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Hypnotherapy in Mental Health Treatment – How Does It work?

Hypnosis for Anxiety | Hypnosis for Depression

Medical Hypnotherapy can be a powerful method to treat various mental health conditions. By creating a calm and controlled environment, it allows patients to focus on their deepest disruptors.

What is Hypnosis Treatment?

Medical hypnotherapy works through its ability to remove all distraction from the mind of the patient, and speak clearly and directly about personal habits that need their attention. It is often used to help change the behaviors of the patient, but does not rely on manipulation, coercion or compulsion to achieve a positive outcome.

Misconceptions about hypnosis treatment are commonplace, but its real utility as a treatment option comes from its clean approach (no drugs or chemicals are used) and its success in de-cluttering the mind of stresses and disruptions, thereby allowing the patient to focus completely on the task at hand.

Many patients benefit from hypnosis for anxiety and depression, while others use it to break free from phobias, eating disorders, burnout, or learned behaviors such as smoking. Sexual dysfunction and pain management are among the other frequent areas of focus for which hypnosis treatment can be useful.

Medical hypnotherapy is often used in conjunction with cognitive behavioral therapy – a treatment combination which has proven to be particularly effective in achieving improved patient health.

How Does Medical Hypnotherapy Work?

Medical hypnotherapy allows the patient to imagine in detail a source of anxiety while in a controlled setting. The patient is then encouraged to enter a state of deep relaxation, rather than allowing the anxiety to grow. This paired activity helps the brain to associate the potential anxiety trigger together with a calmer state of mind, allowing the brain to begin building new and healthier pathways of behavior and emotional response.

At the same time, the hypnotherapist provides calming suggestions for the patient under hypnosis, in an effort to show him or her a path toward healthier living. Included in these messages is an invitation to view the world in a more positive light, by embracing a generous outlook toward the surrounding environment.

During each hypnotherapy session, the patient remains awake and lucid, and in full control of every decision regarding whether or not to act upon the suggestions made by the hypnotherapist. The duration of treatment varies according to the condition being treated, as well as the mental state of the patient.

The Treatment Process

Hypnosis treatment begins in earnest when the hypnotherapist helps the patient achieve a trance-like state, in which external distractions are removed and the voice of the hypnotherapist is placed at the center of the patient’s consciousness.

Once in this state, the patient is encouraged to explore inner thoughts and feelings, which he or she is able to see with the type of rare clarity that is commonly associated with meditation. This newfound concentration lets patients use all of their inner resources to contemplate the issues that otherwise trouble them – whether alcohol, cigarettes or other drugs; traumatic events; or conditions which ordinarily cause stress for the patient.

The hypnotherapist acts as a guide for the patient during this period of exploration, suggesting a calm and observational approach to each distressing phenomenon, rather than an instinctive emotional reaction. After a period of contemplation, including mental encounters with the provocative stimuli, the hypnotherapist encourages the patient to enter a state of deep relaxation.

Through each successive treatment, the patient learns to cope with the reality of the thing feared, or the object of obsession – and then observe it from a detached space, before moving past it and into a state of tranquility. The lesson of detachment and balance becomes a learned skill, empowering the patient to deal with stressors in a healthier way in everyday life.

Key Benefits of Hypnosis for Anxiety and Depression

Hypnosis has a broad range of applications, due to its general ability to improve the power of concentration and suggestion. Common benefits of medical hypnotherapy include:

  • Increased ability to focus on stressful objects and ideas while remaining emotionally balanced
  • Increased ability to detach from obsessive behaviors and habits, including smoking
  • Increased tolerance for pain under certain conditions
  • A more positively oriented worldview
  • Renewed feelings of self-control
  • Reduced feelings of depression or anxiety, and recovery from burnout

By creating new conditions for personal empowerment, hypnosis gives patients the internal tools needed to overcome the unhelpful group of emotions and behaviors that caused them to seek treatment.

How Successful is Hypnosis Treatment?

Natural human variability means that some people are more open to suggestibility and hypnosis than others. In general, however, it is effective to use hypnosis for anxiety and depression as part of a larger course of treatment.

In particular, studies show that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) provides an effective complement to hypnosis treatment for conditions such as acute stress disorder.

A more general meta-analysis reveals widespread improvement in many areas due to the combination of hypnosis with CBT. The study also found sustained improvements after measuring patient outcomes long after the period of treatment had ended.

Though it does not promise a complete cure in all cases, it is clear that hypnosis, with its ability to clear away the noise of day-to-day life during therapy sessions, can have a significant, positive, and long-lasting effect on behavior modification.

If you or someone you know experiences mental health issues, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional. Our Resource Specialist can help you find expert mental health resources to recover in your community. Contact us now for more information on this free service to our users.

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Author Bio: Chris Jansen works at The Dawn, a leading rehab in Thailand focusing on alcohol-, drug- and mental health retreats. He’s particularly interested in the crossroads between mental illnesses and their effects on substance abuse.

Photo by Ales Krivec on Unsplash

The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in this article or linked to herein.

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4 thoughts on “Hypnotherapy in Mental Health Treatment – How Does It work?

  1. Jay Boll, Editor in Chief says:


    In some cases Medicare will cover hypnotherapy.

    Medicare covers therapy for some mental health conditions and some therapists use hypnotherapy to treat those conditions. The first step is to find a therapist who takes Medicare, then ask them if they do hypnotherapy. If the answer to both questions is yes and the patient has a qualifying condition, it should be possible to get Medicare to pay for hypnotherapy.

  2. Eric Alsterberg says:

    This is a great article, Jay!
    As a form of psychotherapy, hypnotherapy uses extreme concentration, intense attention, and relaxation to make a patient achieve a heightened state of consciousness. To put it simply, it places a patient into a trancelike state of awareness, concentration, and focus.
    You may also check my blog about Hypnotherapist
    Hope this will also help. Thank you.

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