How Does Hypnotherapy Help With Anxiety?
NourishDoc: I still needed to learn before starting this talk. But I researched, and there is a ton of research on Hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy can be effective for various health concerns. But today’s topic is anxiety, and we have a hypnotherapist with us, Elena. She will tell us the science and research behind it as to what happens when Hypnotherapy is applied and how Hypnotherapy can help all of us. So welcome.
Hypnotherapist Elena: Thank you so much. Yes, I’m all about science and research about Hypnotherapy because I am a brain science enthusiast, and that’s the I like to explore when it comes to any therapeutic modality. So, I would want to share a couple of things about the definition of Hypnotherapy as I practice it to make sure we’re talking about the same thing because, as you know, we can be using the same words.
However, we can mean different things, and then confusion happens after that and also would want to do to touch on the research and the science that’s out there, and if you hear some knowing in the background, apologize; it’s my cat that’s coming over. She’ll be very vocal in a little bit. So, please don’t mind her. So, Hypnotherapy for Anxiety, let me start with my definition for my method so that you understand that there’s not one Hypnotherapy for anxiety; there are many different ways of doing that.
If someone wants to give you a blank statement about what Hypnotherapy for Anxiety is, it doesn’t exist. It’s there are as many therapists and therapy modalities in the world as there are hypnotherapists because we all use different schools of thought for how we form our ideas and what we find important, how we emphasize certain things and don’t even care about emphasizing others in our therapeutic and now counseling work.
So, for me, Hypnotherapy is made of a couple of components. Maybe you will recognize the names of therapeutic modalities, those of you in that area of study. When I do Hypnotherapy, I use strategic and solution-focused therapy as my main inspiration. Hypnosis is just a delivery method; it’s not something that stands on its own; it’s not fair in itself. It’s something that compliments the other two; it’s something that allows me to invite the person into more of a state of mind when they can sit with the ideas that I’m suggesting instead of like, let’s say, in a regular therapeutic conversation there is that back and forth and the customer like having this you know normal human conversation of course.
But at the same time, because there is no opportunity for the person to sit with the ideas or suggestions that I provide, it doesn’t have much of an impact. It doesn’t allow them to have an experience that can be transformative. It is not going to be transformative in one session. However, suppose we do a few of those, and they complement it with developing skills outside the sessions. In that case, I think it is a very holistic and comprehensive approach if Hypnotherapy is combined with other things.
So that was important for me to point out that that’s the Hypnotherapy I’m practicing; there are too many other partitions in the world, they’re doing it very differently, and whichever one you go to if I were you, I would find out what is that behind their thought process when they share that guided journey with you what they where they were trained and because that would have an impact on what you will hear as a result and in terms of science and research there’s been much science, there’s been much research I mean on all topics.
Hypnotherapy, hypnosis because people are fascinated with it, people are fascinated with what can be possible during those states for some people, not all; you know there is a range of experience, not everybody will go and have a where the only anesthesia is hypnosis, not everybody can have that. However, some people do that, and others have great results from learning a skill while in a hypnotherapy session.
Research Around Hypnosis For Anxiety
There’s much research around how we can get basically when we have a habit. Hypnosis can help automatize the process in our brain, and it’s hard to talk about research without giving examples of research, to be honest. So if you Deline, I’ll, in my way, can, like, paraphrase the researches I have been reading and fascinated with lately. A few research papers come to mind, and first, I’ll give you a quick overview. What’s so important about them, and how can they apply to anxiety?
Let’s start with the research; there is such a thing a psychologist calls the Stroup effect, which is when you read. I’ll, and I won’t make it too difficult. When you read a word on the screen that signifies some color, let’s say its color says blue; it’s written blue. However, it’s written in red, red ink. Pretty much across the board, everybody in a human population either slows down when they see that, or they make an error, they first like, oh, they get confused by that, like the position of the collar of the word and the word itself, and that’s like the universally accepted as a phenomenon.
But in hypnosis, they invited the people to like get focused and concentrated. Then they invited them to pretend, so to say that, that’s written like the word blue, let’s say in red ink that it means gibberish. It means nothing. So they effectively removed their focus, people could focus on the ink itself, and they went straight into the saying the ink without slowing down, without any error. Even though there had the same words in front of them.
How Hypnosis Can Automate Certain Processes In Our Brain
So yes, that’s just an example of how and I hope I was clear enough how hypnosis can automatize certain processes in our brain because it’s so automatic for the people when they see the word written on a screen to go for the word itself, not the color of the ink, even if they ask to say, say the color of the ink, the people attention first is drawn to the word itself. It’s just because everybody can read words; we are primed to focus on that first when we see a word because the ink of the word usually doesn’t matter.
What matters is the word itself, but when in hypnosis, when given suggestions to imagine that that word means nothing, people were able to go straight for the ink of the word without any problem and in terms of how it applies to anxiety and other conditions that people come to in Hypnotherapy is that it gives an idea of how we can help the person to de-automatize certain processes that like become so just automatic in their brain because of anxiety let’s say what anxieties usually maintain with is like the habit of overthinking or analyzing and it becomes like such a second nature for us to do it every time we encounter some uncertainty in our life, the first thing that people do they start.
They start to project negative things onto the future, right? That’s like those two things, the discomfort that uncertainty brings us and this habit of projecting the worst into the future; it can become like second nature. So, in Hypnotherapy, we can, and no more research is needed to confirm that claim. However, that science suggests that that’s possible to decouple those things, so we don’t go from, like, I’m feeling triggered by anxiety, into that habitual state of worrying or analyzing.
