by Iman Iqbal '20
Often when people hear the word hypnotherapy, they imagine a show on Cartoon Network in which the main character is entranced by a swinging object or a swirling spiral. Although hypnosis is involved in hypnotherapy, and the patient is put into a trance of some sort, hypnotherapy is definitely not what is often portrayed in the media. And, it is certainly not magic.
Hypnotherapy is in fact a practice that accentuates the importance of the subconscious mind: the storage site for all that we have experienced. This healing method puts individuals through deep stages of relaxation in which the subconscious mind is more open to suggestion (Beattie-Moss 2014). In this state, a person is then more susceptible to changes, allowing the hypnotherapist to ask a series of questions and give suggestions to make changes to the patient’s beliefs or patterns of behaviour (Ehrlich 2013).
Hypnotherapy is thus not a mystical practice, but one that uses the patient’s own mind to overcome grief, pain, and loss. The therapy, however, has only been proven to work when the patient is willing, and when coupled with other therapies or medications. Ailments that hypnotherapy has been shown to work for include cancer, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, smoking, and other various disorders, illnesses, and addictions (Lazarus 2013).
Although there is significant research supporting the efficacy of hypnotherapy, many still question its legitimacy. This is primarily due to the aforementioned portrayal of hypnotherapy. One myth regarding the practice is that it puts one into a trance in which the person has no control over their actions or thoughts. Even though hypnotherapy does put patients into a sort of trance, they are still in full control of themselves (Lazarus 2013). It is through this control that they are able to find the will and power from their subconscious to overcome their specific ailment.
Another popular misbelief is that after a patient undergoes hypnotherapy, he or she is faced with amnesia or loss of consciousness. This is not the case, as research shows patients remember what they went through during a session (Beattie-Moss 2014). It is obviously important to remember what occurred during the session as this is what later influences the individual’s behaviour and beliefs.
More and more research is being put out into various academic journals in efforts to legitimize hypnotherapy and separate it from its portrayal in the media. It is incredibly important that the practice is supported, as it can have incredible effects on the overall health of the world’s population.
Beattie-Moss, Melissa. "Probing Question: Does hypnosis work?" Penn State News: 18 Mar. 2014.
Ehrlich, Steven D. "Hypnotherapy." University of Maryland Medical Center: Nov. 6, 2015.
Lazarus, C. "The Truth About Hypnosis." Psychology Today: Jan. 29, 2013.