Through self-hypnosis or hypnotherapy, it is possible to reach a more subconscious temporary mode of brain functioning. Although the first image that comes to mind when we think of self-hypnosis is that of a swinging pendulum right in front of us, there is more to it.
If you don’t give in to prejudice, you can find a useful tool to achieve wellness and explore other emotional states.
Self-hypnosis does not imply that you will lose control of the body but will function differently for a brief interval.
The objective is to work on brain waves and alteration states to pass to other more harmonious ones through suggestion and words.
What is self-hypnosis for?
According to the American Psychological Association, hypnosis involves focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness, with increased responsiveness to suggestion.
From this perspective, you can see how a typical myth associated with unconsciousness becomes less certain. Furthermore, hypnosis is a modality of waking consciousness achieved through words, visualizations, and gestures.
Through these principles, it is possible to generate certain excitation in the cerebral cortex to achieve a more subconscious temporal mode of functioning.
At that moment, the motor and sensory functioning of thought, behavior, and brain electrical activity changes.
Self-hypnosis or hypnotherapy is used to gain access to the subconscious through concentration and guided relaxation. The objective is the reprogramming of emotions.
It takes as a starting point the fact that people function automatically, as in continuous inertia. So, by bringing things to mind and focusing on them, we can analyze them, observe our behavior, and design future actions.
As we learn certain behaviors or ways of responding, we become accustomed to them, so self-hypnosis seeks to interrupt that automatic chain to propose new ways.
Uses of self-hypnosis and hypnotherapy
Self-hypnosis is used in different areas; some frequent are linked to chronic pain relief (for example, in patients with fibromyalgia) and anxious symptoms, sleep disorders, smoking cessation, childhood enuresis, and irritable bowel syndrome, to mention a few.
On the other hand, it is important to remember that, unlike other medical procedures, self-hypnosis is harmless.
What is a self-hypnosis session like?
During self-hypnosis sessions, three strategies will be focused on:
Regarding visualization, what is sought is that people imagine themselves in an environment that brings calm and serenity, connecting with those sensations and emotions that give them well-being.
The idea is to recover all the possible details, from colors and aromas to sounds, so that the scene feels very vivid. When you feel at ease and at your full potential, you’ll introduce the element of change you seek to achieve.
Regarding fixation, it is used to introduce you into the state of self-hypnosis, fixing your gaze and avoiding distractions. In general, you concentrate or focus on a single point. Then you continue with the scene of the desired change.
Finally, you also work with breathing, the master key to help you lower decibels. You must graduate it, first noticing how you breathe and then changing to shorter and slower rhythms. You’ll also proceed to the scene of change.
Steps and tips to achieve self-hypnosis
Self-hypnosis requires a series of steps to enter the desired state. For this reason, it is recommended that the first few times you do it under the guidance of a therapist since he/she will be able to guide you on the correct path.
1. Choosing an appropriate environment
To achieve self-hypnosis, it is important to create optimal conditions without distractions. In this sense, you must also turn off the mind, silencing thoughts and even movements.
For example, if you are used to moving a leg or tapping your fingers on the table, pay attention to it and stop doing it. Or, in the case of thoughts, if you are interrupted by daily worries, do not get entangled in them.
2. Prepare for relaxation
To do this, you can start with breathing techniques, following a sequence of breathing in, holding, and releasing. This will help you to enter a state of relaxation.
It is also possible to perform certain exercises to focus the mind and stay away from your everyday life. For example, we recommended counting from 100 to 0 or counting by intervals of 2 by 2, starting at 50 and decreasing.
You can add phrases such as “I am entering a hypnotic state” and, when reaching 0, confirm “I am in a hypnotic state.”
3. Determine and repeat the goals
This step is about focusing on what you want to achieve or change. Here what is important is to be precise and concrete and to speak positively.
Instead of saying, “I am not going to leave things to the last minute,” you change it to “I am going to try to organize myself better.”
In most cases, it is recommended to think about these resolutions beforehand. Some people even repeat them in recordings that they later use during self-hypnosis.
