In a recent movie, people are hypnotized to commit robbery. It makes for
a good story, but it doesn’t reflect how clinical hypnosis really
works. This evidence-based method is used to treat a range of conditions,
such as chronic pain, depression, anxiety and phobias.
“There are a lot of misperceptions about hypnosis, thanks to the
media,” says Jake Pierce-Walsh, MSW, LICSW, with
St. Luke’s Mental Health Services. “Often, when patients hear the term hypnosis, they have their own
ideas. They are concerned about mind control, or that things will be out
of their control, so I’d like to dispel some of the myths.”
Hypnosis is not mind control. “It can’t make you do anything you don’t want to do,
or that you do want to do,” says Jake. “We use hypnosis to
support goals the patient identifies. Weight loss, for example. Hypnosis
usually doesn’t work alone – you have to have other goals
in place, such as having food and exercise goals.”
Hypnosis is not like sleep. “People think that when they are under hypnosis, they won’t
remember what happened to them or they won’t be aware,” says
Jake. “The opposite is true. You may hear and remember almost everything.
It’s a state of focused awareness.”
Hypnotizability is not a factor. “You can’t be hypnotized if you don’t want to be,”
says Jake. “People who come in for clinical hypnosis are ready for
this kind of help. Some people think being able to be hypnotized means
they are gullible or stupid, and that’s unfortunate. It just means
you are willing to participate.”
Hypnosis is not a quick fix. “It’s not a passive therapy,” says Jake. “A patient
has to be willing to invest in it and do the work.”
“The trick to success is having realistic goals,” says Jake.
“Hypnosis helps access the unconscious, and once you get access,
cool things can change. For example, I had a patient who was pulling out
her hair. Hypnosis helped her manage that and she no longer has that symptom.”
To find someone credentialed to provide clinical hypnosis, check out the
American Society of Clinical Hypnosis or the
Minnesota Society of Clinical Hypnosis.
For more information or to make an appointment with
St. Luke’s Mental Health Services, call 218.249.7000.