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Not Just a Timepiece
July 21, 2024 10:42 PM
written by Allison Levin

Throughout my childhood, I always believed that hypnosis involved someone swinging a watch in front of someone’s face to make them reveal some pertinent piece of information. Because all of my knowledge of this came from television and movies, it seemed pretty ridiculous to me. However, after doing research, I have realized that hypnosis has actually been proven to work. More specifically, I have seen that hypnosis has contributed significantly in eliminating depression through research revealing 5 ways it helps, how depression and hypnosis are related, what happens in a hypnosis session, and how it has worked in cases in the past. This field of hypnotherapy sparked an interest in me because not only is it something I have never heard of before but it also aligns with my future career because I want to help treat people with depression.

When I first started doing research, I started with looking at how clinical hypnotherapy help depression. I found 5 ways that it helps treat depression. These 5 ways include, helping to enter the subconscious, helping in identifying the “unfinished business”, it helps to finish this “unfinished business”, helps to replace trauma with positivity, and finally helps to create long-term improvement. These were very interesting to me because throughout the process of helping, the main goal is long-term treatment. While this is the goal in all forms of therapy, many people use drugs and medication as an aid to get to this point. Hypnotherapy, however, helps depression sufferers by using the human body’s capabilities to prevent depression from setting in again. This, to me, is so important because it truly allows sufferers of depression to suffer no more. I hope to treat people with depression in the future after I am done with my education, and through hypnosis, my patients will suffer for a far shorter time than anyone with any mental illness ever should.

After this, I started wondering how hypnosis was related to or involved with depression. The first thing I discovered about this is that it is important to understand that most depression is not biologically based. This was important to me specifically because I have always wanted to help people through therapy, and not with medication. So, hypnosis will probably become part of many treatment programs, perhaps even my own. The reason that hypnosis and psychology go so well together is because “our minds profoundly influence our bodies” (Hastings “Depression & Hypnosis”). Therefore, our emotions can change our behavior and this relates to depression because this means that negative emotions leads to negative behavior, in this case depression. Because humans can’t change their bodies, or behavior without changing their emotions, or minds, hypnosis is able to come into the picture. This is because hypnosis is the ability to change beliefs. So, through hypnosis, patients are able to change their beliefs into something positive, therefore depression is eliminated. So, through this process, it appears that hypnosis and depression are not only related but have an influence on each other. Further, hypnosis can help children who have been raised by parents with a depressive nature. Because in this situation the person has an inherent depressive state, hypnosis is even more important because it can go so deep within a person’s psyche, helping relieve the negative state experienced by depression sufferers.

The next logical path for me to follow was to understand what happens in a hypnosis session of this sort. First, the mind’s voice is put to rest as it is the inner voice that is to blame for negative thoughts. To make a significant impact in a session such as this, speaking to the subconscious mind can create important changes in some people. It is necessary to do this without asking where these thoughts and beliefs began. Doing this helps make positive suggestions to the conscious and unconscious mind and through this, it is easier to get to the root of the problems of depression. Through learning about what happens in a session, it is more helpful for people like me to explain to the people who are undergoing these sessions what will happen in a relatable way. This is important to me because it will help me become a more personable therapist that my patients will actually be able to listen to and understand. It also helps me as a therapist understand what will happen and it will make me better at practicing. Further, by knowing the end goals of what these sessions will hope to achieve is important to me because it shows that progress can be made and it shows me how this progress is made. It also helps my patients to understand what they will get out of the sessions if they really put in all the work and they relax and let themselves go during a session. If we both really work hard in trying to eradicate the source of the problem they are dealing with, we will no doubt find a usable solution for them.

The last step for me understanding how effective hypnosis was on depression involved looking at cases in which hypnosis did have an effect. In an experiment by Erickson and Kubie, hypnosis was used to treat a woman with acute hysterical depression. The really significant part of this study I found was that this woman was unresponsive to psychotherapy. In other articles that I had read, doctors had suggested that psychotherapy and hypnosis were almost interrelated and this proved the exact opposite. This is because the doctors were able to tap into the exact cause of this woman’s depression. This part was especially significant to me because it showed a time in which typical therapy was not beneficial and it got me thinking that this is something I will probably have to deal with in my future. If a patient is unresponsive to typical therapies, hypnosis definitely proves itself to be an effective treatment option. In another experiment done by Alladin and Alibhai, the effectiveness of cognitive hypnotherapy was compared to the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapy. In this study, the patients undergoing cognitive hypnotherapy proved a significantly larger improvement in overcoming depression than the patients undergoing cognitive-behavioral therapy. This was important to me because it just reinforced what I had learned from the previous study. While cognitive-behavioral therapy is different from psychotherapy, both refrain from the use of hypnosis and this study proved that hypnosis does play a large part in helping patients undergoing depression. Therefore, throughout these studies, it was clear that hypnosis plays a large part in helping eliminate depression.

All of the above points delineate that, hypnosis is an important proponent in tackling and eliminating depression. As seen throughout the paper, it is necessary to understand how hypnosis works in a session and to understand that it has worked in the past and this will hopefully make hypnosis a more widely used treatment option in eliminating depression. So, going forth, I will do my best in implementing it in my future practice as a clinical and counseling psychologist.


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