A brief history
Unlike most comparable therapies, hypnotherapy measures its history not in years or decades but in centuries. The usually acknowledged forerunner of modem hypnotherapy, Franz Mesmer (1734- 1815), believed in the existence of a universal fluid, an imbalance of which caused illness. However, Mesmer’s contemporaries attributed his undoubted successes to his manipulation of a patient’s imagination. During the 19th century, this theme was followed by several doctors who used hypnosis successfully, not only to treat psychological illness but also as an anaesthetic for surgical operations.
Hypno-psychotherapy and hypnotherapy
Although the development of chemical anaesthetics displaced the use of hypnosis in surgery, and Freud’s use of psycho-analysis began to displace it in psychotherapy, the benefits and uses of hypnotherapy are such that it remains a popular and adaptive form of therapy. Hypnotherapy may be used on its own, as simple relaxation therapy, or it may be integrated with any of the great schools of psychological thought. This integrative approach, termed hypno-psychotherapy, has very wide therapeutic applications. If only simple relaxation therapy is required, then someone with a basic hypnotherapy training should be able to help. However, more complex emotional, psychological or physical problems require the help of a fully qualified hypno- psychotherapist who will have the skills to recognise and treat a wide range of disorders and conditions.
Hypno-psychotherapy originates in procedures and practices discovered and recorded over the last three hundred years. Increasing awareness of the pervasiveness and importance in human experience of what are now more appropriately described as ‘altered state phenomena’ has led to huge shifts in theoretical understanding, convergence with discoveries emerging from modern neuro-science, and much increased consistency in application. This has been accompanied by the creation of a substantial
Hypno-psychotherapy may be valuable to anyone seeking to resolve specific problems, or for personal development. As well as alleviating a range of disadvantageous habits and many physical ailments, hypno-psychotherapy also deals in deep-seated problems involving
themes and procedures, in many ways similar to those addressed by many other branches of Psychotherapy. Hypno-psychotherapists take a wide-ranging and eclectic view in helping clients to understand and to alleviate psychological difficulties.
Practice differs from other forms of psychotherapy in the deliberate (direct and indirect) use of altered mental states and supporting therapeutic structures as the principal medium for effecting change. In shorter-term engagements, it can be used to inculcate skills and overcome limiting habits or personal and social inhibitions. During longer-term therapy, the working relationship may present a dynamic context for the client to examine
and work through important self-protection issues, including the reframing and resolution of challenging early experiences and liberation from previous blocks to personal development.
The uses of hypno-psychotherapy
In addition to treating disorders of mood, thought or feeling, hypno-psychotherapy can help with a wide range of psychological problems including habit disorders, social difficulties such as lack of confidence, exam/driving test nerves, phobias, panic attacks and depression. It is also widely used for enhancing sporting performance, creativity, memory and concentration. Hypno-psychotherapy also has other clinical and medical applications including pre/post-operative treatments, anaesthesia and pain relief strategies. Many stress-related physical problems such as skin disorders, migraine and irritable bowel syndrome, also respond well to hypno-psychotherapy. Only a small selection of the many problems posed by our society and the way we live are mentioned here. There are many others which may be alleviated by hypnotherapy and they can be discussed with a qualified hypno-psychotherapist
A safe form of therapy
In the right hands, hypnotherapy is a safe and beneficial therapy. There are some instances where the use of hypnosis is not recommended, or where it should only be used with care. A competent hypno- psychotherapist will be aware of such contra-indications and may recommend an alternative form of psychotherapy or modify their technique.