Hypnosis techniques have been shown to be effectively used in the treatment of psychological and emotional, anxiety, depression, habit disorders, performance enhancement, control and management of physical pain, and a variety of other purposes. However, it may not be successful for all problems nor for all clients. It is strongly recommended to only seek Hypnosis treatment with a fully licensed professional (medical or mental health) who has been trained in Hypnosis. Edythe (Dee) Dunn is a Licensed Professional Counselor with comprehensive training in Clinical Hypnosis through the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis. It is important that you discuss all your concerns about Hypnosis and get answers to any questions you might have, before beginning treatment. If concerns or questions about Hypnosis or your experience arise during treatment, please bring them to Ms. Dunn’s attention so these can be resolved promptly.
Similar to other therapeutic techniques a mental health professional only uses hypnosis after the client has consented to treatment. Hypnosis is best used in conjunction with other treatment options to enhance the client’s own strengths and abilities. When using hypnosis, I prefer a more interactive and permissive approach; this is very different from the “authoritarian” style often seen in stage performances.
Hypnosis has been described by the American Psychological Association (APA) as a procedure during which a clinician suggests that a client experience changes in perception, sensation, emotion, thought, or behavior. When using hypnosis, the client is usually guided by the clinician through an "induction process" which may include suggestions for relaxation, calmness, and well-being. While procedures traditionally involve suggestions to relax, relaxation is not necessary for hypnosis and a wide variety of suggestions can be used. The deeply relaxed state achieved for hypnosis is called the "trance".
Hypnotic trance is a form of an altered state of consciousness: it is NOT sleep, being unconscious, having one’s mind weakened, or loosing control. While clients typically feel deeply relaxed, they still are conscious, alert and attentive. Clients often feel they have better access to their thoughts, feelings, memories and problem-solving abilities. Individuals can respond to hypnosis in different ways. Most describe hypnosis as a normal state of focused attention just like reading a book or watching a movie where one gets complete absorbed. Regardless of how and to what degree the individual’s responsiveness, most people describe the experience as very pleasant. Some people are very responsive to hypnosis and others are less responsive.
Hypnosis can sometimes produce intense emotional experiences that may be temporarily unsettling. Should this be the case, the continued competent use of hypnosis will help to make any such intense emotions more manageable. It is important to let the therapist know if you care experiencing ANY distress during or after a trance state so the material can be completely processed to resolution.
The Nature of Memory
Memory is imperfect, whether or not hypnosis is used. Memory is not like a tape recorder, and rarely will all the details of any recollection be fully accurate. People have been shown to be capable of filling in gaps in memory, of distorting information, and of being influenced in what is "remembered" by leading questions or suggestions. Our memories may sometimes be influenced through reading, movies, TV, or conversations. Thus, research has shown that there is no guarantee that information remembered through hypnosis (or through ordinary recall) is factually accurate.
On the other hand, information that is so remembered through hypnosis may in fact be accurate. But, the only way one may know definitively whether something recalled under hypnosis is accurate is to obtain independent corroboration. Thus, if you should remember something under hypnosis, regard this information as simply one more source of data that cannot be relied on as more accurate or necessarily superior to material already in conscious awareness. Such further data would simply be information to be weighed and evaluated in therapy along with what you already consciously know. Memory and hypnosis researchers agree generally that it is inappropriate to confront someone in or out of court based solely on information retrieved under hypnosis.
While there is a large and growing body of scientific work validating the applications of Clinical Hypnosis in medical situations for pain, anesthesia and immune response work, it is not appropriate to use hypnosis without first understanding the source of the medical issue – please do not ask for hypnosis applications to deal with body issues that have not yet been fully medically investigated as this might result in delaying appropriate medical treatments and might negatively affect your well-being.
Potential Legal Issue
In many jurisdictions, courts have held that a person who has been hypnotized cannot testify in court about anything remembered during or after the hypnosis. Whether this court ruling would apply to a therapy session has not yet been definitively decided. Consequently, if you consent to hypnosis, there is a possibility that anything you remember, once the hypnosis begins, will not be admissible in a court of law. The only way to fully protect your potential right to testify is to forego the use of hypnosis. The laws governing testimony are quite complex. In situations where specific advice is required, you should seek more formal legal advice through an attorney.
If you believe that there is some reason to anticipate that memories retrieved by hypnosis might have legal consequences or you are (or will be) involved in any legal proceedings regarding the material remembered, please inform Ms. Dunn and cross this treatment option off on your Informed Consent Form.