Hypnosis in the treatment of anxiety.
Hypnotherapy and training in self-hypnosis can help persons achieve remarkable success in alleviating anxiety, not only in anxiety disorders, but also in any problem involving anxiety. The author describes the role of hypnosis in the treatment of several disorders and provides clinical examples illustrating treatment of generalized anxiety, phobias, and posttraumatic stress disorders. He concludes that because hypnosis exploits the intimate connection between mind and body, it provides relief through improved self-regulation and also beneficially affects cognition and the experience of self-mastery.
Hypnosis for Depression Treatment
“Depression often has a cause, and when the cause is found and released and transformed, the depression lifts,” Friesen says. “Hypnosis uses the ability of the brain to create new neural pathways and connect to the new experiences, imagined vividly in hypnosis. We ask the person to go back to a time when they felt the same emotions while in a trance.” In that way, hypnotherapy helps find the root cause of depression. “It is different than re-experiencing a trauma," Friesen adds. "You are aware of everything that is happening, but you are experiencing it as an observer."
Another way hypnosis addresses depression is by helping people focus on a better, brighter future, Friesen says.
“We take someone to a time when they have overcome the problem,” she says. “We create a future timeline, and let the client experience several moments in the future where they are doing something they love, feeling challenged and rewarded, having energy and happiness. In this future moment or future memory, the brain creates expectations on a subconscious level and creates new emotions and beliefs about what the future holds.”
For the right patient, hypnotherapy for depression can be extremely effective. “Hypnotherapy creates an intentional trance-formation,” Dubin explains. “Whatever you are paying attention to can affect your mood, but hypnotherapy can shift your attention to other things that elicit a different reaction.” The hope is that once you learn this skill set, you can do it on your own.
New uses of hypnosis in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder.
Hypnosis is associated with the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for two reasons: (1) the similarity between hypnotic phenomena and the symptoms of PTSD, and (2) the utility of hypnosis as a tool in treatment. Physical trauma produces a sudden discontinuity in cognitive and emotional experience that often persists after the trauma is over. This results in symptoms such as psychogenic amnesia, intrusive reliving of the event as if it were recurring, numbing of responsiveness, and hypersensitivity to stimuli. Two studies have shown that Vietnam veterans with PTSD have higher than normal hypnotizability scores on standardized tests. Likewise, a history of physical abuse in childhood has been shown to be strongly associated with dissociative symptoms later in life. Furthermore, dissociative symptoms during and soon after traumatic experience predict later PTSD. Formal hypnotic procedures are especially helpful because this population is highly hypnotizable. Hypnosis provides controlled access to memories that may otherwise be kept out of consciousness. New uses of hypnosis in the psychotherapy of PTSD victims involve coupling access to the dissociated traumatic memories with positive restructuring of those memories. Hypnosis can be used to help patients face and bear a traumatic experience by embedding it in a new context, acknowledging helplessness during the event, and yet linking that experience with remoralizing memories such as efforts at self-protection, shared affection with friends who were killed, or the ability to control the environment at other times. In this way, hypnosis can be used to provide controlled access to memories that are then placed into a broader perspective. Patients can be taught self-hypnosis techniques that allow them to work through traumatic memories and thereby reduce spontaneous unbidden intrusive recollections.