Ever found yourself a million miles away lost in a daydream, or driving, maybe even running on a journey and having no relocation of the last few miles? Or being so engrossed in a piece of music or book you’ve not noticed someone walk in a room?
This is because you are in a natural trance state, where you become less aware of your external surroundings and conscious thought. Hypnosis uses this same trance state or shift in brain activity, to allow us to access part of the consciousness to influence our feelings and behaviour. When we are in a trance we are in a more susceptible state, so suggestions can be made to alter behaviour, thoughts or sensations (e.g pain intensity and unpleasantness, tingling/numbness and movement). Clinical hypnosis has been successfully used as a treatment for centuries for anasethetics, pain relief, phobias, addictions and performance enhancement.
Many psychothereupetic techniques are based on analysing and logically reasoning our actions and behaviours at a conscious level. The problem is many conditions such as phobias, habits or performance failure have no logical reason why they happen. Hypnosis is a great way to access parts of the brain that process these actions, while the conscious mind is distracted. It can be a useful method of challenging false beliefs that may be unhelpful, harmful or self limiting (Montgomery, 2010, Oakley and Halligan, 2009a and Braffman and Kirsch,1999).
And here’s the science;
Over last 20 years research has been carried about using EEG, PET and MRI scans, to investigate brain functioning, electrical activity and anatomical images of changes that occur during hypnosis. They found increased activity in areas of the brain responsible for attention and mental absorption (Rainville et al in 2002). Blood flow to the areas of the brain that deal with imagery and speech and vision processing, increase during hypnosis (Ulrich et al, 1987). While brain activity involved in spontaneous thought, awareness of external surroundings and conscious thought decreases (Van Someren, 2011, Deeley et al, 2012). There is also evidence of decreased activity in specific pain related anatomy during hypnosis for analgesia (Hofbauer et al, 2001, Faymonville, 2006, Del Casale et al, 2015).
As a treatment, clinical hypnosis is widely accessible, easy to use and appropriate for most people. It is a comfortable experience, non harmful and non invasive treatment, so why aren’t more people not using it?
Sadly the Paul Mckennas and Derren Browns of this world although popularising hypnosis have also made people fearful of loosing control or being made to do foolish things or worse picking up irreversible traits (we’ve all seen people eating onions or pretending to be a chicken!!). Stage hypnosis is a very specific form of entertainment , carefully constructed to select highly susceptible subjects, that are often prepared prior to the event. Then the pressure to comply on stage along with the anticipation and expectation of the crowds, adds to the effect even before the hypnosis begins.
Clinical hypnosis involves detailed assessments and screening, treatments are then tailored specifically to a clients needs. You are not asleep during treatment but in a more relaxed state. Just like when you are in that natural trance state, you can easily become alert when your attention is needed. Equally, you are very much involved in the process, the hypnotist or hypnotherapist is directing you, much like a conductor in an orchestra, but you are in control of your thoughts and actions, like the musicians playing their instruments.
Here at Great Northern Physiotherapy we offer clinical hypnosis as a therapy to help to help a range of symptoms. Becky is qualified in Clinical Hypnosis and is registered with BSCAH and has just completed her Masters thesis in the neurophysiological effects of clinical hypnosis in pain management. If you are wondering if hypnosis can help you please get in touch.