Thomas P. Connelly, D.D.S. wrote an interesting article for the November 30, 2011 Huffington Post based on a patient of his asking him to use hypnosis for dental pain instead of the Procaine anesthetic injection he was ready to use that day. This lead him to do some research into the efficacy of hypnosis for his patients never having really thought about how it may be a helpful addition to his practice.
During his research he came across an article that was written about a man who was able to have his teeth pulled out without any pain with the use of hypnosis which got Dr. Connelly thinking that though this seemed “far fetched” to him, it could indeed have some use for his patients, yet he was still skeptical. With a bit more research he came across the International Medical and Dental Hypnotherapy Association which sounded very official. He read their mission statement which said:
“To provide and encourage education programs to further, the knowledge, understanding, and application of hypnosis in complimentary health care; to encourage research and scientific publication in the field of hypnosis; to promote the further recognition and acceptance of hypnosis as an important tool in health care and focus for scientific research; to cooperate with other professional organizations that share mutual goals, ethics and interests; and to provide a professional community for those complimentary health care professionals, therapists and researchers who use hypnosis in their work.”
The only problem was that this professional man was still thinking of hypnosis as that which is used in the entertainment world having people do things like “bark like a dog.” I have to tell you that I have no idea where people get this notion other than perhaps some very old movies. Considering that I have been a volunteer in many hypnosis stage shows and have studied the art of putting on hypnosis stage shows I can attest to never having been taught to have people bark like a dog. However, I do have to say that there are certainly some hypnosis stage shows out out there where one needs to be cognizant of the nature of the show and thus what you may be asked to do. Contrary to most peoples’ understanding however, everyone who is on stage is hyper aware of the suggestion the hypnotist is giving them and what they are doing. One can always decide to not follow the suggestion. I saw this happen in a stage show that I saw a few years ago with a young woman being asked to sing a song like Whitney Houston and she did indeed decline to do so.
One of the other issues that Dr. Connelly raises in his article is the truth that there is little to no regulation in the world of hypnotism here in the United States. Just as anyone can call themselves a coach, anyone can put out a sign saying that they are a hypnotist. Though there are certifications that one can attain, there is no legal backing to any of the certifications. So how does one know that they are working with a well trained hypnotist or hypnotherapist who can really bring the results that are desired when one is employed?
Very often in these weblogs I speak to doing some serious research yourself into the hypnotist with whom you are thinking of working. By the way let me make it clear that although there are some differences in some states in the United States regarding the actual title you can give yourself, being a “hypnotherapist” only means that a person may hold a license to practice medicine or work with mental health. In the state of Massachusetts where I currently reside and practice, the titles are used interchangeably. In other words anyone can use either title. Further, I would like you to know that just because someone has a professional license to practice medicine or mental health does not mean they know or understand how to do hypnotic technique for it is its own profession with its own knowledge base. In fact when one looks through the history books there are plenty of lay hypnotist who were able to do amazing things with their hypnotic abilities. One who comes to mind is the late David Elman who was a stage hypnotist who was asked by the doctors and dentists of his time to teach them how to use hypnosis in their practices. He and his wife spent much of the 1940‘s and 1950‘s traveling the country doing just that, using the patients of his students to demonstrate everything from how to create true painless childbirth to dealing with fear of needles.
So how does one know that they are dealing with a hypnotist who knows what they are doing? First you need to realize that there many different areas of expertise a hypnotist may have, not too different then when one is looking for a lawyer. Look for a hypnotist who has proven experience successfully getting results for their clients in the specific area of help that you are seeking by first by checking out their websites to see if they have meaningful testimonials from clients who were dealing with a situation similar to yours. The testimonial ought to talk to the presenting problem, what it was like to work with that hypnotist and ending with the successful outcome of the treatment.
Second, if you read the website and notice that the hypnotist has answered many of your questions inside their blogs or inside the general content, that would give you some idea that they have an idea of what they are talking about. You are not interested in what doctors or others have to say unless they themselves are speaking to the results that their patients received or better that they themselves have received through working with that hypnotist.
Lastly, call the office and see if you can speak directly to the hypnotist so you can get a sense of who they are and if you would be a good fit with them. With hypnotism as in any therapy it is important that you like and trust the person with whom you are working. If you are unable to speak directly with them on the phone see if you can have a free consultation to make sure that you are making a good choice for yourself.
I thank Dr. Connelly for being willing to write on this subject, one that needs to have much more discussion so the public has a better understanding of what is possible with hypnotism and with whom you ought to go to receive it.
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