Frequently Asked Questions
- What is hypnosis?
- What does it feel like to be hypnotised?
- Will you – the patient - always have control during hypnosis?
- Can all people be hypnotised?
- Will it definitely stop the problem?
- Is hypnotherapy available on the NHS?
- Do the NHS and NICE recognise hypnotherapy?
- When is it not appropriate to use hypnotherapy?
- Can hypnotherapy be used with children?
- Is hypnotherapy recognised by the British Psychological Society?
- Can hypnotherapy cure medical conditions?
q What is hypnosis? up
Technically, it’s a state of deep relaxation, approaching REM. It is a perfectly normal part of everyday life and is akin to day dreaming. In fact, most people enter a state of light hypnosis several times each day.
q What does it feel like to be hypnotised? up
The experience is that of deep and pleasant relaxation, usually retaining awareness of the environment. It is like that wonderful feeling when you wake up after a really good night’s sleep. Technically, you remain in a state of consciousness.
q Will you – the patient - always have control during hypnosis? up
A clinical hypnotherapist neither can nor would make a patient do anything against their wishes. Nor will they hypnotise patients unwittingly. The patient’s mind is usually active throughout and will react to anything with which they are not comfortable.
q Can all people be hypnotised? up
Most people can be hypnotised, though some are more naturally open to it than others. After all, most people are capable of daydreaming. People with more naturally analytical brains can require different techniques to achieve a state of hypnosis. Therapy is usually achieved even when that state is very light.
You will hopefully build a strong bond of trust with your therapist. The better you get to know each other and the more you practise hypnosis, the more deeply you will allow yourself to experience it.
q Will it definitely stop the problem? up
This cannot be promised by any reputable therapist. Similarly, despite every best intention, no doctor, surgeon or psychologist will promise results for every condition in every patient. There is, however, an abundance of clinical and academic research into the efficacy of hypnotherapy.
q Is hypnotherapy available on the NHS? up
For some specific conditions, it may be available (see 8 below). The General Medical Council (GMC) guidance to doctors confirms they are able to refer patients to practitioners on accredited registers, including the CNHC. However, your GP is not able to refer you to a hypnotherapist at the cost of the NHS.
q Do the NHS and NICE recognise hypnotherapy? up
If you read the hypnotherapy listing on the NHS website, it is quite restrained in its acceptance that it does “seem” to work.
On the other hand, NICE (the National Institute for Clinical Excellence) recommends it for IBS. There is a dedicated hypnotherapy team at Wythenshaw Hospital in Manchester, led by Professor Peter Whorwell, principally for the treatment of IBS. Birmingham University Hospital has a pain management team that has done important research into hypnotherapy within the medical world.
Quite rightly, the medical establishment in this country relies on comprehensive scientific evidence before it gives an endorsement. While the results of clinical research are there to be seen, it is the lack of empirical understanding of how hypnosis actually achieves those results that raises the query for the medical establishment.
q When is it not appropriate to use hypnotherapy? up
Hypnotherapy is not appropriate for physical medical illness, although it is effective in treating many symptoms. It is also not suitable for mental illness, beyond milder forms of depression.
q Can hypnotherapy be used with children? up
When appropriate and with a suitably qualified therapist, hypnotherapy often achieves positive outcomes with children. Children do not have preconceptions about hypnotherapy in general and they have very active imaginations; both of these factors are enormously helpful.
It should be stressed, however, that for any patient – old or young – genuine motivation and clarity of outcome are important. An alignment of goals between child and parent/teacher guardian is very important.
q Is hypnotherapy recognised by the British Psychological Society? up
q Can hypnotherapy cure medical conditions? up
Hypnotherapy cannot cure medical (physiological) illness or disease, though it can help resolve psychosomatic conditions where a physical condition is casued by an underlying pyschological concern.
It is often effective at treating symptoms, particularly pain.