What is Hypnotherapy? Why Does it Work?

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According to the American Psychological Association, hypnosis is a cooperative interaction where the participant responds to the suggestions of the hypnotist. This alternative treatment continues to show promise and efficacy in reducing pain, relieving depression and anxiety and curbing addiction cravings. With its ability to provide medical and therapeutic benefits without any side effects, more addiction treatment centers are considering hypnosis to get in touch with their clients’ inner selves and address pain, anxiety and co-occurring disorders.

What is Hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy involves the use of simple exercises that bring about deep relaxation and an altered state of consciousness. The client is in a deeply focused state and is responsive to an image or idea. Hypnosis is not mind control, and it does not take away the person’s free will or control, despite popular belief. Instead, the goal of hypnotherapy is to teach people how to master their own state of awareness, look at their problems in an objective manner and turn off the conscious and critical mind that drives our actions, thinking and behavior in the real world.

How Does Hypnotherapy Work?

When something happens to us, we remember the event and learn a particular behavior to deal with it. Each time something similar happens, the physical and emotional reactions are repeated, and this is how we learn to cope with certain events in our lives. Unfortunately, many of these reactions are unhealthy and need to be separated from the initial memory. The goal of hypnosis is to tap into the deeper unconscious and separate the memory from the learned behavior. The learned behavior can then be replaced with new, healthy behaviors.

This is exactly how hypnotherapy works in addiction. Addicts have learned to abuse drugs and alcohol to deal with stress, pain and depression. With hypnotherapy, the hypnotist can work on separating the drug use with the memory and replacing it with constructive coping mechanisms.

What Does it Feel Like?

During hypnosis, the body relaxes and the mind becomes focused. Hypnosis lowers blood pressure and heart rate, and it changes activity in the brain, strengthening certain pathways. Being in such a relaxed state helps the body and mind to feel at ease and be more receptive to suggestions from the hypnotist. As the subconscious mind becomes more alert, it essentially spills over into the subconscious and allows the client to feel what’s really going on in their inner self.

What are the Stages of Hypnosis?

  • Reframing the problem
  • Becoming relaxed and absorbed in certain imagery or words offered by the hypnotist
  • Dissociating (letting go of critical thoughts)
  • Responding (complying with suggestions from the hypnotist)
  • Returning to usual awareness
  • Reflection

Each session lasts about one hour, and most people see results within 4-10 sessions. Some people respond better to hypnotherapy than others, but overall, it’s an effective form of holistic healing.

What Can Hypnotherapy Treat?

Hypnotherapy is used to treat a variety of conditions. It is highly regarded in addiction therapy because it not only helps with the addictive behaviors and drug cravings, but also underlying mental conditions.

  • Addiction
  • Chronic pain
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Smoking cessation
  • Eating disorders
  • Weight loss
  • Fibromyalgia
  • ADHD symptoms
  • Phobias
  • Tension headaches
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Dementia symptoms
  • Nausea and vomiting

How Effective is Hypnotherapy?

The effectiveness of hypnotherapy varies based on the application it’s used for. On the whole, hypnosis is very effective at the following:

  • Overcoming addictive behavior 
  • Relapse prevention
  • Faster healing times
  • Stress reduction
  • Pain management
  • Reduced frequency and intensity of headaches
  • Greater success at losing weight

Does The River Source Offer Hypnotherapy?

The River Source continually evaluates cutting-edge alternative treatments that will help their clients deal with stress without the use of medication. How can clients be taught to live a life that is free of dependencies if they are offered medications to deal with their symptoms? That is why The River Source is pleased to offer hypnotherapy to clients. Kristy Crabtree, a Licensed Professional Counselor, LPC and Clinical Hypnotherapist at The River Source says, "Before we get into addiction, we experience other mental health disorders, sometimes co-occurring disorders or anxiety or depression that contribute to use. About two-thirds of Americans are medicated with antidepressants, and of those two-third, very few of them find any benefit from the medication alone."

Through hypnosis, clients are able to get in touch with their unconscious minds to learn the true nature for why they started abusing drugs. In the majority of cases, there were other health or mental problems going on that contributed to the addiction. Unless we are able to tap into the unconscious, we generally don’t know what those underlying reasons are. While psychotherapy can prove helpful, clients still have trouble letting down their guard and detaching themselves from their conscious mind. That’s where hypnotherapy is uniquely beneficial and enables clients to better understand what drives their behavior in the real world.