Hypnotherapy is sometimes seen as the new kid on the block with no real scientific backing to support any claims of its efficacy. The truth is, however, that it is neither a new technique nor is it pseudoscience. While researchers are only just beginning to scratch the surface on how and why hypnosis can be beneficial to the therapeutic process, the fact remains that for those who try and swear by it, the method does work.
First thought to be powered by an occult force termed “animal magnetism”, the late 18th century saw German physician Franz Mesmer discredited by the medical community in his work of hypnotising patients. “Mesmerism”, named after the doctor, remained a fascinating technique until James Braid, a Scottish surgeon, further examined the approach and eventually named it after Hypnos, the ancient Greek god of sleep. Braid’s work was instrumental in pulling hypnotism out of the depths of superstition and brought the intricacies of human neurology into the limelight.
While some may think that hypnotherapy has its foundation in hypnotism, the fact is that hypnosis is only one part of the process. The degree to which one can be hypnotised depends on suggestibility – that is, if they are open enough to let go of control. Entering a trance-like, hypnotic state is easy, and humans do it daily (think about your mind wandering while sitting on a bus or listening to music).
Research has shown that hypnotherapy does work if the patient in question is willing to relax and allow the psychotherapist to guide them into accessing the areas of their brain (such as those that control imagination, memory, self-awareness, and even decision-making) that are most helpful to the process. This attention-focused state of the brain allows both the patient and therapist to target issues the patient could not previously pinpoint.
Along with hypnosis, trained psychotherapists explore complementary techniques, such as creative visualisation, mindfulness, and cognitive behaviour therapy.
It does not matter your set of struggles, whether stress, post-traumatic stress disorder, harmful addictions, or issues with your self-worth – hypnotherapy remains an effective, viable option. Marteleze van Graan is a counselling psychologist situated in Pretoria with years of experience as a counsellor and hypnotherapist. If you would like to make an appointment with Marteleze, simply book your session online or contact the practice for more information on her available services.