Definition of Hypnosis
|The Society of Psychological Hypnosis, Division 30 of the American Psychological Association defines hypnosis as:
This shift in consciousness enables us to tap into many of our natural abilities and allows us to make change more quickly. Because hypnosis allows people to use more of their potential, learning self-hypnosis is the ultimate act of self-control.
While there is agreement that certain effects of hypnosis exist, and with imaging we have shown that different parts of the brain are firing when a person is using hypnosis, there are still some differences of opinion within the research and clinical communities about how hypnosis works. Some researchers believe that hypnosis can be used by individuals to the degree they possess a hypnotic trait, much as they have traits associated with height, body size, hair color, etc. Other professionals who study and use hypnosis believe hypnotic ability can be learned and can be enhanced through practice. But research does demonstrate that hypnotic communication and suggestions effectively change aspects of the person’s physiological and neurological functions.
Professionals use clinical hypnosis to help clients bring about both psychological and physiological change in three main ways. First, they may use mental imagery or one’s imagination. The mind is capable of using imagery, even if it is only symbolic, to assist us in bringing about the changes we are working toward.
A second basic hypnotic method is to present ideas or suggestions to the patient. In a state of concentrated attention, ideas and suggestions that are compatible with what the patient wants have a more powerful impact on the mind.
Finally, hypnosis may be used for unconscious exploration, to better understand underlying motivations or identify whether past events or experiences are associated with causing a problem. The effectiveness of hypnosis appears to lie in the way in which it bypasses the critical observation and interference of the conscious mind, allowing the client's intentions for change to take effect.
Myths of Hypnosis
People often fear that being hypnotized will make them lose control, surrender their will, and result in their being dominated, but a hypnotic state is not the same thing as gullibility or weakness. Many people base their assumptions about hypnotism on stage acts but fail to take into account that stage hypnotists screen their volunteers to select those who are cooperative, with possible exhibitionist tendencies, as well as responsive to hypnosis. Stage acts help create a myth about hypnosis which discourages people from seeking legitimate hypnotherapy.
Another myth about hypnosis is that people lose consciousness and have amnesia. A small percentage of subjects, who go into very deep levels of trance will fit this stereotype and have spontaneous amnesia. The majority of people remember everything that occurs in hypnosis. This is beneficial, because most of what we want to accomplish in hypnosis may be done in a medium depth trance, where people tend to remember everything.
In hypnosis, the patient is not under the control of the hypnotist. Hypnosis is not something imposed on people, but something they do for themselves. A hypnotist simply serves as a facilitator to guide them.
When Hypnosis Will be Beneficial
We believe that hypnosis will be optimally effective when the patient is highly motivated to overcome a problem and when the professional is well trained in both hypnoses and in general considerations relating to the treatment of the particular problem. Some individuals seem to have higher native hypnotic talent and capacity that may allow them to benefit more readily from hypnosis.
It is important to keep in mind that hypnosis is like any other therapeutic modality: it is of major benefit to some patients with some problems, and it is helpful with many other patients, but it can fail, just like any other clinical method. For this reason, we emphasize that we are not "hypnotists", but health care professionals who use hypnosis along with other tools of our professions.
Selecting a Qualified Professional
An advisory word to consumers on selecting a qualified practitioner of hypnosis.
Many practitioners claim to offer hypnosis to the public for a variety of purposes; losing weight, managing pain or stopping smoking, etc. Frequently, extravagant statements and guarantees are presented in a sensationalistic way, and it can be confusing for those wishing to learn hypnosis to know where to turn. One way to reduce that confusion is to ask yourself, “Is this practitioner able to help me without using hypnosis?" Or to say it another way, 'How do I know I can trust this person to solve my problem safely?'
ASCH recommends that when you are selecting a professional to assist with a particular symptom or goal, you choose a health care provider who is properly trained, licensed, and credentialed. This means that the individual has graduate training and holds a currently valid license in a health care field, such as medicine, dentistry, psychiatry, psychology, social work, or nursing. This generally also means that the individual holds an academic degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher education, and has had supervised experience in offering their professional services to clients and patients. An additional benefit of choosing a licensed health care provider is that your health care insurance may reimburse for services provided, although you should determine this in advance by contacting your insurer or asking your provider.
ASCH encourages you to inquire about the training and experience of any practitioner of hypnosis you intend to consult, in advance. Ask about their professional affiliations and background (medicine, psychology, social work, etc.). It is important to note that every member of ASCH must also be eligible for membership in their respective clinical organizations such as the: American Medical Assn, American Psychological Association, National Assn of Social Workers, American Dental Assn. , and they must adhere to relevant ethics codes and state and federal laws pertaining to their work. If they are members of ASCH, they must also comply with the Code of Conduct of ASCH.
