By Patricia Danflous

Raise your hand if you’ve given up on your New Year’s resolutions.  Hold that hand higher if you knew those resolutions would be a challenge long before you wrote them down in your Notes app.

“It’s not easy to modify a behavior or make a change for the better,” says Bonnie Miller, Director of Clinical Hypnotherapy for the Methodist Health System Foundation, Inc.  “No matter how much we might want to quit smoking, lose weight or feel confident about speaking in public, for example, sometimes we need guidance.”

Guided mental imagery through hypnotherapy may be the solution for breaking bad habits, conquering fears, alleviating stress, decreasing pain and living a more productive life.  The proven technique lets patients concentrate on a subconscious level to promote healing or positive change. 

“Using imagery and positive messages, hypnotherapy gently directs clients to utilize internal resources in making the personal changes they are looking for,” says Miller, a certified hypnotherapist. 

“The method helps individuals enter a relaxed state of deep breathing, lower their metabolic rate and decrease pulse rate,” she continues.  “In this deep state of relaxation, the subconscious mind is open to awareness.  Someone interested in losing weight, for example, will be encouraged to vividly imagine eating in moderation and exercising.  The highly-relaxed unconscious mind becomes a powerful tool in bringing about that positive change.”

Hypnotherapy is not mind control.  “It is guidance and facilitation,” Miller emphasizes.  “The most successful hypnotherapy patients are those who are highly motivated to make a change, and those who can easily enter deep relaxation. 

“Everyone is different,” Miller says.  “Some may require more practice in breathing techniques to help them relax.  Some may see positive benefits after one or two sessions and others may need several visits before they achieve significant change.”

Licensed hypnotherapists also teach self-hypnosis to help clients maintain, reinforce or refresh behaviors.

Hypnotherapy is a safe alternative therapy addressing a wide variety of emotional, physical and psychological issues.  However, before you schedule a session, it is important to confirm your hypnotherapist is certified.

The highly-relaxed unconscious mind becomes a powerful tool in bringing about that positive change

Types of hypnotherapy

  • Traditional – direct suggestion of symptom removal with some therapeutic relaxation and aversion to addictive substances (practiced by Victorian hypnotists)
  • Ericksonian – informal conversational approach using complex language and therapeutic strategies (1950s)
  • Solution Focused – combination of Solution Focused Brief Therapy with Ericksonian hypnotherapy to produce goal focused therapy (2000s)
  • Cognitive/Behavioral – psychosocial therapy that employs clinical hypnosis and cognitive behavioral therapy; 70% greater improvement for patients compared to those just using CBT (1970s to present)
  • Lesserian ™ Curative (LHC) – uses a combination of hypnosis, IMR and specific questioning (1980s to present)

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