Program Director of Integrative Medicine at Orlando Health. "Most people focus almost entirely on the physical aspects of weight loss, like diet and exercise. But there is an emotional component to food that the vast majority of people simply overlook and it can quickly sabotage their efforts."A recent national survey of more than a thousand people commissioned by Orlando Health found that 31 percent of Americans think a lack of exercise is the biggest barrier to weight loss, followed by those who say it's what you eat (26%) and the cost of a healthy lifestyle (17%). Another 12 percent said the biggest barrier to weight loss was the necessary time commitment.Only 1 in 10, however, thought psychological well-being was a factor. "That may explain why so many of us struggle," said Robinson. "In order to lose weight and keep it off long term, we need to do more than just think about what we eat, we also need to understand why we're eating."From a very young age we're emotionally attached to food. As children we're often given treats, both to console us when we're upset, and to reward us for good behavior. Most celebrations, like Halloween, Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day are food-focused, and birthdays are spent sharing cake. Even the mere smell of certain foods, like cookies in grandma's oven, can create powerful emotional connections that last a lifetime."If we're aware of it or not, we are conditioned to use food not only for nourishment, but for comfort," said Robinson. "That's not a bad thing, necessarily, as long as we acknowledge it and deal with it appropriately."?Whenever the brain experiences pleasure for any reason it reacts the same way.Whether it's derived from drugs, a romantic encounter or a satisfying meal, the brain releases a neurotransmitter known as dopamine. "We feel good whenever that process is activated," said Robinson, "but when we start to put food into that equation and it becomes our reward, it can have negative consequences."In fact, researchers have found a link between emotional issues like stress, anxiety and depression, and higher body mass indexes (BMI). Many of us can relate to the idea of overindulging at happy hour after a bad day at the office, for example, or eating a pint of ice cream to help us deal with bad news.That was common coping mechanism for Shekyra DeCree, of Columbus, Ohio. "As a mental health therapist, my job can be very stressful, and everyday when I got home from work, the first thing I would do is go to the refrigerator," she said. "That was my way to calm down and relax."After recognizing the emotional attachment she had with food, DeCree started making conscious changes. In just over one year, she's lost more than 100 pounds."I'd gone on countless diets and tried to exercise before, but this was different," she said. "You have to change the way you deal with your emotions, your stress and anxiety. Once I understood the mental aspect, I felt free."Robinson offers these tips to help recognize the emotional connection you may have to food:-Keep a daily diary logging your food and your mood, and look for unhealthy patterns.-Identify foods that make you feel good and write down why you eat them. Do they evoke a memory or are you craving those foods out of stress?-Before you have any snack or meal ask yourself: Am I eating this because I'm hungry? If the answer is no, look for the root of your motive.The goal is to take emotion out of eating and see food as nourishment, not as a reward or coping mechanism. If you struggle, don't be shy about finding help. "When we're focused on the physical aspects of weight loss, many of us have no problem joining a gym or hiring a trainer," said Robinson. "How about joining a support group or hiring a psychologist?" she said. "If getting your body in shape hasn't work out yet, maybe this time start with your mind."
Credit: Uncommon Therapy, Mark Tyrell
Why do you think we have emotions? Wouldn't life be simpler without them? Do we have emotions to give middle class people something to talk about or to provide soap opera writers with script material?
Of course not. As with everything else in human makeup, emotions exist to keep us safe and alive and able to thrive.
Emotions motivate movement
Embedded in the word "emotion" is another word: "motion". Emotions are there to make us move. Either towards something or away from it.
We all have deep basic needs - for warmth, security, love and connection and, of course, food and shelter. We have needs for status, significance, attention and to feel safe in our lives. We need stimulation, to exercise our creativity to learn and produce in the world. Some emotions drive us toward experiences that would help meet these needs and ensure our survival. And other emotions serve to drive us away from experiences or situations which, we feel, would prevent us meeting our essential needs.
