By Roger Moore
When I tell people I’m a medical hypnotherapist, I’m usually met with a bewildered look. If you’re like most people, you’ve probably seen stage show hypnosis either in person or on TV and may be wondering if I’ll make you cluck like a chicken—well, only if you really want to cluck like a chicken!
The use of hypnosis for healing has been documented since prehistoric times, but it wasn’t until 1958 that is was accepted for medical use. Medical hypnosis is a science increasingly recognized for its therapeutic applications and is now being used in hospitals and medical settings throughout the world.
What is hypnosis?
Let’s start with what hypnosis isn’t. Hypnosis is not being controlled by someone else or being out of control; it is not sleep, loss of consciousness, trickery or control by the devil. A hypnotherapist can’t make you do anything you don’t want to do. So again, you will only cluck like a chicken if you want to.
There are two important concepts for you to understand: hypnosis is the ultimate state of self-control, and all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. When you are driving down the road and hear the first note of a song on the radio and immediately start to sing it, you are in radio trance. When you eat too much food too fast, you are in a food trance. There are stress trances, relationship trances, pain trances and trances for every other mental state.
A hypnotherapist acts as your tour guide; they teach you mindfulness-based tools that you can use to break unhealthy and unwanted trances and become mindful and in control of your thoughts, emotions and behavior.
Hypnosis for medical purposes is used to augment your professional medical treatment. It is not an alternative or replacement for professional medical care, but it does offer you the possibility of beneficial change even in difficult cases. Often this change can occur quickly.
Medical hypnosis is all about empowering your subconscious mind—your inner healer—to boost your own natural healing abilities. This empowers you to participate more fully in your medical treatment and can inspire greater independence.
The efficacy of medical hypnosis has been documented in more than 12,000 peer- reviewed studies and is considered the first-line treatment for many health-related conditions. Here are just a few examples:
- An analysis of five weight loss studies reported in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology in 1996 showed that the “… weight loss reported in the five studies indicates that hypnosis can more than double the effects” of traditional weight loss approaches. 
- Studies show that during surgery, hypnotized women required 22% less pain medication and 34% less sedation. 
- The evidence is overwhelming that hypnotherapy produces dramatic results in improvement of symptoms for over 80% of IBS sufferers. 
At a time when cost-effectiveness is critical, medical hypnosis offers a valuable therapeutic tool for both patients and physicians.
 Cochrane, Gordon; Friesen, J. (1986). Hypnotherapy in weight loss treatment. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 54, 489-492.
 Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Sept. 5, 2007 (J Natl Cancer Inst. 2007 Sep 5;99(17):1304-12. Epub 2007 Aug 28)
 Mulak, A. (n.d.). Faculty of 1000 evaluation for Hypnotherapy for irritable bowel syndrome: An audit of one thousand adult patients. F1000 – Post-publication Peer Review of the Biomedical Literature. doi:10.3410/f.725376135.793504892
NOTE: This article first appeared in Desert Health, page 19.
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