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How do psychologists and psychiatrists use hypnotism in conjunction with traditional therapy?

Hypnosis And Therapy

John McGrail, C.Ht. (Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist) gives expert video advice on: What types of mental conditions or disorders respond best to hypnotherapy?; How can hypnosis help me cope with my phobias?; How can hypnosis help me better handle stress? and more...

How do psychologists and psychiatrists use hypnotism in conjunction with traditional therapy?

If a person is suffering from a diagnosed mental disorder, then hypnotherapy, in and of itself, is not indicated as a treatment without the appropriate referral and consultation of a licensed mental health professional. In other words, a person like me, who's a lay- hypnotherapist, I've got a lot of psychological training that I've received in learning how to do hypnotherapy, but I am not a licensed psychotherapist. So if someone comes in to me with, say, clinical depression or bipolar, or worse and I recognize it – and I've been trained to recognize it although I'm not trained to diagnose it or treat it – if I recognize something that I feel is beyond the scope of what I've been trained to do, then I am required to seek the written approval and referral of a licensed psychotherapist. Now hypnosis can be a very powerful adjunct, and I work with a great number of psychologists, marriage and family therapists, licensed clinical social workers, and psychiatrists, in conjunction with their treatment, hypnotherapy has been very powerful, and I have seen people just do amazing things. Once again, it's not magic. It's not for everyone and it's not always even indicated. There are certain conditions like psychotic conditions and schizophrenia, for example, where hypnosis would not be the indicated treatment. And so it's a very slippery slope as to whether there's going to be efficacy or not. I would say, guardedly, that most conditions, if treated appropriately by the right licensed psychotherapist or mental health professional and a well-qualified hypnotherapist respond quite well.

How does hypnosis enhance traditional therapy?

Traditional cognitive psychotherapy is that it is done at a cognitive level. The therapist and the patient are talking in a cautious, alert state. Hypnosis deals with the mind at a somewhat deeper level, perhaps a much deeper level. We work with the subconscious part of the mind. It's important to remember that in most states, and the state of California is one of them, a lay hypnotherapist, who is not a trained or licensed mental health professional, is not allowed to, nor should, treat a psychogenic, psychological disorder, disease without the written approval and referral in consultation, of someone who is trained to treat and diagnose these issues and that is very very important. However, in conjunction with traditional therapy, hypnotherapy can speed the process of recovery and I have seen results that people would say are magical.

What is "Ericksonian" hypnosis?

Milton Erickson is a fabulous and very interesting figure in modern hypnotherapy. He was trained as a classic physician. He was a psychiatrist, and was one of the first, I think, to really use hypnosis as a therapeutic tool in the practice of psychiatry. In those days psychiatrists did more therapy than they do today. (I say that with quotes because some, I'm sure, still do). Psychiatry is more known as a medication discipline now. Milton Erickson did a lot of one on one therapy with clients, and used hypnosis in very unique and subtle ways. He had a technique that he called "indirect permissive suggestion", whereby he would weave hypnotic suggestions into a very lilting speech pattern, and the person would be accepting these hypnotic suggestions without even knowing that they were getting them: "You know? You know how much you know. You know what you need to, and you know exactly what to do, don't you? What I say." That's a very, very tiny example of an Ericksonian technique. So, he revolutionised, in my opinion, the use of hypnosis as a therapeutic tool in the 20th century. His techniques are marvellous for people who are afraid of hypnosis, or resistant, and/or just don't want to entertain the notion of going into "trance", because he induced it, and his techniques induce it in such a subtle and exquisite way that the person can have a session and never even know they had a session.

What types of mental conditions or disorders respond best to hypnotherapy?

Every mind is unique. Everyone responds to therapeutic methodologies in their own way. Some people respond very, very profoundly. I can say this – if there were mental disorders that don't respond well to hypnosis, the ones that come to mind most are psychosis, in particular disorders like schizophrenia or perhaps multiple personality. However, there probably is no psychological disorder that I have found in the literature through all the years of studying that won't respond in some way. People tend to respond very, very well, for instance, to treatment for fears, phobias, anxiety, sometimes panic disorder, social phobias. But to just say this and this and this and this responds well would not be fair because everybody is different. The person that responds well to one thing might not respond well to something else.