Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy

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What if there was a treatment that could help you manage pain, let go of fears and regrets, stop self-destructive habits, and allow you to gain control of your physical and mental health? What if it didn’t have any side effects, except for improved peace of mind? Would you consider it? Would you wonder why you had never heard of it before?

In fact, you probably have heard of it many times before, but you might not have thought about it in this context. The therapy is hypnosis. Hypnosis often brings to mind thoughts of wild stage shows, but the practice also has powerful healing potential in the form of medical hypnotherapy.

A Brief History of Hypnotherapy

Hypnosis originated thousands of years ago and many cultures employed trancelike states in order to achieve physical and emotional healing. The practice was rekindled in Europe in the 1700s and was subsequently adapted for medical situations such as providing successful surgical anesthesia during the American Civil War. Today, hypnosis is a relatively common therapy practiced by physicians and psychologists to treat a variety of physical, mental, and behavioral issues.

Conditions That Can Be Treated with Hypnotherapy

Modern hypnotherapists use hypnotherapy to achieve a concurrent state of deep relaxation and focus, in order to address and help treat a number of physical and emotional conditions. Many patients have benefited from hypnotherapy for physical illnesses as well as mental health conditions, and have also received great insight and peace of mind from undergoing hypnosis.

Here are some conditions that hypnotherapy may be able to help treat:

Hypnotherapy is typically covered by most insurance plans.

What to Expect During Hypnotherapy

A typical hypnotherapy session usually starts with a discussion of your history and issues that you wish to explore. This is followed by your sitting or lying down in a comfortable position. The therapist will then dim the lights, reduce the level of surrounding noise, and make sure you are warm. He or she will ask you to close your eyes and listen to only his or her voice, sequentially relax your whole body, visualize sights and sounds, and perhaps recall memories to bring you into a peaceful and focused state.

During hypnosis, the therapist may make specific suggestions or may lead you to a place where he or she may gain certain insights or awareness to work through important issues. In some sessions, patients may verbalize thoughts, feelings, and expressions, while in other sessions patients may follow silent guided visualizations.

Within our practice at One Medical, sessions typically last about 45 minutes. You may require one to several sessions depending on the number, type, and breadth of issues you would like to address.

Common Misconceptions About Hypnotherapy

Some common fears that people have before undergoing hypnotherapy are that they will lose control, will be swayed to follow suggestions that they feel are inconsistent with their belief systems, and will not wake up. The truth is that while under hypnosis, you are in complete control. Your subconscious mind will never allow you to be persuaded to do something that is inconsistent with your beliefs. Returning to a conscious state is also very easily achieved.

A Safe, Non-Invasive Treatment for Many

Hypnosis allows people to regain control of self-healing through enhanced relaxation and deep focus. In an age when there are so many treatments with potentially harmful side effects, hypnotherapy is still one of the few safe and powerful methods that can improve one’s health and positively transform one’s life.

Editor’s Note: Thanks to co-author Longhang Nguyen, MD, who sees patients at our Sunnyvale office

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The One Medical blog is published by One Medical, an innovative primary care practice with offices in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

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