How Hypnotherapy Helped Me and Why It Can Help You Too
When you hear hypnotherapy, are you imagining the standard Hollywood movie scene where a pocket watch is waved in front of your face, or you start clucking like a chicken? That’s definitely what I thought of when I was sitting in my doctor’s office, and he mentioned it as an option for my teeth grinding. For as long as I can remember, I have grinded and clenched my teeth at night. It is one of those things where I had tried everything ‘normal’ to stop, but nothing was working. So, when hypnotherapy came up, no matter how skeptical I might have been, I was desperate enough to try anything to stop the pain in my jaw and the headaches caused from doing this to myself night in and night out.
What Is Hypnotherapy, Anyways?
It might sound pretty out there, but hypnotherapy is actually one of the oldest forms of clinical therapies. Scottish neurosurgeon James Braid began using the technique in his practice in the 1800s, and other world-renowned therapists and physicians, such as Sigmund Freud, have been known to incorporate it into their work with patients as well. Today, it is known as an alternative therapy that taps into the subconscious mind to re-program habits and beliefs held there. The best way I have heard it explained is by our expert Andrea Fagenholz in episode 22. Start by closing your eyes and imagining drawing a circle. Take about 88% of that circle, and fill it in with the color yellow. Then, draw a blue line above the yellow filled in part, and then fill in the remaining empty part of the circle with the color red. The yellow part is your subconscious mind – the majority of the brain that we don’t even know is working for us and holds most of the processing power. The red part is the conscious mind; the part we’re voluntarily using to perform functions that aren’t already ingrained in the subconscious. The blue line is a body guard; the critical mind that is protecting your subconscious mind and helping to keep you safe. Because most of the processes and patterns have been ingrained into your subconscious mind at a young age, and that bodyguard keeps those things there to protect you, it can be really hard to change old habits. Hypnotherapy bypasses the bodyguard to tap directly into the subconscious, and help you adjust the things that aren’t working for you anymore.
That is what I found to be the case for my teeth grinding as well. I was a perfect candidate for this alternative therapy since hypnotherapy is great for habits that are done involuntarily by the subconscious mind. Other types of ailments that would fall under this camp include phobias, anxiety, and issues falling or staying asleep. And while it might be scary if you’re thinking you don’t want someone else to have control over you, I found the experience to be much different than that common myth.
What You Can Expect When You See A Hypnotherapist
The first thing that you can expect when working with a hypnotherapist is that they will be doing a mix of talking with you and putting you in a state of hypnosis. It is helpful for the therapist to get to know your past and your goals for the session(s) so that they can help you achieve the best outcome. The first 30 minutes or so of an hour-long session is typically a conversation or the therapist using traditional talk therapy techniques. Then, the therapist will have you get into a comfortable position and will guide you through visualization exercises to help you achieve a state of deep relaxation, also known as hypnosis. Depending on what you are wanting to work through, they will help guide you through other visualizations while under hypnosis. In my opinion this is the best part, because you are mostly lying in a relaxed state while someone talks to you. And the reality is, you are not somewhere else. You are still aware and have full control over your body and mind. It is possible to come out of hypnosis on your own at any time, if you feel uncomfortable or unsafe. The hour long session ends with a short recap of what was discussed or visualized during the hypnosis session, and then you go on your way. It is common for hypnotherapists to provide recordings as well, which I found particularly helpful for listening to at night to reduce my urge to clench and grind.
Overall, I think hypnotherapy is a great option for anyone who has struggled with a habit or belief that they cannot remove themselves. It definitely has improved my habit of teeth clenching, much more so than any other option I’ve tried, including all of the mouth guards from my dentist that I have chewed through over the years.
Want to learn more about Hypnotherapy?
Check out our episode with Andrea Fagenholz: Episode 22: Re-Program Your Subconscious with Hypnotherapy