Clinical hypnosis and Guided Imagery are two of the oldest forms of therapy known to humankind, with descriptions of these approaches found in ancient Egyptian, Greek and Hindu temples dating back thousands of years. With nearly 10,000 published studies involving hypnosis, which often involves the use of guided imagery, these approaches remain among the most studied of all therapeutic approaches.
Imagery represents the fundamental "language" of the mind and body. Guided imagery directs this non-verbal language to elicit healing effects. Hypnosis, in spite of centuries of experiences all around the globe is still difficult to define in a simple and widely accepted manner. The word hypnosis continues to evoke reactions to its apparent "power" and "mystery". Essentially, hypnosis, like guided imagery, involves focused attention directed toward a positive therapeutic outcome. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines hypnosis as, "a procedure during which a health professional or researcher suggests that a client, patient or subject experience changes in sensations, perceptions, thoughts, or behavior."
There are common misconceptions in particular about hypnosis that sometimes discourage people from seeking to use this very powerful and proven method for achieving desired personal change. For example, hypnosis does not involve losing control over your behavior and being made to do things you do not want to or that violate your personal values. It does not involve loss of awareness of who you are or where you are, loss of memory or, conversely, being able to retrieve lost memories that a person is not otherwise ready and able to recall. Going into hypnosis does not mean you are "weak-minded" or subject to the "power" of the therapist. And, being in hypnosis is not the same as being asleep.
Common applications of hypnosis and guided imagery include:
- Habit control (e.g. smoking cessation or weight loss
- Depression or anxiety disorders
- Pain problems
- Medical or dental procedures, obstetrics (e.g. labor and delivery)
- Sexual dysfunction
- Trauma resolution
- Mind-body oriented treatments for a variety of acute and chronic health problems (e.g. IBS, fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue syndrome, headache/migraine).
For further information on hypnosis you may refer to the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH) website at www.asch.net. For information on guided imagery, please refer to www.healthjourneys.com.