National Relaxation Day falls on Saturday August 15th this year! In honor of the day, we at Springer Publishing Company want to offer you three unique methods to practice mindfulness and stay mentally healthy.

The following content is adapted from Hypnotic Relaxation Therapy: Principles and Applications by Gary Elkins Ph.D., ABPP, ABPH. This post is Part 1 of a three-part series for National Relaxation Day.

Summer is quickly winding down so before you tackle all the Back to School craziness in September, make time for yourself this National Relaxation Day. Sure, you’ve done the basics – ignored your work emails for a day, went for that mile-long power walk just before sunrise, treated yourself to a five hour binge of House of Cards and indulged in that super high calorie triple chocolate fudge cake, but you’re looking for that ultimate relaxation fix to completely zone you out. A little hypnotherapy might do the trick...

Hypnotherapy may sound a little wacky due to taboo surrounding hypnosis, but don’t believe the negative connotations - the practice has been used in medicine and healing arts for centuries. One of the more popular models, “Hypnotic Relaxation Therapy” involves the use of relaxation, mental imagery and suggestion for therapeutic purposes. The exercise has been proven to be effective in a variety of applications including pain management, anxiety reduction, smoking cessation, insomnia treatment and treatment of post-menopausal symptoms.

No, you won’t be forced to do anything against your will. No, you won’t spontaneously start talking or revealing personal information. Yes, you will be aware of what’s going on around you and completely in control. HRT is simply an exercise that involves “letting go” of tension and stress with a goal of increased self-control; you learn to use your mind and thoughts in order to cope with emotional distress, unpleasant physical symptoms or to help you manage certain habits or behaviors. Most people even describe hypnotic induction as a pleasant experience, one in which they feel more focused and absorbed.

Ten Principles of HRT

  1. HRT is most effective within a positive therapeutic relationship. It is essential that a positive, trusting relationship be established between the therapist and patient before proceeding with a hypnotic induction. Without trust, the effectiveness of hypnotherapy is limited, and if a relationship of trust is not established, the patient may experience resistance, have difficulty achieving a trance state, have a negative experience with the process, or experience only limited benefit.
  2. HRT is directed toward empowering the patient. The patient’s experience with HRT provides increasing confidence that symptoms can improve with experience and practice.
  3. HRT recognizes that there are individual differences in hypnotizability. It is possible to identify a person’s hypnotic ability as being in the low, moderate, high, or very high range. The higher the hypnotizability, the greater the individual’s ability to achieve a psychological dissociation or trance state.
  4. HRT assumes all communication is processed, to varying degrees, within both conscious and unconscious awareness.  During hypnosis, there is nothing you have to do and nothing you have to try to do consciously. Just allow yourself to become absorbed in your own experience and allow your unconscious mind to respond to the suggestions. The deeper the relaxation, the better the response you will be able to achieve.
  5. HRT and hypnotic sessions are most effective when directed toward a specific goal.
  6. HRT uses a biopsychosocial formulation in treatment planning. It is crucial to understand the patient’s symptoms within the context of his or her environment and history.
  7. HRT is integrative. HRT may be utilized as either the primary treatment modality or as an adjunctive therapy. It is most often integrated with cognitive–behavioral interventions, and evidence-based interventions are preferred.
  8. HRT uses a variety of methods for hypnotic induction, suggestion and facilitating therapeutic experiences. Hypnotic suggestions may be formulated in a directive manner, through permissive suggestions, or through implication and nonverbal communication. Many patients prefer a more directive approach in which the intent of the suggestion is easy to identify.
  9. HRT is both structured and individualized. The individualization of hypnotic suggestion makes the intervention more powerful and relevant to the patient. Hypnosis may also involve a process of dissociation in which one is able to detach from external stimuli and become even more aware of experiencing the effects that are suggested and imagined.
  10. HRT may be directed toward developing coping skills, relieving symptoms, facilitating insight, or preventing relapse.

Ready to take on a few HRT techniques? Check out Hypnotic Relaxation Therapy: Principles and Applications by Gary Elkins Ph.D., ABPP, ABPH to explore the topic further.