This particular ‘alternative’ therapy is supported by more scientific evidence that any other form of ‘complementary’ treatment. It is seen as being effective for a range of both physical ailments and also behavioural or emotional conditions (such as stress, anxiety and phobias). These include:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Studies published in The Lancet in 1989 showed hypnosis to be successful in relieving the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Controlling pain in chronic conditions. One technique in hypnotherapy is time and body dissociation: the person is led to imagine themselves in pleasant and tranquil surroundings, such as a beautiful garden or sunlit beach, and this dissociation from their current feelings can be useful in the management of pain.
Changing behaviours like stopping smoking or weight loss. Although many people have sought hypnotherapy for issues like ceasing smoking or losing weight – and have been personally satisfied with the outcome, A Cochrane Review published in 2005 was could not find proof that hypnotherapy was any more likely to be effective than other interventions.
Sexual disorders and fertility problems. Some forms of infertility have been identified with psychological stress, and it has been found that after hypnotherapy, improved hormone levels and increased conception rates have been reported.
Childbirth. From a study of 189 women who had babies in 2005 it was found that hypnosis eased childbirth and assisted with the management of pain during labour. It is also claimed to reduce the length of labour, the need for pain-controlling drugs and interventions like forceps. In order for hypnotherapy to be effective during labour, the mother needs to have begun to prepare with the technique during pregnancy.
Hypnotherapy derives from the Greek word ‘hypnos’ meaning sleep. Hypnosis induces an exceptional mental state, somewhere between sleeping and waking, to enable access to the subconscious part of the mind, not generally accessible in a fully waking state.
Until tomorrow: Friends are the siblings God never gave us.