But what happens when we get directed the wrong way by our feelings?
You are pulled towards social contact by your needs, and away from it by social anxiety
The "motion" in "emotion" has us moving either towards what we feel we need or away from what we feel we don't want. Think lust, love, anger, greed, hunger - all feelings that motivate us towards an experience. And think about feelings that drive us away from something - fear, terror, disgust.
Hopefully, our emotions get it right and drive us toward what is good for us and away from what is bad for us. But sometimes they don't.
The social phobic both wants and doesn't want social contact. They are pulled and pushed in different directions by their feelings. If social contact was bad for us, it would be great to be terrified of social events because it would be life saving. But a socially anxious person instinctively knows they need social contact at the same time as fearing it; they are pulled and pushed at the same time by their emotions... tricky! And it gets worse.
We avoid what we fear - but also fear what we avoid
One problem is that the more you avoid something, the more the fear around it increases. It's as if your "emotional brain" draws conclusions from your behaviour: "She's avoiding this situation all the time, so it must be genuinely dangerous. So I'll ramp up her fear of this situation even more to make sure she won't go near it."
On the other hand, people can switch off their fear around stuff they should fear simply because they have made themselves go towards it. I'm thinking of the old-time circus lion-tamer calmly putting his head in a lion's mouth, and of those perennial favorites, the human cannonballs, getting themselves fired from a cannon. Not hobbies I'd recommend. The point is that even dangerous acts like these can start to feel "normal" to your emotional brain if you voluntarily and repeatedly do them (the "emotional brain" concludes "This must be safe, else why are we doing it?").
So yes, we avoid what we fear, but we can also come to fear something just because we avoid it so much.
A number of approaches have been tried over the centuries to overcome the difficulties this presents. None are as successful as hypnotic therapy. Consider, for instance, what happens with "exposure therapy" and "cognitive therapy" in the context of dealing with fears like shyness and social anxiety.
Exposure therapy: A step too far?
The understanding that emotions are physical drivers away from or towards something is extensively used in exposure therapy. (1) This approach typically has you gradually having more and more contact with what scares you. So the spider phobic might on week one see a drawing of a spider, on week two see a photo of a spider, on week three see a toy spider, on week four touch the toy spider, week five has them seeing a movie of a spider and week six an actual live spider. This can be very effective if the person can be induced to remain calm through the gradual exposure (sometimes known as "systematic desensitisation"). (It would be easier and faster to use hypnosis and the rewind technique.)
The idea is that spiders need to start to feel a "normal" part of experience, and this is done through forcing oneself to go towards rather than away from; classic behavioural therapy, and probably what the lion-tamer did to get the nerve he needed...
Another kind of exposure therapy takes a less gradual approach and is known as "flooding". Yikes! This might see the spider phobic being put straight in a room full of spiders, with the idea that fully experiencing your worst fear - and surviving it - will put an end to that fear.
So does it work?
Therapy for the therapy
Yes, it can work - provided the person undergoing the therapy is taught to relax deeply. But (you knew there was a "but") I can't tell you how many clients I've had to treat to help them recover from the effects of this kind of therapy when it's gone wrong. These are the ones who didn't get better, the ones who couldn't get past the photo of the spider on week two, the ones who were deeply traumatised by being thrown in at the deep end of having to speak in front of a hundred people when they were still chronically shy.
There has to be, and fortunately is, another way.
The beauty of hypnosis when treating fears
Hypnosis, used sensibly, is the perfect way to expose someone in a safe and relaxed way to a situation they had been avoiding. As far as your emotional brain is concerned, if you have relaxed deeply and felt spontaneous at a party a few times while in hypnosis, this is a sufficiently strong indication that this situation is not dangerous, and that this kind of social event can now be "retagged" as something you can potentially go safely towards - before you've even been to an actual party. Someone who hasn't left the house for years can "leave their house" in hypnosis and "experience it" before they go out the door in real life. The exposure therapy is fully within their own control, in sync with a relaxed mind and body.