We hope that this has been helpful in selecting a health care professional to better meet your needs. If you have any further questions about deciding on whom to consult for hypnosis or related matters, please contact the ASCH central office.
Regionally Accredited Institutions
Regional accreditation consists of a voluntary, independent evaluation of the educational institution to determine that the curriculum is of uniform and sound quality, as established by criteria set by the accrediting organization.
Accreditation is important because it: (1) determines an educational institution’s eligibility for participation in federal (Title IV) and state financial aid programs; (2) allows for acceptance and transfer of college credit; and (3) is a prerequisite for many graduate programs.
The most recognized and accepted type of accreditation in the United States is regional accreditation. There are six geographic regions in the United States with agencies that accredit colleges and university higher education programs. They are as follows: 1) New England Association of Schools and Colleges, 2) the Middle States, Association of Colleges and Schools, 3) North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, 4) Northwest Association of School and Colleges, 5) Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and 6) Western Association of Schools and Colleges; Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.
The simplest way to determine whether or not an educational institution is accredited is to visit the regional accrediting board website for their area and looking up the institution name.
FAQs About Hypnosis
What is clinical hypnosis?
Clinical hypnosis is an altered state of awareness, perception, or consciousness that is used, by licensed and trained doctors or master's prepared individuals, for treating a psychological or physical problem. It is a highly relaxed state.
Hypnosis is a state of inner absorption, concentration, and focused attention. It is like using a magnifying glass to focus the rays of the sun and make them more powerful. Similarly, when our minds are concentrated and focused, we are able to use our minds more powerfully. Because hypnosis allows people to use more of their potential, learning self-hypnosis is the ultimate act of self-control.
While there is general agreement that certain effects of hypnosis exist, there are differences of opinion within the research and clinical communities about how hypnosis works. Some researchers believe that hypnosis can be used by individuals to the degree they possess a hypnotic trait, much as they have traits associated with height, body size, hair color, etc. Other professionals who study and use hypnosis believe there are strong cognitive and interpersonal components that affect an individual's response to hypnotic environments and suggestions.
Recent research supports the view that hypnotic communication and suggestions effectively change aspects of the person's physiological and neurological functions.
What training is required to do hypnosis, and how can I find a qualified professional?
The use of hypnosis is restricted to psychologists and other health professionals such as physicians, dentists and master prepared nurses, social workers, or marital/family therapists licensed for this technique. It is to be used in conformance with their own training and licensing laws. Most cities have a state or local professional society which may be contacted for names of professionals.
The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis takes a very strong position that hypnosis for the treatment of medical and psychological conditions should only be performed by licensed clinicians. This includes physicians, dentists, chiropractors and master's prepared nurses, social workers, and marital/family therapists. Hypnosis is to be used in conformance with their own training and licensing laws. Most locales have a state or local professional society which can be contacted for names of professionals competent to provide hypnotic treatment.
Is hypnosis a new technique?
Hypnosis has been used for a long as records have been kept. Modern clinical hypnosis is dated from the late 1700s, and the use of hypnosis has grown by leaps and bounds since 1958.
What is hypnosis used for?
In the mental health area, it is used for phobias, anxiety, sexual problems, alcoholism, smoking control, speech disorders, weight control, chronic pain, age regression therapy, self-esteem/ego strengthening, memory/concentration improvement, and forensic work. In medicine, it uses include anesthesia and surgery, obstetrics/gynecology, control of bleeding, pain control, burns therapy, dermatology, and habit control. Dentistry uses it to control fear, dental surgery, saliva control, gagging, bruxism, control of bleeding, tongue biting, and general oral hygiene.
What about the length and cost of treatment?
The length of treatment will vary depending on the nature and severity of the problem. Hypnosis is one tool and may be used in conjunction with other forms of treatment. The cost will vary in different parts of the nation. You need to discuss finances openly with your health care professional. Most insurance companies will cover 50% - 80% of the cost of individual therapy only if treated by licensed professionals. Hypnosis often helps quicken the pace of treatment.
What are some misconceptions about hypnosis?
You will not become unconscious and you will be aware of everything at all times. Your will is not weakened in any way. You are in control and cannot be made to do anything against your will. You will not begin to reveal information you wish to keep a secret. Hypnosis is not sleeping.
