Hypnotherapy for Social Anxiety
Does hypnosis work for social anxiety? If you’ve been thinking about trying hypnosis or hypnotherapy for social anxiety, you might be wondering whether it’s worth your time. It might sound too good to be true that a simple hypnosis session could fix your social fear.
Hypnosis can work for people who have social anxiety. But, it helps more when it is used with other treatments compared to when it is used alone.
I’m sure you have lots more questions about hypnosis for social anxiety. You’re probably wondering what’s involved and how long it will take to work. I’ll tackle those questions along with giving you suggestions on where to look for hypnosis treatment in this post!
Does Hypnosis Work for Social Anxiety?
Hypnosis was first developed in the 1700s by Austrian physician Franz Anton Mesmer, and in 1958 it was officially recognized as a valid medical procedure by the American Medical Association. Since then, hypnotherapy has been used for many different issues including anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, and other problems.
Unfortunately, there has not been much research specifically conducted on the effectiveness of hypnosis for social anxiety.
One small study of first-year medical students evaluated the effect of clinical hypnosis on test anxiety and found improvements in global test anxiety and confidence. In addition, a review study demonstrated that hypnosis may help to reduce general anxiety.
Hypnosis and hypnotherapy can also work for some people and not for others based on how well you are able to relax and enter the hypnotic trance. For that reason, if you are wondering whether it will work for you, trying it out might be your best option.
What Is the Difference Between Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy?
I’ll be using the terms hypnosis and hypnotherapy somewhat interchangeably in this post. However, there is a distinction between the two terms of which you should be aware. Below is the difference.
Hypnosis: A technique used to induce a hypnotic trance.
Hypnotherapy: A therapeutic treatment that uses hypnosis as its primary technique.
In other words, hypnotherapy is a type of therapy used to treat conditions like anxiety. On the other hand, hypnosis is a technique that is used within hypnotherapy but that also is used for other purposes such as entertainment.
How Does Hypnosis Work?
If you’re interested in trying hypnosis or hypnotherapy for social anxiety, you’re probably wondering how it actually works or what to expect. First, let’s consider what it would be like to see a hypnotherapist.
First, your hypnotherapist should take your medical history and ask questions about what you are experiencing. For example, if you are struggling with social anxiety and that is the reason for seeking help, your hypnotherapist should take time to understand this.
The idea behind hypnotherapy for social anxiety is that there are traumatic memories from your past that are re-triggered by events in your present. For example, if you have a public speaking phobia, you might relive that first traumatic public speaking experience each time you speak in public.
You might get that same racing heartbeat and shaking hands because the event and your reaction have become linked in your mind. So, the goal of hypnotherapy, in this case, is to “un-link” the event and the response.
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To do this, your hypnotherapist will lead you into an altered state of consciousness known as a hypnotic trance. You’ve probably seen this done before by popular hypnotherapists with a swinging pendulum or by counting backward slowly.
Once you enter the trance, you will experience relaxation, a lowered heart rate and blood pressure, and changes in your brain waves. While you are in the trance, your hypnotherapist will make suggestions that help to un-link the traumatic past event (and you will be highly responsive to them, since you’re in a trance!).
Your hypnotherapist will also give you a post-hypnotic suggestion that you will be able to relax on cue before you leave the hypnotic state. In this way, another goal of hypnotherapy is to help you learn how to relax.
The entire session will last about one to one and a half hours. At the end of the session, your hypnotherapist will bring you back to present state awareness and have you reflect on how things went. You might also learn how to practice self-hypnosis outside of hypnotherapy appointments.
How Many Hypnosis Sessions Are Needed for Anxiety?
Solution-focused clinical hypnotherapist Andrew Major notes that the number of hypnotherapy sessions needed is different for each person. In his practice, a minimum of 6-8 sessions is generally required for anxiety and stress-related issues.
If you’re wondering how long it will take before you notice a difference in your symptoms, again that will depend on the individual. However, it’s likely that it will take as long as it takes to establish a new habit, which is 21 days. If you are seeing a hypnotherapist, don’t be afraid to ask them what to expect in terms of when you should feel a difference.
Can Hypnosis Make Anxiety Worse?
If you are considering hypnosis or hypnotherapy, you might be worried that it could actually make your anxiety worse. Hypnotherapy is not without the potential for risks. Potential risks include the creation of false memories, and physical symptoms like headaches, dizziness, or even increased anxiety.
In addition, if you are living with another illness that involves delusions or hallucinations, hypnotherapy is not recommended since the process of entering the trance state could make your symptoms worse.
