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What Does Hypnotherapy Do?

Wondering how hypnosis therapy actually works? With media portrayals of hypnosis exaggerating and taking creative liberties in exploring this practice, understanding how hypnosis works as a therapeutic modality can help people discover this treatment as a valuable mental health tool. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the scientific framework of hypnosis and explain practical uses for hypnotherapy to help demystify.

Therapist during hypnotherapy session with patient

The Science Behind Hypnosis

Before addressing what hypnotherapy can do, we first have to understand the scientific explanation behind hypnosis itself. So, how does hypnosis actually work?

There are three stages to any professional hypnosis treatment: hypnotic induction, hypnotic state, and hypnotic suggestion. Essentially, this process is designed to put someone in the trans-state, in which their conscious mind is resting while their subconscious mind stays awake.

Hypnotic induction consists of the first suggestion by the therapist, oftentimes resulting in an involuntary response from the patient. During the hypnotic state, the patient begins to feel mentally and physically relaxed despite entering a heightened state of awareness. During hypnotic suggestion, the real work of what hypnotherapy does begins. At this time, the therapist will make suggestions that directly address the negative thoughts and behaviors the patient would like replaced with more positive ones. For example, a therapist may make suggestions that eliminate cravings to smoke cigarettes.

Hypnosis has been applied in various forms throughout history, but the term was popularized by Dr. James Braid in 1843. At the time of his writing and discoveries regarding hypnosis, he faced lots of controversy. Some of that controversy still remains today, but according to a Stanford University psychiatrist, Dr. David Spiegel, scientists have been successful in testing hypnotic techniques and answering the question, “what does hypnotherapy do?”

For example, neuroimaging technology has been able to showcase brain activity during different phases of hypnosis, involving the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), the prefrontal cortex, and frontoparietal networks. The ACC is associated with conscious awareness and complex cognitive functions, such as decision-making and impulse control. This tells us how hypnosis actually does work. During hypnosis, activity in the ACC is actually reduced, which allows the patient to tune out stressors. The prefrontal cortex is associated with more complex behaviors, including attention and predicting consequences, while the frontoparietal networks address control and behavior coordination.

Professional hypnosis therapy has proven scientific benefits that show what hypnotherapy does is offer solutions to pain management, sleeping disorders, and anxiety. In a 2000 study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, data was collected from 18 individual studies, all exploring the positive effect hypnotic techniques had on the human mind and body, particularly for managing pain. Studies have also shown that because hypnosis can influence a relaxed state of mind, patients undergoing hypnosis experience lessened anxiety and fear. This also allows for improved deep sleep, with longer periods of slow wave sleep after listening to hypnotherapy recordings.

Applications of Hypnotherapy

What does hypnotherapy do? You can apply hypnotherapy as a solution to a number of both physical and mental challenges. Hypnosis can work to improve your daily life by improving your sleep quality, reducing your fear and anxiety, and setting you up for healthier habits.

Change Your Eating Habits

With professional hypnotherapy, you can change your eating behaviors. How hypnosis actually works to change your eating habits is by being in a hypnotic state that allows the therapist to make healthy suggestions to an open subconscious mind. You’ll build a positive association with eating that reshapes your thought processes and beliefs regarding eating behaviors. What hypnotherapy does is replace unwanted automatic behaviors with positive actions. Schedule a consultation today to get started with hypnotherapy for weight loss or eating disorders.

Tackle Intense Phobias

Phobias stem from deeply-seated anxieties, and hypnotherapy for phobias can help uncover what those triggers may be all about. This works similarly to hypnotherapy for anxiety, in which your body can take suggestions that tackle phobias during a highly relaxed state of mind.

Improve Mental and Physical Performance

Hypnosis can improve mental performance by tapping into intense mental focus and key visualization techniques. The deep focus brought on by what hypnotherapy does can boost creativity, learning, and memory retention and recall. Additionally, many athletes choose hypnotherapy for athletic performance to increase their focus and alertness.

Find Relaxation and Balance

With constant access to news and technology and busier days, it’s become increasingly difficult to relax. It’s perfectly normal to need some help teaching your body how to properly find ease and breathe. While learning how hypnosis actually works, we see that a relaxed state of mind is at the heart of every technique. Hypnotherapy for relaxation will not only bring more balance into your life, but will set you up for long-term success.

Transform Today

The body and the mind are interconnected, and sometimes the solutions to general health conditions lie in eliminating negative subconscious thoughts. Consider hypnosis as a tool to combat eating disorders, anxiety and depression, bad habits, phobias, and more. At Miami Hypnosis and Therapy, we offer hypnosis in conjunction with CBT and NLP therapies for a tailored approach to your unique concerns. Our staff is highly qualified and fully accredited, with our primary practitioner, Anna Marchenko, LMHC, M.A., ED.M., holding degrees from NYU and Columbia University.

Now, it’s time to stop asking “what does hypnotherapy do” and to start asking “what can hypnotherapy do for me?” Begin your healing journey today and schedule a phone consultation!

Anna Marchenko

Anna Marchenko, LMHC, M.A., Ed.M. is the principal therapist at Miami Hypnosis and Therapy. She holds a bachelor's degree from NYU and dual masters degrees from Columbia University. Marchenko’s hypnosis certification is from the only hypnosis program in Florida that has been certified by the state’s Board of Education. She helps her clients by utilizing an integrative approach to psychotherapy, tailored to each individual’s mental health journey, drawing from hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, NLP therapy, EMDR, and more.

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