Here’s a question that a lot of people who are thinking about giving hypnosis or hypnotherapy a try probably want an answer to:
How can I know it will work?
That’s a very fair question; and if you’ve never experienced hypnosis before, there’s only one fair answer:
So let’s change tenses, move that question from the unknowable future to right now, and ask:
How can I know it does work?
Still a very fair question, and now the very fair answer is that we have years of solid, science-based research to show that hypnosis and hypnotherapy work very well indeed.
Take pain. Chronic pain, acute pain, surgical pain. In the last several decades, multiple studies have looked at the effectiveness of hypnosis for pain control. What these studies have repeatedly found is that in at least seventy-five percent of the cases where hypnosis was used—sometimes along with pain medication, but more often by itself—people experienced significant, and sometimes complete, relief.
For example, people who had surgery for a ruptured ACL, and whose treatment included hypnosis, not only suffered less pain, but they recovered more quickly and got more knee strength back than people who did not have hypnosis (Cupai & Brewer, Rehabilitation Psuchology, 46(1) 28-43).
Let’s move from the physical to the emotional. Research studies and applied work by mental health professionals have also shown that hypnotherapy is one of the most effective tools you can have for dealing with anxiety and depression. Here’s an interesting aspect to those studies. Two brain chemicals—serotonin and beta-endorphins—have been shown to be connected to your mood and emotional state. When serotonin and beta-endorphin levels are high, you feel good. When they’re low, you feel bad. At least a couple of studies have found that when hypnosis and hypnotherapy are part of a patient’s treatment, the levels of those two brain chemicals go up. And, no surprise, the people with depression feel less depressed, and those with anxiety feel much calmer.
Hypnosis and hypnotherapy are shown to work in all kinds of other situations, too. Take bruxism, which is the fancy term for grinding your teeth down, leading eventually to loss of tooth enamel and eventually permanent jaw damage that can require surgery just so you can eat normally.
The conventional approach is to have the patient wear a guard, kind of like the ones athletes use for protection. And the conventional result is that the guards get dirty, and they never fit, and they are uncomfortable, and people don’t use them, or lose them, and the teeth keep right on grinding. But if the dentist is also a hypnotist, or refers the patient to a competent clinical hypnotist or hypnotherapist, the patient will learn self-hypnotic skills to solve the problem peermanently.
There is also increasing evidence that hypnosis and hypnotherapy cam be useful when it comes to breaking bad habits and establishing good ones, even in hard-core problem areas like drinking, smoking and gambling.
The list goes on. More and more research is showing that hypnosis and hypnotherapy are effective in a wide array of problems. Research dermatologists are finding that hypnosis is a good way to help people with disorders like eczema, psoriasis and urticaria. Hypnosis has been shown for years to be a practical way to get rid of warts. Arthritis can be helped with hypnosis, and so can irritable bowel syndrome.
And it’s not just for pain and sickness. Want to be a better public speaker? Hypnosis can help you get past stage fright, organize your thoughts, and memorize your talk. Want to get better at skeet? There are hypnotic skills you can learn that will make you a killer shot. Got a make-or- break test to study for? There are ways of studying while you are in a light trance that will help you ace that exam.
The long and short of it is that hypnosis works. It is an effective tool for many parts of your life.
Best of all, it has no side effects except for feeling good.