Does Hypnotherapy Work for All Problems?

Over the years there has been quite a lot of controversy about hypnosis and so the question naturally arises – Is medical hypnosis a good therapy? Does hypnotherapy work? For  many people, hypnosis brings to mind silly or playful images. It’s been used by villains in bad 70’s shows, it’s reminiscent of cartoon characters being taken command of with a swinging watch or it’s remembered as stage performers convincing audience members to act and cluck like chickens. The truth of the matter is that hypnosis therapy, or hypnotherapy, is actually very different. For quite some time science has investigated many of its uses and many have been validated in studies.

If I had to give a short answer, it would be that hypnotherapy really works! Like so many things in life, however, that short and simple answer could lead to some false ideas. There are some areas where hypnotherapy has excellent results and the data is extremely promising. Some of its successes are in areas where it’s been used to enhance care or used in combination with other care.  An example might be weight loss, where the patient goes on a standard diet but gets additional help though hypnotherapy in order to stop sugar cravings and sweet snacking. There are other areas where it’s used for aiding people on a stand alone basis or in areas where there is little scientific evidence that is would be helpful but has a lot of subjective evidence given by patients themselves, that it has worked for them, and as follows, there might be room for some scientific controversy in those areas.

Science actually has a very poor understanding of what is going on in treatment and why hypnotherapy is so effective. Thankfully, there is quite a lot of research going on in this field, with many papers submitted every year. Fortunately, our understanding of what can be effectively treated and to what degree is far superior.

Hypnotherapy can be used to treat a staggeringly wide variety of  health and medical issues, both physical and psychological:
Chronic pain
Sleep disorders
Weight loss
Stress and anxiety
Headaches and migraines
Asthma
Allergies
Addictions of all sorts

A very noteworthy example of the effectiveness of hypnotherapy is in treating anxiety. There’s the obvious use in treating those with significant anxiety disorders, but people can also experience considerable anxiety due to situational stressors. This can be from work or home issues, but serious health issues are often the cause of ongoing stress and anxiety. Unfortunately, when medical issues are involved, anxiety and stress then works against the patient, raising or aggravating many issues. Heart conditions can worsen, blood pressure can increase, gastrointestinal problems will become more severe, depression will grow deeper, and rather unfortunately, anxiety often begets further anxiety. By treating anxiety with hypnotherapy in those with health problems, patients are actually taking a multifaceted approach and tackling many problems at once.

There is significant concern that hypnosis therapy may be used incorrectly at times in the mental health field.  Hypnosis therapy can be used to learn more about the patient and investigate issues that the patient may not be consciously aware of or may not otherwise be willing to share. During hypnosis, however, patients are extremely vulnerable and open to suggestion. In fact, they are suggestible to an extreme- a therapist can accidentally implant ideas simply by asking questions and trying to understand their patient.

Hypnotherapy is not the solution to everyone’s problems. What is clear is that many of its uses right now are very valuable, and often to people who have difficulty finding comfort and help elsewhere. There are scientific results that are still very recent and have yet to cross over to the world of health care, and these will be of significant benefit to many. There is a lot of research being conducted currently, and we can look forward to the future and expect that our understanding will only get better.