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Hypnotism “Legitimate” Health Care Treatment

Hypnotism is becoming a more mainstream medical treatment, particularly for pain management, according to the Mayo Clinic Health Letter. It also has a track record of being an effective headache treatment. From the Mayo Clinic:

“A trance often can be induced most quickly in people who are in severe pain. A therapist may suggest that the pain will fade or that an area of pain will become numb. In some cases, hypnosis works as well or better than pain-relieving medications.

“Hypnosis is generally considered safe, but it only works in patients who are compliant. In other words, hypnosis can’t make people act against their own wills. Psychiatrists, psychologists and other health care providers with training in hypnosis can offer medical hypnotism. It’s important to verify that the therapist has experience in treating the medical condition, too.”

In Hypnosis: An Altered State of Consciousness, another Mayo Clinic article, hypnosis and its application to health care is well-described, including what it is, who it’s for, how it works. It also debunks common myths.

The emphasis placed on finding a good provider got my attention. One article says that you should be as careful in finding a hypnotherapist as you are in choosing a doctor.

Hypnosis as a practice is not regulated in most states, so it pays to be very careful when selecting a therapist. Certified lay
hypnotherapists are individuals who have completed 200 or more hours of training in hypnosis but don’t have additional professional health care training. Licensed health care professionals who practice hypnotherapy, such as psychologists, doctors and social workers, are trained in
hypnosis in addition to their university training.

Apply the same care in choosing a hypnotherapist as you would a doctor. Ask someone you trust for recommendations. When you find a potential hypnotherapist, ask questions such as:

  • Do you have training in a field such as psychology, medicine, social work or dentistry?
  • Are you licensed in your specialty in this state?
  • Where did you go to school, and where did you do your internship, residency or both?
  • If you’re a lay hypnotist, how much training have you had and from what school?
  • What professional organizations do you belong to?
  • How long have you been in practice?
  • What are your fees?

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World Hypnotism Day

While the name World Hypnotism Day sparks images of everyone walking around like zombies, I suspect there’s more to hypnosis than what I saw on Three’s Company. Shedding the stereotypes I was mired in, I learned that hypnosis is helpful for headaches because it encourages relaxation and reduces stress. However, it doesn’t appear to be more effective than any other relaxation technique

Thus far studies have shown that the usefulness of hypnosis depends on the type of headache a person has. Tension-type headache sufferers trained in self-hypnosis had modest improvement compared to those who recorded their headaches during a study, according to an ACHE article. The same article says that behavioral treatments for migraine, like biofeedback, are useful, but hypnosis alone has not shown to be beneficial. Both ACHE and the National Headache Foundation say that hypnosis is not effective for cluster headaches.

I’ve never tried hypnosis, but am willing to. Since my headaches are caused by migraine, though, I think I should try biofeedback first. If you’ve tried hypnosis, was it helpful for you? Even if you haven’t, I’d like to know what you think of hypnosis for headaches.