Understanding Social Anxiety Disorder
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), social anxiety disorder or social phobia is “intense anxiety or fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in a social or performance situation.” The people with this mental condition may feel it hard to face people out of fear of criticism or rejection. The person does not want to be in front of a person that may make him or her anxious, nervous, shy, etc.
History of Hypnotherapy
Though hypnotherapy originated in the 1700s, its use for social anxiety is quite new. Hypnotherapy evolved from the animal magnetism works of Austrian physician Franz Anton Mesmer. The American Medical Association (AMA) recognized it as a medical procedure in 1958. Over time, professionals learned to treat anxiety disorders and some physical conditions with hypnotherapy. Here is how it works.
How Does Hypnotherapy Work?
When a person experiences events that cause anxiety, some emotional and physical reactions become linked to similar events. As a result, the personal experience healthy, unhealthy, physical, and emotional reactions the same way when those similar events occur.
We can take the example of public speaking. If a person speaks in public for the first time and his or her hands start shaking. That person will develop the fear of shaking hands and he or she will feel scared each time that person thinks about speaking in public.
Hypnotherapy is a kind of therapy for social anxiety where a professional tries to separate your body’s anxiety response from the experience of public speaking. During this therapy, the person may also get the post-hypnotic suggestions to relax once the session finishes.
What Happens During Hypnotherapy?
It is important for the hypnotherapy professional to know the medical history of the social anxiety disorder patient. The professional will also dig deeper into the current mental state of the patient. It will be followed by some discussion about the way hypnotherapy works.
“The goal of hypnotherapy is to enter an altered state of consciousness, also known as a trance or hypnotic state,” Dr. Steven writes. When the hypnotic state is achieved, the patient feels relaxed, blood pressure lowers, and the heart rate reduces. Some change in brain waves also takes place.
Now, the professional will suggest some facts because the patient will be more responsive to suggestions during this altered state of mind. A typical hypnotherapy session lasts from 30 minutes to one hour. The patient will be brought back to the normal state at the end of each session.
The professional may ask the patient to reflect those suggestions on the experience. Some professional may go beyond it and teach the patient how he or she can practice self-hypnosis outside of hypnotherapy.
Hypnotherapy for Social Anxiety
Though the direct effect of hypnotherapy on social anxiety disorder has not been studied yet, various randomized controlled trials have highlighted the positive effects. “Hypnotherapy can reduce anxiety in general and may enhance the effects of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for anxiety,” Dr. Steven adds.
What to Consider Before Entering Hypnotherapy
In some rare cases, hypnotherapy can worsen some psychological problems. As the debate on the limitations of hypnotherapy on social anxiety goes on, it is important to mention that this therapy should be used for a history of significant early trauma or psychotic illness with added caution.
One must not start taking hypnotherapy sessions before getting diagnosed by a mental health professional. It is due to the reasons that the identification of the exact problem is necessary before starting the treatment. A hypnotherapist can be one of the followings:
- Licensed Psychologists
- Licensed Social workers
- Licensed Medical doctors
- Licensed Registered nurses
- Other Licensed professionals
These professionals have qualification, training, and experience in hypnotherapy. The healthcare professionals who offer hypnotherapy are governed by the regulations of their profession. If possible, go for a healthcare professional offering hypnotherapy.
It is because of the reasons that the people who are not healthcare professionals but offer hypnotherapy are not regulated and certified by a professional organization. It is important to mention that there are professional organizations such as the American Association of Professional Hypnotherapists and the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis for hypnotherapy but they do not regulate or certify them.
Social Phobia: The Bottom Line
Some people around us are afraid of being judged and rejected which makes them discouraged to interact with others. The people with social anxiety disorder or social phobia should consult a qualified and experienced psychiatrist to overcome different problems. Please visit the nearest psychologist or psychiatrist to learn more if you have signs of social anxiety disorder.
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). Social Anxiety Disorder. No date. Accessed at: November 20, 2018.
- Steven Gans, MD. (2018). Hypnotherapy for Social Anxiety Disorder. Very Well Mind. Updated on: January 4, 2018. Accessed at: November 20, 2018.