In general, it’s always best to consult with your doctor before starting any new form of treatment. This is especially true if you have any other physical or mental health conditions. They will be able to advise you whether or not hypnotherapy is suited to your unique set of circumstances.
Finding a Hypnotherapist Near You
At this point, you might be wondering where exactly to look for a hypnotherapist in your area. Hypnotherapy is still not really a mainstream profession, so it isn’t likely that you can ask for a referral from your friends. You can, however, ask for a referral from healthcare professionals with whom you already have a relationship.
The ideal situation is to find a licensed professional who also has training in hypnotherapy. This is because that professional will be governed by their regulating professional body and you will be protected should something go wrong.
Some examples of healthcare professionals who might also be trained in hypnotherapy include the following:
- medical doctors
- registered nurses
- social workers
There are several professional organizations for hypnotherapy. For example, the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis offers a search function to find a certified professional by zip code (in the United States). If you live outside the United States, look for a professional organization for hypnosis or hypnotherapy in your country. That’s your best bet for finding someone with credentials.
Youtube Hypnotherapy for Anxiety
If you look around Youtube, you’ll find a plethora of hypnosis videos for all kinds of ailments. If you’re unsure of the quality, click through to the creator’s website and check out their credentials.
That being said, it’s important to find a video that is aimed at the specific problem you are trying to address, and that also has a voice you find soothing. For example, some people might find a certain accent more soothing than others.
I’ve included a video below because it deals specifically with social anxiety. Remember that Youtube videos can’t be a replacement for visiting a hypnotherapist in person. However, if you’re looking to dip your toes into the pool of hypnosis, this is a good way to try it out.
Easy Self-Hypnosis for Social Anxiety
Self-hypnosis can be used to manage anxiety by conditioning your unconscious mind to change the anxiety response. It can help you relax, feel more in control, and let go of old patterns that contribute to stress. The following will give you an idea of how to do it.
There are three steps in self-hypnosis for anxiety treatment:
- Find a comfortable position. This can be either sitting or lying down on a bed or couch. Close your eyes and take a few minutes to relax and let go of any tension in your body. Imagine you’re climbing down a ladder slowly from the top, making yourself more and more relaxed with each rung you descend. When you reach the bottom, stay there for a few moments as you prepare to enter the hypnotic state.
- Visualize a safe space. Once you feel totally relaxed, mentally picture yourself walking through a door into another room where you feel energized and completely safe. This is your special place, your sanctuary, and no one can enter without your permission. You have control over whether the door is open or closed. When you are in this safe space, no one (including family members or friends) can upset you.
- Imagine you have complete control. Once inside the room, imagine that the walls are made of glass or clear crystal, allowing you to watch everything that goes on outside, but nothing from the outside world can penetrate this special place. Only positive thoughts and feelings can enter with you. You have complete control over who comes in and out of your special room, and only your permission will allow anyone to enter.
For many people, this is a very powerful visualization technique and can make them feel calmer almost immediately. Practice this technique whenever you find yourself getting stressed or anxious, and watch out for those “boogeymen” who will try to invade your space.
Can Hypnosis Cure Social Anxiety?
Hypnosis is a very focused state of mind. When you are hypnotized you enter an altered state of mind in which your natural abilities and inner resources can be accessed with ease to create new positive change. In the case of social anxiety, the goal is to help a person feel more comfortable in conversation or social situations.
While it’s possible that hypnosis can help with social anxiety, it may not be as effective as other treatments. Hypnosis works best when combined with other treatments such as therapy and medication.
Treatment for social anxiety disorder typically involves several components: psychotherapy including exposure techniques and cognitive behavioral therapy; medication such as SSRIs; and lifestyle changes such as regular exercise and avoiding caffeine.
Hypnotherapy for Social Anxiety and Reddit Reviews
I debated including this here because anecdotes and personal stories aren’t generally the best way to evaluate the effectiveness of a treatment. However, I know how powerful it can be at the same time to hear a success story from a real live person. For that reason, I’m including a relevant Reddit thread below that I think you’ll find informative. It’s an AMA (ask me anything) from someone who had moderate success using hypnotherapy for social anxiety.
If you’ve read all the way to the bottom, you’re probably really interested in hypnotherapy for social anxiety. To close out this post, I’ll give you some suggestions on next steps!
- If you want to see a hypnotherapist in person, visit the locator or ask for a referral from your primary physician.
- If you want to practice self-hypnosis, choose a regular time of day and days of the week that you will practice. Select the tracks you want to listen to in advance so you have everything ready.
If you want a done-for-you hypnotherapy program, you may be interested in this guided meditation for anxiety.
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Does Hypnosis Work for Social Anxiety?
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