Does Hypnosis Help with Anxiety?
Evidence suggests hypnotherapy can effectively treat anxiety, particularly when combined with other therapies. If you’ve ever been in a trance-like state, whether at a concert or while listening to a good story, you may have been hypnotized for a few moments. Some therapists actively use hypnosis to guide patients into a deep state of relaxation, allowing them to be more open to suggestions that help bring them closer to their goals. The term “hypnosis” conjures up images of swaying pocket watches and clucking chickens. Although controversial, genuine hypnotherapy is not a cheap parlour trick, with studies showing that it can be a very effective method for some clients to cope with stress and anxiety.
Treatment for Anxiety with Hypnosis Works
A 2017 meta-analysis of 20 studies found that hypnosis significantly improved anxiety symptoms in cancer patients. Another meta-analysis from 2019 that included 15 studies concluded that hypnosis reduced clients’ anxiety levels by 79% on average compared to controls who did not receive this intervention. A more recent 2020 study discovered evidence that a “15-minute hypnosis intervention” can improve anxiety in patients with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This anxiety hypnotherapy often works best when incorporated within a multi-disciplinary practice. These effects are most likely due to the relaxing and calming state that hypnosis induces. Stanford University School of Medicine researchers scanned the brains of 57 hypnosis patients in 2016, reporting changes in brain activity in areas of emotional control and feelings of self-consciousness. This suggests that hypnosis can elicit a more robust physical response in the brain than a placebo!
Hypnosis Myths Versus Reality
During the hypnotherapy session, a trained hypnotherapist can use various natural techniques, such as verbal cues and repetition, to guide the patient into a relaxed but highly focused mental state. For example, the hypnotherapist may begin by describing images in a gentle, soothing tone to create a sense of relaxation, safety, and well-being. Once the patient is receptive, the therapist may describe vivid mental images of the patient achieving their goals. Patients are generally aware throughout the session and recall what occurred afterwards. It is a myth that a hypnotized person loses control or forgets everything after the session.
Hypnotic practices have existed for centuries in many cultures worldwide, from Native North American medicine and Siberian shamanism to the Ancient Egyptians. With the notable exploits of German physician Franz Anton Mesmer, from whom the term mesmerize’ originates, hypnosis had a rocky start, to say the least, in the Western world in the late 18th and 19th centuries. Mesmer founded a pseudoscience movement that held that disease occurred when the flow of the invisible fluid through the body became obstructed due to “animal magnetism.” Mesmer used hypnosis techniques on his patients, but after some apparent breakthroughs in treating certain nervous diseases, he was accused of fraud, and mesmerism faded away.
Later, there was a boom in stage hypnosis, with performers touring Europe and the United States claiming they could make participants impersonate a chicken, become stiff as a board, or see the Virgin Mary appear. At the turn of the twentieth century, hypnosis was also at the centre of several scandals that didn’t help matters. As a result, hypnosis earned a bad reputation, prompting legitimate physicians to distance themselves from it. However, in recent decades, hypnosis has reinvented itself, and there is now a growing body of scientific literature supporting its clinical efficacy for some conditions. Due to its relaxing properties, treatment for anxiety and panic attacks is often at the forefront of this therapy. Of course, I’m talking about clinical hypnosis practiced by naturologists and other health professionals, not by unqualified laypeople.
Despite unfortunate misconceptions, hypnosis is far from a fringe movement, with many reputable universities continuing to research its effectiveness in treating pain, irritable bowel syndrome, PTSD, insomnia, addiction, and more.
Our Clients Benefit from HRV (Heart Rate Variability) Biofeedback Training
Studies conducted with over 11,500* people have shown improvements in mental & emotional well-being in just 6-9 weeks using HRV biofeedback training.
24% improvement in the ability to focus
30% improvement in sleep
38% improvement in calmness
46% drop in anxiety
48% drop in fatigue
56% drop in depression
* N= 11,903
Percent of individuals responding “often to always” on normed and validated pre and post Personal and Organizational Quality Assessment (POQA-R)
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