LGBTQ-friendly psychologist helping adolescents and adults heal from traumatic grief, using EMDR, clinical hypnosis, Solution-Focused Therapy and CBT.
To reach the Board of Psychology in California, click here.
Lisa S. Larsen, PsyD
(CA Lic. #PSY 19046)
Hypnotherapy and its many uses
What is hypnotherapy?
While there is not a universal consensus for what constitutes hypnosis and hypnotherapy, there are certain elements that are in most definitions. First, there is a focus on a specific phenomenon or experience, such as relaxation, awareness of body sensations, or focusing on an object like a pendulum or candle flame. Second, a person is guided to withdraw their attention from conscious processes such as critical thought, preconceived ideas, and beliefs about what is possible.
With the increased attention to internal experiences underway, the person can start to make their own associations to what the hypnotherapist is saying. Hypnotherapy involves suggesting positive changes in behavior, cognition, emotional response, and/or beliefs at a deeper level of awareness.
Sometimes, the person who is being hypnotized is able to produce involuntary behaviors, like hand levitation, in response to what the hypnotherapist says. What distinguishes hypnotherapy from stage hypnosis, is the clinical application of these principles versus using the hypnotic experience for entertainment purposes.
A hypnotherapist does not use the hypnotic experience to influence the client in a negative way or in a way that would embarrass or humiliate them. It is a benign, gentle, and helpful experience fosters growth and development in a positive, adaptive direction. It is really nothing to be feared, and this article can explain the process. If you want to learn more about it, click here.
Does hypnotherapy work, and what is hypnotherapy used for?
Clinical hypnosis is been around for quite a while, and it has been studied extensively, especially in mind-body healing processes. Much of the clinical evidence supports its use in pain control, including Fibromyalgia, postsurgical healing, and reducing physical discomfort from other conditions like nausea from chemotherapy in the treatment of cancer. It can also help with weight loss, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches and migraines, sleep-disorders, reducing danger, teeth grinding, increasing self-esteem, insomnia, addictions, and depression.
Because of the strong mind-body connection, hypnosis can be effective for many different conditions. We often think that we can will ourselves into better health behavior, but if that were so, there would not be a thriving industry in weight loss products. These are just some of the ways that studies have found hypnosis to be effective.
What is Ericksonian hypnosis?
Milton H. Erickson, MD was a physician and psychologist who is considered the father of modern hypnotherapy. He was a remarkable man in terms of his clinical abilities, but also his personal fortitude in the face of extreme difficulty. One could say that his first hypnotic subject was himself. He was stricken by polio as a teenager and had to relearn how to move his body. He used the powerful mind-body connection and his imagination to regain his movement. He also used hypnosis on himself to manage his post-polio pain.
He was fascinated by hypnosis, but developed it to become much more of a relational surprise than the traditional hypnosis. Instead of someone being implanted with the correct ideas while in a relaxed state, he used different ways to influence other people’s behavior and reach the desired effect. Some of the core competencies he developed include utilization of what is already there; progression; distraction; partitioning; indirect and permissive suggestion; reframing and other ways of reorienting people. He had a fundamental belief in the resiliency and strength in each person. Instead of seeing his patients as weak and incapable without his intervention, he emphasized what they were already doing adaptively and used that to help them with the area of difficulty. For a more detailed description of how he worked and why so many people, including this writer, admire him, click here.
Hypnotherapy to quit smoking.
Giving up cigarettes is probably one of the hardest things to do. There is not only a physical dependency on nicotine that is psychological dependence on having something to do with your hands in your mouth. It’s not surprising that many people struggle with nicotine dependence also struggle with overeating. However, if you depend on cigarettes to relax you or to get to a day, you do not have to be chained to this addiction any longer. If you have a sincere desire to quit and are ready to take steps to eliminate cigarettes from your life, you can overcome this destructive, life-threatening habit.
Like any substance use disorder, nicotine dependence requires a certain amount of desire to quit. However, many people try quitting smoking have a history of relapsing, which can make them feel discouraged and defeated before they even start.
This becomes their failure story, and they start to believe that they are incapable of quitting. No matter how damaging their habit is to them, they keep going, saying that they will quit tomorrow, or someday. Unfortunately, that someday never comes for them.
Emphysema, COPD, lung cancer, mouth cancer, nicotine stains on their teeth, and reduce stamina are just some of the many problems that arise from smoking and chewing tobacco. And yet, there is an inexplicable force but make some people keep coming back to their deadly habit.
Hypnosis does not in itself. You of the desire to quit. What it can do is bypass your objections, judgments, shame, and all the other negative attachments that you have to smoking and to yourself for engaging in this habit. Many discover that their desire to quit is diminished, and if they follow through with a customized plan to help them end their addiction, they can enjoy freedom and healthier, cleaner lungs.
Many times, people who suffer from PTSD or who have lost a loved one have problems with sleep. Some people sleep too little, and their sleep is punctuated by disturbing nightmares or night terrors. Their anxiety and hypervigilance can also interfere with their ability to sleep.
Other times, people retreat into sleep as if they were depressed. They may spend a significant amount of time in bed, and when they try to sleep at night, it is difficult for them because they admitted step all of their sleepiness during the day.
As a result, it can be hard for them to regain natural, normal sleep patterns. They may find themselves developing insomnia or hypersomnia. Even people who have hypersomnia do not get adequate rest sometimes, because the sleep is not satisfying. They are still plagued by negative thinking and emotional states.
Hypnosis can help people disengage from some of the disturbing material or reframe it at an unconscious level, so that they can set aside whatever is bothering them consciously. When they set this material aside, they can finally relax and focus their attention on something besides trauma or loss. No doubt, you have seen recordings on YouTube or commercially available that help with sleep. These are fine, and I don’t discourage you from using them. However, they are not specific to what you find most relaxing, and your specific experience.
You can see for yourself how an individualized hypnotherapy session that is tailored to your specific needs and circumstances, would be much more beneficial than a generic recording that is not attuned to you and what you’re going through. Sleep Hypnosis can be a valuable tool for reestablishing the sense of safety that is needed for deep, satisfying sleep.
There is a wide range of what people charge for hypnosis sessions. Ironically, some of the people with the least amount of training charge more than people who are licensed psychotherapists, at times. Why does this matter? I think that sometimes you get what you pay for, but that may not be the case if you’re hypnotherapist only got his certificate from a program that does not prepare him or her for negative emotional responses or does not have a full understanding of how the human brain works. When you like to know that your hypnotherapist is adequately prepared for whatever emerges in your experience?
As a licensed psychologist, I can respond to many of the experiences you are likely to have in psychotherapy. Hypnosis is just one tool that I use in the treatment of mental health and substance abuse disorders. The best part is, I do not charge more for hypnosis than I do for any other service. It is not the only thing I do, although I do love doing hypnotherapy and I often see wonderful results.
Therefore, what I charge for hypnosis is what I charge for a regular office visit. Unlike some people who call themselves hypnotherapists, I don’t charge $300 an hour and make you pay for a "package" of sessions ahead of time. No disrespect to them, but I don’t agree with that type of practice. I charge the same for CBT or solution-focused therapy as I do for EMDR therapy, and the same for hypnotherapy.
Additionally, you have the option of receiving a recording of the sessions, which I can send to you to listen to afterwards. When you compare this to people who only have a certificate in hypnosis and have not become a licensed mental health clinician, the value is outstanding.
If you're ready to experience hypnosis for yourself, please call to make an appointment today, at 661-233-6771.