What are the Pros and Cons of Using Hypnosis?
There are many misconceptions regarding hypnosis and its pros and cons. Is it something done to you? Do you lose control? Is it a magic pill that works instantly? To begin reviewing the pros and cons of using hypnosis, I’d like to describe what it is first.
What is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a natural state of mind, between the waking and the sleeping state of consciousness. In technical terms, if in waking state, we have beta brain waves and in the sleeping state we are in fluctuating between theta and delta brain waves, hypnosis is the in-between state and fluctuates between alpha and theta. It is a very creative state where your best ideas come from, where you can review your day or relive an experience (such as when you regret), or imagine the future outcome (such as when you worry). What is interesting about that state is that when we are in this in-between state, similarly as when we are asleep, we can block out much of what is happening around us and focus our attention on whatever we are thinking about. This focused attention allows for new ideas and insight we hadn’t thought of before to appear as well as old memories that we hadn’t ever recalled to come up.
A good hypnotherapist will use that state to intentionally help the client find within his/her creative mind new solutions to recurring problems, and discover old memories that might be causing current triggers. A more known use for hypnosis is suggestion work, where the hypnotist repeats suggestions to you while you are in the hypnotic state and you image them vividly to help consciousness adapt the changes being suggested (like changing our need for unhealthy foods, for fearing talking in public, etc.).
Pros of Using Hypnosis
- Hypnosis is deeply relaxing. The first part of a hypnotic session is the induction. For chronic disease, it is best to always include a deep relaxation as the induction as it allows the body to deeply relax and release tension; something many of us never experience! This deep relaxation helps the body return to the parasympathetic mode which naturally reduces the sympathetic nervous system activity, decreases blood pressure, slows heart rate, and is the necessary state for our bodies to repair, rebuild, renew, and, ultimately heal.
- Hypnosis is a form of body-mind therapy that lets you take back control of your life. You use your mind to guide your body, your feelings, your memories to more resourceful states. You can learn to use hypnosis to manage your pain, change your emotions, let go of trauma, release grief, and feel confident and empowered.
‘One of the interesting ironies about hypnosis is that old fantasy that it takes away control,’ says leading expert Dr. David Spiegel of the Stanford University School of Medicine. ‘It’s actually a way of enhancing people’s control, of teaching them how to control aspects of their body’s function and sensation that they thought they couldn’t .”Newsweek, Altered States
- Hypnosis is far more powerful than willpower to change habits and behaviors.
- Hypnosis can be used to accelerate the healing of bones, injuries, and illnesses. It can be used alongside any other medical care and does not have adverse side effects.
- Hypnosis is very cost-effective and long-lasting. You do not need to continue to use hypnosis daily to keep the benefits. Once the changes in physical symptoms, emotions, memories, and habits have been completed, it is rarely necessary to continue using hypnosis. Additionally, most single-issue treatments only require a few sessions to resolve.
Cons of Using Hypnosis
- You are in the driver’s seat. Your hypnotherapist can only give you suggestions and help you explore your subconscious while in hypnosis. He or she is not the healer, you are. If you are not wanting, willing, or focused during hypnosis, it will not work effectively. It is your responsibility to dedicate time to practicing your self-hypnosis and other tools given, to participate fully during your sessions, and to give yourself the time and space needed to heal. The changes do not always occur in the session but in the time between sessions and through practice.
- Hypnosis is not a magic pill or a quick fix. Though there are cases of making significant changes, such as eliminating an allergy, back pain, or PTSD in one session, they are exceptional cases and not the norm. In most cases, 3 to 6 sessions are needed to work through a problem or symptoms. Chronic diseases with several symptoms can take 12 to 24 sessions depending on the number of symptoms, duration of the disease, and lifestyle changes needed.
- That said, hypnosis can be very powerful and create significant changes in very little time. It is not suggested that you do more than a session every two weeks to give you time to integrate the changes into your life. Too many changes too quickly can feel very destabilizing.
- Hypnosis can be improved with practice similarly to improving your drawing skills, but it does not work on everyone (similarly to drawing. Not everyone can do it though most can do ok). If you are a daydreamer, can remember your dreams, and have practiced meditation, you are likely to be very good at hypnosis. It won’t take long to understand if it is not your healing modality. Most times, you will know if hypnosis is helping you make the changes you desire in only a few sessions. Do not be discouraged as there are other modalities that might be a better fit for you than hypnosis.