Eating disorders are complicated diseases. That’s why treatment must utilize many diverse therapeutic approaches to help a woman fully heal. At Eden, we discovered the value of individual and group hypnotherapy as a critical component of our comprehensive care. It is particularly effective when a woman has been involved in therapy repeatedly, or has been taking a host of psychotropic medications for years, and yet, remains stuck in her disorder.
As one can easily extrapolate, hypnosis is the tool utilized in this treatment strategy. The word is derived from the Greek word “Hypnos,” which means sleep. Although the art of hypnosis has been around since ancient times, most people today have a skewed idea of what it actually entails. This is primarily due to media-inspired myths. Hypnosis is not making a person quack like a duck or flutter imaginary chicken wings. Quite the contrary, while in a hypnotic state, a person is extremely aware and focused. Typically, a woman feels calm and in control. Hypnotherapy allows her to go inside herself and take an active role in her growth through self-revelation and empowerment.
Certain normal life experiences can prove problematic in adulthood. Until approximately the age of four or five, a child has a vibrant, unlimited imagination. Entering school, conformity becomes the norm and a child must adapt to other people’s expectation. Hypnosis allows a woman to reengage with her subconscious mind and the innate power that was suppressed early on. The truth is, life is all about Interpretation, perception and response.
Not unlike hypnosis itself, the subconscious mind is another highly misunderstood area. We have been led to believe that it contains only hideous, highly disturbing memories. To peek into the subconscious is to surely open a veritable Pandora’s box of misery. This is incorrect. The subconscious is similar to a computer hard drive; it is essentially a recording of that individual’s life—the good and bad, the exciting and boring. It also contains the information regarding what the woman requires for health and wholeness. The subconscious just needs to be invited to join the conscious mind in the process of discovery.
What does the hypnotherapy process look like?
Mutual trust between the person and herself and the person and the therapist is critical. in other words, the client must trust herself to enter the process and must trust the therapist to guide her. The two work together to create positive change by accessing knowledge and truth that is already available in her mind.
It starts with a high level of inquiry: what and where in the body is the woman experiencing negative feelings and what is the purpose of these emotions. this pertains to issues such as shame, anger, or depression. The dialogue between the two people occurs on a very high level—it involves understanding, intuition and empathy. This is followed by the client learning a therapeutic breathing technique that is vital to the progressive relaxation process. This relaxation inspires the trance state, which allows the subconscious to activate and participate.
In subsequent sessions, the therapist guides the woman to greater understanding of her belief systems and how they might alter to better serve her. The client recognizes that she creates what she believes. Beliefs and behaviors are not chiseled in stone, they are fluid. A reconfigured set of beliefs about herself and the world can lead to a transformed life. She is also encouraged to identify destructive emotions such as fear, anxiety and a sense of being out of control. once acknowledged, she strives to let them go, remembering that she is the only one in charge of herself. It isn’t so much that the client is learning, she is remembering.
Significant progress is often seen in three to five sessions, though it may necessitate ten sessions for real shift to occur. Like all treatment strategies, this form of psychotherapy is very individualized.
Not unlike the medical field today, the behavioral health field is undergoing change. Decades ago, a patient would reminisce on a psychiatrists’ couch, stare at ink blots, or merely fill a prescription. Now, in addition to traditional therapies, treatment is relying on adjunctive, alternative therapies such as hypnosis to provide complete and prolonged healing.
Content provided by Tammie S. Roitman, BD.S,CCHT