Hypnotherapy has proven to provide assistance and relief from Anxiety
Hypnosis for Anxiety Techniques
With its emphasis on physical and mental relaxation, hypnotherapy can be a highly effective treatment for various forms of anxiety that are affecting someone’s life. It should be noted
that some serious conditions may require other treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication. However, hypnosis as a complementary treatment has been shown to increase the chances for successful outcomes.
Hypnotherapy techniques for working with anxiety include:
In order to achieve sufficient relaxation to enter the hypnotic trance state, the therapist will guide a person through a progressive attention to each part of the body. Through mindfulness, focused awareness, and soothing suggestions, a person is able to release tension and stress.
Once physical relaxation is achieved, mental relaxation comes more easily. Through this process, the symptoms of anxiety are often greatly reduced, allowing any therapeutic work to begin.
Oftentimes anxiety is caused by or exacerbated by obsessive and fearful thoughts about the future. This can take the form of catastrophizing, filtering information, and magnification.
While in the trance state, the therapist will guide the person through a process of right-sizing their fears and worries to better reflect the reality of their situation.
This technique relies on the use of imagination and guided imagery. In the dreamlike state of hypnosis a person imagines themselves experiencing the situations that trigger anxiety. They are then able to bring new resources, perspectives, and attitudes to those situations, allowing them to practice healthier responses. For example, a person who is phobic of flying in airplanes will be asked to repeatedly imagine themselves taking a long flight with confidence and self-assurance. This creates new mental habits and associations that can make it easier to face the phobia when it’s encountered in real life.
In addition to all of these techniques, many hypnotherapists will suggest various self-management tools to deal with anxiety as it may come up in the future. These can include instructions for self-hypnosis, deep breathing exercises, and self-guided relaxation meditations.
How Does Hypnotherapy for Anxiety Work?
A typical course of hypnosis treatment for anxiety will include an initial assessment, several
hypnosis sessions, and some kind of follow-up and support.
Many therapists today will provide people with pre-session hypnosis “training.” This may be
in the form of written scripts that can be read outloud or recordings of hypnotic inductions
that can be listened to before the actual session. In this context it can be very helpful to view
hypnosis as a skill that can be learned as opposed to a treatment that is done to you.
During the initial assessment, a person may be asked about their past and current experience of anxiety. As this can be a serious medical and mental health issue, a therapist will likely ask about any past or current treatments so they can coordinate with other providers as needed.
Some other areas that may be explored before treatment begins include:
Identifying what triggers episodes of anxiety or panic.
Clearly noting all the physical and emotional symptoms that signal an impending or ongoing anxiety attack. These can include mental images, inner dialog, looping
thoughts, and physical sensations.
Clarifying the person’s desired outcome from the treatment. For example, feeling relaxed, at peace, and at ease during situations that used to trigger anxiety.
Using all this information, the person will then work with the therapist to create hypnotic suggestions and a plan of treatment that will best support anxiety relief.
Next are the actual hypnosis sessions. The number of sessions needed will vary from person to person. Some people experience satisfying results after one or two sessions while others benefit from a longer program of treatment.
During the first session, the therapist will induce the hypnotic trance, guiding the person into a state of deep relaxation and focused awareness. In addition to the strategies mentioned above a therapist can then employ various techniques to relieve the symptoms as well as address the underlying causes of anxiety.
Post Hypnotic Suggestions
While in hypnosis, a person is more amenable to accepting and implementing positive suggestions. These are most effective when delivered in the present tense. For example,
“Whenever I sit on an airplane, I remember to breathe and relax.” The key to post hypnotic suggestions is that they are both believable and offer desirable alternative responses to the cause of the anxiety.
Anchoring is a technique that effectively teaches a person how to create their own positive triggers for more desirable outcomes. While in trance, a person will be guided into a state where they feel relaxed, safe, and at ease. They will then be instructed to create an “anchor” to those feelings. This can be a phrase, a specific place, or a physical gesture such as pressing the thumb and forefinger together. Through physical and mental association, they are then able to enter the desired state whenever the chosen anchor is activated in the future.
Often, chronic anxiety and phobias have their source in memories of past events. In hypnosis, it is possible to revisit those memories with better resources. For example, a person who is
anxious or phobic around dogs may remember they were bitten by a dog when they were a child. In the trance state, they can re-experience the event with the full knowledge that they survived, that they are now more capable of protecting themselves as adults, and that not all dogs are a threat.
Does Hypnosis Actually Work for Anxiety?
There has been a great deal of research done on the effectiveness of hypnosis and
hypnotherapy for treating anxiety disorders. Hypnosis by itself and as an adjunct to othert reatments has been proven to help calm anxiety in cancer patients, burn patients, and state anxiety issues such as pre-test anxiety.
A meta-analysis from 2018 reviewed the findings of almost 400 records, 15 studies, and 17 trials of hypnosis for controlling the symptoms of anxiety. They concluded that hypnosis was more effective in treating anxiety than other methods alone. At the end of treatment, the average participant in the 17 trials reported more reduced anxiety than 79% of the control groups.
A 2018 study of burn wound patients found that hypnosis was highly effective in
managing pain and reducing the secondary symptoms of anxiety.
Another peer-reviewed study from 2018 of cancer patients concluded that the group receiving hypnosis as an adjunct treatment showed statistically significant reduction in symptoms of pain and anxiety. They further went on the say that hypnosis can be considered effective for controlling anxiety in cancer patients and other chronic
A 2010 meta-analysis concluded that a “tremendous volume of research provides
compelling evidence that hypnosis is an efficacious treatment for state anxiety (e.g.,prior to tests, surgery and medical procedures) and anxiety-related disorders, such as headaches and irritable bowel syndrome.” The study also concluded that hypnosis showed promising results for treating general anxiety disorder but that more research
Aidan Caffrey. ADCHP, MICHP
Jade Natural Health, Blanchardstown, Dublin.
Phone: 0876594146 for appointment.