It would be easy to start creating an article just describing the benefits of hypnotherapy. Aren’t you curious though about what it is and what happens to your brain during hypnosis?
If you’re not or if you’re rushed for time then to save you reading the whole article the main benefits highlighted are:
- It can help you to visualise and achieve the future you desire
- New positive neural pathways can be developed in your brain
- It can help you to reframe your thoughts and help you to achieve a positive mindset
- You are better able to think with logic and reason rather than emotion
- It can help you to feel happy, content and confident
- It can help you to lower stress and anxiety levels
Whilst it can be used to treat a whole range of conditions, the article highlights the advantages of hypnotherapy in 6 areas.
- Couples can increase their chances of conception
- It can help to relieve the debilitating symptoms of IBS
- It can help to relieve chronic pain
- Phobias can be overcome.
- It can help people successfully stop smoking
- It can help people to achieve the hormonal balance and mindset necessary for successful long term weight loss to take place.
What is hypnosis?
You will probably have heard of both the terms hypnosis and trance. They can really be thought of as being interchangeable. They both describe a time when we experience a shift in our conscious awareness.
It’s often described as being in a daydream. So when you gaze out of the window you have gone into trance. It’s thought that we go into trance roughly every 6 to 7 minutes throughout our waking hours.
You may recall a time when you met an old colleague and spent the majority of the conversation trying to remember their name. It’s only later when you’re in a little daydream that the name pops into your head. Perhaps when doing the hovering you’ve entered into a trance like state which has helped parts of your brain to work together. Hypnosis works when you are relaxed enabling you to problem-solve.
What is hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is a form of therapy that uses hypnosis/trance to bring about positive change in people. It is carried out by a trained therapist. This is very different to what you may have seen in ‘stage hypnosis’. Here a volunteer seems to be carrying out the requests of a hypnotist for others’ enjoyment.
In this particular situation, we can see that the only person who doesn’t benefit is actually the volunteer. The audience receives entertainment and the performer receives payment and no doubt a big ego boost. When using hypnotherapy, the benefits are received directly by the client.
Is all hypnotherapy the same?
As we know hypnotherapy is a general term used to describe the process of using trance to bring about positive change. There are however many different approaches to this and many different types of hypnotherapy are available. Each particular type may use trance differently and for a variety of purposes. Past life regression, for example, uses it as an opportunity for the hypnotherapist to explore past memories. This is said to help find answers to the client’s current problems.
Solution Focused Hypnotherapy on the other hand can be seen as quite the opposite. As it focuses on the present and the future.
What is Solution Focused Hypnotherapy?
Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is a very modern type of treatment that uses a combination of psychotherapy (talking therapy) and hypnosis. It can also include elements of cognitive behavioural therapy. It helps clients come up with solutions to their problems by focusing on helping them to work toward their preferred future. A time when they are free from the symptoms of the debilitating condition that they sought help for.
Solution Focused Hypnotherapists believe that little benefit can be gained from analysing the past. Focusing on the problem can lead to other issues arising, which then themselves need attention. By concentrating on the problem it can often be the case that the solution isn’t found. This means that the client may never feel fully back and in control of their life.
Can Solution Focused Hypnotherapy be carried out online?
One of the major benefits of Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is that it can be carried out via Zoom or any other online communication platform. The therapy can actually be more beneficial when a client is in their own familiar surroundings. This is because they may find it easier to enter a trance state.
More information about the benefits of online hypnotherapy can be found on this page.
What are the benefits of the solution-focused approach to hypnotherapy?
It is the only type of hypnotherapy based on neuroscience. The scientific study of the nervous system. It offers a holistic approach to mental health and well-being improvement. Having its basis in neuroscience makes it particularly effective when dealing with anxiety. The methods used replicate the way your brain works when it’s functioning well.
Previously neuroscientists believed that after childhood the brain became a fixed organ without the ability to change. We now know that the brain has an amazing ability to adapt and build new pathways and connections. By focusing on and visualising positive future outcomes, during hypnosis a client will start to develop new neural pathways. Over a period of just a few weeks, both thinking and behaviour change as new connections are developed. The world is seen in a much more positive light.
How can Solution Focused Hypnotherapy benefit anxiety suffers?
Anxiety is created by our thoughts. When we think negatively or worry about situations or events in our lives we create anxiety. We can think of each negative thought being stored in a stress bucket. The more we think negatively the more we fill up our bucket. Then the less able we are to think with logic and reason. We will think illogically with either anxiety, depression or anger being the dominant emotions.
Thankfully we empty this bucket during the REM stages of our sleep cycle. It’s in this dream state that we rerun the events of the day and take the emotional edge from the memory. However, it can often be the case that we don’t generate enough REM sleep to empty our bucket.
The type of hypnosis used in Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can be so beneficial as it mimics REM.
What are the benefits of hypnosis?
During the light trance state used in Solution Focused Hypnotherapy, our brain is able to build new positive pathways. This hypnotic state also takes the negative emotional edge from older memories. By mimicking our REM state, hypnosis helps us to empty our stress bucket. This enables us to take control over our thoughts and think with logic and reason. It also completely shuts off our supply of noradrenaline. This is one of our bodies’ main stress hormones. Clients, therefore, come back to full consciousness feeling calm and relaxed.
