Author of this article: Daniel Fryer, published in Psychology Today
Posted June 21, 2021 | Reviewed by Davia Sills. https://www.psychologytoday.com/
Using Hypnotherapy to Cope With COVID Is Trendy
One of the oldest forms of healing on the planet has become a pandemic must-have.
Daniel Fryer, M.Sc., MBSCH, is a psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, expert speaker and author.
Hypnotherapy is being touted as the next big wellness trend to try out.
However, it has a history going back thousands of years and is neither new nor New Age; instead, it is an evidence-based practice.
People are turning to it as a method of coping with everything the pandemic brings, including anxiety, burnout, fatigue, and even needle phobia.
Certain sections of the well-being media are calling hypnotherapy the new wellness trend for the latter half of 2021 and beyond.
Hypnotherapists around the world have certainly noticed an increase in referrals. Like most things over the past 16 months or so, this interest has been fueled by COVID-19 and the various stresses and strains it has engendered, including anxiety, burnout, and fatigue.
One such therapist, based in Auckland, Zealand, conducted his own poll and found that globally, hypnotherapists had noticed as much as a 60 percent increase in online consultations.
One wellness website was even teaching people how to perform self-hypnosis as a way of managing lockdowns and quarantines more effectively.
However, far from being a “trend,” hypnotherapy is neither new nor New Age. In fact, it’s been around for thousands of years.
It was even practiced in Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece. The sick and the weary would take themselves off to sleep temples. Whilst there, temple priests would lull them into a trance-like state to give them positive suggestions, benedictions, and invocations via the gods.
As a more modern form of medical practice, hypnotherapy still has a history going back hundreds of years. Before the advent of anesthesia, it was the main (and very effective) form of pain control for surgery. It was either that or a bottle of whiskey and a very big stick to bite on.
Hypnotherapy fell from favor when hypnosis became a vaudevillian form of entertainment (all that bark like a dog and cluck like a chicken malarkey). But hypnotherapy for healing and hypnosis for entertainment are two very different things. Sadly, for a while, the reputation of the latter tarnished the legacy of the former.
Fast-forward to today, and clinical hypnotherapy is an evidence-based practice with many applications.
Here in the UK, it has been endorsed by the British Medical Association since 1892. By way of an update, it issued The Hypnotism Act in 1952, which provided hypnotherapy with a legal definition. One hypnotherapy society is even an accredited registrant with the Professional Standards Authority (PSA).
But, what is hypnotherapy exactly?
Very simply, hypnotherapy is therapy conducted in a state of hypnosis (like, duh!). And there are different therapies for different things, depending on what it is that you would like to achieve. You can have hypnotherapy for not only the anxiety, stress, and burnout mentioned above, but also for anxiety or anger management, as well as confidence building, relaxation, weight control, pain control, stopping smoking, and more.
It’s even great for treating needle phobias (a good thing, given the number of vaccines that people are being injected with at the moment). One study found that needle phobia treatment could reduce COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy by 10 percent. 1
Nary a week goes by without some celebrity or other making the news for having used it. Recent examples include Olivia Coleman (for stage fright) and Reese Witherspoon (to help with her panic attacks).
Whatever the therapy is, the important thing is it is conducted in a hypnotic state. The term itself is from the Greek word “hypnos,” meaning sleep. But this is a misnomer as you are not asleep. Hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness, very similar to daydreaming, nodding off, or losing yourself in a really good book.
And very nice things happen to your mind in this trance-like state. Very, very simplistically, there are two parts to the mind: the conscious and the unconscious. But it’s not a 50-50 split. Think of it as an iceberg in the ocean (don’t blame me, it was Freud that came up with the analogy). And like any respectable iceberg, there’s 10 percent above the waterline (you can see it) and about 90 percent below the waterline (hidden from view).
Your conscious mind is like the 10 percent above the waterline. Think of it as the day-to-day, short-term memory part of the equation. It’s also the rational, logical, and analytical part of your mind.
Your unconscious, the 90 percent below the waterline, is responsible for everything else. Right now, as you are reading this article, you are blinking, breathing, digesting food, and performing thousands of other bodily functions that you don’t consciously think about, as your unconscious takes care of them for you. Your unconscious mind is also the database of everything you are. Everything you have ever witnessed, learned, seen, felt, and done. All your memories are stored in there, all your skills, habits, and reactions to things.
The two parts of your mind are in constant communication. The conscious mind is like a reader, checking on how to be you every single second of the day: What do I do here? How do I react to that? How do I deal with this? Check, check, check… except in hypnosis.
In a hypnotic trance, that communication process is bypassed. The conscious mind is still very much there and aware of everything going on around it, but it can’t access the unconscious mind.
Left alone, the unconscious becomes very susceptible to positive suggestions (things you do want as opposed to things you don’t want: contrast I want to feel calm and in control with I don’t want to feel stressed and anxious).
The suggestions need to be tied to a goal you know you want to achieve (suggestions for stopping smoking, for instance, only work if you do actually want to give up smoking). And the more you want the goal, the more effective the suggestions can be.
Personally, I want to speed through the rest of the lockdown restrictions and wake up on a beach somewhere, having a very relaxing time of things. But in the meantime, hypnotherapy can help me with that too. No, seriously, it can.
With all the flight restrictions still in place, hypnosis is regularly being used to help take people on virtual holidays. This is not as weird as it sounds as celebrity hypnotherapist Paul McKenna was offering hypno-holidays in a special booth set up in Bluewater Shopping Centre as far back as 2015.
So, pack those metaphorical suitcases, and pick the destination of your choice.
You’ll be on trend if you do.