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Therapy using hypnosis, a state of mind in which people are extremely open to suggestion. Hypnosis has been used with at least some success in helping people control pain, curb unwanted behaviors, and treat medical conditions thought to be affected by emotional stress.

Hypnosis is a totally normal state of mind that just about everyone has experienced at one time or another — while focused on TV, a book, or an activity such as driving. The hypnotic state is thought to be a sort of doorway into the subconscious, where many of our habitual thoughts reside. Hypnotized individuals are more open to suggestion, giving the hypnotherapist an opportunity to help the individual control stress, pain, and certain behaviors.

Hypnotherapy has been used for many applications, including helping people do the following:

  • Lose weight
  • Change habitual behaviors such as smoking, nail-biting, bed-wetting, and overeating
  • Manage pain such as chronic cancer pain, menstrual pain, and headaches
  • Overcome stress, fears, phobias, and insomnia
  • Control medical conditions that may be triggered by or otherwise affected by emotional stress, such as irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, and certain skin conditions.

If you think hypnotherapy might be beneficial to you, consult your health-care team. Be sure the practitioner you select is qualified in hypnotherapy. He or she should be affiliated with a professional society such as the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis or the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis.

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