One common misconception is that a hypnotized person loses their will and is partially or completely under the command of the hypnotist. Nothing could be further from the truth. This unfortunate belief is reinforced by many stage hypnotists. You are in control of yourself, and cannot be made to do anything that is against your will.
Hypnosis, particularly the deeper forms, can appear to be like sleep because the person's body is typically very still and quiet. There is usually a great deal of mental activity, and measurements of brain activity during hypnosis show a significant level of neurological activity.
Uses of Hypnosis in Medicine
Hypnosis may be used in the following disorders and/or circumstances:
- Gastrointestinal Disorders (Ulcers, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Colitis, Crohn’s Disease);
- Dermatologic Disorders (Eczema, Herpes, Neurodermatitis, Pruritus [itching], Psoriasis, Warts);
- Surgery/Anesthesiology (In unusual circumstances, hypnosis has been used as the sole anesthetic for surgery, including the removal of the gall bladder, amputation, cesarean section, and hysterectomy. Reasons for using hypnosis as the sole anesthetic may include: situations where chemical anesthesia is contraindicated because of allergies or hyper-sensitivities; when organic problems increase the risk of using chemoanesthesia; and in some conditions where it is ideal for the patient to be able to respond to questions or directives from the surgeon);
- Acute and Chronic Pain (back pain, cancer pain, dental anesthesia, headaches and migraines, arthritis or rheumatism);
- Burns: Hypnosis is not only effective for the pain, but when hypnotic anesthesia and feelings of coolness are created in the first few hours after a significant burn, it appears that it also reduces inflammation and promotes healing. We believe that a second-degree burn can often be kept from going third degree if hypnosis is used soon after the injury;
- Nausea and Vomiting Associated with chemotherapy and pregnancy (hyperemesis gravidarum);
- Childbirth: Based upon our members' anecdotal evidence, approximately two-thirds of women have been found capable of using hypnosis as the sole analgesia for labor. This eliminates the risks that medications can pose to both the mother and child;
- Hemophilia: Hemophilia patients can often be taught to use self-hypnosis to control vascular flow and keep from requiring a blood transfusion;
- Allergies, asthma;
- High blood pressure (hypertension);
- Raynaud’s disease
Hypnosis in Psychotherapy and Behavioral Medicine
Hypnosis may be employed in the following circumstances:
- Trauma (incest, rape, physical and emotional abuse, cult abuse);
- Anxiety and stress management;
- Bed-wetting (enuresis);
- Sports and athletic performance;
- Smoking cessation;
- Obesity and weight control;
- Sexual dysfunctions;
- Sleep disorders;
- Concentration difficulties, test anxiety, and learning disorders
Uses of Hypnosis in Dentistry
Hypnosis may be used with dentistry in the following situations:
- Behavior Modification
- Relaxation, Anxiety Control
- Fear Elimination
- Quelling Undesirable Habits, Tongue Thrust, Reverse Swallowing, TMJ Dysfunction, Bruxism, Clenching
- Analgesia, Anesthesia, Pain Control
- Prevention of Gagging and Nausea
- Control of Saliva and Bleeding
- Creative visualization for healing
- Restorative Appliance Tolerance, Pretreatment Desensitization
- Self-image, Self-esteem, and Confidence
Hypnosis is Safe and Effective
The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH) is an interdisciplinary organization of medical, dental, and mental health professionals interested in the clinical use of hypnosis. ASCH promotes the understanding and use of hypnosis as a clinical tool with broad applications in medicine, dentistry, and mental health. ASCH offers training and certification programs and provides practitioners with ethical treatment guidelines for the clinical use of hypnosis by trained and licensed professionals.
ASCH believes that hypnosis will be optimally effective when the patient is highly motivated to overcome a problem and when the practitioner is well trained in both hypnoses and in the general considerations relating to the treatment of the particular problem.
It is important to keep in mind that hypnosis is like any other therapeutic tool: it is of major benefit to some patients with some problems, and it is helpful with many other patients, but it may not always be effective, just like any other clinical method. For this reason, we emphasize that we are not “hypnotists”, but health care professionals who use hypnosis along with other tools of our professions. ASCH members strive to attain the highest levels of professional competence and only use hypnosis within the bounds of their training, expertise, and license.
ASCH does not support the practice of hypnosis by individuals who lack professional education and clinical training in a health care discipline. Many practitioners claim to offer hypnosis to the public for a variety of purposes such as: losing weight, managing pain, or stopping smoking, etc. Frequently, extravagant statements and guarantees are presented in a sensational way, and it can be confusing for those wishing to use hypnosis to know where to turn. One way to reduce that confusion is to ask yourself, “Is this practitioner able to help me without using hypnosis?" Or to say it another way, ‘How do I know I can trust this person to solve my problem safely?’
