Medical Hynoanalysis

Frequently Asked Questions on Medical Hypnosis

The American Academy of Medical Hypnoanalysts

Chap. Dr. Richard Ward, Certified Clinical Member

Frequently Asked Questions by  Clients:  Part One

What is Hypnosis? Hypnosis is a concentrated, focused state of mind. It is a natural ability. You go in and out of a hypnotic state when you daydream, or concentrate intently on a project, or just before you fall asleep at night. It is a state of consciousness which is measurable on an EEG (a machine that measures brain waves). The alpha waves measured during hypnosis are similar to the brain waves activated during meditation.

The word “hypnosis” (sometimes misspelled as “hipnosis”) was first used in 1876. It is generally defined as “the inducement of sleep”. It is from the Greek word “hypnos” (sleep) plus “-osis” (condition). Although the word is derived from the word “sleep” it is a common misconception that someone in a hypnotic trance is asleep or unconscious. If you are hypnotized you are awake with your mind focused on something specific. You ignore outside noises and you are more open to suggestion. When used in therapy your concentrated mind is paired with the relaxation of your body to facilitate your learning and inner exploration.

What does hypnosis feel like? Hypnosis is generally a feeling of being pleasantly relaxed. You are capable of moving, seeing, hearing and speaking while hypnotized. Usually the feeling of relaxation is so comfortable that you may choose not to do any of these things while focusing internally. If you have ever lost track of time while watching TV, reading a book, or being engrossed in a favorite activity, then you have already been in a state of trance similar to hypnosis.

Do I lose control if I become hypnotized? You cannot be hypnotized against your will or without your consent. Hypnosis is really a form of self-hypnosis. The choice to participate in your own self-hypnosis is under your control. Since self-hypnosis is a natural ability, a hypnotherapist functions like a guide or a coach to help you get to your own relaxed state.

What if I can’t be hypnotized? Nearly everyone can be hypnotized. We are born with the ability to turn off the outside world and go within. Anxiety about the unknown, fear of not “getting it right”, and stress overload may have kept you from being calm enough to get to your natural trance state. A willingness to try hypnosis, along with trust in your therapist or clinician, will help you to unwind and rediscover the healing effects of this natural form of relaxation.

Is hypnosis safe? You are aware of your surroundings when in a hypnotic state. If an emergency were to arise while in this state you would be able to immediately alert yourself and take whatever action necessary to handle the situation and keep yourself safe. A trained qualified professional will also give you additional safety suggestions in the trance state to reinforce your ability to respond quickly to any outside emergency.

Since hypnosis is an innate condition (we are born with this ability), inducing hypnosis is not regulated in most states. Therapeutic hypnosis is different from the stage hypnosis used in entertainment. Medical hypnosis is safe when used by a professional trained in the healing arts. When seeking medical hypnosis, look for a medical doctor or mental health practitioner who has an advanced degree (Master’s or Doctorate); is licensed as a counselor, social worker, psychologist, dentist or doctor; and who has taken additional training in clinical hypnosis or hypnotherapy from a professional training organization.

What is hypnosis used for? Hypnosis has many practical and therapeutic uses. Hypnosis can be used for self-improvement in study skills, sports performance, sales successes, and for overcoming mild fears. Therapeutic hypnosis can be used for a wide variety of conditions including smoking cessation, weight loss, panic attacks, phobias and other emotional conditions.

What is self-hypnosis? Self-hypnosis is a practice you can use to achieve relaxation, stress reduction, and improved concentration. You can learn it on your own or from a qualified hypnotherapist. Once in a relaxed state, you focus on a single specific goal using predetermined suggestions to meet that goal.

The American Academy of Medical Hypnoanalysts

Frequently Asked Questions by Therapist:  Part Two

What is Hypnotherapy? In hypnotherapy the hypnotized client is given direct suggestions by the hypnotherapist. These suggestions are worded to target the specific problem being treated. Smoking cessation, weight loss, nail biting, bed wetting and stress management respond successfully to hypnotherapy. Since it is easier for the client to stay focused in the hypnotic state when guided by a hypnotherapist more complex problems can be treated with hypnotherapy than with self-hypnosis. The suggestions can be worded at varying levels of complexity depending on the extent of the habituated behavior.

What is Hypnoanalysis? The most involved form of therapeutic hypnosis is Hypnoanalysis or Medical Hypnosis. This is a form of psychotherapy. In a relaxed hypnotic state the subconscious mind is more accessible. Hypnoanalysis allows the client and therapist to work together at the subconscious level to find the root cause of the problem. Once identified the source of the problem can be resolved at its origin effecting positive and permanent change beyond mere symptom relief.

Often, symptoms are behaviors or responses or mindsets that may have been useful at one time but are no longer serving their original purpose. For example, children often think they are to blame or otherwise misinterpret life events which are actually the responsibility of the adults around them. A child may develop coping behaviors and carry that wrong belief set into adulthood where the symptoms and behaviors are no longer appropriate. Going back to the source memories of those life events while in hypnosis gives the adult the chance to reinterpret the event more appropriately. Once that is accomplished it can be a relatively simple matter to extinguish the symptoms with hypnotic positive reinforcement statements.

