Hypnotherapy can play an important role in a weight loss program as it can change your relationship with food. Using therapeutic intervention training, ego strengthening, cognitive reframing/restructuring, hypnotic age progression and age regression, and then reinforcing self-esteem and self-confidence strengthens a person’s ability to lose weight.1, 2 

How does hypnosis work? 

A therapeutic hypnotherapist facilitates the use of focused relaxation and concentration to change behavioral aspects. Everyone is unique, so each client receives a thorough evaluation and a jointly developed custom plan as underlying issues determine the specific hypnotic approach and technique used during each session.3   

When you enter hypnosis, you remain fully awake, conscious of what is being said and will remember all aspects of the session; you also remain in full control of your actions and behavior.3,4,5 Clients cannot be made to do anything that is against their ethics or moral code.1,5,6,13

How does hypnosis work for weight loss?

Hypnotherapy can change unhealthy behavior into healthy behavior. With weight loss, a part of the plan is learning about obesity and how to manage the weight loss process from beginning to end. The end goal is to lose weight and then keep it off. Hypnotherapy is an adjunct treatment that helps clients manage weight loss challenges3,5,6,11,12,13 and is also a powerful tool when used on its own, especially when combined with a healthy diet.7,6

Hypnotherapy uses reframing techniques to encourage you to eat healthier foods. “Reframing” changes the unhealthy perceptions into healthy perceptions. For instance, there was a President of the United States who did not like broccoli and didn’t want broccoli served at any White House function. Reframing techniques could change that “dislike” into a “like.”  Hypnotherapy then focuses on ego strengthening to increase one’s self-confidence and desire to succeed.1,2,3,5 Increasing self-esteem, self-confidence and reframing self-image facilitates positive results.1,3,4,5

A picture is worth a thousand words 

Another hypnotherapy technique which enables you to visualize yourself at your target goal weight is age progression. A clear picture of the future helps create success,2,3,4 as can returning to an earlier time to gain an understanding of how a behavior started.1,5

What is the process for hypnotherapy sessions?

 A hypnotherapist will see you for 8 to 10 one-hour sessions. The first session is an evaluation which is the foundation for building the framework for future sessions. Questions focus on other weight loss attempts, types of diets tried, and how much weight was lost, only to be regained. The hypnotherapist will ask multiple questions about family eating traditions, holiday traditions and questions about medical history, for example Type 2 diabetes. 

After each session, you are given a recorded copy of the hypnosis session. The expectation is that you will listen to the recording in between each session. The second session builds upon the first by starting to reframe specific behaviors. For example, it could increase the appetite for healthy foods and extinguish desires for unhealthy foods.1,2,4,5,8 Subsequent sessions continue to build on the previous session. Each individualized session includes suggestions for ego strengthening, increasing self-esteem, self-confidence and increasing stamina to stick with the weight loss program until the weight goal is achieved.4,5,9,13

Hypnotherapy facilitates changes within the unconscious that support the biology and psychology of weight loss. By changing your mind, you are able to change your weight.    

Dr. Richardson is a certified clinical hypnotherapist and has worked in health care for 44 years.  He is a member of Desert Doctors and can be reached at (760) 902.2274. For more information, visit www.kevinrichardsontherapy.com.    

References: 1) Andersen, M. S. (Published online: Jan. 31, 2008 ). Hypnotizability as a Factor in the Hypnotic Treatment of Obesity. Taylor and Francis Online, 150-159; 2) Entwistle, P. W. (2014). Unconscious Agendas in the Etiology of Refractory Obesity and the Role of Hypnosis in their Identification and Resolution. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 62(3) 330-359; 3) E. A. Barnett, M. (1989). Analytical Hypnotherapy – Principles and Practice. Glendale, CA: Westwood Publishing Co.; 4) Faith, D. B. (1996). Hypnosis as an Adjunct to Cognitive-Behavioral Psychology for Obesity: A Meta-Analytic Reappraisal. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 64, No. 3, 513-516.; 5) Kroger, D. W. (1977). Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company; 6) James H. Stewart, M. (April 2005). Hypnosis in Contemporary Medicine. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 80(4):511-524; 7) (editor), G. R. (2017). Handbook of Medical and Psychological Hypnosis, Foundations, Applications, and Professional Issues. New York: Springer Publishing Company; 8) Hammond, D. C. (2010). Hypnosis in the Treatment of Anxiety – and Stress-Related Disorders. Expert Reviews, 10(2) 263-273; 9) John G. Watkins, P. a. (1997). Ego States Theory and Therapy. New York: W. W. Norton and Company; 10) Edited by Les Brann, J. O. (2013). The Handbook of Contemporary Clinical Hypnosis, Theory and Practice. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell; 11) McGill, O. (1996 reprinted 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000). The New Encyclopedia if Stage Hypnotism. Carmarthen, Wales: Crown House Publishing Limited; 12) Michael D. Yapko, P. (2011). Mindfulness and Hypnosis The Power of Suggestion to Transform Experience. New York: W. W. Norton & Company; 13) Les Brann, J. O. (2012). The Handbook of Contemporary Clinical Hypnosis Theory and Practice. West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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