hypnosis treatment for irritable bowel syndrome
Clinical hypnosis: Something for you?
You sit comfortably reclined in an easy chair in a softly lit office. As you listen to your therapist with your eyes closed, you find your body relaxing more and more. Guided by the calm and confident voice, you allow your mind to let go and turn inward. You drowsily notice a mildly curious floating sensation in your body, as if you are not really sitting in the chair anymore, but rather floating - in the air, or in water. The voice talking to you gradually becomes more distant, and you even find yourself forgetting that it is there... but somehow the soothing voice continues to affect you, gently and almost automatically. As you relax even further, your awareness of where you are, why you are there, and who is speaking to you, recedes into the back of your mind. You just content yourself with effortlessly allowing the voice to act on you, and with enjoying this state of profound relaxation and deep calm... You are having a typical hypnotic experience.
THE ENIGMA OF HYPNOSIS
WHAT REALLY HAPPENS UNDER HYPNOSIS
Another characteristic of the hypnotic state is a subjective sense of "involuntariness". People often state that under hypnosis they feel like passive observers to whatever takes place. For example, if you are asked under hypnosis to raise your hand, you may feel your hand rising like a robot arm, without any conscious doing or even decision on your part. This automaticity is by some considered the hallmark of true hypnotic experience. This is not really helpless involuntariness, however. Experience shows that if you really need to or want to, you can resist any direct suggestion on part of the hypnotist. You can even wake yourself from of the hypnotic state if you really want to.
People typically experience both mental tranquility and physical relaxation under hypnosis (relaxation is not a necessary condition for hypnosis, however; one can be both mentally and physically tense, and still be in a state of deep hypnosis). Various changes in perception are also common under hypnosis. Some people feel great heaviness coming over their bodies, others feel very light, numb or even disembodied. Subjective floating, sinking, spinning, and tingling sensations are often reported.
Other changes that accompany the hypnotic state, are the ones which make hypnosis a remarkable tool for mental and physical healing and make the various specialized hypnotic techniques possible. For example, hypnotic analgesia, the blocking of pain with the aid of hypnosis, depends on the mind´s ability to alter body perception in response to suggestion under hypnosis. Age regression, where the person´s mind recreates past experiences in vivid detail as if the events are being relived, relies on the greatly facilitated access to remote memory. Automatic writing, where the subject´s arm is temporarily disengaged from consciousness and allowed to write out responses reflecting unconscious material, depends on the mind's passive automaticity; and projective techniques, such as watching something revealing about your problem on an imagined TV screen, make use of the enhanced creativity and imaginative ability possible under hypnosis. Finally, posthypnotic suggestions, which are instructions given to people under hypnosis that affect them after they wake up, rely on the increased automatic receptivity to suggestions in the hypnotic state.
HYPNOSIS AS A HELPING TOOL
WHAT HYPNOSIS CAN DO FOR YOU
WHAT TO EXPECT
How does it feel to be hypnotized? There is really no such thing as a specific hypnotized feeling. As described earlier, a number of different experiences are commonly associated with the hypnotic state. The most unique characteristic, the one that people tend to remember best and find most surprising, is perhaps the subjective sense of "involuntariness" - of things happening without you (seemingly) acting to make them happen.
Will I reveal deep secrets about myself? In some psychotherapeutic applications of hypnosis, it is important to uncover mental material that is related to the problem being treated, - material which you have been ignoring or keeping secret from others and even from yourself. However, no such uncovering is needed in many applications of clinical hypnosis (especially in medical and dental hypnosis - in the treatment of IBS with hypnosis no such uncovering is necessary). If you are very uneasy about the possibility of introspective exploration of this kind, you should discuss it with your hypnotist in the beginning of your work together. Uncovering techniques may not be needed at all to deal with your problem. Hypnosis can be used in many different ways.
Will I do something embarrassing or silly? A clinical hypnotist will not make you cluck like a chicken or do other things for amusement at your expense. You do, however, sometimes act differently under hypnosis than you do in the normal waking state. You may become more emotional or feel more childlike. If the process involves uncovering of past experiences, these might also feel embarrassing or uncomfortable. Your therapist is used to such things, however, so there is no need to feel embarrassed. And generally, the benefits of the hypnotic intervention will by far outweigh the slight discomfort on your part from any deviation from prim and proper behavior which might occur.
What if I do not want to lose control of myself? Hypnosis does involve a certain amount of letting go of yourself and opening up to a new experience. However, you are not really losing control of yourself when you respond to what the hypnotist suggests. You are making the decision to go along with his or her guidance at every step. You can benefit from hypnosis as long as you are willing to go along with the instructions of hypnotist. It may be helpful to think of the hypnotist as your personal coach - a person helping you to master new ways to use your own mind.
