An Abbreviated History of the Field of Hypnotherapy
Hypnosis is a word derived from Greek mythology, the god of sleep Hypnos. In 1843, Scottish surgeon James Braid (1795-1860) used the name Hypnos to create the term “hypnotism,” which he introduced in his treatise “Neuryphology, or the rationale of nervous sleep.” “Hypnotism” (also known in the 19th century as “Braidism”), the science or practice of artificially inducing a sleep-like trance, gave rise to the coinage of “hypnosis,” the term for trance itself.
Whilst in a trance, a sleep-like state, we are able to access a dream-like state, to enable the subconscious mind to interact with the conscious mind, as perhaps happens in sleep. As the mind relaxes and the subconscious opens up like a vault, suggestions are used to help the body and mind to let go of old patterns that do not serve the client.
In a private and controlled hypnotherapy session, the facilitator, or hypnotherapist induces the client into a deep state of relaxation and overwhelms the client’s subconscious mind. During the session, the client becomes more suggestible to the suggestions of the therapist. The client should have an idea of what kinds of suggestions they would like the therapist to use. Hypnotherapists with Counseling and Psychology backgrounds tend to be more effective in their practice than those who do not.
The Difference Between Clinical & Stage Hypnosis
Traditional approaches to hypnosis are typically authoritarian. A false belief about hypnosis, is that not all people can be placed into a trance, or are not hypnotizable. In fact it is a natural state of brain wave activity that happens to all human brains multiple times a day. The brain shifts in and out of more and less alert stages throughout the day and of course at night when people allow themselves to sleep. Unfortunately, hypnosis is often associated with Stage Hypnosis Shows or as seen in films, or read in books, where the hypnotist gives direct commands such as “you will close your eyes and act like a chicken, you will go into a trance.” The client is told what to do and what to expect. It is said that this approach probably works well with 25% of the population, those that are highly suggestible and hypnotizable, and possibly with 50% of those that remain. The stage hypnotist is looking for participants in the audience who are beaming to go on stage, in order to perform for the crowd. They could also be looking for a person who looks very overwhelmed or sleepy, and are already on the brink of deep hypnosis. Often, they will screen people beforehand, and will kick off anyone who challenges them. They choose the most cooperative participants who will likely do anything they are told. Either due to a secret wish to perform, or because they are very outgoing and highly suggestible, and are less controlled individuals who may also be already tired or overwhelmed.
Clinical hypnosis guides the client with more permissive language, “you can, you could, you might, you may”. This removes the fear for some clients of being controlled by someone else. It allows the client to have options or various possibilities of what they may wish to do or experience, with the hypnotist giving positive feedback to the client to validate the client’s responses to help them relax and go into a trance. Aura Walker uses an intake form, to help her clients to get clear about their goals. The form also helps Aura to glean past experiences that continue to be stressful reminders for the client. She focuses on these areas as the ones to help the client to “let go of.”
One of the necessary requirements for the cooperative experience of a hypnotherapy session is the therapist’s ability to control the environment and to be directive in the session. The therapist should have a lot of training and experience, and should be able to hold the space. The client in turn must agree to allow the therapist to lead them through the session.
Hypnosis As An Intervention Therapy
There are numerous studies that help to support the effectiveness of hypnosis as a form of successful personal intervention therapy. Included are some examples of how well hypnosis works for many people compared to other forms of more traditional psychotherapy and behavior therapy. It should be noted that Aura Walker does not recommend hypnosis for anyone suffering from any form of a chemical brain imbalance including schizophrenia, psychotic disorders, disorders that include hallucinations, or severe attention deficit or hyperactivity disorders. Hypnosis is also not recommended for children under the age of 10. Their young brains have not yet developed to the point of being able to differentiate between fantasy and reality, and cause and effect. Maintaining ethical standards is of utmost importance.
In a research study on self-hypnosis for relapse prevention training with chronic drug/alcohol users. Participants were 261 veterans admitted to Substance Abuse Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Programs (SARRTPs). Individuals who used repeated self-hypnosis “at least 3 to 5 times a week,” at 7-week follow-up, reported the highest levels of self-esteem and serenity, and the least anger/impulsivity, in comparison to the minimal-practice and control groups.
American Journal of Clinical Hypnotherapy (a publication of the American Psychological Association) 2004 Apr;46(4):281-97)
Numerous scientific studies have shown that hypnosis is an effective treatment for many kinds of issue. For example, a survey of psychotherapy literature by noted psychologist Alfred A. Barrios, Ph.D. revealed the following recovery rates:
Psychoanalysis: 38% recovery after 600 sessions
Behavioral Therapy: 72%recovery after 22 sessions
Hypnotherapy: 93% recovery after 6 sessions
Source: 2006, August issue of American Health Magazine
For more information on hypnotherapy and the subconscious, visit these links:
How Does Hypnotherapy Work in Your Day-to-day Life?
by Aura Walker (PDF, download size 32 KB)