[Subterm of Mind-body medicine]
Hypnotherapy refers to the induction of a trance-like state to facilitate the relaxation of the conscious mind. It makes use of enhanced suggestibility to treat both psychological and medical conditions which often facilitate behavioral changes. The first therapeutic use of hypnosis has been attributed to Franz Anton Mesmer (1778). The term “mesmerism” evolved from his work. In the 1800’s, British surgeon James Esdaile utilized it as a sole anesthetic when performing major operations in India. James Braid, another British doctor, is credited for making hypnosis respectable in the medical community.
The goal of hypnosis is to gain self-control over behavior, emotions or psychological processes. The induction of the hypnotic trance relaxes the conscious mind thereby allowing easier access to the unconscious (which is non-critical and more receptive to suggestion). In hypnotherapy, patients understand that they are not “hypnotized”. Rather, they are under their own control and not that of the hypnotist. It is really self-hypnosis. Whether hypnosis represents a specific altered state of consciousness has been the subject of scientific debate. It has repeatedly been shown that analgesia and many other hypnotic phenomena can be achieved only by various means of suggestion. It may be that all types of relaxation are different levels of self-hypnosis. In reality, patients unconsciously prepare themselves well in advance to be susceptible to any form of suggestion.
This includes people who go to be entertained and even volunteer as subjects at a hypnotic state performance.
Treatment sessions typically last between 30 and 90 minutes. The initial visit involves the gathering of history and discussion about hypnosis, suggestion and the client’s expectations of the therapy. The hypnotic state is achieved by first relaxing the body, then shifting attention away from the external environment towards a narrow range of objects or ideas suggested by either the patient or the therapist. A good rapport between the therapist and patient or client is vital. The course of treatment varies according to the individual. Typically, patients continue once a week for 6 - 12 sessions.