The Treatment of Anxiety with Clinical Hypnosis

What is clinical hypnosis?

Clinical hypnosis is a technique that offers good results through suggestions adapted to the client and his objectives. Clinical hypnosis differs from hypnosis in that there must always be a therapeutic purpose and produce positive changes in the person, not being framed therefore in entertainment or show. For this reason it is important that it is always used by trained and experienced professionals.

The clinical hypnosis is a technique or tool that is used within a therapy or psychological intervention and is combinable with other techniques. That is, it is possible to use it with other techniques that have demonstrated empirical validity such as cognitive restructuring (to identify and correct dysfunctional thought patterns), symbolic exposure (to overcome specific phobias) or other cognitive behavioral techniques or third generation.

Before the clinical hypnosis session, a test will be performed to assess the degree of suggestion the person has and what type of suggestions are the best in his or her case. There are various types of suggestions, but their purpose is the same: to provoke psychological and physiological reactions in the person and therefore influence the thoughts, emotions and subsequent behaviors.

In the clinical hypnosis that I use and we use in Psicoalmeria, the client does not lose consciousness nor presents an alteration of consciousness. With this technique we get the body to be deeply relaxed, but the subconscious and consciousness are focused on the suggestions that will be produced, paying attention to the changes that occur in order to reinterpret and achieve the necessary change. During the session there will be communication between the client and the hypnotherapist, so that the hypnotherapist can continue to guide the client through the procedure. Therefore, the client will remember everything that has happened during the session and at no time lose control of the situation.

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Can anxiety be treated with hypnosis?

Anxiety is also treated with clinical hypnosis, being effective for people who experience anxiety or anxiety-related disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias or obsessive-compulsive disorders among others.

The anxiety is necessary, since it prepares us to confront a situation that we evaluate as harmful, nevertheless when the anxiety is disproportionate to the real situation it can be maladaptive, generating discomfort and influencing in different areas of our life.

With clinical hypnosis we use an appropriate procedure of suggestions in which the person will be able to relive or experience the situations that generate anxiety, being able to get emotionally involved to achieve the necessary changes with the help of the therapist.

What are the benefits of using this technique for anxiety?

During the clinical hypnosis although the exposed situation is not real and everything is under control it contributes the necessary realism for the person obtaining that it can generalize, later, the obtained changes. It works so that the person can control and modify their behavioral symptoms (physical or objective) that occur when suffering anxiety (tremors, hyperventilation, chest pressure, etc.) and cognitive (negative and irrational thoughts, erroneous beliefs, etc.).

The changes achieved with clinical hypnosis can also be achieved in a conventional psychological therapy, however with clinical hypnosis we get an important experiential part (the person has the experience and learning at the time), achieving results in less time.

Once the sessions with clinical hypnosis are finished, the person will have reinterpreted the situations that generated anxiety, both real situations and irrational thoughts, generating alternative adaptive thoughts that will not provoke physiological or cognitive sensations related to anxiety.

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As an example, if a person has a phobia of elevators, the fact of seeing one or thinking about going up will generate a lot of anxiety. Initially, irrational and maladaptive thoughts will be produced (do not go up, it is dangerous, you will get trapped, etc.). The thoughts derive in coherent emotions, so you will begin to have sensations compatible with anxiety (nervousness, trembling, agitated breathing, pressure in the chest, etc.). Finally, all of the above will determine the conduct and behaviors that person will have: taking the stairs and avoiding elevators (giving validity to his initial irrational thoughts and making them more “valid in his subconscious”).

With clinical hypnosis we break this circle that feeds back on itself, changing the initial thoughts by other alternative thoughts (I can go up in the elevator, the percentage of being trapped is low and if something happens there is a button, etc.). We work on reducing the anxiety symptomatology experienced by the person (reliving in the session the situation of being inside an elevator) and finally we work on changing the behavioral patterns that the person had (avoiding elevators) to improve their well-being. The example of the elevator is a situational and specific anxiety, but in the same way clinical hypnosis is also used for more generalized anxieties and worries, working initially on the irrational and maladaptive thoughts of the person.

Are there any risks for the patient?

Clinical hypnosis has no risks for the patient, however it is important that it is performed by a qualified professional, since it works with therapeutic objectives and in the field of mental health.

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Clinical hypnosis is not about a trance or alteration of consciousness as has been sold in hypnosis (thus feeding the hypnosis of the show). The patient’s consciousness is intact, but his attentional resources or attentional focus are placed on the procedure and experience he is having.

In addition, it is a technique in which you will not lose control of the situation, since you are not an automaton with whom they can do whatever they want. And finally, you will never be able to fall “asleep” or “stuck”, you will be able to wake up whenever you want even if the hypnotherapist does not suggest it.