So, that’s like one example, like the science coming into the hypnotherapy world, and then, another example that I want to give, another science, suggestion, another science I think it was done quite some time ago, is when they were studying people, I believe it was piano or play or some musicians that were preparing for a performance of some sorts. And they were studying them as they were practicing, you know, their scales and everything in real life.
They also set them to practice it in an imaginative setting, like imagining doing that. They found that the people who practiced it in their imagination were better compared to the control group; again, don’t quote me on it; I will have to go to the science portion of that article that I’m quoting right now; it’s been a while since I read it even though that’s my focus. My cat is so crying, but anyway, if in hypnosis, we can have a practice moment when people can like get a taste of the skills they can use in real life, and they can get better at them faster. Why not do it?
You could be sitting down doing your hypnosis session on your own, practicing that skill of becoming more aware of when you begin to overanalyze or overthink, and then when the real moment in life happens when uncertainty hits, you’ll be more prepared to do it in real life if you had some practice. I mean, that’s pretty obvious. Everything you practice, whether in real life or anything else, when you prepare for the situation, you will perform better. In that situation. I have a couple more in mind, but I want to stop there because I think that’s a good start.
What Happens In A Brain During Hypnosis?
So anything else you want me to touch more about? Like what happens in a brain during hypnosis? It’s a million-dollar question. Let’s put it like that. People are studying it in depth, and there are different ideas about what happens there; depending on what school of thought of Hypnotherapy you are, you will see something else.
You will see something different; there’s something that’s happening with the areas of attention; of course, you are inviting the person to get absorbed in the experience, although all of those areas that correspond to attention fire up, and a lot of the work happens in the prefrontal cortex I don’t know how much of that necessary to dissect for the people to get the benefit of anxiety, we can talk about neuroplasticity about how our brain changes itself throughout the whole life that it’s no longer accepted the fact that our neurons like stop and don’t move, don’t change anymore after we like our brain fully developed. No.
There is a scientifically proven fact that our brains are plastic. If you like to use that as a way to shed more light on the hypnosis, I love that metaphor; for me, neuroplasticity is a metaphor about how plastic we are, our habits of plastic, and our skills are plastic because there is then it there is much hope that we can change. We can because it depends on what we do; our brain responds, and I’ll stop there to open it up for you. I feel like I’ve been talking for a while, and let’s hope it made sense.
Meditation vs. Mindfulness vs. Hypnosis
NourishDoc: You have briefly educated our viewers on when someone goes into a hypnosis session. We have researched meditation and how it helps with the brain cells, so that’s the ending; note here for our session. It would help if you compared what happens with meditation to our brain versus a hypnosis session. Please elaborate a little bit before we wrap up.
Hypnotherapist Elena: It’s a good question because, honestly, Hypnotherapy and specifically guided meditation are very similar. We are not talking about meditation when the person meditates with themselves. I meditate like focusing on my breath without anybody else guiding me. That would be somewhat different in the brain even though there are still those same areas of attention that must be in because we are very much paying attention to stimuli of some sort.
Unfortunately, I can give you without preparing ahead of time for that, like meditation versus hypnosis, I can probably definitely do it if I go into science and spend time on a Google scholar for a little bit, but I’m pretty sure there’s a very much similar area there are activated guided meditation, guided specifically not want to when you meditate on your with yourself and hypnosis because it’s very much this in many places in many ways it’s the same.
Suppose you want to explore that topic, like read the book about it. In that case, there is a book that my mentor wrote we can put in a quote in a note somewhere that goes into very much in-depth comparing guided meditation, mindfulness meditation, and hypnosis; it’s called mindfulness meditation and hypnosis I think so I have it in my shelf somewhere, and Michael Yapko writes it. He dissects Hypnotherapy versus meditation like, step by step. That would be the best resource from this point on because I can give it more on that besides just saying they’re very similar in terms of how they impact the brain.
NourishDoc: Okay, and that’s what I thought, and that’s what at the point I wanted to make today is the guided meditation and hypnosis are similar concepts, you know, guided meditation is someone who’s talking to you, and then going in a trans-state, same thing as hypnosis, it’s a different type of, you know, in a sense like the talking, you know, I’m not an expert here, but I’m just putting in a non-specialist’s language. But the effect is the same on the brain, so it’s a very similar modality on the same principle.
So, what I wanted to bring today is Hypnotherapy which most don’t know or don’t even consider; I want to bring it out and introduce that as a very strong modality that has very solid research and science and offers programs and workshops specifically for women who are feeling anxious, anxiety, stress, and burnout, so that was the whole intention of this program. So thank you so much. I appreciate Elena for explaining it well with the science and the research. You also explain different types of Hypnotherapy, a different type of meditation. Thank you for that, and have a great weekend, everyone. Anything else you want to say before I close the session today?
Hypnotherapist Elena: If I were you, if I were somebody watching this, I would explore the work of the person I mentioned, Professor Michael Yapko, because he is a psychologist and psychotherapist. He has been in this field for decades. Suppose you want to get good-quality information on a hypnotherapy topic and explore it deeper. In that case, that’s the person to study or have us peek into his work because many voices in this industry are not trained or educated properly, but that’s a great resource. Or you can check out my account. But I’m his humble student and hope to get as good as he is one day.
NourishDoc: No, we’ll check out your account. So thank you so much, and have a great weekend, everyone. Thank you. Bye bye.