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Keira Knightley Reveals Hypnotherapy Helped Treat Her Panic Attacks

More and more celebrities are opening up the mental health conversation, revealing their own personal struggles—and Keira Knightley is the latest star to share her struggle with anxiety. The Colette star confessed to the Hollywood Reporter that she suffered a debilitating mental breakdown in 2007, and as a result was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Knightley attributes her breakdown to the pressure and attention that came with fame, adding that the paparazzi exasperated the situation. “It was big money to get pictures of women falling apart,” Knightley told the Hollywood Reporter during their Awards Chatter podcast in reference to Britney Spears’s breakdown.

Eventually, her overwhelming anxiety built up and it took a serious toll on her. “I did have a mental breakdown at 22, so I did take a year off there and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder because of all that stuff,” she said.

To help her treat her PTSD and panic attacks on the red carpet, Knightley credits hypnotherapy. “I actually did hypnotherapy so that I could stand on the red carpet at the BAFTAs and not have a panic attack,” she confessed. “The hypnotherapy worked because I did stand there and I didn’t have a panic attack.”

But what exactly is this form of therapy—and how does it work? Here’s what you should know.

Hypnotherapy is different from traditional talk therapy in that it puts you in a trance-like state to help you gain better control over your anxiety. According to the Mayo Clinic, hypnotherapy is usually done with a therapist repeating certain words or mental images to a patient.

“Hypnotherapy works to build walls around the patient’s central system and to develop a lens to see the world in a less threatening light,” psychotherapist Paul Hokemeyer, PhD, explains to Prevention.

While there are several modalities of hypnotherapy, Dr. Hokemeyer believes the one likely used with Knightley would involve a combination of deep relaxation and cognitive restructuring.
“By inducing a state of deep relaxation, through breath work, guided meditation, or yoga practice, the clinician gains access to the patient’s subconscious thoughts,” Dr. Hokemeyer explains. For example, meditating can help relax by forcing you to focus on using your breath. It can also help you see your fears and anxieties not as threats, but as opportunities to grow and make you stronger. “The work would also enable them to re-evaluate their own perceptions, correcting any distortions and strengthening their agency and resilience,” Dr. Hokemeyer says.

The benefits of hypnotherapy aren’t immediate, and half the battle is trusting your therapist and being patient with the process. To be truly effective, you need to find the right hypnotherapist who can address your needs.

Dr. Hokemeyer says hypnotherapy generally takes at least four sessions or a month of preliminary work with your therapist. That preliminary work involves finding a therapist you can trust, actually undergoing the hypnosis treatments, and implementing those changes to your everyday life.

 

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The Science Behind Hypnosis

Earlier this year a study was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology (published under the American Psychological Association) that found hypnosis can have profound effects on executive function – the cognitive processes that regulate our goals as well as the thought processes and actions oriented towards achieving those goals…

Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence in Cognition has conducted a series of experiments that puts new, solid science behind hypnotherapy and its effectiveness.

You can read the complete article HERE

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Hypnosis for Pain Management

“The empirical support for hypnosis for chronic pain management has flourished over the past two decades. Clinical trials show that hypnosis is effective for reducing chronic pain, although outcomes vary between individuals. The findings from these clinical trials also show that hypnotic treatments have a number of positive effects beyond pain control. Neurophysiological studies reveal that hypnotic analgesia has clear effects on brain and spinal-cord functioning that differ as a function of the specific hypnotic suggestions made, providing further evidence for the specific effects of hypnosis. The research results have important implications for how clinicians can help their clients experience maximum benefits from hypnosis and treatments that include hypnotic components.”

This is the abstract from an excellent article* describing how hypnosis can be a highly effective adjunct therapy in pain management,

You can read the entire article here

At my practice in Highgate Hill, I  consistently achieve excellent results with helping my clients to effectively and positively overcome chronic pain.

To learn more, you can find my contact details here. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have about how hypnotherapy can help you to overcome your chronic pain.

*    Hypnotic Approaches for Chronic Pain Management – Clinical Implications of Recent Research Findings. Mark P. Jensen and David R. Patterson, University of Washington

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Hypnosis for Children

Here ** is a link to a study of using Hypnosis with Children that describes the long history of using hypnosis to achieve highly successful outcomes with children.

Kids today really have a lot to deal with. There are pressures to perform at school, in after school activities such as sports and arts, in the area of social media, and with older children, as well as the worry of choosing a sustainable career.

