From pain relief to weight loss, hypnotherapy is becoming an increasingly popular form of medical treatment.
Many people may have only seen hypnosis performed through tricks in stage shows, where hypnotism is used for entertainment purposes.
However, the use of hypnosis in professional therapy can have several health benefits.
Although some similar techniques are used in both stage hypnotism and clinical hypnosis, the applications and results are very different.
Clinical hypnotherapist Lyn Robinson (pictured) has been practising for eight years, and is a member of the Australian Hypnotherapists Association.
Mrs Robinson says that interest in hypnosis was revived with stage shows in the 1920s.
“Modern day professional hypnotherapists focus on delivering permanent therapeutic outcomes for their clients,” she says.
Hypnosis is an altered state of mind; an induced state of consciousness assisted by a hypnotist, which provides relaxation and inner focus.
When a person is hypnotised, the subconscious becomes more responsive and open to suggestion, which can modify behaviour.
Though people differ in hypnotic susceptibility, hypnotherapy can be used to improve people’s lives.
“It is the time when you can communicate with a person’s subconscious mind, and help facilitate whatever changes they desire to make,” Mrs Robinson says.
Hypnosis can be applied therapeutically to treat a wide variety of problems.
Examples include weight loss, anxiety, stress, and insomnia.
Greg Morgan was hypnotised by a clinical hypnotherapist last year.
Mr Morgan says he sought hypnotherapy in the hope he could quit smoking without suffering withdrawal symptoms.
“While under hypnosis, I was aware of my surroundings and could hear external sounds,” he says.
“I just felt really relaxed.
“I left the session not having any cravings to smoke, and the mental arguments I would normally have with myself did not exist at all.”
Hypnosis can also be an effective form of pain relief, acting as an anaesthesia during medical procedures such as surgeries and childbirth.
In these situations, hypnosis creates hypnotic analgesia, an induced state in which patients do not feel pain despite pain-inducing stimulus.
Hypnosis can be chosen as an alternative method in surgeries, such as in cases when a patient is allergic to anaesthetic drugs.
Scientific experiments, including one conducted at Harvard University in 2000, have provided evidence that hypnosis does create an altered state of mind,
Professor Stephen M. Kosslyn and his research team found that when hypnotised participants were instructed to see coloured images in black and white, the part of the brain that processes colour became less active.
When other subjects viewed the images without hypnotic suggestion, the drop-off in colour processing activity did not occur.
“Hypnosis in itself is definitely not harmful — it is just a relaxing, internally focused state,” Mrs Robinson says.
“We live in a world that is so overstressed, and a hypnotherapy session is the perfect way to de-stress whilst doing something positive and relaxing for oneself.”