Sold out?

Life doesn’t have to weigh heavily. Dr John Butler suggests that hypnosis can lift the load and reduce your stress levels with some wind down tips for dental hygienists and therapists…

You know what happens when you carry a heavy weight, say a computer bag or a bag of shopping, in one hand for a long time? You want to change it to the other hand. You can carry the weight for much further, changing hands, than you could using one hand alone.

Life challenges, whether daily frustrations and irritations, or major crises, have a similar effect on your central nervous system as a heavy weight has on your arm muscles – using the same mental functions for a long time without a break exhausts you much sooner than switching back and forth from one type of brain use to another.

Stamina and survival

This is where learning hypnosis can extend your stamina and enable you not only to survive, but to thrive in demanding situations.

A person who reaches the point of exhaustion and collapse has not been able to find a way to ‘change arms’, to give themselves enough relief and recovery in their routines so that they do not become depleted. The basic time cycle for the human body is the 24-hour period and it is a strain for a human being to put off rest and recreation, saving it up for rare holidays or sleeping in at the weekend.

Take a break

Use recordings and/or self-hypnosis…

• To give yourself encouraging, reassuring and inspiring ideas

• To make a ‘virtual’ journey in your imagination to a favourite resort or relaxing location

• To enhance concentration, memory recall and creative thinking

So in each 24-hour period, it is beneficial to build a rest for your central nervous system into your routine. Principally, this involves giving your imagination a change for the better. Whenever we let our minds dwell on problems and challenges, our imaginations become involved. If we have worries about our jobs, our relationships, our health, how our lives are turning out, we are likely to run various scenarios in our heads – ‘I won’t be able to pay the mortgage’, ‘I’ll be alone’, ‘That pain might be something serious’ – these ideas, which are often anticipations that may not happen rather than reality, are heavy weights for our brains to carry, and our imaginations can run these scenarios in the background even while we are doing something else.

Push the button

Pioneer of stress studies, Hans Selye, noted three distinct phases of response to stress.  

1. Alarm

We respond by being hyped-up, typically trying to ‘fix’ things and get them back to ‘normal’. This is necessarily a short-term response, and will get us through a temporary crisis or challenge.

2. Resistance

If stressful situations persist, we develop adaptations to the new challenging situation. If you’ve ever had a medium- to long-term stressful situation, such as a long recovery from injury, or illness, or financial strain, then you’ll probably have noticed that after a while you are managing much better than you did at the beginning. You’ve developed strategies to cope and the initial ‘shock’ has worn off.

3. Collapse

If stress persists and even with your best efforts at adaptation, you are not able to build enough recovery into your life, you start to suffer exhaustion and eventually, collapse, becoming unable to continue coping or even becoming physically ill.2

Outside the box

Hypnosis is a method of training your imagination. In a conventional education, very little attention is given to methods of learning to focus your attention, to directing your capacity to visualise and to feel emotions. Yet it is relatively easy to learn to do this, and almost everyone can develop the ability and improve with practice. Just like any skill, some will respond faster than others, but it is a natural ability of the brain to be able to focus attention and imagine, so everyone has the raw materials. With practice, it is possible to induce a hypnotic state, known as a trance, very rapidly.

For instance, when I used self-hypnosis as an analgesic during surgery, it took me only a few minutes to reach the necessary level of trance.1

In addition, your enhanced concentration and creative thinking can be used to ‘think your way out of the box’.

Best investment

Stress doesn’t always come from too much pressure – Selye always distinguished between ‘good stress’ (eustress) and ‘bad stress’ (distress).2 Being bored, frustrated and having to give up on things you really want can be very stressful, particularly in the long term, and allowing yourself regular times of freely creative thinking in hypnosis is a very worthwhile investment in yourself.



2. Selye, Hans Stress without Distress. Philadelphia J. B. Lippincott Co., 1974.

Book it!

The Institute of Hypnotherapy for Medical and Dental Practice (IHMDP) is running courses for dental professionals in dental hypnosis.

• Dental Hypnosis 1: Technical Foundations – 13 June 2012 (central London) – £150

• Dental Hypnosis 2: Applied Clinical Skills – 14 June 2012 (central London) – £150

There is a discount for booking both courses.

Phone 0207 385 1166 or email [email protected] to book


Dr John Butler PhD is a clinical hypnotherapist. He teaches medical psychology at King’s, Guy’s & St. Thomas’s Medical & Dental School. He is a lecturer at the Institute of Hypnotherapy for Medical & Dental Practice (IHMDP) which offers training in hypnotherapy for medical and dental professionals,

The skills of dental hypnosis can be acquired by learning from a reputable hypnotherapy training organisation that teaches hypnodontics.  IHMDP was founded to provide a reliable source from which dentists and medical practitioners could learn the skills of dental hypnosis. 

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