These stresses and anxieties sometimes become too much for our young folk to deal with, which can result in a range of symptoms, both emotional and physical.

Children can develop a variety symptoms, including phobias and stomach problems. (I increasingly work with specialist Pediatric Gastroenterologists at Lady Cilento Hospital to help children with emotionally driven gut problems).

Hypnotherapy is completely safe for children, (and adults), it’s entirely without side effects and it usually achieves permanent results in such cases.

As part of the work I do, I teach my young clients techniques and tools that they can use for the rest of their lives to help deal with stressful periods in their lives.

Enjoy the article.

** Applications of Clinical Hypnosis with Children      
Daniel P Kohen. University of Minnesota, USA
International Handbook of Clinical Hypnosis.  Copyright 2001 John WIley and Sons Ltd
ISBN: 0-471-97009-3
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Hypnosis and Performance Anxiety

Performance anxiety is a common problem among both amateur and professional performers.

It occurs much more often among those who already tend to be anxious, and can best be understood as a kind of social phobia.

While some form of tension is important for a dynamic live performance, negative self talk and a sense of panic or impending disaster can spoil the experience for the performer and the audience.

A study of students an an American University School of music found that 21% reported “Marked distress”, while another 40% experienced “Moderate distress”.

Reported symptoms included flushing, quavering voice, nausea and dizziness.

Several studies have shown that hypnotherapy is an effective treatment.

A 1993 study using a two session hypnotherapy procedure that combined success imagery with rational-emotional therapy, (removing beliefs such as the notion that anything short of perfection is unacceptable), resulted in a marked reduciton, in most cases elimination of symptoms.

performance-anxiety-300x291A follow up study paired music students according to their scores on a performance anxiety questionaire and assigned one of each pair to hypnotherapy and the other to a control group.

Two sessions one week apart were used, involving pleasant visual imagery and verbal suggestions that linked these images to increased mental control.

The hypnotherapy group showed a significant reduction in performance anxiety when evaluated immediately after treatment and again six months after treatment, indicating that the benefits are long lasting.

Other studies have shown similar results in the fields of sports and public speaking.

If you suffer from performance anxiety but are concerned that medication may take the edge off your performance then you might like to try hypnotherapy, as it is a proven effective treatment with zero side effects.

 

 

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Hypnotherapy for Skin Conditions

The skin is a mirror of the inner self, and we frequently use phrases which reflect this: ‘getting under your skin’, ‘thin skinned’, ‘thick skinned’, ‘itching to do something’ for example. These all reflect the fact that it is recognised as a measure of our vulnerability. We use these phrases without thinking about them. It is only when the skin begins to malfunction that these expressions really start to have a meaning.

To understand where non-viral or bacterial skin conditions come from, it is appropriate to look at where the skin develops when we are in embryonic stage. The epidermis and nervous system originate from the ectoderm, and as such, when the embryo fully develops a strong series of connections exist between the two. Therefore, an imbalance within the nervous system may frequently be reflected in the epidermis itself. It can be a signal of an implicit vulnerability to a situation, or a response to that initiating trigger itself. Therefore, treating the symptom alone for psychogenic disorders is not as effective as treating the trigger as well. This is why hypnosis for skin conditions can be so productive.

Hypnosis is effective for the treatment of dermatological conditions in three specific ways. Firstly, treatment of the root cause; secondly, remission of the symptom, and finally through treating the conditioned response to the symptom. It is very important to be aware of the very distressing effects which these types of condition have on the individual, and their sense of self. An initial consultation would consist of, among other things, finding out what the patient enjoys doing, and what they do to relax. This information is then fed back to the patient in hypnosis to establish biofeedback connections with positive associations. When talking about something we enjoy, we begin to come out of ourselves, and take our mind off things which are a concern. This demonstrates that there are times when the patient is not so aware of their problem, and this they do naturally by becoming occupied in something else. This is done also to establish that the symptom is not always constant, and therefore manipulable. One of the most important questions which the therapist must ask before treating the patient with hypnosis is to find out which of the three component parts of the problem, the cause; the symptom; or their reaction to the symptom is the thing which is of most concern to them. The emphasis here is on which element of the condition they wish to take control of first.

Control

With any condition with a psychogenic component, the patient suffers from feelings of being out of control and this is made worse by the visibility of the symptom. This visibility has social implications and can hold the patient back from forming the social bonds which in themselves can take them away from the problem, i.e. manipulate the symptom.