4. Visualize yourself in a situation
The brain tends to associate behaviors with situations, so it is necessary to visualize the change: what actions you undertake, how you feel, where you are.
The richer the scene, the better. In those cases in which you cannot visualize yourselves, you can choose to use a metaphor. For example, running a race and reaching the finish line.
This scene can be reinforced through the use of an anchor. This can be varied, from words and gestures to some personal object.
The important thing is that, when thinking about it, saying it, or having it, you can remember the suggestion and the goal to achieve.
5. Ending self-hypnosis
Finally, when leaving the hypnotic state, it is convenient to return little by little, taking a few minutes before returning to the routine.
You can count to 10 while repeating how you feel. For example, use phrases such as “I feel calmer” or “I feel more relieved to continue the day.”
Motivation for change is essential
During phases of certain “suffering” situations, carrying out therapeutic actions serves to alleviate the discomfort. Self-hypnosis can be complemented by psychotherapy and medical approaches.
In the end, this is all about commitment and motivation for change. Encouraging you to explore and come face to face with situations that you dislike and not always easy to leave behind.
In this sense, it is important to know that both self-hypnosis and any other technique used will guide you to achieve results, as long as you practice and perform them with some consistency.
Now let’s talk about Hypnotherapy
The therapist’s initial task is to establish rapport with the client. This involves encouraging the client to talk about his or her concerns.
The therapist might first spend time with the client to assess his/her needs. As well as establishing a medical history, the examination helps to build trust between the therapist and client.
Feeling safe and comfortable with the therapist aids in the induction of a hypnotic trance.
Therapy goals are discussed and agreed upon by both, and a full explanation of what Hypnosis is all about is provided. Any questions or misconceptions about hypnosis are also addressed.
There are many different ways to achieve a trance state. Usually, the client sits in a chair or recliner, and the therapist speaks in a slow, soft voice.
The client may be asked to imagine or visualize walking down a path or may be made to look at a fixed point or listen to the sound of the therapist’s voice.
To deepen the trance, the therapist may count from 10 to 1 or ask you to imagine walking down a flight of stairs. You will then feel very relaxed but aware of your surroundings.
To return to full consciousness, the therapist may count up from 1 to 10.
The length of treatments depends on the problem or symptoms and individual circumstances. For some people, a problem such as nail-biting can be successfully treated in a single session. Other problems such as panic attacks may take up to 5 or 6 sessions.
During the course of the therapy, clients are taught to induce self-hypnosis as part of a series of therapeutic homework assignments.
Things you should know about hypnosis:
- No one can ever be hypnotized against their will, and even when hypnotized, people remain in complete control of all suggestions given
- The whole object of clinical hypnosis is to regain the control that has been lost and, therefore, that has resulted in the symptom or problem
- It is estimated that approximately 85% of people of all ages will readily respond to hypnosis
What are the benefits of Hypnotherapy?
The hypnotic state allows a person to be more open to discussion and suggestions. It can enhance the success of other treatments for many illnesses, including:
- Phobias, fears, and anxiety
- Sleep disorders
- Post-traumatic stress
- Grief from loss
Hypnosis can also help manage grief and overcome habits, such as smoking or overeating. It may also be useful for people whose symptoms are severe or who need crisis management.
What are the disadvantages of hypnotherapy?
Hypnosis may not be appropriate for a person with psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions, or for someone who is using drugs or alcohol.
It would be best to use it to control pain only after a physician has evaluated the person for any physical disorders that may require medical or surgical treatment.
Some therapists use hypnosis to retrieve repressed memories, which they possibly believe are linked to a person’s mental disorder.
However, hypnosis also poses a risk of creating false memories, usually due to unintentional suggestions on the therapist’s part. For this reason, the use of hypnosis for certain mental disorders, such as dissociative disorders, remains controversial.
Is Hypnosis dangerous?
Hypnosis is not a dangerous procedure. It is not mind control or brainwashing, as has sometimes been claimed.
A therapist cannot make a person do something embarrassing or that the person does not want to do.
The biggest risk, as mentioned before, is that false memories can potentially be created and may be less effective than pursuing other, more established, and traditional psychiatric treatments.