Hypnosis has long been proven to be effective at reducing situational anxiety, helping patients relax and recover more quickly from dental procedures, colonoscopy, and even cancer treatments.
But can hypnosis help with general anxiety that isn’t related to a specific situation? Is it better or more effective than other forms of therapy?
Let’s explore hypnosis for anxiety and learn more about what it is and how it works.
- Hypnosis for Anxiety
- Is Hypnosis for Anxiety Effective?
- Is Hypnosis More Effective Than Other Kinds of Therapy?
- How Does Hypnosis for Anxiety Work?
- Do I Need to be Hypnotizable?
- How Can I Get the Most Out of Hypnosis Treatments for Anxiety?
- How do You Find a Therapist Who Uses Hypnosis to Treat Anxiety?
Hypnosis for Anxiety
Is Hypnosis for Anxiety Effective?
Hypnosis is an effective treatment for anxiety for many people. Anxiety is a condition that is particularly well-suited to benefit from hypnosis.
The truth is, many forms of anxiety and worry are caused by your mind anticipating negative or fear-inspiring events.
The feelings of anxiety are caused by negative thoughts and expectations in the mind, which compel negative feelings and behaviors.
From a certain perspective, people with anxiety are self-hypnotizing their minds into a state of fear.
Since a person with anxiety is already using the mechanisms of following the prompts and suggestions of the subconscious mind to create a state of fear and anxiety, it’s possible to use those same pathways to create feelings of calmness and relaxation.
People with anxiety, and particularly people with a tendency to disassociate due to past trauma, are typically very open to hypnosis, and to using hypnotic suggestion to manage and reduce anxiety.
Is Hypnosis More Effective Than Other Kinds of Therapy?
Anxiety can be caused by many things, and, to some extent, the most effective therapy depends on the kind of anxiety and the cause of the anxiety.
For general anxiety, phobias, panic attacks, and similar problems, studies show that hypnosis is most effective when combined with other forms of therapy, specifically cognitive behavior therapies.
While either treatment (CBT or hypnosis) can be effective alone, they are particularly effective when used together.
How Does Hypnosis for Anxiety Work?
Your hypnotic practitioner will probably have their methods and approaches, so not every treatment is the same. Some of the most popular ways to use hypnosis to treat anxiety include:
Exposure and Desensitization
using hypnosis, a practitioner can guide your imagination toward the things that cause fear and anxiety. This form of exposure helps you to confront and overcome the source of anxiety, without being exposed in real life.
Many people with anxiety have a form of conditioning, where a specific situation or stimuli triggers anxiety. Hypnosis can help to change how the mind responds to these triggers and reduce feelings of anxiety.
Hypnosis can be used to help a person with anxiety go back into painful memories and work through the source and cause of their anxiety.
Hypnosis can be used to promote healing and recovery from attachment traumas and developmental wounds.
What’s most important to remember is that a hypnotist is not implanting ideas or forcing any action. Instead, the hypnotist works with the patient, helping to explore their unconscious mind and create more positive feelings and associations.
Do I Need to be Hypnotizable?
Generally speaking, yes, you need to be hypnotizable to benefit from hypnosis therapy. Current studies show that approximately 25-30% of the population cannot be hypnotized, for reasons we don’t fully understand.
However, as mentioned above, people with anxiety tend to be especially hypnotizable. Some of the indications that a person can be hypnotized include:
Getting ‘Lost’ In Daydreams or Fantasies
If you can get so caught up in your thoughts that you briefly forget what’s happening in the real world, it’s an indicator that you can be hypnotized.
Along with the ability to get ‘lost’ in your thoughts, if you have a very vivid imagination, and can easily imagine how something looks, sounds, and feels, even when it isn’t present, it’s a good sign that you can be hypnotized.
Early Childhood Experiences
If you had an imaginary friend as a child or engaged in a lot of imaginative play, it’s another indicator of high hypnotic susceptibility.
People who can lucid dream are more likely to be able to be hypnotized.
Dissociation is the ability to consciously or unconsciously ‘detach’ from the present reality. It is often developed as a defense mechanism as a response to stress or trauma.
A mild state of dissociation is just like daydreaming, mentioned above, while in more severe cases it often involves a feeling of unreality. Dissociation is the strongest indicator that a person can be hypnotized.
A responsible hypnotic practitioner will use a standardized test (often the Hypnotic Induction Profile) to determine whether you can be hypnotized, to help make that determination before your session.
If you are curious about what hypnosis treatment for anxiety might be like, and just want to experiment, there are several online videos, audios, and apps you can use to try out hypnosis for anxiety.
While these aren’t as effective as personalized treatment combined with behavioral therapies, it can be a good way to see how susceptible you are and to understand what professional hypnosis sessions might be like.
How Can I Get the Most Out of Hypnosis Treatments for Anxiety?
While a person’s ability to be hypnotized is innate and doesn’t change in adulthood, you can influence your degree of susceptibility.
In other words, you can adopt attitudes and beliefs toward hypnotism that help to deepen your trance state and help you get the most benefit from the experience. Here are some ways to improve your chances of becoming hypnotized.
Believe in the Power of Hypnosis
If you go into a hypnosis session feeling skeptical or doubting that it will work, it probably won’t.
As we’ve already said, the hypnotic experience is a collaboration between the subject and the practitioner, so you have to ‘buy-in’ to the process to benefit from it.
Set Realistic Expectations
This is particularly important for people with anxiety. Work with your practitioner to understand what will happen during the session, and what a reasonable result and goal of therapy should be.
People with anxiety tend to worry about the future, which can distract you from the process of becoming hypnotized.
The best and most effective hypnotic suggestions are drawn from your own unique experiences. Sharing the things that you find relaxing, or frightening, or boring, will help your practitioner tailor your sessions to your specific needs and preferences.
How do You Find a Therapist Who Uses Hypnosis to Treat Anxiety?
The most important rule when seeking a hypnotherapist is to find someone who is licensed to practice therapy and then trained in hypnosis.
A trained and licensed therapist uses hypnosis to help their therapies be more effective and help you progress faster, so look for a trained mental health professional who has been trained in clinical hypnosis. You can find a list of professionals through the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis.
Once you have identified a possible therapist, look for testimonials, case studies, referrals, reviews, and other information about the practitioner.
Hearing other people’s positive experiences can help you be sure you’re making the right choice, and may also help to alleviate any anxiety about your treatment.
Hypnosis is a widely accepted way to treat general anxiety, panic disorders, phobias, PTSD, and social anxiety. Most people with anxiety are already highly susceptible to hypnosis because their anxiety is exacerbated by their powerful ability to visualize and experience imaginary events.
The natural imaginative power of the anxious mind can be harnessed to help to reduce stress and feelings of worry while promoting feelings of self-confidence and relaxation.
Hypnosis helps to use the power of the subconscious mind to positively affect our daily behavior in a way that is safe, effective, and has no risks or side effects.
For severe anxiety, the most effective treatment is cognitive behavior therapy combined with hypnosis. It is important to seek out a licensed and qualified therapist who has been trained in hypnosis so that you get the best possible treatment and have the most effective results.
Thousands of people have benefited from hypnosis to treat a wide range of anxiety and anxiety-related disorders, and you can be one of them. Hypnosis is a great way to break free from fear, anxiety, and related disorders, and live the life you deserve.