Stress

Stress increases the vulnerability of the autonomic nervous system and this has a direct effect on the epidermis. This increases the dermatological symptoms and sets the patient into an anxiety loop. The worse the external stress becomes, the more the autonomic nervous system reacts in response, the worse any dermatological reaction. One of the most effective ways the therapist can help in alleviating the symptom is to teach the patient self-hypnosis for stress reduction. This allows the patient to regain a level of control of certain autonomic functions of the system, such as breathing and regulation of the heart rate. This serves the twofold process. It demonstrates that autonomic functions can be manipulated using hypnosis, and by reducing the stress component of the problem, the symptom itself will reduce.

Treating the Trigger

There are two categories into which individuals with a problem fall. The first is those who need to know why they do something before they can move away from the problem, and those who feel they have already dealt with that aspect of the problem and simply require a remission of the symptoms. Those people who need to know why they have their problem require treatment involving analysis or regression. The aim of these techniques is to give an insight into the root cause of the problem. This work can be done in a context free manner, so it is not necessary in hypnotherapeutic treatment for the material to come to consciousness, only that the emotional content is released in a cathartic manner. The underlying principal is that the release of the emotional component will eradicate the need for the symptom. For those whose primary concern is the eradication of the problem, i.e. those who feel that the initiating reason for their condition is not relevant to them anymore, the trigger still needs to be dealt with. In these instances, dissociation techniques are often used. These techniques concentrate on a resolution or re-integration of a problem part – the part which caused the problem. With dermatological conditions which provoke a conditioned reflex such as scratching, the most distressing aspect for the individual is the feeling that they are scratching without any conscious awareness, such as in their sleep. The principal of dissociation brings back the part which scratches, and re-integrates it into the whole, therefore eradicating the need for the symptom, and bringing the trigger under conscious control.

Dealing with the symptom

As the symptom provoked can itself cause additional problems, such as poor self image, and a lack of confidence, this aspect is addressed through ego-strengthening techniques.

This reduces the stress and helps take the patient out of themselves, and away from focussing on the condition. As some dermatological conditions respond well to exposure to ultra violet light, creative visualisation in hypnosis can be used to take the patient to a warm beach, where they can safely experience the healing effects of the sun. If the patient is receptive to imagery, the same physiological and psychological changes will be produced as if they were actually experiencing it. Changes in skin pigmentation corresponding to sun exposure have been seen in this therapeutic application of visualisation. Finding out what the patient uses effectively to ease the symptom can also be fed back in hypnosis, and therefore amplified on the unconscious level at which the problem has been operating. A final aspect in dealing with the symptom in this type of hypnotherapeutic intervention is the generation of new, healthy skin. This can be done in one of two ways. Either the patient is asked to remember a time when their skin was healthy, i.e. a time before the condition occurred, or imagery is used of how they wish themselves to look when their skin is healthy.

Coping with the reaction to the symptom

In addition to the symptom itself, the conditioned response needs to be extinguished. Scratching or itching, which gave temporary relief to the patient from the condition, itself becomes a habit. Even when the trigger has been removed and the new dermatological response generated, the reaction still remains in place and must also be deconditioned. If this is not done, at any time in the future should the individual become stressed or their immune system depleted, the habit can resurface and cause an apparent re-occurrence of the symptom. Once the patient becomes aware that their skin condition is deteriorating, they begin to focus on that area, they become more stressed, and the pattern becomes a vicious circle until the condition starts afresh. The scratching or itching can be dealt with by hypno- desensitisation, a gradual process which weans the individual off the behaviour.

Glove anaesthesia

Glove anaesthesia is a hypnotic technique which can also be used in hypnosis to allow the patient to alter perception of sensitivity. A specific technique which uses suggestions of cold and numbness is used for dermatological conditions. This is used to produce vaso-constriction for a numbness or coolness to reduce sensitivity to the itch itself. This is done by teaching the patient how to produce analgesia in their hand. They are then taught how to transfer this lack of sensitivity/numbness or coldness to any part of the body they wish. This stage of the treatment reduces the physical need for the itching or scratching, and allows the skin to begin to heal until the habitual element of the behaviour is extinguished. In certain instances, warmth can be generated to produce vaso-dilation to increases the blood supply to the area where it is needed, and speed up the physical healing process.