When they then "do it for real", it will already feel more familiar and therefore not as threatening. The previously dreaded social event may even, dare I say it, turn out to be relaxing and fun.
It's important to understand here that we are talking about more than just what a person believes.
Feelings and thoughts can be at odds
You can fully believe something is good for you and still fearfully flee from it. You can fully believe something (or someone) is bad for you but still be emotionally driven towards it (or them). Cognitive approaches to dealing with fears often come unstuck over this, as fears aren't driven so much by "faulty thinking" as by more primitive emotional conditioning geared towards survival. It is much easier to access, and modify, these primitive drivers through the use of hypnosis than through reasoning.
When we help someone with social phobia it's generally obvious the phobia has gone the moment they open their eyes, because calm, disassociated hypnotic exposure to the previously feared trigger while feeling completely relaxed has transformed their response. They know it wasn't "real" - but nonetheless a new positive blueprint for responding with calm and being in flow when in social situations has become established in their subconscious. Being socially relaxed is the new "normal".
The new 10 steps to overcome social anxiety course, like all the ten steps courses, has a hypnotic download for each step of the way. This is partly because social skills can be developed and honed during hypnotic rehearsal but also because we want people to experience hypnotic "safe" social experiences before they go into these situations for real. In this way the horrible away from feelings of fear can gently be replaced with the happier toward feelings of pleasure and positive expectation when it comes to socializing and meeting new people.
Hypnosis has been an elusive concept for science for a long time. However, the explosive advances in neuroscience in the last few decades have provided a "bridge of understanding" between classical neurophysiological studies and psychophysiological studies. These studies have shed new light on the neural basis of the hypnotic experience. Furthermore, an ambitious new area of research is focusing on mapping the core processes of psychotherapy and the neurobiology/underlying them. Hypnosis research offers powerful techniques to isolate psychological processes in ways that allow their neural bases to be mapped. The Hypnotic Brain can serve as a way to tap neurocognitive questions and our cognitive assays can in turn shed new light on the neural bases of hypnosis. This cross-talk should enhance research and clinical applications. An increasing body of evidence provides insight in the neural mechanisms of the Meditative Brain. Discrete meditative styles are likely to target different neurodynamic patterns. Recent findings emphasize increased attentional resources activating the attentional and salience networks with coherent perception. Cognitive and emotional equanimity gives rise to an eudaimonic state, made of calm, resilience and stability, readiness to express compassion and empathy, a main goal of Buddhist practices. Structural changes in gray matter of key areas of the brain involved in learning processes suggest that these skills can be learned through practice. Hypnosis and Meditation represent two important, historical and influential landmarks of Western and Eastern civilization and culture respectively. Neuroscience has beginning to provide a better understanding of the mechanisms of both Hypnotic and Meditative Brain, outlining similarities but also differences between the two states and processes. It is important not to view either the Eastern or the Western system as superior to the other. Cross-fertilization of the ancient Eastern meditation techniques presented with Western modern clinical hypnosis will hopefully result in each enriching the other.
Keywords: Hypnosis; Meditation; Neural mechanisms.
Credit: Michael Yapko PhD
If you talk to mindfulness practitioners about the similarities between guided mindfulness meditation and hypnosis, they tend to react with various degrees of indignation, if not downright revulsion, as if to say, “Don’t get that icky hypnosis all over my nice mindfulness!” Mindfulness practice, they aver, is rooted in the ancient wisdom traditions of the East, dedicated to developing self-understanding, serene acceptance of life’s trials, and spiritual growth. Free of religious dogma or orthodoxy, presumably it imposes nothing, but simply elicits an inner “awakening” of people’s “true selves” and helps them “cultivate compassion,” “awaken from the trance of unworthiness,” and, of course, “attain enlightenment.” Who wouldn’t want to experience these lofty states of mind?
