As with other treatment providers, recommendations from family or friends are a great place to start. You can also check with a therapist, naturopath, or acupuncturist for recommendations. There are several databases of certified hypnotherapists online too. Try checking the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis’s database, or the General Hypnotherapy Register. You’ll want to check the therapist’s website before you choose, making sure to look for credentials and testimony from previous patients if available.
Remember this is real and not a trick. If you choose to use these powerful tools of suggestion you can help people in pain. If they are depressed or stressed, you can make them feel more at ease. You can help someone relax before a public speaking event. It can be therapeutic and help in defeating addictions and bad habits when used with other tools. This is how hypnosis meant to be used. Hypnosis can be used in social situations as long as the person doing the hypnotic induction has the proper training. Don't trust any stranger you meet! Remember: Use these techniques responsibly and only after you have been trained in hypnosis.
Hypnosis -- or hypnotherapy -- uses guided relaxation, intense concentration, and focused attention to achieve a heightened state of awareness that is sometimes called a trance. The person's attention is so focused while in this state that anything going on around the person is temporarily blocked out or ignored. In this naturally occurring state, a person may focus his or her attention -- with the help of a trained therapist -- on specific thoughts or tasks.
In the brain, this state looks stranger still. A landmark study in the prestigious journal Science in the late 1990s, led by Pierre Rainville of the University of Montreal, described a study in which hypnotized people briefly placed their left hand in either painfully hot water, heated to 116 degrees Fahrenheit, or room-temperature water. Some of them had been told that they would be experiencing pain, but that they wouldn’t be very bothered by it — if, on a scale of one to ten, the hurt would normally register at an eight, they’d feel it as if it were a four. As all the participants placed their hands in the 116-degree water, their brains were scanned. The results were clear: Those who had been told that the pain would be less intense showed less activity in their brains — specifically, in the anterior cingulate cortex, which is associated with pain processing.
“I arrived at the Hypnotherapy Academy of America believing that I had paid for and would receive the most comprehensive hypnotherapy training in the world. What I didn’t expect, however, was to find myself in an environment where I would have so many profound life transforming experiences. By the end of the second week I was completely in awe and felt that our class had already gotten more than our money’s worth. Upon completion of the course, I feel sure of two things. First, that I’m fully prepared to begin a successful hypnotherapy practice. Second, that my life will never be the same again.”
Although there are different techniques, clinical hypnotherapy is generally performed in a calm, therapeutic environment. The therapist will guide you into a relaxed, focused state and ask you to think about experiences and situations in positive ways that can help you change the way you think and behave. Unlike some dramatic portrayals of hypnosis in movies, books, or on stage, you will not be unconscious, asleep, or in any way out of control of yourself. You will hear the therapist’s suggestions, but it is up to you to decide whether or not to act on them.