History of Hypnotherapy

Hypnosis as we know it today was first associated with Dr. Franz Anton Mesmer (whose name gave rise to the word “mesmerized”). The term ‘hypnotherapy’ comes from the Greek “hypnos” or sleep. ¬†Yet contrary to what you may have seen on TV or in the movies, hypnosis is not a state of deep sleep nor can a hypnotist or hypnotherapist control people’s minds or make them do anything against their will. Rather, it is a person’s motivation and desire to change, coupled with the client-therapist relationship, which allows clients to access altered states of consciousness and learn to master their own states of awareness.

During the 1990s hypnotherapy gained popularity through the work of psychiatrist Milton H. Erickson, and in 1958, the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association recognized hypnotherapy as a valid medical procedure. Today, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as well as the British Psychological Society (BPS) and other medical bodies recognize hypnosis as a proven therapeutic tool in the management and treatment of a wide range of conditions encountered in the practice of medicine, psychiatry and psychotherapy.

Hypnotherapy Uses

A growing number of problems and conditions are helped by hypnosis treatment, including:

  • Acute and chronic pain
  • Anxiety disorders (phobias and fears)
  • Childbirth
  • Cancer-related pain
  • Tension and stress
  • Psychosomatic illnesses
  • Depression
  • Addiction
  • Headaches/Migraines
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Skin conditions
  • Asthma
  • Weight loss
  • Cessation of smoking
  • Eating disorders
  • Sleep disorders
  • Grief and loss

Hypnotherapy Effects

Hypnotherapy helps the body relax while clients remain mentally fully awake. In a hypnotic state the conscious mind is more suppressed while the subconscious mind becomes more focused and open to suggestion. Blood pressure and heart rate are lowered, and there is a change in brainwave activity.

Benefits of Hypnosis

Benefits of hypnosis and hypnotherapy include:

  • Accessing painful and/or suppressed memories
  • Exploring difficult feelings
  • Altered perceptions
  • Greater insight
  • More openness to change
  • Behavioral changes
  • Reduced fear and anxiety
  • Reduced need for medications
  • Improved pre- and post-surgery mental and physical conditions

Finding a Hypnotherapist

According to the American Psychotherapy and Medical Hypnosis Association, hypnotherapists are licensed doctors, nurses, social workers, or family counselors who have received additional training in hypnotherapy. For more information, visit their website.