Hypnosis, by contrast, is commonly considered a crass theatrical stunt—an occasion for a hypnotist to exert mind control over a passive subject. In this distorted view, hypnotists impose their will on easily led people, as epitomized in a cheesy Las Vegas stage show where the slick, manipulative hypnotist makes a row of volunteers believe and act as if they were playing musical instruments or pantomime over-the-top lascivious behavior. If mindfulness is symbolized by the Buddha, his soft gaze turned down in serene contemplation, hypnosis is too often represented by Svengali, his fierce eyes fixed on his prey.
But a closer look at the processes, goals, and outcomes of both mindfulness and hypnotism reveals that they share fundamental similarities of purpose and practical knowledge. Within the framework of a trusting therapeutic relationship, attuned therapists now regularly employ Guided Mindfulness Meditation (GMM) in the same way I was trained to use clinical hypnosis. Today’s mindfulness-oriented therapists, like clinicians practicing hypnosis, teach clients self-regulation strategies, such as how to use their breath and employ guided imagery to shift attention and experience the deep power of accepting what’s unchangeable or inevitable.
As mindfulness methods have come to assume a more prominent role in mainstream clinical practice, the common mechanisms that underlie the efficacy of both GMM and hypnosis have become more apparent. To begin with, both involve two people: a guide, teacher, or therapist, who uses suggestion to focus then alter the awareness—cognitive, sensory, relational, and emotional—of a client or student, thereby promoting experiential learning. These alterations in awareness may give rise to dramatic and seemingly spontaneous shifts in perspective and even profound personal transformation as one’s self-definition expands. They may also yield what pioneering hypnosis researchers Theodore Sarbin and Ernest Hilgard called “believed-in imagination.” In fact, the science of clinical hypnosis is highly relevant to understanding how the methods of mindfulness may have even greater impact when used in a psychotherapeutic context.
The Power of Suggestion
Nevertheless, the very idea that GMM, just like hypnosis, incorporates active, directed suggestion to a client by the therapist strikes many mindfulness practitioners as tantamount to heresy, a betrayal of the “purity” of the practice itself. Mindfulness is typically introduced in the context of a therapeutic relationship by a clinician convinced of its merits, who directly says to the distressed client that “this will help,” and then begins the experience by conducting a guided mindfulness meditation. The GMM attempts to engage the client’s attention and help him or her focus on certain suggested experiences, whether they involve breathing, scanning the body, meditating on acceptance, awakening to the truth, or cultivating compassion. Finally, the point is made, either implicitly or explicitly, that this experience will have some lasting impact on the client’s well-being and that repeated practice will facilitate the desired effects. Is there any part of this process that does not rely on the use of suggestion to attain therapeutic results?
To acknowledge the inevitable role of suggestion in mindfulness is to acknowledge the principles and methods of clinical hypnosis. Hypnosis encompasses the study of how to compose and deliver suggestions that engage the client’s attention, foster a deep experiential absorption, and “spontaneously” elicit different kinds of empowering subjective experiences, such as analgesia or anesthesia for pain management or increased bodily and sensory awareness. Hypnosis, like mindfulness, encourages awareness and acceptance, especially an awareness of the personal resources one can bring to bear on a situation. Virtually all of the modern neuroscience of clinical hypnosis, like that of mindfulness, focuses on attentional processes and directing focused attention in clinically useful ways.
Dissociation: The Driving Force
Both GMM and clinical hypnosis use suggestive methods to elicit beneficial, nonvoluntary responses—suspension or amelioration of pain, “spontaneous” feelings of compassion, acceptance, or transcendence, and so on—that can’t simply be willed.
