Friday, August 6, 2010

Hypnosis for addictions

I heard a nice talk this morning from Dr John Boyd, a well respected hypnotherapist and addiction therapist from Charlottesville. He works with me and other therapists out at Williamsville Wellness, an inpatient rehab facility just outside of Richmond. John explained how hypnotism works and why it is helpful for patients with addiction problems.

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He explained that in actual fact we are quite often in a trance state. We are often in a trance state when we are driving a car and we suddenly realize that 10 minutes have gone by and we can’t remember driving during that time. Also we are often in a trance state when we are doodling or exercising. During the trance state our conscious brain is relatively inactive, but our subconscious and unconscious brains are active and processing information and integrating information.

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Addictions are found in the subconscious and unconscious (primitive or automatic) parts of the brain. That is where the dopamine systems are and where the cravings come from. One of the problems with addictions is that we remember the good parts of the using but we have not integrated the negative things that our addiction caused. So hypnosis can help patients pay attention to the part of the subconscious brain that is aware of all of the negatives and integrate that information, often in an unconscious way. If we can become automatically more attuned to the horrors and consequences of our addiction, it becomes a lot easier to not use, even when it may seem attractive at the time.

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Dr Peter Coleman

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