When I hear the word hypnosis, a man swinging a pendulum in front of a person squawking like a chicken is what comes to mind. Stage hypnosis, performed by entertainers, is vastly different than therapeutic hypnosis, which is used to improve a person's well-being. Over the last 10 years hypnosis has gained more recognition because more and more research shows hypnotherapy can effectively treat medical conditions. A number of studies have discovered that this type of treatment can help alleviate chronic pain, reduce stress and anxiety before surgery, and also lower health care costs since patients using hypnosis have shorter hospital stays.
The hypnotic state has been likened to meditation or daydreaming; when hypnotized, one has a heightened sense of inner focus and concentration. When under hypnosis, people tend to feel calm and relaxed and be capable of paying attention to one specific thought, memory, emotion, or sensation while blocking out any other distractions, making them extremely open to the power of suggestion, although they remain completely aware and in control of their actions. This is why hypnosis is used for weight loss, smoking cessation, pain control, childbirth, dental procedures, anxiety, and gastrointestinal problems such as IBS. It should be noted that one session won't instantly "cure" your ails, so don't expect to instantly despise cigarettes after your first appointment.