A key to how this may occur can be found in the phenomenon of dissociation, which, simply defined, involves breaking a global, multifaceted emotional, sensory, and/or cognitive experience into its component parts. As soon as you suggest to someone that she focus on some specific stimulus, or experience a sense of detachment from some thought or feeling, you’re directly and indirectly suggesting dissociation—drawing her attention to this aspect of the experience, functionally separating it from the rest. When people speak about “parts” of themselves, as when someone says, “My head tells me this, but my heart tells me that,” or “Part of me cares, and the rest of me couldn’t care less,” they’re using the language—and suggested subjective reality—of dissociation.
During the experience of hypnosis, dissociation becomes especially evident when people respond nonvolitionally, that is, without conscious effort, to a suggestion. For example, a clinician might suggest a feeling of lightness or warmth in the client’s body, and that the client allow this experience to develop. Without being aware of expending any effort to respond, the client readily experiences lightness or warmth that seems to “just happen.” Typically, the first time a client has this kind of dissociative experience, he or she is truly amazed.
In GMM, dissociation similarly becomes evident when people can separate themselves from their usual frames of reference. When someone drifts off into serenity through a narrowed focus on just the physical experience of breathing, the accompanying sense of depersonalization can be a beneficial dissociative response. The ability to detach oneself from one’s thoughts—externalizing angry or self-destructive thoughts by seeing them, for example, simply as “clouds passing in the sky”—has great therapeutic potential as a critical step in building impulse control, frustration tolerance, and reality-testing skills.
Mindfulness seems to many like a mysterious, hidden, often spiritual source of energy; a kind of otherworldly magic that can grant profound gifts to those who are successful at eliciting it from the hoary depths. In fact, we’d understand mindfulness phenomena much better if we’d study the empirically demonstrated mechanisms of clinical hypnosis—a quite this-worldly form of “remote control.”
This blog is excerpted from "Suggesting Mindfulness" by Michael Yapko. The full version is available in the September/October 2011 issue, The Mindfulness Movement: Do We Even Need Psychotherapy Anymore?
Credit: Harvard Mental Health Letter
Although myths about it abound, this form of therapy is often helpful.
Hypnosis is one of the oldest forms of psychotherapy in the Western world, and it may also be the most misunderstood. Although long associated with charlatans or performers, all true hypnosis is, by definition, self-hypnosis. In spite of the prevailing myth, nobody can be hypnotized against his or her will. Instead, hypnosis is generally induced by focusing attention on positive mental imagery.
A spate of papers on the topic have urged clinicians to remember that this therapy is an option when treating patients.
A number of hypnotic techniques exist, combining relaxation with imagery. People who undergo hypnosis may achieve a trancelike state, similar to what happens when they daydream or meditate. But hypnosis is actually a heightened state of concentration. The aim is to focus the mind to eliminate distractions and make someone more open to suggestions, such as those that promote the aims of treatment.
The American Medical Association approved hypnosis as a therapy in 1958, and the American Psychiatric Association followed in 1961. Since then, reviews have provided evidence about when this therapy is effective.
Pain relief. A meta-analysis published in 2000 concluded that hypnosis offered moderate to major relief for many types of pain. And a 2003 analysis found that hypnosis was at times more effective than other pain relief methods.
Hypnosis may be used as an adjunct to various types of sedation during surgery. A 1999 review concluded that hypnosis combined with conscious sedation might also reduce length of stay in the hospital by speeding recovery. A 2007 study found that women who were hypnotized before undergoing a breast biopsy or lumpectomy required less sedation during the procedure, and experienced less pain, nausea, and emotional distress afterward.
Studies also report that hypnosis can be effective for alleviating pain caused by chronic tension headaches and migraine headaches.
Anxiety. Hypnosis also helps to alleviate anxiety. It has been studied most as a treatment for anxiety related to surgery. Many studies have reported that hypnosis reduced anxiety levels and lowered blood pressure in patients before surgery, and enhanced recovery afterward by shortening hospital stays and reducing complications like nausea and vomiting.
In a 2006 study, for example, patients who underwent hypnosis received suggestions of well-being before surgery. Upon entering the operating room, they reported anxiety levels 56% lower than anxiety levels before hypnosis. Patients in a comparison group, who received the normal presurgical standard of care, reported a 47% increase in anxiety.
