What is it?
Hypnotherapy is hypnosis used for therapeutic purposes. Hypnosis is a state of mind in which someone has reduced awareness and is responsive to instructions.
It’s not clear how hypnosis works. It’s been linked to changes in the body, including changes in skin temperature and heart rate. Some of these changes might help the body to relax and reduce feelings of anxiety. Some people may respond better to hypnotherapy than others.
People use hypnotherapy for various types of pain, alcohol use disorder, anxiety, asthma, constipation, depression, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support many of these uses.
Possibly Effective for …
- Stomach pain. Hypnotherapy seems to help reduce stomach pain in children. But it’s not clear which type of hypnotherapy works best.
- A long-term disorder of the large intestines that causes stomach pain (irritable bowel syndrome or IBS). Hypnotherapy seems to help reduce symptoms of IBS in some adults and children.
- Acute pain. Hypnotherapy might help reduce different types of acute pain in both adults and children.
- Chronic pain. Hypnotherapy seems to help with different types of chronic pain in adults. But it’s not clear if it helps in children.
Possibly Ineffective for …
- Childbirth. Practicing self-hypnosis doesn’t seem to help reduce complications during childbirth.
There is interest in using hypnotherapy for a number of other purposes, but there isn’t enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy: Hypnotherapy is possibly safe when used appropriately. Self-hypnosis has been used during childbirth without any known serious side effects. But hypnotherapy shouldn’t be used in place of more proven therapies.
Breast-feeding: There isn’t enough information to know how hypnotherapy might affect breast-feeding. But there’s no reason to expect safety concerns when used correctly. Hypnotherapy shouldn’t be used in place of more proven therapies.
Children: Hypnotherapy is possibly safe when used appropriately. But hypnotherapy shouldn’t be used in place of more proven therapies.
There is no standard licensing for hypnotherapists in the US, but certifications are granted by multiple organizations. Many different types of hypnotherapy are practiced, including mindful hypnotherapy, Erikson’s hypnosis, cognitive hypnotherapy, and gut-directed hypnotherapy. Talk to your physician or other healthcare professional before using this treatment. Hypnotherapy shouldn’t be used in place of more proven therapies.
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