GET HYPNOTIZED, GET HEALTHIER by Benjamin Kligler, MD, MPH

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GET HYPNOTIZED, GET HEALTHIER by Benjamin Kligler, MD, MPH

Hear the word “hypnosis” and you may think of a stage show — a guy in a turban dangling a pocket watch and making you cluck like a chicken or behave in some other silly and uncharacteristic way.

This is not at all what modern hypnotherapy is like.

Reality: Ericksonian hypnosis (named after American psychiatrist Milton Erickson, who pioneered the techniques used today) is a collaboration between you and a trained health-care practitioner that can help you achieve specific health goals.

Hypnotherapy does not use commands, such as, “Now you will do what I say.” Instead, the practitioner offers gentle, nonauthoritative suggestions when you are in a highly relaxed state. The idea behind hypnosis is that there is no separation between body and mind — so you can access the healing potential of the unconscious mind to move yourself in a healthful direction. Unlike classical hypnosis, which works on only a small subset of highly suggestible people, Ericksonian hypnosis can help almost anyone — though it is most effective for those who are motivated and accepting of treatment.

HELP FROM HYPNOSIS

Research shows that hypnotherapy helps treat a variety of physical and psychological problems, including…

* Anxiety

* Chronic pain

* Insomnia

* Irritable bowel syndrome (recurring bouts of diarrhea and/or constipation)

* Menopausal hot flashes

* Nausea

* Overeating

* Phobias, such as claustrophobia or fear of flying

* Sugar addiction

* Tobacco addiction.

Examples:
One study found that a single 15-minute hypnosis session significantly decreased pain and anxiety in women under¬going breast cancer surgery — and, for unknown reasons, also shortened the procedure time in the operating room. In another study, 68% of women with menopausal hot flashes showed reduced symptom severity and frequency, as well as decreased insomnia, after hypnosis.

How it works.
Everybody has chatter in the conscious mind that can get in the way of healthful behaviors, such as controlling consumption of sweets or not panicking in an elevator. Hypnosis quiets the conscious mind so your unconscious can come in and say, “Wait a minute, we’re trying to be healthier here” — making it easier to turn down that donut or stay calm in the elevator. Hypnosis relieves physical symptoms, such as pain or hot flashes, by reducing stress hormones that contribute to physical ailments.

Hypnosis by itself does not cure the problem — rather, it creates a heightened state of awareness that opens the way for your own willingness to bring about the desired changes. Hypnotherapy can focus on symptom reduction… strategies for coping with stress… resolution of personal problems… and/or personality development.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN TREATMENT

Typically, the first session with a hypnotherapist lasts one hour. During this visit, the practitioner asks questions about your particular problem — when symptoms began, other treatments you have tried, how the issue affects your life and stress level. Because hypnotherapy is highly individualized, this information helps determine the most appropriate treatment for you. Hypnosis may or may not be done during this first session.

A course of hypnotherapy generally ranges from three to eight sessions, with each weekly hypnosis session lasting about 30 to 40 minutes. Sometimes patients return months or years later for a “booster” session.
During a session, you sit on a comfortable chair or couch in a ¬quiet and softly lit room. Usually your eyes are closed, but you can hear everything around you.

Speaking in a soothing voice, the practitioner leads you into an induction, a trancelike state of deep relaxation. One common technique is the body scan. The practitioner asks you to focus on your feet, relaxing the muscles there. Next you focus on feeling the relaxed sensation in your ankles, your calves, your knees. Over five to 10 minutes, the practitioner guides you to relax your entire body.

While you are in a state of deep relaxation, the practitioner makes therapeutic suggestions, prompting your unconscious mind to deal more effectively with your health issue. The practitioner does not say something like, “You will not be afraid of the airplane,” but rather, “You may find yourself feeling much more -relaxed on the airplane than you have in the past.” Suggestions are tailored to the specific problem and person. The process generally is pleasant and completely safe. You do not ¬reveal personal secrets or do anything that you don’t want to do.

After the therapeutic suggestions, the practitioner typically brings you back to your normal state of consciousness by saying, “I’m going to be quiet now, and over the next few minutes, you can gradually bring yourself back to the room.” You may or may not consciously remember what was said to you during hypnosis… you may come to the end of a session thinking that it lasted just a few minutes, when in reality it lasted half an hour.

Over the following few days or weeks, you may notice that your symptoms are improving — for instance, you sleep better, feel less nauseous or fearful, or find it easier to resist cravings for cigarettes.

HYPNOTHERAPY HOMEWORK

The practitioner may assign you some simple self-hypnosis techniques to do on your own. For instance, if you are seeking to change a habit, such as compulsive overeating, self-hypnosis helps you handle cravings as they arise. These techniques typically include physical strategies, such as pressing two fingers together as a reminder of how to reach the relaxation state… or taking a series of deep breaths while focusing on a certain calming image or phrase.

For a physical problem, such as irritable bowel syndrome, the practitioner may tape-record an in-office hypnosis session and have you listen to it at home. As you reexperience the state of deep relaxation again and again, not only your mind but your entire body benefits — making your gut less susceptible to digestive upsets.

Finding a practitioner: In addition to being a licensed doctor, psychologist or social worker, a qualified practitioner should have about one year of hypnotherapy training. To ensure that your practitioner has met educational standards and training requirements in clinical hypnosis, you may want to verify that he/she is certified through the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (630-980-4740, www.asch.net).

Hypnotherapy costs about $125 to $300 per session. Although many insurance companies do not cover hypnosis per se, you may be able to collect under a mental-health ¬benefit if your psychotherapist or integrative physician includes hypnosis among the treatments offered.

– Benjamin Kligler, MD, MPH

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One Response to “GET HYPNOTIZED, GET HEALTHIER by Benjamin Kligler, MD, MPH”

  1. Esta área ligada ao cérebro,inteligência, comportamento é um assunto que muito me atrai, e também a hipnoterapia . Gosto sempre de estar lendo a respeito.Eu sempre cuidei muito dos aspectos psicológicos, fazendo terapias, bioenergética,etc.
    Mas para teve um carga muito pesada na vida,como eu, tem sempre alguns aspectos que ficam como que escondidos no inconsciente, e às vezes se manifestam.Eu gostaria em uma outra oportunidade, de saber de você se seria aconselhável no meu caso, uma hipnoterapia e saber mais detalhes.
    Atenciosamente
    luiza pereira

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