“Hypnosis … that’s about some guy on stage making his subjects squawk like a chicken, right?”
If you’re like most people, you’re familiar with stories of stage hypnotists choosing highly’“suggestible” subjects to entertain other members of his audience. But while certain individuals might be willing, at a subconscious level, to demonstrate such unusual behavior in front of others, the truth is that hypnosis cannot “make” another person do anything he or she is unwilling to do. The true skill of the stage hypnotist lies in his ability to choose subjects willing to perform!
In stark contrast to the work of the hypnotist, is the practice of the Hypnotherapist, who is trained to guide clients in the use of hypnosis to support the healing of mind and body. “Hypnotherapist” is a recognized occupational title, defined in the U.S. Dictionary of Occupational Titles, published by the Department of Labor and hypnotherapists often work in conjunction with licensed medical providers.
In the field of medical hypnosis, “the power of the mind” has been used to replace the use of anesthesia, to minimize bleeding during surgery and to accelerate healing from injury and disease. The American Medical Association (AMA) has officially recognized hypnosis as a valuable and beneficial treatment tool since 1958. In recent years, increased interest in”“integrative” therapies, such as hypnotherapy, acknowledge the benefit of treating the “whole person.”
In an interview published in the January, 2011, issue of The Sun magazine, Dr. Andrew Weil relates the story of a woman who came to him with severe eczema “so bad she’d been contemplating suicide… the woman had seen the best doctors, and they’d put her on steroids, which had not worked. But after just a few months of treatment incorporating dietary changes, natural remedies, and hypnosis, her skin condition totally resolved.”
In the field of psychotherapy, when various forms of treatment were compared and measured in terms of in healing and lasting change, hypnotherapy surpassed both behavioral therapy and traditional “talk therapy” on several fronts: recovery rate, number of sessions required, and time needed to recover. (Alfred A. Barrios, PhD. Psychotherapy Journal, American Psychiatric Assoc., Vol. 7-1, 1970.)
On the website of David Quigley, a pioneer in the field of modern hypnotherapy, a workshop participant shares his story of using hypnosis to significantly reduce his asthma symptoms. During a workshop with Quigley, he was guided on a “journey into his lungs.” There, he was surprised to discover intense anger left over from an experience he’d had with a family member, much earlier in life. After reliving the experience and releasing the negative emotions from his body, he felt his lungs open. Afterwards, his use of an “inhaler” went from several times each day, to just a couple of times a month.
Hypnotherapists understand the relationship between the mind and the body and approach illness by addressing patterns of feeling and belief that may be contributing to pain or disease. Hypnotherapy may also be used to heal emotional trauma, to discover inner resources for nurturing and guidance, to change unhealthy patterns of behavior (such as smoking or overeating) and for stress management. The power of hypnotherapy lies in the ability of the individual to discover his or her own key to healing, within.
Ilene Haykus MA, CHT holds a master’s degree in psychology from Antioch University. She has lived in Pagosa Springs since 1995 and has been practicing and teaching hypnotherapy since 1989.