functioning of hypnotherapy
The appearance of clinical hypnosis in the public is mainly determined by the methods of classical hypnosis. Classical hypnosis understands the hypnotic state as a altered state of consciousness (trance) which leads to heightened suggestibility of the patient. Direct suggestions given in this state should- other than in the waking state- have a special effect on the patient and should influence the every day life of the patient also outside the therapeutic context. Usually, the methods of classical hypnosis are mainly oriented toward changing symptoms (like pain, insomnia etc.) by suggestions without taking into account the psychodynamic context. However, classical hypnosis nowadays is more and more completed with a modern form of hypnotherapy. Whereas for classical hypnosis the hypnotic state is of importance because of the accompanying heightened suggestibility, it is important for modern hypnotherapy because it allows better access to emotions. Instead of using direct suggestions as in classical hypnosis, modern hypnotherapy deals with the negative or encumbering emotions of the patient that are related to his inadequate behaviours and cognitions (e.g., pathogenic self-image, negative routine thoughts).
While doing so, also the life story of the patient is taken into consideration and, often, ‘old’ emotions and conflicts are worked through in hypnotic age-regression. “To work through” here means to experience or to re-experience critical situations in the context of hypnotically induced positive emotions (often taken from the patients personal life experiences) that convey to the patient the experience to be able to cope with those critical situations.
Using positive life experiences of the patient for therapeutic purposes is called - with reference to the well-known American hypnotherapist Milton Erickson - the “utilization of resources” (Erickson a. Rossi, 1979).
In a simplified way, classical hypnotherapy may be described as a symptom-oriented suggestive therapy in trance and modern hypnotherapy as an emotional therapy in trance taking into consideration the meaning of the symptom and its roots in former life episodes of the patient.
Modern hypnotherapy tries to substitute the despair, anxiety, inferiority, depression etc. of the patient by the immediate experience of confidence, self-confidence etc. or love of life “right here” in the therapeutic setting. These experiences are no cognitive constructions but immediate emotional realities. With the hypnotherapists help, this new experience then needs to be integrated into everyday life.