Hypnosis is thought to work by altering our state of consciousness in such a way that the analytical left-hand side of the brain is turned off, while the non-analytical right-hand side is made more alert. The conscious control of the mind is inhibited, and the subconscious mind awoken. Since the subconscious mind is a deeper-seated, more instinctive force than the conscious mind, this is the part which has to change for the patient’s behaviour and physical state to alter.
For example, a patient who consciously wants to overcome their fear of spiders may try everything they consciously can to do it, but will still fail as long as their subconscious mind retains this terror and prevents the patient from succeeding. Progress can only be made be reprogramming the subconscious so that deep-seated instincts and beliefs are abolished or altered.
What form might the treatment take?
Firstly, any misconceptions a potential patient may have about hypnosis should be dispelled. The technique does not involve the patient being put into a deep sleep, and the patient cannot be made to do anything they would not ordinarily do. They remain fully aware of their surroundings and situation and are not vulnerable to every given command of the therapist. The important thing is that the patient wants to change some behavioural habit or addiction and is highly motivated to do so. They have to want the treatment to work and must establish a good clinical rapport with the therapist in order for it to do so…
The readiness and ability of patients to be hypnotised varies considerably and hypnotherapy generally requires several sessions in order to achieve meaningful results. However, the patient can learn the technique of self-hypnosis which can be practised at home, to reinforce the usefulness of formal sessions with the therapist. This can help counter distress and anxiety-related conditions.
What problems can be treated by hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy can be applied to many psychological, emotional and physical disorders. It is used to relieve pain in surgery and dentistry and has proved to be of benefit in obstetrics. It can shorten the delivery stage of labour and reduce the need for painkillers. It can ease the suffering of the disabled and those facing terminal illness, and it has been shown to help people to overcome addictions such as smoking and alcoholism, and to help with bulimia. Children are generally easy to hypnotise and can be helped with nocturnal enuresis (bedwetting) and chronic asthma, whilst teenagers can conquer stammering or blushing problems which can otherwise make their lives miserable.
Phobias of all kinds lend themselves well to hypnotherapy, and anyone suffering from panic attacks or obsessional compulsive behaviour, and stress-related problems like insomnia, may benefit. Conditions exacerbated by tension, such as irritable bowel syndrome, psoriasis and eczema, and excessive sweating, respond well, and even tinnitus and clicky jaws (tempero-mandibular joint dysfunction) can be treated by these techniques.
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Irlam Foot Clinic, 109 Liverpool Rd
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