During hypnosis, our brain waves alter. When we are awake and especially if we are anxious our beta waves are predominant. However, when we are in a relaxed trance state this activity lessens, This allows our calming delta waves to relax us. Our alpha and theta waves then become more influential which enables us to visualise and then come up with solutions to our problems. Just like we do when we are in our natural REM dream state.
Most languages in the world have a version of our ‘sleep on it’ to describe the amazing ability of our dream state to solve our problems.
What are some of the other advantages of hypnotherapy?
Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is particularly effective in lowering levels of stress and anxiety. This is one of the major contributing factors in numerous conditions affecting physical and mental health and wellbeing.
It can benefit people suffering from a wide range of conditions by helping them to achieve a hormone balance. Levels of damaging hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are lowered. At the same time levels of more beneficial hormones such as serotonin are elevated.
Hypnotherapy sessions can help with many different conditions including:
Anxiety can build up gradually over time. It doesn’t have to be one life-threatening event in order for us to create anxiety. When we are anxious our bodies create stress hormones. If we live with anxiety for any period of time we can create a hormonal imbalance. Cortisol and adrenaline become our dominant hormones. This imbalance leads to a reduction in the production and effectiveness of female sex hormones. This can lead to anovulation, irregular menstrual cycle and can inhibit the lining of the uterus.
High-stress levels are also known to adversely affect the chances of becoming pregnant by increasing levels of prolactin. Prolactin is released during breastfeeding to hinder fertility. It reduces the chances of falling pregnant whilst still caring for an infant.
The effects of stress
Our bodies’ natural response to stress is to prioritise the needs of our heart, lungs and muscles. Less attention to areas which don’t contribute to our survival, such as our reproductive system. Blood flow to these areas is limited which means they are not able to function as they should.
When under stress, a woman is seen to be in an unfavourable position to care for a foetus. Her body is in survival mode and keeping safe is her brain’s only priority. There is growing evidence to suggest that stress makes it more difficult to conceive. By lowering stress levels hypnotherapy can improve those chances.
In men, high-stress levels are believed to affect the quality of sperm and lower testosterone levels. This can lead to a condition called oxidative stress. This is a state where there is an imbalance between the oxidants and antioxidants necessary for producing and maintaining healthy sperm cells.
Studies have shown that continued high-stress levels in men can lower the volumes and quality of sperm produced. This lowers the number of healthy sperm available to fertilise an egg.
There is evidence to suggest that hypnotherapy can double the chances of successful transplantation during IVF treatment.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
IBS is the world’s most common digestive disorder with it thought to affect as many as 1 in 5 people. People with IBS can suffer from symptoms such as bloating, cramping, constipation or diarrhoea. These are often made worse by stress and anxiety. A vicious circle can then often arise where the symptoms create anxiety which then makes the symptoms worse.
Our stress response is designed to keep us safe. It is often referred to as our fight/flight mode. When we perceive ourselves to be in danger our body is flooded with stress hormones. These created a physiological response giving us a greater ability to fight or flee.
When our stress response is initiated we operate from our sympathetic nervous system. Our levels of stress hormones remain high and blood flow to our digestive system is not prioritised. As a result of an imbalance in the hormonal system, the processes in the gut slow down. This can lead to painful conditions such as constipation and stomach pain.
The need for homeostasis
Our body is constantly trying to achieve balance. After being in our sympathetic nervous system it’s hoped that we can return to our more restful parasympathetic system. If, however, we are suffering from high-stress levels this isn’t possible. We, therefore, spend more time in our damaging sympathetic nervous system.
High-stress levels have been shown to have a negative effect on gut health. This leads to conditions which IBS suffers will be familiar with such as stomach cramps, bloating and diarrhoea. These conditions are often exasperated by the high levels of cortisol and adrenaline present when we are stressed or anxious.
The chemical nature of anxiety and stress makes the symptoms of IBS even worse. Many prescribed treatments can be ineffective. Hypnotherapy is now recognised by The National Institute for Health Care and Excellence as an effective for treating IBS.
Hypnosis sessions can be very effective in treating pain. Acute pain is short-lived and acts as a warning and a motivator not to repeat that action. If we touch a hot pan the pain we experience is enough for us to recognise the situation as potentially harmful.
Chronic pain tends to be long lasting and is often still present long after the initial injury has healed. Unlike acute pain, chronic pain serves no biological purpose and there is often no physiological reason for it. This makes it hard to be medically diagnosed with suffers often told the pain is all in their head.
How is pain transmitted?
Pain is transmitted via a series of nerve fibres up the spinal column to the brain. Some of these work quickly and some slowly. A-fibres tend to be fast-acting, they are localised and sharp. So for example, if you stub your toe the message of pain will be sent to your brain via A-fibres. They transmit sensations of pressure, touch and vibration. This is often why rubbing or massaging the area can help to relieve the feeling of pain.