Case study

A twenty-five-year-old female patient presented with severe eczema, particularly on her hands. Her condition occurred periodically over nine years and she had tried various treatments from steroid treatment to homeopathy.

When asked what her main concern with regard to the condition was at that moment in time, she responded that she was currently working on a high pressure project which she found particularly stressful.

Her primary concern was that she should be able to get through the project without the undue stress which caused her palpitations and trembling. In the first consultation

she was taught self-hypnosis which she was to practice every evening and whenever she felt the need during the day. This improved her ability to go into a hypnotic state, while also allowing her to take direct action to control her main area of concern. Once the project was completed, she returned to continue her treatment. She was aware of when the condition started and felt that this was no longer relevant to her. A dissociation technique was used to re-integrate the part which ‘took over’ when she scratched. This was done to bring the trigger back under conscious control. In a subsequent session, imagery of relaxing warm beaches was used, as she had stated that exposure to sunlight alleviated her symptom. As part of the post-hypnotic suggestion she was asked to look for changes in her skin condition, and to become as involved in her environment as possible.

The redness of the skin was by this time reducing, and she noticed that the more severe thickening of skin on her hands was also lessening. Continued use by the patient of self-hypnosis during this time, as well as positive ego-suggestions increased her ability to take control of herself, and she noted that her confidence was increasing in social situations. As the timescale and number of sessions was also under her control, she indicated that she felt confident to discontinue with the sessions and would continue to practice her self-hypnosis. At this stage it was suggested that should she wish to return in three months time, or if she felt the need to contact the therapist during that time, she could. This was done as a safety net proviso, and allowed the patient ongoing security should anything come up in that time. After four months the patient returned to show what she called her ‘new self’. The skin was healthy, and only the more severe areas around the finger joints still showed slight discolouration. The patient was happy with her progress and discussed all the things which she now felt confident to do.

Conclusion

Working with dermatological conditions is one of the most rewarding types of treatment in hypnosis. The changes which take place can be viewed directly, and as the condition improves, so confidence increases, and the patient gets into a positive mind set about themselves and their future. If you wish to undertake a course of hypnotherapy for dermatological conditions, go to your medical practitioner first to check that there is not a physiological basis for your condition.

 

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Research Supports Hypnotherapy for Obesity

Gordon Cochrane and John Friesen of the Department of Counselling Psychology at the University of British Columbia, conducted a research study that was published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. There have been previous reports of the effectiveness of hypnotherapy when used to treat obesity; however, they were not substantiated by any controlled research studies until Cochrane & Friesen (1986).
Findings
The conclusions drawn from this controlled study supported Cochrane’s original hypothesis. The group receiving hypnotherapy and the group receiving hypnotherapy plus audiotapes to use at home lost comparable amounts of weight. Subjects in the control group lost significantly less. According to the results, hypnotherapy was the key element facilitating weight loss. The margin of difference between the hypnosis only and the hypnosis plus audiotapes group was insignificant. Subjects in both those groups lost significantly more weight than those in the control group.
Notably, educational level, economic level and age of the subject at the onset of obesity did not appear to be possible causative factors.  Cochrane’s well-controlled study provides empirical evidence in favour of the use of hypnotherapy as an effective treatment option for obese individuals.
The conclusions suggest that future research studies should focus on hypnotherapeutic techniques as applied to clients with specific characteristics.
You can read a compete article on teh research here
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A Pilot Study of Hypnosis in the Treatment of Patients with Psoriasis

Background: The use of psychological therapies for patients with psoriasis has been proposed based on observations that the severity of their disease may correlate with emotional stress. The aim of this pilot study was to evaluate the effect of hypnosis as a treatment modality for patients with psoriasis. Methods: We performed a 3-month randomised, single-blind, controlled trial of the use of hypnosis in adults with stable, chronic, plaque-type psoriasis. Highly or moderately hypnotizable subjects were randomised to receive either hypnosis with active suggestions of improvement (5 patients) or neutral hypnosis with no mention of their disease process (6 patients). After this period, the study was unblinded, and all the patients were treated for an additional 3 months with hypnosis with active suggestions of improvement. Results: Highly hypnotizable subjects showed significantly greater improvement than did moderately hypnotizable subjects, independent of treatment group assignment (active suggestion or neutral hypnosis). Conclusion: Although this study included a very limited number of patients, the results suggest that hypnosis may be a useful therapeutic modality for highly hypnotizable subjects with psoriasis, and merits further testing in a larger patient population.

