Healing Benefits Of Hypnotherapy

For Chronic Pain, Stress Reduction And Behavioral Change

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Hypnotherapy is the application of the relaxed, yet highly focused state known as hypnosis for the purpose of achieving goals and creating lifelong transformation. Hypnosis is a natural state of mind with numerous beneficial characteristics.

In this natural state, our subconscious mind is open and receptive to powerful, positive healing ideas and imagery. In this state, we can learn to manage chronic pain, reduce stress, and change unwanted behaviors. But how and why does our subconscious work? Why can’t we just use our willpower to relax or reduce pain, eat healthier, or stop smoking? To answer these questions and more, consider the story of Chicken Little!

Chicken Little And The Flight Or Fight State

One fine morning, Chicken Little can be seen happily eating tasty corn in the barnyard, when an acorn suddenly falls on her head. Believing the sky is falling, she starts frantically running around, shouting, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” Chicken Little’s belief that the sky was falling was so strong that she convinced her emotions, which affected her behaviors and even her physiology. Her little chicken heart started to beat rapidly, her blood pressure went up, her cortisol levels increased, her immune system responses became suppressed, and her perception of pain increased. Chicken Little effectively, “stressed herself out.” What this story demonstrates is that our perceptions influence our autonomic nervous system. In the stress state, also known as the fight or flight state, the sympathetic nervous system is activated. Higher cognitive thinking decreases, and rational thought ceases. Our stress response is natural and designed to protect us from acute threats, but it becomes harmful when we live in that state 24/7. Sadly, many people are living today as if the sky is continuously falling. They are in a state of chronic, underlying stress, which puts them at increased risk of anxiety, depression, weight gain, sleep problems, and more.1

The Subconscious Mind Is Literal, So It Can’t Tell The Difference Between Fact And Fiction.

Living in a constant state of stress, predicting doom and gloom at every turn, means we are effectively saturating our subconscious mind with negative limiting beliefs or false truths. As Chicken Little shows us, this false truth can become our reality. Unlike our conscious mind, which is logical and analytical, the subconscious mind thinks in pictures and is literal. It can’t discern between fact and fiction and so believes what we tell and show it. This is especially true when experiencing a heightened state of emotion, such as fear. The subconscious mind is also the storehouse for all of our memories and beliefs, whether positive or negative. Although we like to think of ourselves as rational beings who make logical decisions, that’s not usually the case. It is our beliefs behind our emotions that drive our behaviors. That is why our conscious mind or willpower never wins over the subconscious.

Hypnotherapy Helps To Clear False Truths And Negative Imagery So You Can Achieve Your Goals.

Hypnotherapy is so effective for people because it works at the subconscious level. During a hypnotherapy session, we quiet the conscious mind so that we can speak directly to the subconscious mind. In the relaxed, yet highly focused state of hypnosis, we can effectively clear false truths and saturate the subconscious mind with healing imagery and positive healing ideas, also known as affirmations or suggestions. Hypnosis is a powerful state. On a physiological level during hypnosis, we shift from the fight or flight state (the sympathetic nervous system) to the resting or safe state, where the parasympathetic nervous system is activated. When the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, the perception of pain decreases (that’s how people learn to control and potentially even eliminate pain naturally). The immune and digestive systems get a boost, and higher mind problem-solving functions are supported.

What False Truths Have Resulted From Past Emotional And Physical Trauma?

People learn to rewire the brain to support their goals and to achieve transformation. Until we clear the negative beliefs and imagery that frequently result from past emotional and physical traumas, problems can remain or take a very long time to resolve. Pain worsens, self-worth suffers, unhealthy habits continue, and so on. Integral hypnotherapy does not involve reliving or talking through the details of past emotional or physical trauma. Integral hypnotherapists only need to understand what false truths resulted from a past trauma that may block a person’s ability to achieve their goals. They then work with the individual, using evidence-based protocols to reverse those limiting beliefs and saturate their subconscious mind with positive healing ideas and imagery that support their desired transformation.

You May Not Know It, But You Are Already Experienced At Self-Hypnosis!

Many people wonder if hypnotherapy will work for them or if they can be hypnotized. Although hypnotherapy is not appropriate for everyone, the vast majority of the population can learn to use their mind to achieve a state of hypnosis. Most people are surprised to learn that hypnosis is a natural state of mind that we all experience twice daily, upon waking and just before falling asleep. During these times, your brainwaves are predominantly in the alpha state – actually in the lower end of alpha and the top of theta. Experiencing the therapeutic benefits of self-hypnosis is grounded in science and human physiology, not magical or wishful thinking. To get the most benefit from a hypnotherapy session, you must be highly motivated to achieve your goals, have an open and receptive mind, and be willing to do the self-care work between sessions. A good imagination helps, too, as visualization techniques are heavily used.

All Hypnosis Is Self-Hypnosis.

