The benefits of hypnotherapy outweigh the associated risks, which are primarily time and money.
Many people worry about the scary possibilities (seen in movies) when undergoing hypnosis, but the risks pretty much boil down to losing time and money for something you hoped would work but didn't. The possibility that an average, professionally trained hypnotherapist will take control of your psyche and make you do bizarre things, turning you into their automaton droid, is so unlikely that you may as well ignore it.
Now, if you've been targeted by a clandestine government, the risk of droid-dom is slightly higher:)
However, the benefits of professional hypnotherapy include:
1. Hypnosis can help treat addictions.
Hypnotherapeutic treatment may help a person overcome addiction. Furthermore, it helps to alleviate the physical symptoms of addiction, however, the long-term benefit is that it makes you leave the addiction for good so that you don’t relapse and become addicted again.
2. Hypnosis can help you lose weight.
Although this is one of the most rewarding benefits of hypnotherapy, it can also be one of the most challenging. Still, hypnosis can help you lose weight. The hypnotherapist will not program the pounds off of you, but rather instill a deeper motivation to stick to healthy eating and exercise. Could you use that?
3. Hypnosis helps to reduce stress.
Stress may cause illness, e.g. heart diseases, high blood pressure, obesity, and many others. If your body is always in the high alert state then hypnosis might help you a great deal since it relaxes you. When you understand that relaxation is a skill, hypnosis is a great tool to assist.
4. Hypnosis can help deal with problems from childhood.
When old memories impede upon your present mindset, hypnosis may have something to offer you. No, don't ask a hypnotherapist to erase your bad memories. This isn't even necessary. What matters more than the content of your memories is the perspective you take on them. Many people subconsciously relive old memories. If the memory is joyful, that's great.
When the memory is painful, you do not want to relive it for the rest of your life. You need a different perspective, that of an observer, which can be accomplished with the help of a hypnotherapist.
5. Hypnosis helps with sleep disorders.
Hypnosis has been shown to improve sleep. Lack of sleep is stressful enough, but it also contributes to other problems like obesity and even Alzheimers. If I were having sustained trouble sleeping, I would not hesitate to seek out hypnotherapy - or anything else that had a chance to help.
6. Hypnosis helps to change your behavior.
Hypnosis can help change behavioral patterns that have withstood other attempts at change, namely willpower. When sheer willpower is not enough to change your behavior, there may be subconscious beliefs or tendencies that need to be addressed.
7. Hypnosis helps in recovering buried memories.
And now we're moving into dicey territory. However, people do recover memories while undergoing hypnosis. Are these memories real? If that's your primary concern, then I wouldn't use hypnotherapy to determine that. Basically, no one knows. However, if you have therapeutic outcomes that improve when you discover an old memory you didn't know was there, that's great. Take the "truth" element of the equation with a grain of salt.
8. Hypnosis can ease physical pain.
Another one to be careful with. Hypnosis can alter your subjective experience of pain. And pain is highly subjective. After a hypnosis session, you may experience reduced or eliminated pain in areas of chronic soreness. The big issue here is - don't go nuts! Pain is your body's signal that something is injured. If your pain is based on a real, physical injury, eliminating the pain will not eliminate the actual injury.
So there you are, not in pain but still injured. You've just kissed your body's warning system (the pain) good-bye. At that point, you will need to prove to your body that you can respect the injury in the absence of the pain signal. If you can't the pain is sure to return, and thankfully so.
"Disadvantages" of Hypnotherapy
1. Hypnosis only works if the person is willing and focused on healing. Let's be done with the Hey, can you program me to change even though I don't really feel like it...fantasy. The hypnotherapist helps and guides you but the major chunk of participating and dedicating time and space to the specific task depends on the client (you).
2. Hypnosis is not necessarily a quick fix. In some situations, it was seen that hypnotherapy was a quick fix in terms of eliminating chronic pain. But don't count on hypnotherapy to fix you quickly. That's just a set up for disappointment in which you shortchange the method by quitting before it has a chance to work.
Heap, M. (2012). Hypnotherapy. Maidenhead, England: McGraw-Hill.
Peiffer, V. (2013). Principles of Hypnotherapy. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Turturean, M. (n.d.). Hypnotherapy for Anxiety Disorders — Theoretical and Practical Approach. SSRN Electronic Journal.
Mike Bundrant is a retired psychotherapist who now trainers life coaches, counselors and those seeking personal development. He is a co-founder of the iNLP Center, which teaches students in 71 countries worldwide.