Hypnosis has been used for many years to treat a number of different issues. Anyone can take a one-day course or online course in Hypnosis and say that they are certified in hypnosis. Be careful in choosing the right person to work with for hypnosis. A trained mental health practioner certified in Hypnosis has a high level of educational training in hypnosis and has been directly supervised by a certified hypnotist. Additionally, a skilled therapist is able to support you through any difficult feelings that may surface during hypnosis or upon completion. Dr. Edwards-Hawver has advanced training in hypnosis and is certified by the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis.
So What Exactly Is Hypnosis?
The American Psychological Association Division 30 Society of Clinical Hypnosis defines hypnosis as: “A state of consciousness involving focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness characterized by an enhanced capacity for response to suggestion”. It involves using your mind and thoughts in order to manage emotional distress, unpleasant physical symptoms, or help you change or manage certain behaviors. It involves two basic phases, which are called the induction phase and application phase.
The Hypnotic Process
The process begins by progressive relaxation (Induction phase), followed by deepening techniques (Induction phase), and then meditative visualizations (Induction phase). It is much like relaxation exercises or meditation, except you reach a much deeper state of relaxation. Once you in a deeply relaxed state, we will work with parts of your unconscious mind to address the issues you are seeking hypnosis for and use suggestions (application phase).
Dr. Edwards-Hawver is highly trained and there is no fear of implanting false memories into your mind. People often remember everything (unless you don’t want to) and you can even talk during hypnosis. Sometimes people prefer to just relax and Dr. Hawver do all the talking and sometimes it is useful to bring a person to place where their symptoms first began and ask them direct questions. This is something Dr. Hawver will discuss with you during the initial consultation before beginning hypnosis.
How Will It Make Me Feel?
People respond to hypnosis in different ways. Some describe hypnosis as a normal state of focused attention, in which they feel very calm and relaxed. Regardless of how and to what degree they respond, most people describe the experience as very pleasant. The worst thing that will happen with hypnosis is that you will have an hour of deep relaxation.
Can Everyone Be Hypnotized?
No. Some people are very responsive to hypnosis and others are less responsive. A person’s ability to get into a state of hypnosis can be inhibited by fears and concerns arising from some common misconceptions. Some people feel too anxious to relax and let go, making the process more difficult. Contrary to some depictions of hypnosis in books, movies, or television, people who have been hypnotized do not lose control over their behavior. They typically remain aware of who they are and where they are, and unless amnesia had been specifically suggested, they usually remember what transpired during hypnosis. Hypnosis makes it easier for people to experience suggestions, but it does not force them to have these experiences.
Is Hypnosis Therapy?
Hypnosis is not really a therapy, although some will refer to it as hypnotherapy. Instead, it is a procedure that can be used to facilitate therapy. Clinical hypnosis should only be used by properly trained and credentialed health care professionals, who have also be trained in the clinical use of hypnosis and are working within the areas of their professional expertise. Hypnosis can be used on a regular basis in therapy as a tool to access deeper places in a person’s mind and increase the time needed to obtain that information. So in many aspects, hypnosis is very useful in speeding up the therapy process because you get to deeper-rooted problems more quickly.
What Types of Issues Does Hypnosis Treat?
Hypnosis has been used on the treatment of pain, depression, anxiety, stress, habit disorders, and many other psychological and medical problems. However, it may not be useful for all psychological problems or for all patients. In some situations, hypnosis is contra-indicated and Dr. Hawver will discuss this with you after an initial consultation.
Myths About Hypnosis
A large number of people have based their views of hypnosis on their observation of stage hypnotists or stories they have heard from others who have seen these shows. Although these performances are entertaining, many people come away with the fear that hypnosis means loss of control and they the hypnotist can make a person exhibit silly, humiliating, or even unethical behavior.
1) THE PATIENT GIVES UP ALL POWER TO THE HYPNOTIST, THE PATIENT IS UNDER COMPLETE CONTROL OF THE HYPNOTIST, OR THE PATIENT CAN BE MADE TO SAY OR DO SOMETHING AGAINST HIS OR HER WILL.
These are all false! All hypnosis is really self-hypnosis. The patient is always in control. The hypnotist is there to help guide and structure the experience. It is a relationship of mutual responsiveness. Hypnosis can make it easier to experience suggestions but it does not force you to have that experience. The patient at any time can refuse a suggestion, do the opposite of what is suggested and can break the hypnotic trance all together. The patient cannot be made to do anything they do not want to do.
2) HYPNOSIS IS A FORM OF SLEEP
Hypnosis is not sleeping; it is a state of focused concentration. Although there is decreased physical activity, the patient is aware and is responsive, and can remember everything that went on during hypnosis. The ECG’s of people in sleep are different than a person who is under hypnosis.
3) ONE MUST BE RELAXED IN ORDER TO BE IN HYPNOSIS
Since hypnosis is a state of focused concentration, you can be anxious and still be focused. Relaxation is not a prerequisite for hypnosis to occur. The ability to relax often helps people reach a deeper state of relaxation but it is not a requirement.
4) ONLY A SMALL PERCENTAGE (OR CERTAIN TYPES) OF PEOPLE CAN BE HYPNOTIZED
People range on a continuum of hypnotizability. About 20% of people can be hypnotized quite easily and deeply. About 65% can be hypnotized to lighter states and with practice and experience can go on to a deeper trance state. Of the remaining 15%, some can achieve a light trance state and others are not able to reach any trance state at all.
Factors such as fear, motivation, lack of rapport, and distracting physical surroundings can all detract from one’s ability to become hypnotized. The ability to be hypnotized is not gender specific. The one group that seems to not be as hypnotizable is those with low cognitive functioning or severe psychosis.
5) YOU CAN GET STUCK IN HYPNOSIS
The patient can terminate the trance state at any time. If the hypnotherapist left the room or if a hypnosis tape were interrupted before instructions to emerge were given, the patient would either open their eyes or could choose to go into sleep and would wake after a brief nap. Occasionally a patient will not want to emerge from hypnosis because the state is so pleasant, but even in that case, further instructions will help the patient emerge.
6) HYPNOSIS IS A TRUTH SERUM
Although hypnosis allows the subject to access memories with great attention to detail, the patient can censor what is divulged to the hypnotherapist. The patient can withhold information or even lie if they wish. It is important to remember that memories themselves are stored on the basis of perception and emotion and can be subject to distortion.
7) HYPNOSIS IS HARMFUL
Anything that has the ability to help can have the ability to hurt, if the wrong person uses it. This is why it is important to seek out a skilled psychologist that you can trust to completely. Hypnosis is usually described as a pleasant and refreshing experience.
If you live in Scranton or Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania and are interested in scheduling a hypnosis session today, please call or click here to schedule an appointment.
Please note that at this time Dr. Edwards-Hawver is only taking short-term hypnosis cases and may have a wait list.