What is Hypnosis? Hypnosis brings about deep relaxation and an altered state of consciousness known as a trance. Many people routinely experience a trance-like state while they are watching television or are driving on the highway and miss their exit. In fact, Dr. Milton Erickson, a famous hypnotherapist, suggests that most people spend a significant portion of their daily time in some sort of trance-like state.
Do you Lose Control When Under Hypnosis? Under hypnosis you do not lose control of your mind or free will. On the contrary, during hypnosis, a person's body relaxes while his or her thoughts become more focused and attentive. You are always conscious while under hypnosis and you can open your eyes whenever you feel uncomfortable. You are in total control. Hypnosis can actually teach people how to master their own states of awareness and by doing so learn how to affect their own bodily functions and psychological responses.
How Does Hypnosis Affect You Physiologically? Most scientists today believe that hypnosis subdues the conscious mind so that it takes a less active role in your thought process. By calming your conscious mind, the psychologist can have greater access to your subconscious thoughts and be attuned to your deeper thoughts and emotions that affect who you are and how you think and feel. It can bring up past memories and experiences that you have either repressed because they were too painful or anxiety provoking.
There is ample evidence in the literature that hypnosis does in fact make significant physiological changes to one’s body and state of mind. Like many forms of deep relaxation, research has shown that hypnosis lowers heart rate and slow down respiration. Utilizing electroencephalographs (EEG), researchers have demonstrated when in a trance there is a boost in the lower waves associated with sleep and dreaming and a decrease in the higher frequency waves associated with full wakefulness. In addition, neurologists studying the cerebral cortex have demonstrated that hypnotized patients show a decrease in left hemisphere activities and an increase in right hemisphere activities. The left hemisphere controls logical and deductive reasoning and the right hemisphere controls the creative and imagination functions of the cerebral cortex.
Can I Be Hypnotized? The literature suggests that 75 to 80 percent of the general population can be hypnotized. In his practice, Dr. Klein have found most people are able to hypnotized, if they are opened to the process and do in fact want to be helped by the intervention. Motivation is an important factor in determining whether hypnosis will work.
Unlike a fixed gaze induction -- the method you often see on TV, Dr. Klein utilizes a progressive relaxation and imagery induction program that gradually relaxes the patient, keeps their conscious controlling mind busy, so he or she can relax into the trance in a non-defensive manner. The progressive relaxation and imagery method works well with individuals who are anxious, and have a hard time shutting off their minds or fear losing control. It works like the magician who has the audience focus on what they are doing with their right hand to distract them from the actual trick being done with their left hand. It is my experience that even people who find it impossible to meditate are able to relax with hypnosis because their active mind are being occupied by the continuous verbal cuing of the hypnotist.
In order to achieve a decrease in symptoms or a reduction in bad habits, Dr. Klein utilizes a combination of hypnosis and behavior modification. Like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), the patient learns techniques to reprogram negative thoughts and behaviors while in a trance. For example, the cigarette will taste bitter or take 3 sips of cold water and you will not feel anxious when you cross the bridge.
Deep relaxation, guided imagery, suggestion and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), is a powerful combination that can result in significant symptom reduction and behavioral change.
What Symptoms and Behaviors Can Hypnosis Treat? If you are trying to quit smoking, for example, a therapist's suggestion may successfully convince you that in the future you will have a strong dislike for the taste of cigarettes. Or, if you are a compulsive eater, hypnosis can condition you to eat smaller healthy meals and reduce snacking. People who have panic attacks, through hypnosis can learn cognitive techniques to alleviate anxiety associated with driving over a bridge or irrational fears of getting stuck in an elevator or on a plane. Hypnosis can assist in the treatment of conditions such as addictions, insomnia, irrational fears, pain management, past trauma, psycho-somatic complaints, smoking, and stress and weight loss. Hypnosis is very help for treating panic attacks and other forms of anxiety.
Psychiatrists, family practitioners and other psychologists refer individuals to Dr. Klein when other types of treatments have failed.
Hypnosis typically works best when combined with insight oriented psychotherapy. To achieve permanent psychological change, one must first discover the root cause of their maladaptive symptoms. To use an analogy, while turning off the fire alarm does make it less noisy, it neither puts out the fire or prevents its reocurrence.
How Long Does Hypnosis Take to Work? Dr. Klein can often tell if a person will benefit from hypnosis in a couple of sessions. If the suggestions work, you should have results right away. However, hypnosis is an accumulative process and often takes numerous sessions to have a long term affect. Hypnosis alone cannot stop an addiction, eliminate an irrational fear, or modify how one thinks or behaves. Change takes insight and cognitive and behavior modification. In many cases hypnosis works best in conjunction with insight psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and/or medication management.
When it comes to anxiety, learning how to relax one’s body is essential. Dr. Klein often tells his patients how important it is to do both aerobic exercises as well as yoga or stretching to loosen bodily tension. As part of hypnotic exercise, Dr. Klein will relax each part of the patient’s body and can see first-hand where they hold tension in their bodies. An important component of hypnosis is self-hypnosis; learning exercises to do at home on a daily basis in order to achieve behavior modification, symptom relief and significant reduction in daily stress.
Dr. Martin Klein in a clinical psychologist who specializes in hypnosis and psychotherapy. He practices in Westport and Branford CT.
(203) 915-0601 [email protected] Dr. Martin Klein, Ph.D., Psychologist Westport, CT and Branford, CT