With the more persistent chronic pain signals are transmitted via slower C-Fibres. We may often think of these as aches and pains that tend to stay with us for an extended period of time.
In order to reach the brain, the signals of pain travel via the nerves in the spinal cord through a series of gates. When we are suffering from high levels of stress the hormones produced keep these gates open. This heightens the sensations of pain.
However, by helping us to positively reframe our thoughts Solution Focused Hypnotherapy increases our levels of serotonin. This closes these gates, lowering the sensation of pain. In addition, by lowering anxiety levels the amount of damaging stress hormones produced is reduced. This helps the body to find a hormonal balance.
A phobia can be described as an extreme, overwhelming or debilitating fear of an object, place, situation or feeling. When we experience a phobia, it can trigger an overwhelming physical and emotional response. This instantly engages our fight/flight/freeze mode.
There are common phobias such as the fear of flying, dentists or confined spaces. Less common ones include lollipop sticks, buttons and zips. They can all initiate a stress response. When the brain recognises the object or situation then stress hormones are instantly produced. This increases both breathing and heart rate enabling the sufferers to run as fast as they can away from danger. Sometimes if the fear is particularly strong the person can lose the ability to run and is instead frozen with fear.
How do phobias develop?
Phobias can often develop in childhood. A child might hear their mother screaming at the top of their voice and witness them jumping on a chair in panic when seeing a mouse. Their developing brain then learns that a mouse is something to be feared.
They can also develop as a result of a frightening experience such as a plane dropping rapidly in severe turbulence. Even though the passenger may have previously been on hundreds of flights. This one terrifying event can be enough to lodge a fear template in their brain.
By using hypnotherapy, it is possible to remove this fear template. Future thoughts can then be reframed so that all negative associations disappear.
You can watch a client interview here, where you can see how the online method I used transformed Dee’s life. Hypnotherapy changed her from being a person who previously needed to use medication to board a plane, to one who was calmed and relaxed when travelling.
One of the most popular ways that hypnotherapy is used to help people to stop smoking. It is thought that the average smoker attempts to give up approximately 30 times before they are successful. Hypnotherapy is often used as a last resort.
The largest-ever study into smoking cessation methods, reported by the world-renowned New Scientist magazine, quoted smoking hypnosis as being the most effective way of giving up smoking. It was rated as being 6 times more effective than willpower alone.
Nicotine is often portrayed to be a highly addictive substance. In reality, the addictive nature of nicotine counts for around 10% of why people find it hard to quit. Ninety per cent is attributed to it being a physiological habit. If smoking really was as addictive as we are often lead to believe, then we wouldn’t be able to go for hours on a plane without smoking. Also, a majority of women wouldn’t be able to quit the minute they find out they’re pregnant.
One of the benefits of hypnotherapy is that it temporarily shuts down the part of the brain which is mistakenly trying to promote and keep you smoking. This allows a clear message to reach the more intellectual part allowing it to resume control. This part of the brain is only too well aware that smoking is an expensive, deadly habit that should stop immediately.
Focusing on the problem rarely brings out a long term solution to weight loss. Being on diet can actually create stress, which makes it less likely that we will achieve long term weight loss. On top of that our bodies really don’t want us to lose weight.
For 99.99% of our existence as a species, our issue with food has been not having access to enough of it. As a result, we developed very effective ways to store some of the energy we receive from it as fat. Today we find ourselves surrounded by an abundance of high fat and sugar food. Unfortunately for dieters, we are genetically programmed to find and consume it.
For our bodies to achieve long term sustained weight loss we need to be de-stressed and sleep well. Cortisol promotes fat storage. If we are stressed then our brain thinks that it needs to save energy. It is less inclined to use fat as a source of energy. The fat that is stored then in turn produces more cortisol, making long term weight loss extremely difficult.
The need for balance
As we put weight on we create a hormone imbalance. There is an increase in the hormone that promotes hunger and a decrease in the ones that suppress it. This results in an increased appetite.
It’s only when the body has achieved homeostasis that it is in a position to benefit from sustained weight loss. Solution Focused Hypnotherapy helps to reduce cortisol levels in the body. One of the main benefits of this form of hypnotherapy however is its ability to reduce cravings. Instead of thinking from the emotional part of our brain which is susceptible to cravings, our thinking comes from the logical, rational part. This part is able to resist the emotional urges to eat this calorie-dense food.
Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can also help to improve levels of confidence and self-worth. These have often been negatively influenced by years of looking in the mirror and wishing you looked different. By focusing on your future self and reframing your negative thoughts you work towards a point where you are happy, confident and positive about your weight.
Author: Ian Murton HPD DSFH AfSFH Reg NCH Reg CNHC Reg is an award-winning Solution Focused Hypnotherapist running sessions via Zoom from his home on the Bedfordshire/ Hertfordshire border.
Perhaps you might be interested in reading some of my other blogs;
Can hypnotherapy help with anxiety?
Why Is It So Difficult to Keep Weight Off?
Case Study: How Solution Focused Hypnotherapy Calms Anxiety