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Hypnotherapy

The meaning of «hypnotherapy»

Hypnotherapy is a type of mind-body intervention in which hypnosis is used to create a state of focused attention and increased suggestibility in the treatment of a medical or psychological disorder or concern.[1]

The United States Department of Labor's Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) describes the job of the hypnotherapist:

"Induces hypnotic state in client to increase motivation or alter behavior patterns: Consults with client to determine nature of problem. Prepares client to enter hypnotic state by explaining how hypnosis works and what client will experience. Tests subject to determine degree of physical and emotional suggestibility. Induces hypnotic state in client, using individualized methods and techniques of hypnosis based on interpretation of test results and analysis of client's problem. May train client in self-hypnosis conditioning."[2]

The form of hypnotherapy practiced by most Victorian hypnotists, including James Braid and Hippolyte Bernheim, mainly employed direct suggestion of symptom removal, with some use of therapeutic relaxation and occasionally aversion to alcohol, drugs, etc.[3]

In the 1950s, Milton H. Erickson developed a radically different approach to hypnotism, which has subsequently become known as "Ericksonian hypnotherapy" or "Neo-Ericksonian hypnotherapy." Based on his belief that that dysfunctional behaviors were defined by social tension, Erickson coopted the subject's behavior to establish rapport, a strategy he termed "utilization." Once rapport was established, he made use of an informal conversational approach to direct awareness. His methods included complex language patterns and client-specific therapeutic strategies (reflecting the nature of utilization). He claimed to have developed ways to suggest behavior changes during apparently ordinary conversation.[4]

This divergence from tradition led some, including Andre Weitzenhoffer, to dispute whether Erickson was right to label his approach "hypnosis" at all.[5] Erickson's foundational paper, however, considers hypnosis as a mental state in which specific types of "work" may be done, rather than a technique of induction.[6]

The founders of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), a method somewhat similar in some regards to some versions of hypnotherapy, claimed that they had modelled the work of Erickson extensively and assimilated it into their approach.[7][8] Weitzenhoffer disputed whether NLP bears any genuine resemblance to Erickson's work.[5]

In the 2000s, hypnotherapists began to combine aspects of solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT) with Ericksonian hypnotherapy to produce therapy that was goal-focused (what the client wanted to achieve) rather than the more traditional problem-focused approach (spending time discussing the issues that brought the client to seek help). A solution-focused hypnotherapy session may include techniques from NLP.[9]

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