For other conditions, the evidence about the effectiveness of hypnosis is mixed or insufficient.
Depression. One study involving 84 people with depression, who were randomly assigned to 16 weeks of treatment with either hypnosis or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), found that both groups improved with treatment. The hypnosis group made greater improvements than the CBT group when symptoms were rated on scales such as the Beck Depression Inventory and the Beck Anxiety Inventory, but the gains were small.
Eating disorders. An analysis found that many studies provided so few specifics that the hypnotic intervention could not be replicated nor evaluated. Further research in this area is needed.
Schizophrenia. Some researchers question whether people with this disease are capable of being hypnotized, while others worry that hypnosis might trigger a psychotic episode. Although case reports suggested that hypnosis may help some patients improve concentration, attention, and cognitive function, a comprehensive review concluded that the available studies were too small, poorly designed, and outdated to provide any guidance.
Smoking cessation. Some studies suggested that hypnosis might help people stop smoking by reducing cravings, bolstering willpower, or increasing focus on healthier choices. But a comprehensive review found that most evidence to date consisted of case reports or poorly designed studies, and it concluded that hypnosis is no better than other interventions — or even no treatment at all — on six-month quit rates.
Alladin A, et al. "Cognitive Hypnotherapy for Depression: An Empirical Investigation," International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis (April 2007), Vol. 55, No. 2, pp. 147–66.
Barabasz M. "Efficacy of Hypnotherapy in the Treatment of Eating Disorders," International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis (July 2007), Vol. 55, No. 3, pp. 318–35.
Spiegel D. "The Mind Prepared: Hypnosis in Surgery," Journal of the National Cancer Institute (Sept. 5, 2007), Vol. 99, No. 17, pp. 1280–1.
For more references, please see www.health.harvard.edu/mentalextra.
Credit: Medical News Today
A new study shows that combining hypnotherapy with mindfulness training has a significant positive effect on stress levels.
Mindfulness is an ancient mental technique that is an acknowledged means of helping people manage stress and anxiety. It involves learning how to stop and become consciously aware of one’s present moment as a revitalizing respite from the ongoing rush of daily life.
A new study from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, finds that combining mindfulness with hypnotherapy may make its benefits more accessible.
The researchers concluded that hypnotherapy might allow people to achieve mindfulness goals more readily and quickly.
“Mindfulness is a type of meditation that involves focusing attention on present moment awareness. It can help people cope with stress but can require months of practice and training. Hypnosis also involves focusing attention, but it includes mental imagery, relaxation, and suggestions for symptom reduction.”
– study co-author Gary Elkins, Ph.D.
The new study features in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis.
The researchers call their new mind-body therapy “mindful hypnotherapy.”
It represents a novel use of hypnotherapy, which more commonly serves as a treatment for pain and symptom management. The study authors assert that applying hypnosis to the practice of mindfulness speeds up the acquisition of mindfulness skills.
They hope to address concerns that learning to manage stress and anxiety with mindfulness can be a prohibitively extended, expensive process involving more than 24 hours of training.
Corresponding author Elkins cites mindfulness curricula that involve eight weekly sessions of 2–2.5 hours, in addition to an all day retreat that can last more than 8 hours. Such training can involve a major investment of time and money in what Elkins says research has not unequivocally proven to be more effective than standard cognitive therapy.
According to the authors:
“Therefore, if a mindfulness treatment could be developed that obtains results equal to or better than existing treatments but with shorter or fewer sessions, it could have advantages and represent a valuable contribution to treatment options for anxiety and stress reduction.”
Credit: Wendy Wisner, Talkspace.com
If you are thinking of trying hypnosis or hypnotherapy, one of your first questions might be: How can I find a hypnotist near me?
