What comes to your mind when someone mentions hypnosis? Do you think about using this form of therapy for health and wellness, or do you think it’s purely used for entertainment, where volunteers get on stage to be hypnotized?
A couple of decades ago hypnosis for quitting smoking was the latest craze, but what about hypnosis for mental health issues, specifically hypnosis for social anxiety? There is definite merit to this type of treatment style for anxiety issues.
Hypnosis is a form of concentration. Contrary to popular opinion, probably due to the entertainment industry, hypnosis doesn’t cause one to lose consciousness or go into a deep, deep sleep.
One doctor, Dr. Robert London says, “Hypnosis allows the subject to process information in a manner different from the way it is processed in the regular alert state.” If anything, the subject is in a highly alert state creating more focused concentration.
Another myth about hypnosis is the idea that women are easier to hypnotize than men. Sex isn’t determinate in who can and can’t be hypnotized; the subject, male or female, has to be open to the concept. However, it is true that more women seek help with hypnotherapy more than men in general.
How Hypnosis Can Help
Hypnosis in general gives a person the chance to change and redirect unhealthy thought patterns. It teaches the person how to enter a state of relaxation and can be used to suggest alternatives to the symptoms experienced.
Hypnosis is used for all sorts of reasons; pain patients, smoking cessation, sleep disorders, weight loss, along with anxiety and depression, including social anxiety.
We aren’t talking about hypnosis “getting to the root” of deep-seated trauma, where the patient relives a terrible event in their life. We are talking simple behavior modification.
How Does Hypnosis for Social Anxiety Work?
Your body reacts to stressors in different ways and sometimes manifests itself as physical symptoms. When confronted with a social situation, or even the thought of a potential social experience, people plagued with social anxiety often times experience increased heart rate, sweating, trembling hands, chest and abdominal pains, unsteady gait, etc.
When emotional reactions get linked with physical symptoms, hypnosis can help separate the two.
During the hypnotherapy session you are in a heightened state of mind and highly responsive to suggestions made by the therapist. Meanwhile, the body naturally lowers the heart rate and blood pressure and feels relaxed.
The therapist will possibly use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques to help you alter thought patterns associated with social anxiety situations so the physical symptoms are better controlled. This in turn assists in uncoupling the emotional and physical responses to anxiety-provoking events.
Hypnosis isolates the warning signs of irrational fears associated with social anxiety and counters them with an alternate response. Fear is good. It is actually the normal human response to danger. The “fight or flight” instinct is based on a healthy response to fear. The idea isn’t to eradicate fears, but to embrace them. Challenge them.
Trying to stop fear for someone with social anxiety disorder is like asking someone to stop breathing.
You can try all you want, but eventually your brain will take over and override your body. This is what hypnosis for social anxiety can do for you as well. It essentially gives the power back to your brain to get greater control of the reactions associated with social anxiety-related fears.
Hypnosis may not work for everyone, but it can certainly be a helpful tool for helping those patients with a social anxiety disorder.