Mind over matter – Joanna Taylor discusses the use of clinical hypnotherapy in dentistry
Clinical hypnotherapy has many potential applications within the field of dentistry. It is not just a tool for relaxation to help anxious patients, but also as a powerful and definitive intervention for patients seeking assistance with phobias, smoking cessation and dietary changes, as well as other unconscious behaviours, such as bruxism and thumb sucking.
The use of hypnotic techniques to produce anaesthesia and control pain is also becoming more widespread.
The art of clinical hypnotherapy can be described as the induction of a relaxed and focused state of awareness for the purpose of creating change at an unconscious level. Hypnosis itself is a deeply fascinating subject. Which operates under laws that are reasonably familiar. And that have been researched by people who are trained in many different branches of science.
The Encyclopaedia Britannica(2004) defines hypnosis as: ‘A special psychological state with certain physiological attributes, resembling sleep only superficially and marked by a functioning of the individual at a level of awareness other than the ordinary conscious state’. The American Psychological Association’s description of hypnosis is: ‘A state of consciousness involving focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness characterised by an enhanced capacity for response to suggestion.’
Hypnosis is characterised by a state known as ‘trance’, which is merely a deliberately-induced experience of a facet of our normal awareness. We will enter a trance state many times during the day. The occasions when your mind was ‘elsewhere’ and you failed to hear someone speak. Or the commonly experienced ‘driving trance’ where you arrive safely at your destination with little conscious memory of the actual journey. Becoming immersed in a book or a film. Or even a worrying imagined scenario, are all examples of trance states; some good, some less so.