How does Hypnoanalysis work? Hypnoanalysis differs from traditional “talk” therapy in that much less time is spent talking about how the symptoms affect a person on a daily basis. Therapy time and energy are put into finding and removing the underlying cause of the problem through age regression work. Age regression work means simply remembering the events that first caused the symptoms, understanding the original situation and bringing them to a new light so that true healing can begin. Once the cause is removed the person can begin taking in new, healthy ways of thinking, feeling, acting and being in the world. With the help of carefully designed hypnotic suggestions true change takes place.

What symptoms can hypnoanalysis treat? Hypnoanalysis is used to successfully treat anxiety, phobias, depression, low self-esteem, fear conditions, sexual/physical/emotional abuse, eating disorders, somatic disorders and other Axis I conditions along with emotional, behavioral, psychological and spiritual issues.

Can hypnosis or hypnoanalysis be used for pain management? Many people have used hypnosis successfully to manage chronic pain. How does it work?

Pain is a signal from the nervous system to the brain. When in pain muscles tense, not consciously, but as a coping mechanism against pain. This tension magnifies the pain. The secret of pain relief is total relaxation of every muscle. Relaxation of the body also raises the pain threshold. The patient learns to relax to a point of being almost pain free, then gradually lengthens the time spent in this mode.

A second aspect of using hypnosis to manage pain is in the relaxation of the mind. This reduces the anticipation of the pain. A third aspect of pain relief is that putting one’s attention on pain makes it worse. The opposite is also true. The mind can be distracted away from pain. Hypnosis can also help the anxiety and depression that often accompany chronic pain, making it less likely to interfere with life.

Many dentists now use hypnosis to reduce fear and the need for anesthesia. However, in some situations, pain is a warning that something is wrong. This kind of pain needs to be first examined medically. Even then, hypnotic relaxation can be used as a temporary coping method until the underlying causes of pain are assessed and diagnosed.

What is Medical Hypnoanalysis? Medical Hypnoanalysis is a specialized method of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy. It uses hypnosis to help the patient find personalized solutions for the presenting problem. This therapy is dynamic, short term, and directed. It is holistic in that it recognizes the interplay of mind, body and spirit to promote healing.

Medical Hypnoanalysis emphasizes causes rather than symptoms and explanations rather than descriptions to relieve psychological suffering. Hypnosis is an instrument of the preconscious mind. In Medical Hypnoanalysis, hypnosis is coupled with a well-grounded knowledge of the development of psychopathology to identify, process and diminish the negative impact of specific causal events in a client’s personal history. Depression, phobias, obsessions, psychosomatic disorders, self-destructive and anti-social behaviors can be alleviated. Emphasis is placed on a dual diagnosis (underlying and waking modes) against the backdrop of a holistic ordering of life’s priorities.

What is the duration of Treatment: Hypnoanalysis is a holistic treatment method that addresses the person on all levels: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. It is a brief, directed form of psychotherapy, often accomplished in thirty sessions or less depending on the depth of the problem.

Is hypnosis a valid from of medical treatment?

In 1958 the American Medical Association officially approved hypnosis for use in medicine and surgery. Hypnosis is one of the oldest forms of medical therapy dating back to ancient Egypt. Writings dating as far back as 3000 BC describe the use of hypnosis in the treatment of human illness.

Why is it called Medical Hypnoanalysis

Medical Hypnosis or Medical Hypnoanalysis is based on the medical model of taking a history, doing tests, making a diagnosis and providing treatment. “Prescriptions” are suggestions made while in hypnosis specifically designed to treat problems and to help create new ways of thinking, feeling and behaving. While doctors use this powerful, effective tool, this therapy does not use medication or other invasive medical procedures. The term “medical” is an analogy for the medical diagnostic healing process.

What is the American Academy of Medical Hypnoanalysts?

The “Academy” is a group of professionals who specialize in Medical Hypnoanalysis. This group is dedicated to the promotion of this unique and effective form of therapy through practice, education, demonstration, and post graduate training opportunities to include:

  • “101” and “102” Courses. These courses introduce the use of hypnosis in therapy. Classes are available in several areas around the country.
  • Annual AAMH Conferences. A multi-session live demonstration of rapid hypnoanalysis is the focus of the annual conference. Attendance is open to qualified professionals.
  • The Clinical Training Program is available to professional therapists who seek specialized training, in-depth knowledge of hypnoanalysis, assistance in incorporating hypnoanalysis into their practice, ongoing consultation, access to referrals, and Board Certification.

AAMH also offers professional hypnotherapy referrals to qualified therapists. For over 30 years the Academy has been the original and exclusive training organization for medical hypnosis and hypnoanalysis.

Membership Qualifications

Associate Membership

  • Have earned at least a master’s level degree or higher in one of the behavioral sciences of medicine, psychology, social work, and/or theology.
  • Demonstrate high ethical and professional standards and interested in the modality of hypnosis and its application to medical hypnosis.

Clinical Membership

  • Have earned at least a master’s level degree or higher in one of the behavioral sciences of medicine, psychology, social work, and/or theology.
  • Demonstrate high ethical and professional standards, clinical ability and experience.
  • Have interest in the modality of hypnosis and its application to medical hypnosis.
  • Will have completed one year of associate membership.
  • Must be concurrently enrolled in, or have completed, the Clinical Training program and be approved by the Clinical Education Committee.
  • Devote fifty percent or more of clinical practice to hypnoanalysis.