No one can control your mind during hypnosis or make you do silly things or act in ways that are against your moral code. That’s a Hollywood myth that makes for a scary movie or entertaining stage act, but it is patently untrue. All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. You are responsible for your own mind and how you use it. People can learn to control their pain in hypnosis. That’s more control, not less. Learning self-hypnosis is a re-education process and a skill. A good hypnotherapist teaches you to fish; they don’t just give you the fish. In only a few sessions, people can learn the lifelong skills they need to achieve their goals. Changing the beliefs that are behind the emotions and behaviors is the key to creating lasting transformation!

Is Hypnotherapy Right For Me?

For help with pain and other ailments, your medical provider’s or mental health provider’s approval is required to add hypnotherapy to your treatment plan. While hypnotherapy may have many beneficial effects, it is not a substitute for medical treatment or psychotherapy.

Audrey Holocher is a Certified Medical Support Clinical Hypnotherapist specializing in evidence-based protocols for natural, safe pain control, stress reduction, and behavioral change. she has an M.S. degree in Environmental Science and Engineering, a B.S. degree in Food Science and Technology, and is a Certified Narrative Consultant and Master Practitioner in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). more information at wasatchhypnotherapy.com.

By Cassidy Duhadway, LCSW

One of the most important things for humans is connection. Belonging to a group and being connected to them helps us live longer, be healthier, and have more happiness. Being told to separate ourselves from others can cause harm to our physical and mental wellbeing, as individuals and as a society. It goes against our instincts and desires. It can breed loneliness and fear of other people.

Some of the physical and psychological effects of social distancing may include:

Dealing with these effects, recovering from this pandemic, and healing from it is going to take work, both collectively and individually. We will recover, we will move through this. It will be essential we do so in a way that allows for mental wellness and healing.

RESILIENCE IS THE CAPACITY TO RECOVER FROM DIFFICULT THINGS.

Building your resilience will enable you to recover quicker. However, it is not as easy as just saying, “I got this” and “I’m going to get over it,” it requires action.  To allow our whole self to heal, we need to do the mental, physical, and spiritual work. As we improve, we can bring our families and communities with us.

“WAIT… IF THAT’S ALL I HAVE TO DO, THEN HOW DO I DO THAT?”

The short answer? Through hard work. Unfortunately, it’s not something we can achieve overnight. It’s something we have to practice over and over again as we build our skills and resilience.

AWARENESS AND SELF-COMPASSION

Becoming aware of our body, reactions, thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and how we are actually doing is mandatory for having more choice and control in our lives. But, awareness in and of itself is hard to learn how to do. Do we know how our bodies and minds react to each other? Do we have an inner critic that is always in charge and shaming us? Having an awareness of these things allows us to start to have control over what is going on internally.

The KEY here is self-compassion — learning to be aware of what is going on in the moment — understanding what is going on and being kind to ourselves in our suffering. Self-compassion means allowing ourselves to be human, struggle, suffer, and to grieve without judgment or expectation. Self-compassion and awareness are the foundations for building resilience and healing.

SELF-CARE

This is more than pedicures, massages and working out (although those are great). It’s the simple things we do every day to take care of ourselves, to improve our mental and physical well being. It’s important to look at everything we are doing for self-care; if we are hyper-focused on one or two specific things, we are not taking care of our whole selves.

How we practice self-care looks different for everybody. Some ideas might include:

Self-care can be a struggle. For some, there is an underlying belief that we need to serve others before we take care of ourselves; that behavior is harmful. When we ignore our self-care or put it last, we have less ability to support and help those around us. If we continue to give, when we aren’t taking care of ourselves, we experience increased rates of physical and mental illness.

MINDFULNESS

Currently, our community is experiencing a considerable amount of anxiety, panic, and fear. Learning mindfulness will help counteract those feelings and help us to shift our focus away from unhealthy worry over what is happening and what might happen.

Mindfulness is the practice of being present, of dealing only with what is going on right now. It is learning to allow whatever it is, regardless, without judgment. It’s connected to self-compassion, decreased anxiety and stress, and an improved state of mind.

CONNECT WITH OTHERS

Engaging and connecting with others will always be important to humans, but it is especially crucial to surviving and healing. The way we connect might not always be ideal and may be difficult, especially with the added fear of getting sick. Finding ways to connect virtually or learning how to reconnect is a vital part of the healing process.

The last several months have been trying and stressful for many of us. If you are struggling, that’s ok. Know that what you are experiencing is a NORMAL reaction to an ABNORMAL event. You will get through this.

Please know this is NOT something most of us can do on our own. Getting support and help from friends, family or a professional during these times will help us build resilience, survive, and heal as individuals and communities.

Cassidy Duhadway, LCSW, is the founder of Purple Sky Counseling in Heber. She specializes in women’s issues, trauma, anxiety, depression, PTSD, C-PTSD, low self-esteem, children and teens, life transitions, negative self-talk, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EDMR), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness, faith transitions, and LGBTQIA.