Hypnosis can be described as a relaxed state in which a person responds more easily to suggestions and ideas offered by the therapist. These suggestions have the purpose of helping the client overcome their problems and achieve their goals. Being in hypnosis is very similar to being absorbed in a book or in a scenic scenery whilst traveling on a train; you are aware of everything, but what is happening in the background seems to lose importance. In this way, the person experiencing hypnosis feels very relaxed. Most clients remember everything they experience during hypnosis.
The primary therapeutic application of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy is in the filed of anxiety management, as explained by the Register of Evidence-based Hypnotherapy & Psychotherapy’s Code of Practice. More generally, the issues that fall within the basic sphere of competence of a hypnotherapist are everyday problems resulting from maladaptive and unhealthy thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
Stress and anxiety is quite a vast category which includes issues such as social anxiety, insomnia and phobias. The hypnotherapist may use different strategies to help the client overcome or better cope with anxiety, including relaxation techniques.
Depressed or low mood is a mild type of depression that is not associated to suicidal thoughts and psychotic incidents. More severe types of depression do not fall under the basic sphere of competence of a hypnotherapist.
Pain management refers to different types of pain including chronic pain, pain caused by surgery and back pain. Techniques used in hypnotherapy for this type of issue could include distraction and suggestions of numbness.
Personal Development relates to the enhancement of public speaking, sports performance, study skills or any other skills the client wants to improve.
Psychosomatic conditions are physical conditions that are caused by stress and anxiety. These clients may be asked to develop their own symptom-control imagery, in order to learn how to cope more effectively with the symptoms.
Habits include mild addictions and bad habits such as smoking, nail-biting and over-eating. In habit reversal, a hypnotherapist may develop a script in which the advantages of stopping the habit are emphasized.
Inter-personal problems include relationship problems, marital problems and issues in the work place. The hypnotherapist, in this case, may teach the client imaginal rehearsal in order to practice the behaviours and attitudes they wish to improve.
– Heap & Aravind (2002) Hartland’s Medical and Dental Hypnosis. London: Churchill Lvingstone.
– Heimberg R.G., Marx B. P. & Ledley D. R. (2010) Making Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Work: Clinical Process for New Practitioners. New York: Guilford Publications.