What if I do not wake up again? Not to worry. Only in movies and bad novels do people get stuck in the hypnotic state. In the real world, it happens only very rarely that people cannot be immediately brought back into the ordinary waking state at the end of a hypnosis session. When that happens, it may simply take them a little longer to come to, or they slip into ordinary sleep and have a nap, and then wake up. In either case, there is no reason for concern.
Can I be made to do things I do not want to do? Contrary to a popular belief, people under hypnosis are not captive and spellbound. They can resist direct instructions that are at odds with their wishes or moral standards. For this reason, it is not as easy as one might think to make people do things against their will with hypnosis. Unfortunately, however, it has been adequately demonstrated, both in experiments and in established rare cases of misconduct, that hypnosis can be deliberately misused by a skilled hypnotist through the use of sophisticated deception. This is the most important reason for seeking a reputable professional whom you feel comfortable as your hypnotist. If you begin to feel uncomfortable with the person you have selected, talk about it. And if you feel you cannot do so, remember that you are the customer and you are always free to leave without making any apologies.
What if I cannot be hypnotized? The odds are against it. While the degree to which people are receptive to hypnosis varies from individual to individual, the great majority of people, perhaps three out of every four individuals, can be hypnotized to a sufficient degree to enjoy some of the benefits that hypnosis can offer.
Aren't gullible or simple-minded people most easily hypnotizable? Not at all. In fact, researchers have found that more intelligent people are slightly more hypnotizable. It seems that openness to new experiences, rather than gullability, is related to hypnotic ability.
Are women more hypnotizable than men? Research has conclusively shown that, on the average, there is no difference between men and women in their susceptibility to hypnosis.
Can hypnosis be dangerous to my mental health? The state of hypnosis is generally very safe and free from complications - probably no more disturbing to your mind than ordinary sleep. However, in rare cases, people who suffer from mental problems to such degree that they are struggling with their grip on reality may get worse due to the disorientation which is a part of hypnotic experience. Also, hypnosis involves enhanced contact with unconscious material. Individuals hiding something very uncomfortable or traumatic from themselves may therefore occasionally feel agitated after hypnosis as a result of coming too close to their secrets under hypnosis. This is an important reason for choosing only a well trained and competent clinical hypnotist who would be able to help you deal with such effects. For most people, however, the experience of hypnosis is pleasantly relaxing and refreshing. The only aftereffects you are likely to experience are possible drowsiness and disorientation for the first few minutes afterwards, and possibly stiff neck or (rarely) a minor headache. All these side effects are transient and harmless.
HOW TO FIND A QUALIFIED HYPNOTIST
Hypnosis is not restricted or regulated by law in many states in the U.S. This is a cause for great concern to many health professionals who use hypnosis. It means that any kind of person, regardless of education, training or experience can, and does, offer you hypnosis services. Hypnosis is sometimes misused, either deliberately or, more often, due to incompetence. It is essential that you take care to find a properly qualified and educated professional to conduct medical or psychological hypnosis. A self-proclaimed "hypnotherapist", often found through the yellow pages, may not have any formal education in mental health or psychotherapy. A "professional hypnotist", by the same token, means nothing more than a person who hypnotizes people for money. Furthermore, most hypnosis certificates and vanity titles such as C. Ht. ("certified hypnotherapist") have little or no bearing on the quality of a hypnotist or give indications of his or her qualifications to treat health problems.. There are two good guidelines for finding a qualified clinical hypnotist:
1. The only people qualified to treat your mental or physical problems with hypnosis, are those who are also qualified to treat the same problems without hypnosis. Therefore you need to look for proper and accepted clinical degrees, specialties in the particular area relevant to your problem. More importantly, find out whether the person is a state-licensed health professional. This is important because each state regulated who is qualified through education and training to practice each area of clinical work. The only exception to this is if you are referred directly by a clinician to a hypnotherapist for a specific purpose.
2. Look for a person who is a member of one of the two reputable national organizations of professionals in clinical hypnosis. These are the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis and the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis (ASCH). Both organizations restrict their membership to qualified and properly licensed professionals, provide training of high quality, and require their members to adhere to ethics codes that dictate proper uses of clinical hypnosis. The ASCH website provides a webpage for finding local therapists who are members of their organization: CLICK HERE FOR ASCH THERAPIST SEARCH
© Copyright 2000-2016, Olafur S. Palsson, Psy.D. All Rights Reserved.
Return to IBShypnosis.com Index Page