But that might not be your only question. Before you go searching for a hypnotherapist, you’ll want answers to all of your questions about hypnotherapy — what it is, what conditions it can treat, what to look for in a hypnotist — and most importantly, how hypnotism can benefit you.
When most of us think of hypnosis, we think of a whimsical performer waving their arms and putting an unassuming audience member into a dreamlike trance. However, while there is certainly a time and place for performative hypnosis, the field of hypnotism is much more than that.
Hypnosis is simply an altered conscious state, much in the same way that dreaming or daydreaming is. According to the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH), hypnosis is a “shift in consciousness [that] enables us to tap into many of our natural abilities and allows us to make change more quickly.”
It is in this altered state that we may be more open to suggestions from others. Additionally, it encourages us to change our thinking patterns so that our mental health struggles become more manageable. As ASCH describes it, hypnosis can be used for “unconscious exploration, to better understand underlying motivations or identify whether past events or experiences are associated with causing a problem.”
A properly trained, licensed hypnotist — which is what you’ll want to look for as you search for a “hypnotist near me” — uses therapeutic methods to help you manage your mental well-being, overcome addiction, or help you work through mental health issues such as anxiety or PTSD. Certified hypnotherapists tend to carry medical or healthcare degrees and many are also licensed therapists who use hypnotherapy to complement their therapy practices.
Not everyone can be successfully hypnotized, but if hypnosis works for you, a trained hypnotherapist can gently guide you to work through challenges and meet your life goals. Coupled with typical therapeutic methods, like cognitive behavioral therapy and psychodynamic therapy, hypnotherapy can be a way to help you manage behaviors and break unhealthy patterns that may have been holding you back in life.
Hypnotherapy has many uses and applications. Not only can it be used as part of your therapy sessions with your therapist, but it’s also been successfully used by patients who are undergoing cancer treatment and people struggling with phobias. It has been used to help with pain relief, to overcome addictions, and has even helped people overcome PSTD. Additionally, hypnotherapy can be used to address health issues that have a mind-body component, such as irritable bowel syndrome or fibromyalgia.
Here are some the issues that hypnosis has been known to help solve:
Now that you have a better idea of what hypnotherapy involves, what it can treat, and what to look for in a hypnotherapist, it’s time to find a hypnotherapist near you. You can do a quick Google search for “hypnotist near me,” but you’ll likely be flooded with results, some of which may be helpful and others that may not.
It can be difficult to know which sources to trust, which is why it’s best to start by looking at hypnotist directories from organizations that are known to be trusted and reputable. The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH) has an online directory where you can search for a hypnotist near you. Psychology Today’s directory lets you search for hypnotists in your area as well. You can also contact the The Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis and the The American Association of Professional Hypnotherapists for information about their directories.
In addition, you can ask friends, family, or a local online community group for recommendations. If your therapist doesn’t offer hypnotist services, they might know of someone who does and can recommend that person as well. When I was looking for a hypnotist near me, I used a number of these sources and it’s very helpful to get a personal recommendation, because it can make you feel confident that you are in good hands.
When I was looking for a hypnotist near me, my last and most important step was to find one that I felt comfortable with. While you will certainly want to ask the hypnotist about their background and training, you will also want to know how they approach hypnotism in general as well as the conditions you are seeking care for.
You will want to find a hypnotist who puts you at ease — entering a hypnotic state requires relaxation and trust. Often, you can tell just from a quick phone call whether the hypnotist is the right fit for you. If you meet the hypnotist in person and discover that they are not right for you, you can always try a different hypnotist. Trust your instincts when it comes to seeking therapeutic care, and know that it can sometimes take multiple tries until you find the right hypnotist for you.
We hope this helped answer some of your questions as you embark on your “hypnotist near me” search and we wish you the best of luck on your journey!
Credit: Eric Spiegel, PhD
As a psychologist with an expertise in clinical hypnosis, I am often asked questions about how hypnosis works, how it fits into therapy in general, and anxiety treatment in particular.
