Hypnosis, as a practice, is moving from stage entertainment performances to therapy programs for drug and alcohol addiction.
Referred to as hypnotherapy, sessions are said to help reduce stress, manage pain, improve health and even lead to new success. They also are becoming more heavily explored as a treatment option for people trying to break a cycle of dependence, especially in follow-up care.
Educational institutions for medical hypnosis training include Arizona’s Milton Erickson Foundation and the Hypnotherapy Academy of America in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Practitioners say the way to improve the level of success is through continued practice, so that individualized techniques can be applied.
Like drug therapy that is used to treat cravings and modify behaviors, hypnotherapy is administered under expert observation. It is considered a piece of a comprehensive treatment program, and is gaining more recognition nationwide as a viable option for addiction therapy.
In some cases, hypnosis is linked to a reduction in harmful behaviors. It can also be used to give patients a greater feeling of control over their own recovery. However, experts warn that the effects of hypnosis toward drug abuse can be short-lived because the therapy may not reach the true causes that lead the person to abuse a substance.
It is believed most people only utilize approximately five percent of the brain’s capacity — but when unconscious, the brain may be capable of processing millions of operations each moment. Hypnosis experts say creative types of thought emerge during hypnosis, even thoughts bordering on genius levels.
Some medical doctors are exploring hypnotherapy for helping patients manage pain and for relaxation, among other outcomes. At the Hypnotherapy Academy of America, clinical hypnosis students receive guidance and instruction from staff member Dr. Robert Sapien, MD., a University of New Mexico professor who also serves as Chief of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center. Dr. Sapien received training and professional certification at the Academy, and then began utilizing hypnotherapy into his own practice.
Hypnosis may reduce desires for addictive behaviors because it aids in relaxation. In a relaxed state of awareness, a patient may become more open and accepting of recovering from their addiction. While some hypnotists may be able to move into recovering deep personal issues with the patient, this type of approach may be better left with professional addiction counselors.
However, as a tool for calming the mind and revealing new perspectives for people suffering from addiction, hypnotherapy may receive increased attention as experts look to refine treatment options for a growing number of compulsions and addictions.
As a practice, hypnotherapy is joining the ranks of other medical fields in terms of training. To become part of the International Board of Medical Hpynotherapy (IBH) at its highest level, Level 3, a practitioner must be a Certified Medical Support Clinical Hypnotherapist (CMS-CHT) and complete 400 hours of training from a hypnotherapy institution that is state licensed under IBH guidelines.
While not potentially be the cure all for addiction, hypnosis and addiction treatment may be a promising combination, especially for its relaxation and calming benefits.