Audrey Cleary, Ph.D., ABPP
If you work with me, you will often have the option to incorporate clinical hypnosis into your treatment. I earned certification through the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH, www.asch.net). The certification recognizes that I have met ASCH requirements for formal training, consultation, and years of experience using hypnosis, and am professionally licensed in a health care field.
Hypnosis can be defined as a state of focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness, during which time people become more receptive and responsive to suggestion. We all enter hypnotic states naturally, for example, when daydreaming or when very absorbed in a task or activity.
Clinical hypnosis uses this natural state for therapeutic benefit. It can help with changing unconscious "habits" - acts that you may engage in without intending or often wanting to. The habits can be behavioral, as in the case of smoking or of nervous habits, or emotional, as in certain ways of thinking or moods. Hypnosis can help bring about quick, powerful changes in areas that you are motivated to address.
Hypnosis can also be used for insight and exploration. Because it involves greater access to unconscious mental processes, hypnosis may help you to learn more about yourself, to rediscover parts of your personality, and to reconnect with memories.
There are popular myths and misconceptions about hypnosis. It is important to know that, in a state of hypnosis, you still have self-control. The therapist cannot make you do or say anything that you do not want to, and could not induce changes in you without your permission (if the therapist tried to do this, it wouldn't work). Hypnosis is generally effective only for changes that the client wishes to make. Additionally, hypnosis is not sleep, and for the most part you can be expected to remain awake and to remember what happened during your hypnosis session.
Some of the problems that often benefit from hypnosis include anxiety, nervous habits, exploration of trauma history, understanding symptoms, mood disturbance, insomnia, and pain management (in the cases when medical causes have been investigated and medical contributors treated). I can do short-term work with clients currently in therapy with a therapist who does not use hypnosis, provided that you give me and your treating therapist permission to communicate about your care. If you are involved in any legal cases, please be aware that information obtained in a hypnotic state is frequently not admissible as evidence.
Clients often enjoy hypnosis sessions and find them relaxing. The effects on relaxation and mood last for up to days. On a more long-term basis, clients report ceasing or reducing undesirable behaviors, feeling less bothered by distressing thoughts, and feeling more aware of emotions. I will often record hypnosis sessions for my clients, and these recordings can give you a tool that you can use for your own self-hypnosis and for maintaining the effects of our sessions.