“What is hypnosis?”: Hypnosis is a state of consciousness that is characterized by focused attention (also known as ‘absorption’) on the one hand, and dissociation, on the other hand. What does that mean? It means that any time you focus really carefully on something, by default you will be less focused on other things. Ever been really into an article, video, or text on your phone while walking down the street… and walked straight into a street sign? It is hard to be focused on two things at once! That is why the ‘no texting while driving’ laws exist! Or conversely, have you ever been stopped at a red traffic light in your car lost in your thoughts… only to be snapped out of your reverie by someone honking you from behind because the light turned green? Same concept at play here.
Now that you understand how naturally occurring states of hypnosis are, imagine if your talent could be harnessed into a therapeutic treatment to help you with a health or mental health concern. This is where the umbrella term ‘clinical hypnosis’ comes in. Clinical hypnosis pertains to the use of hypnosis in health or mental health care treatment by a licensed professional to treat a particular issue, concern, disorder, or illness. It is also often utilized in such treatments to enhance wellness and strengths. The procedure of clinical hypnosis involves your treatment provider eliciting a hypnotic state (using an assortment of focusing techniques), offering hypnotic suggestions related to your treatment goals in the hypnotic state, and guiding you through a re-alerting process into a regular state of alertness. I often tell my patients “any suggestion or technique used in hypnosis is something that I could offer in traditional therapy.” As a psychologist, I believe that hypnotic suggestions can and should be therapeutic in nature. Hypnotic suggestions involve the use of language, pacing, imagery, and sensory involvement.
“Will hypnosis make me asleep or unconscious?” No. Hypnosis is not something that is ‘done’ to someone – it is a participatory and collaborative process. Contrary to the term often used in pop culture, you will not “go under” hypnosis. In fact, most patients report a juxtaposition of heightened mental focus and relaxed physiological experiencing.
“Am I hypnotizable?” Hypnotizability is a characteristic that has hereditable (e.g. trait) and environmental aspects (e.g. life experiences). There are formal hypnosis assessment measures used by researchers such as the Hypnotic Induction Profile (HIP). Clinicians also use informal assessment of hypnotic phenomena, e.g. non-verbal markers of hypnotic responsiveness. Most people are moderately hypnotizable, which is all that is necessary to benefit from clinical hypnosis.
“I have really bad anxiety. Will hypnosis work on me?” You don’t have to look very far on this website to come across the term ‘anticipatory anxiety.’ Many people with anxiety disorders have anticipatory anxiety. That is, once people have had an unexpected experience that elicited a negative or uncomfortable reaction, they can often become worried and/or expectant that it will happen again. Similarly, sometimes people will sometimes generalize their anxiety from a particular stimulus to related stimuli. Here is what I tell prospective patients: anticipatory anxiety and generalizable anxiety ARE negative self-hypnotic suggestions. You are literally giving yourself the suggestion that you are going to become anxious… and voila… you become anxious. So, if you are talented at giving yourself negative hypnotic suggestion that means that you are hypnotizable and also have the capacity to be responsive to positive hypnotic suggestion! Anxious people tend to be at least moderately hypnotizable. They are already skilled at imagining something vividly and experiencing the reality of that imagining in an emotional and or physiological reaction.
“How can hypnosis be used in anxiety treatment?” Clinical hypnosis lends itself well as an adjunctive anxiety treatment modality. CBT treatment techniques such as imaginal exposure, hierarchical desensitization, operant and classical conditioning, and schema modification can all be incorporated within imagery visualization as hypnotic suggestions. Hypnosis can also be integrated with insight-oriented anxiety approaches used to understand and work through the origins of anxiety symptoms. For example, hypnotic daydreaming is a way of generating naturalistic and projective ideas and images about the core needs, wishes, and fears underlying anxiety. Lastly, attachment-focused hypnosis is a method for developing and cultivating positive internal resources to promote healing from relational attachment trauma and associated developmental wounds.
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