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What is Hypnosis?

There are many definitions for hypnosis; however, I feel this is the best explanation:

Hypnosis is simply an inwardly-focused awareness used to bypass the Conscious Mind in order to access the Subconscious Mind, the part of us that runs the physiology of the body.

If a person can follow instructions, they can be hypnotized. Everyone goes in and out of hypnosis throughout the day, and no matter what people might think, everyone has been hypnotized. Your very first hypnotist was your mother when she rocked you in her arms as an infant, singing you a lullaby.

Patient hypnosis with Dr. Emile Allen

Even though a hypnotist might use the word “sleep” to guide a person into hypnosis, hypnosis is not sleep. A person actually has an increased sense of awareness while in hypnosis, whereas in sleep they do not.

There are so many myths and misconceptions surrounding hypnosis that are completely false and based on Hollywood's portrayal of hypnotists. No one can be hypnotized against their will. A hypnotist cannot make a person do anything that is in a violation of their morals. The person must be a willing participant. Therefore, all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. The hypnotist is just the guide.

A Brief History of Hypnosis in Medicine

Medical hypnosis with Dr. Emile Allen

Medical hypnosis is not new. As early as the 19th Century, physicians were the first to study hypnosis in patient care, and it has been backed by a century of scientific studies published in medical journals. Just do a PubMed search, and you’ll see hundreds of articles on its use for IBS/IBD, Warts, Dermatitis, Stress and Anxiety, Head Aches, Cancer, and Pain Management.

The American Medical Association (AMA), the British Medical Association (BMA), and the American Psychological Association (APA) have all recognized hypnosis as an appropriate medical modality for a variety of conditions, and currently major university hospitals and cancer centers use hypnosis on a regular basis as an adjunct for patient care. There is a CPT code, and insurance companies reimburse for hypnosis.

1892: BMA was among the first professional organizations to investigate hypnotherapy as a potential treatment.

1958: AMA stated that “Hypnosis has a recognized place in the medical armamentarium and is a useful technique in the treatment of certain illnesses when employed by qualified medical and dental personnel.”

1960: APA followed the AMA stance on hypnosis.

1961:  AMA Council on Mental Health recommended that medical students and doctors complete 144 hours of hypnotherapy training.

1995: NIH validated the effectiveness of hypnosis for Chronic Pain in cancer, IBS, and tension headaches.

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