Hypnotherapy is the application of hypnosis as a form of medical treatment, particularly for conditions largely related to the person's state of mind. Another important application is to aid (or replace) anesthesis.
Practitioners believe that when a client enters a trance state, or believes to do so, the client's resistance to beneficial change will be lowered significantly, and so various means of therapy will be easier to deliver and more successful.
People seek help from a hypnotherapist for problems such as obesity, smoking or phobias, but also less mind-related problems, like stomach ulcers. Usually the client is very aware of the nature of the problem and is consciously determined to deal with it. However the subconscious mind is not cooperating. The role of the hypnotherapist is to move the conscious mind to one side and reprogramme the subconscious to sooperate with the client's wishes. To use Transactional Analysis terms the hypnotist suppresses the Child Ego State allowing fuller expression for the Parent and Adult Ego States Where this can be done properly hypnotherapy can be very successful.
Sometimes however the client also wants the hypnotist to create the original conscious desire; for example they feel they ought to stop smoking but do not really wish to. In this case hypnotherapy is much less likely to be successful.
Along the same lines, it is important that the client accepts and maintains responsibility for their own treatment. The role of the hypnotherapist is to assist the client in bringing about he desired change and he or she must never accept responisibilty for result. This also is in accord with the Transactional Analysis model mentioned above.
Examples of methodologies are:
- Hypnoanalysis: The client relives moments from his/her past and releases the emotions that are attached to these moments. Related to psychoanalysis. It typically takes between 1 and 20 sessions.
- Suggestion therapy: The client receives positive suggestions that are "programmed" directly into the psyche and last for all time if accepted by the psyche.
- Regression therapy: Same as hypnoanalysis, though the client (or therapist!) may choose to follow just one or more specific thought-trains, rather than arbitrary memories selected by the psyche.