Research shows that the brain causes our skin to respond to hypnotic suggestion       types_erythrodermic-3

In a classic experiment, Japanese doctors Ikemi and Nakagawa hypnotised volunteers and told them that a leaf applied to their skin was a toxic plant, such as a poison ivy. The plant was harmless but the subjects’ skin became red and irritated. The same experimenters applied the real toxic plant to other subjects’ skin after telling them it was innocuous. The expected biological reaction of irritation did not take place.

 In 1928, Drs. Heilig and Hoff of the University of Vienna used hypnosis to alleviate outbreaks of oral herpes (cold sores). In a separate experiment, they could also trigger new outbreaks in these patients by reminding them, under hypnosis, of the painful events that had triggered them originally (such as a death in the family) and of the itching and tingling that usually come just before the sores appear.

Drs. Kaneko and Takaishi of the Osaka University Medical School used a similar procedure with hives. Fourteen of the twenty-seven patients they treated made complete or near-complete recoveries; only five reported no benefit. They too could bring the symptoms back with hypnosis, either by suggesting skin irritation directly or by bringing to mind situations that aroused anger. Additionally, two dozen scientific reports, including several large-scale studies, describe successfully treating warts by using hypnosis. In recent years, many more researchers have effectively applied these techniques to a wide variety of symptoms and conditions. Rather than dividing illness into “emotional” or “psychosomatic” and “physical,” we need to think of emotions as a factor in all skin problems.

Research About Psoriasis and Hypnosis Vol. 68, No. 4, 1999 A Pilot Study of Hypnosis in the Treatment of Patients with Psoriasis Francisco Tausk, S. Elizabeth Whitmore

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Hypnosis Works for Pain Control

The US Institute for the Study of Healthcare Organizations & Transactions has a study on the effectiveness of Hypnosis in Pain Management.

As you can see from their graph, Hypnosis achieved a higher level of pain reduction than Acupuncture, Morphine or the Placebo. Hypnosis not only helps to relieve pain but it helps to preserve the dignity and well-being of patients without the dependence on large amounts of prescription medications .

Remember, ALL medications have side effects and people develop a tolerance eventually leading to increased dosages and possible addiction.

The US National Institutes of Health recommends using hypnosis as a tool in pain management! 26 million Americans have frequent or persistent back pain and 50 million Americans are partially or fully disabled from some form of chronic pain?How about the fact that 1 out of every 6 Americans have a form of painful arthritis.

The evidence suggests that, per capita, the  situation is much the same in Australia.

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Hypnosis With Cognitive Therapy May Benefit Breast Cancer Patients

Breast cancer takes a huge toll on a woman’s emotional and psychological health. The uncertainty of a diagnosis and punishing rounds of chemotherapy and radiation often result in chronic fatigue and anxiety.

Most cancer centers provide talk therapy and more traditional forms of psychological counseling to help women in treatment manage the emotional impact of their disease.breast_self_exam4[2]_tcm8-78531

But at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, Guy Montgomery, associate professor of oncological sciences, is testing out a combination of hypnosis and cognitive behavioral therapy to help breast cancer patients keep their mental health in check.

“Feeling anxious and worried can lead to fatigue and that’s one of the steps we’re working with patients to be more in control of those kinds of emotions,” Montgomery told CBS News.

In his study of 200 patients, Montgomery found women who underwent regular CBT and hypnosis reported less fatigue and anxiety — even six months later.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a goal-oriented therapeutic approach that helps a patient manage their cognitive processes, such as negative thought patterns. Montgomery combines CBT with hypnosis, which puts the patient in an extreme relaxed state that is physiologically similar to sleep.

He uses guided imagery to help the women relax. When he works with his patient Claire Zion he talks to her in a calm and soothing voice. “Each breath you can feel yourself becoming more and more relaxed,” he tells her. “I’d like you to picture a cool lake.”

Zion underwent breast cancer treatment in 2010. After her double mastectomy she enrolled in Montgomery’s study to see if his experimental therapy could alleviate her fatigue. “It teaches you to find a place where you can quiet that noise and comfort yourself,” Zion told CBS News. Her cancer is now in remission, and she’s hopes the therapy can now help her sleep better.

Zion said she felt the benefits of Montgomery’s therapy throughout her cancer treatment. She even was able to keep up with some of her normal activities. “I rode my bike to radiation every day,” she said.

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