Clinical hypnosis: myth or medicine?

Many people experience a sense of ‘floating down’ into their inner selves when undergoing hypnotherapy.

With so many movies perpetuating misconceptions about hypnosis, it is time to put the record straight.

CLINICAL hypnosis is a state of relaxed inner concentration that can offer some very powerful benefits to health and well-being.

Recently, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, made headlines when she visited a clinical hypnotherapist to help with her morning sickness, sending a strong message that clinical hypnotherapy is safe for mother and child.

So, perhaps it is time to check out this form of healthcare, which is also available in Malaysia.

What does a clinical

hypnotherapist do?

Scientific research shows that clinical hypnosis can help with a wide variety of conditions, from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and dental phobia to pain management, and even recovery from surgery.

A recent study from Harvard University, US, shows that self-hypnosis stimulates the relaxation response, and this can even switch off genetic markers that trigger harmful illnesses.

Clinical hypnotherapy is safe and can help improve sleep, reduce chronic pain, alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety, and even build up confidence and motivation.

And far from being scary, clinical hypnosis is a state that most people enter naturally several times a day. In fact, if you have ever found your mind drifting away whilst you are driving, or experienced an enjoyable daydream, then you have experienced a natural form of hypnosis.

This experience is called dissociation, and the human mind does it all the time!

A clinical hypnotherapist can structure your natural experience into a powerful form of therapy that can help with medical conditions, psychological problems, and even help you prepare and recover from surgery.

How does it work?

A clinical hypnotherapy session goes on for about one to one-and-a-half hours. You start by talking about your problem; then the hypnotherapist invites you to close your eyes and allow your body and mind to relax.

This is a powerful form of relaxation that also allows your mind to dissociate from troubled thoughts and focus on finding solutions.

Learning is very quick when you use clinical hypnosis, and one of the advantages of clinical hypnosis is that it allows you to safely access your inner mind to release your true potential.

Many people experience a sense of “floating down” into their inner selves. This is the beginning of a dissociative state. In this state, we are reconnected to the optimism and sense of wonder that we all experienced as children but often forget as we get older.

The mind becomes more supple, and with the help of an experienced clinical hypnotherapist, we are able to identify problem mindsets, build motivation, revisit faulty thinking and create new solutions.

Clinical hypnosis also provides an efficient method of “metabolising” unnecessary stress, and research also indicates that it could even strengthen immune system function. This means you almost always wake up with a sense of profound relaxation and wellness.

Time passes very interestingly when you experience hypnosis. For some people, it can slow down and you see everything very clearly. For others, time can pass very quickly, almost in a dream-like state.

But the most important thing to remember is that you remain in control throughout the whole experience. You could in fact get up at any time and walk out of the therapy. And this is when you realise that all the scary stories about hypnosis are just urban myths.

Myriad benefits

There has been increasing interest in clinical hypnosis over the last 20 years. In the UK, clinical hypnotherapy is a recommended treatment for IBS. And in the US, many studies show that patients benefit significantly during and after their operations if they were first prepared using clinical hypnosis.

Closer to home, University Malaya and the London College of Clinical Hypnosis have just completed research on the role of hypnosis in pain management.

One of the advantages of using clinical hypnosis is that the effects can be immediate. Of course, some things take time, but smoking cessation therapy can be carried out in one session, and many anxieties and phobias respond well after a few sessions.

Anyone who can daydream can experience hypnosis. But it is important to remember that clinical hypnosis is not a panacea for all conditions and illnesses.

Sheila Menon is Principal & Director of the London College of Clinical Hypnosis (Asia). This article is contributed by The Star Health & Ageing Panel, which comprises a group of panellists who are not just opinion leaders in their respective fields of medical expertise, but have wide experience in medical health education for the public. The members of the panel include: Datuk Prof Dr Tan Hui Meng, consultant urologist; Dr Yap Piang Kian, consultant endocrinologist; Datuk Dr Azhari Rosman, consultant cardiologist; A/Prof Dr Philip Poi, consultant geriatrician; Dr Hew Fen Lee, consultant endocrinologist; Prof Dr Low Wah Yun, psychologist; Datuk Dr Nor Ashikin Mokhtar, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist; Dr Lee Moon Keen, consultant neurologist; Dr Ting Hoon Chin, consultant dermatologist; Prof Khoo Ee Ming, primary care physician; Dr Ng Soo Chin, consultant haematologist. For more information, e-mail The Star Health & Ageing Advisory Panel provides this information for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader’s own medical care. The Star Health & Ageing Advisory Panel disclaims any and all liability for injury or other damages that could result from use of the information obtained from this article.

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