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In the late 18th century, the Austrian physician Franz Anton Mesmer introduced what he named Mesmerism, a process which aimed to put the client into a state of complete relaxation so that healing could take place. Although Mesmer and his technique were quickly discredited, other physicians, in England and France, did not totally dismiss the work he had started.
Instead, they carried out further research and experimentation and renamed the treatment hypnotherapy. By the 1890s, hypnotherapy had been accepted by the British Medical Association (BMA), and in the 1950s the therapy reached a new level of acceptance when both the British and American Medical Associations actually recommended hypnotherapy to treat a variety of physical and mental conditions.
How does it work?
Current thinking identifies that the mind has two parts, the conscious and the subconscious. Hypnotherapy works by bypassing the conscious mind and accessing the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is very powerful, and is susceptible to suggestion.
This means that clients who, for example, have phobias or fears, who experience constant pain or who lack self-confidence or self-esteem can, through suggestions given to the subconscious mind, change their behaviours and attitudes and even learn to control pain. This is because the subconscious which, for example is not frightened of spiders, will override the conscious, which is frightened of the creatures.
What does it involve?
A session with a hypnotherapist will generally last for about an hour. At the start of the session the therapist will take a detailed medical history and find out what the client hopes to achieve. The client will then sit or lie, fully clothed, in a reclining chair or on a couch.
The therapist will begin by taking the client through a relaxation process, which usually involves tensing and relaxing various groups of muscles. When the client is completely comfortable and relaxed, the therapist will then guide the client into a deeper state of relaxation.
At this point, although the client is aware of what is going on in the room and is, at any time, able to open their eyes and end the session, the therapist is able to communicate with the client’s unconscious mind. This means the hypnotherapist is able to make specific suggestions such as, for example, the client will find the smell and taste of cigarettes completely unappealing; or that when in a crowded place, the client will in future remain calm and in control.
What is it good for?
Hypnotherapy works well for a wide range of problems including eating disorders, smoking cessation, alcoholism and other substance abuse, panic attacks, anxiety, lack of confidence, phobias of all kinds, and pain relief from arthritis or other conditions.
What are the benefits?
Clients report that hypnotherapy sessions are extremely relaxing and enjoyable, and that the therapy has long-lasting beneficial effects.
What are the side effects and when should it be avoided?
Because hypnotherapy works with the subconscious mind it is not recommended for people with epilepsy, schizophrenia, severe depression, psychosis or other mental health problems. If you are in any doubt as to whether this therapy is suitable for you, have a chat with your doctor before booking with a therapist.
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