Could hypnotherapy work for you? Dr Miriam Stoppard

The Mirror - 2 February 2009

There’s been a lot of talk lately about people using hypnotherapy to lose weight.

Its practitioners say they can make a difference because many people’s weight problems are caused by emotional factors.

That could mean they are doing it to combat stress or low self-esteem, or even to please others (mum has made your favourite chocolate cake again!).

Hypnotherapy aims to replace negative thoughts and beliefs that encourage unhealthy or destructive behaviour with positive ones so you make healthy food choices effortlessly.

It’s been used to treat sleeplessness, help pregnant women, aid quitting smoking and many other things.

While there’s no hard evidence I’ve come across that suggests hypnotherapy can help you lose weight, it wouldn’t surprise me if one day it’s proven to work.

I used to be a sceptic, then years ago I took part in a TV programme where pregnant women were taught self-hypnosis to help them sleep.

Determined to prove it didn’t work, I tried it out myself at home – and promptly dropped off. Now I use it every night.

Since then I’ve been interested in its various uses and I’ve seen it help women combat pain – and stay in control – during childbirth.

While much more research needs to be done, it does seem to show promise for certain conditions. Power of the mind

Hypnosis is a powerful, natural and safe state of relaxation where we’re fully awake and in control.

And, believe it or not, we all enter into it several times a day – for instance, you may have got up, eaten breakfast and made your way to work without thinking about everything you did consciously.

You’re on autopilot but still fully aware of what’s going on.

We also have to go through state of hypnosis when we fall asleep every night – in fact, it’s impossible to drop off without it.

As you enter this state, your conscious mind moves into the background, while your subconscious comes forward. This is when your mind is at its most suggestible and the hypnotherapist can get to work, helping to allay your fears and anxieties.

It’s also possible to do this yourself, either by listening to a CD or going through a script in your mind. But it doesn’t work for everyone. What happens in a session

First the therapist will talk to you about the background to your problem or situation, how you feel about it and your desired outcome.

Then they’ll put you into a state of relaxation, making positive statements and suggestions. During the session, you’ll remember everything and the hypnotherapist can’t make you do anything against your will.

The number of sessions needed varies. Ways we can feel the benefit Despite claims, there’s no reliable research that hypnotherapy can work for stopping smoking, phobias, headaches and back pain. But it’s looking good in these areas…

Hypnotherapy is proven to be effective in controlling pain during childbirth. Several studies show it can shorten labour time and reduce pain, complications and need for medication significantly, compared with normal breathing and relaxation techniques. Some studies even suggest it can reduce the risk of postnatal depression.

There’s good evidence that hypnotherapy works in the long term for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In a study on 200 patients in Manchester, more than 70 per cent said the treatment reduced the severity of their symptoms for up to five years. They were given one-hour sessions of hypnotherapy over 12 weeks. The treatment also reduced levels of anxiety and depression but for a shorter time. It’s not clear what causes IBS but the researchers believe hypnotherapy may alter the way the brain responds to pain messages.

A 2006 US study on 84 school-age children found just a couple of hypnotherapy sessions were effective in combating insomnia. Among those who took more than half an hour to get to sleep, 90 per cent reported improvements after the sessions, as did half those who’d complained about waking up during the night. As far back as 1999, a British Medical Journal review of reports on hypnosis and relaxation therapies concluded that hypnosis is of value in treating insomnia.

Cancer-related symptoms
Some research shows hypnotherapy can help cancer patients, especially children, to combat nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy.

How to get it
Some psychologists, counsellors and doctors practise hypnotherapy. Ask your GP’s opinion on whether it may work for your problem and he or she may even recommend a practitioner. It’s unlikely, though not impossible, to get it on the NHS. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay.

Not only is hypnosis a relaxing and pleasant experience, but it has been used successfully in the treatment of insomnia, weight loss, IBS, stop smoking, panic attacks, etc.  All the hypnotherapists at the Harley Street Hypnotherapy Clinic in London are fully certified and experienced in hypnotherapy.  Speak to one of the hypnotherapists at the London Hypnotherapy Clinic and change your life with hypnosis.

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