What do you think of when someone mentions hypnosis?  Do you think of stage hypnotists making audience members do silly things and cluck like chickens?  How about sinister suggestions and gaps in your memory?

I don’t know about these things but I’m pretty sure these are myths.  I DO know that hypnotherapy is a powerful treatment that has been proven to be effective for a wide range of medical problems.

Yesterday (Friday) I spent the day at UH Connor Integrative Health Network’s Heal the Healer symposium.  It’s the first time I was able to go, and I’m SO glad I did!  We focused on rest, rejuvenation and stress relief for those in all sorts of healing roles.

The highlight for me (other than hearing Dr. Mimi Guarnieri, the president of the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine, speak), was a hypnotherapy session by Don Mannarino.  I have both observed hypnotherapy and participated in it in the past, but this was a particularly powerful session.

What is hypnotherapy?  Hypnotherapy is a treatment in which a person is guided into a deep state of relaxation and then given suggestions that directly affect that person’s subconscious mind.  Contrary to popular belief, a person under hypnosis is NOT asleep.  As Don says, you can’t hear the therapist if you’re asleep!  You are wide awake and deeply relaxed.  It is a lovely, restful, comforting experience.

The person being hypnotized is an active participant in the therapy.  It’s a bit like being in physical therapy.  The physical therapist can show you exercises and coach you on what to do, but you actually have to DO the therapy.  Same with hypnotherapy.  Your therapist is your coach and guides you, but you have to relax and follow directions.

What sorts of conditions is hypnotherapy helpful for?  A quick PubMed search revealed over 1200 articles published mentioning hypnotherapy in the last 5 years.  That’s a LOT of research!  A quick scan showed research demonstrating effectiveness for menopause symptoms, insomnia, GI disorders like irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, and in reducing pain and anxiety during labor and childbirth and hospital procedures such as prostate biopsy.

The session yesterday was on hypnotherapy for weight loss.  While I couldn’t find a lot of research about this topic, it makes sense that hypnotherapy would be helpful in a condition like obesity, where subconscious attitudes and patterns of behavior are SO difficult to change.

I’m not going to tell you exactly what happened during yesterday’s hypnotherapy session.  First of all, I don’t think I could describe it very well.  Secondly, it was a large group session, more of a “taste” of hypnotherapy rather than a true therapeutic encounter.

Lastly, I’m not at all sure that MY experience of hypnosis would be the same as YOUR experience.  A bit like explaining what chocolate tastes like, to someone who has never tasted it.  Rich and sweet and very satisfying.  But those words don’t really do it justice.

If you have a condition like anxiety, insomnia, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, obesity or other eating disorder, or are curious whether hypnotherapy would be helpful for you, I encourage you to reach out to Don (his phone number and email are on his website).  He will be able to help you decide whether it is likely to help.

How adventurous are you?  How invested are you in feeling better?  I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and consider hypnotherapy as an effective therapy for many conditions that have a stress-related or behavioral component.

QUESTION:  Have you ever been hypnotized?  Was it helpful for you?


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