ASCH recommends that when selecting a practitioner to assist with a particular symptom or goal, you choose a health care professional who is properly trained, licensed, and credentialed. ASCH encourages you to inquire in advance about the training and experience of any practitioner of hypnosis you intend to consult. Ask about their training, current license, professional affiliations, and background.
To be eligible for Full Membership in ASCH, applicants must hold a master's or doctoral degree in a health care discipline deemed appropriate by the Society. The degree must be awarded from a college or university accredited by its appropriate regional accrediting body. In addition, applicants must be licensed or certified in the state in which they practice. The applicant must also be eligible for, or a member of, a professional society consistent with their degree, such as the: AMA, APA, or ADA, have a stated interest in the clinical use of hypnosis and have successfully completed a minimum of twenty hours of ASCH approved clinical hypnosis training.
ASCH offers three levels of workshop training (Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced) four to six times per year. In addition, ASCH holds an annual scientific meeting and workshops on clinical hypnosis. All workshops conform to ASCH’s Standards of Training, which ensures that participants receive quality, comprehensive training. ASCH workshops are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the American Psychological Association, the Academy of General Dentistry, the National Association of Social Workers, and the California Board of Behavioral Sciences.
ASCH also administers a program that offers non-statutory voluntary credentialing in clinical hypnosis. Certification provides recognition of the advanced clinician who has met fundamental educational training requirements in clinical hypnosis. While certification does not automatically imply competence, it does indicate that the practitioner has undergone advanced training in his/her profession and has obtained a legitimate advanced degree from an accredited institution of higher learning; is licensed or certified to practice in his/her state or province; has had his/her education and training in clinical hypnosis peer-reviewed, and such training has met the minimum requirements set forth in the Standards of Training and has been determined to have received the minimum educational training that ASCH considers necessary for utilizing hypnosis.
For More Information
Contact the ASCH Central Office (410) 940-6585 for more information on ASCH or to arrange an interview with ASCH Leadership.
Clinical Hypnosis Day
Celebrating Clinical Hypnosis Day
Welcome to our Clinical Hypnosis Day (CHD) webpage where you will find a host of resources to celebrate Clinical Hypnosis Day on May 23rd. Clinical Hypnosis Day is a day to raise awareness of the clinical applications of hypnosis through educating professional health care providers and the public.
Why May 23rd? It is Franz Mesmer’s birthday. Mesmer holds a special place in hypnosis history bringing this powerful healing modality to the public’s attention in the late 1700s. We celebrate Clinical Hypnosis Day to recognize and reflect upon the many advances in research, knowledge, and application of hypnosis from then to now.
Benefits of Celebrating Clinical Hypnosis Day
- Hosting free talks for the public, universities, and professional associations creates new excitement for hypnosis in your local area.
- Raises awareness and support for hypnosis through connecting with local government officials to make a proclamation for an official day of recognition in your community.
- Supports education about the benefits of clinical hypnosis in the fields of medicine, nursing, dentistry, psychology, and other health-related fields.
- Connects the public and professionals to an important resource for finding qualified professionals who specialize in clinical hypnosis.
Clinical Hypnosis Day Toolkit
On this website, we provide many resources for individuals and component sections to use in celebrating Clinical Hypnosis Day. Our CHD Toolkit includes:
- Proclamation letters declaring a Clinical Day of Hypnosis
- Informational papers/flyers for training and education
- Media tips and guidelines to get your events and information advertised
- Ideas for celebrating CHD
- Advertising samples: articles, news clips
- Sample event schedules
- Additional resources: access to hypnosis videos, etc.
How Can You Be Involved?
There are many creative ways you and the component society can be involved in celebrating CHD.
• Check out the CHD Toolkit on the ASCH website provided here. There are many turn-key materials just waiting for you.
• Consider how you / the component section wants to celebrate CHD. Perhaps a free talk, a half-day health event where hypnosis is featured, a local television talk show, or even a lunch-time presentation in your place of employment.
• Approach your local government officials to make a proclamation for CHD in your city. This is a great way to get publicity in your local area. Additionally, this will contribute to the grassroots movement to support creating CHD on the national level.
• Consider contributing materials to be included in this Toolkit.
Have Fun Celebrating Clinical Hypnosis Day!
Surgery with Hypnosis as the Sole Anesthesia
Understanding the science of pain with the help of virtual reality on www.pbs.org: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/understanding-science-pain-help-virtual-reality/