The emergence of clinical hypnotherapy in the UAE

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More than an ally of psychotherapy, clinical hypnosis works as a standalone treatment for patients overcoming ailments related to mental health, says Peta Cavanagh.

Clinical hypnotherapy has significantly progressed since an American Medical Association (AMA) report from 1958 conveyed that there can be “definite and proper uses of hypnosis in medical and dental practice” and advised the establishment of “necessary training facilities” in the United States. 

According to Hypnosis in Contemporary Medicine, in 1961 the American Psychiatric Association stated that hypnosis had application in various fields of medicine. Three decades later, The American Medical Association (AMA) published a statement in 1996 from a National Institutes of Health panel stating that there was “strong evidence for the use of hypnosis in alleviating pain associated with cancer."

Today, clinical hypnotherapists worldwide such as Peta Cavanagh are supporting patients to overcome fears, phobias, traumas, and challenges through hypnosis. 

 

Is there an emergence of clinical hypnotherapy in the UAE? Are patients receptive?

Since the DHA strategy “happy lives, healthy communities” was launched in line with Dubai Health Strategy 2016-2021 to remove the stigma surrounding mental health in the UAE, there is wider acceptance of seeking support for mental health issues. This in turn has encouraged an acceptance of hypnotherapy within the UAE. According to WHO, the UAE has the highest level of depression in the region, with roughly over 5% of the population being affected. Furthermore, the country also ranks very high for anxiety, with well over 4% of people suffering. There are numerous reasons as to why clinical hypnotherapy is becoming popular in the UAE, with one of the key being a long waiting list for psychologists and psychiatrists. The waiting list can be between three months and six months, and for patients experiencing mental health issues, this can be extremely daunting. Also, we have a large expatriate community in the UAE, who recognise clinical hypnotherapy as an effective form of treatment they have experienced in their countries of origin.  

What is the difference between hypnotherapy and clinical hypnotherapy?

Clinical hypnotherapy involves a holistic approach, therefore in addition to treating the symptoms, I work with my clients to uncover the source of the problem. For example, many clients may seek treatment under the umbrella of anxiety, chronic pain, or weight loss. These symptoms present a top layer and I highly recommend that clients commit to at least three sessions to uncover the root cause of their suffering. This helps identify triggers and remove any emotional blocks and attachments to trauma which their subconscious is holding onto.

Clinical hypnotherapy complements traditional therapy, making it an important ally. For instance, psychologists and counselors use CBT cognitive behavioral therapy, and clinical hypnotherapists address the subconscious mind. Some psychologists may also use hypnotherapy while treating patients, whereas clinical hypnotherapists may incorporate CBT. In my practice, many clients have been recommended by a psychologist to me, and vice versa. At the same time, many patients may be using both forms of treatment simultaneously. Physicians and surgeons have also recommended their patients seek clinical hypnotherapy. A recent client was suffering from severe chest pains post heart surgery. He was closely examined, and every physical possibility of an ailment was ruled out, he was fully recovered yet still in pain. He was recommended by his cardiologist to seek clinical hypnotherapy. This lends to clinical hypnotherapy being a holistic form of treatment, as a surgeon will ensure that physically a patient is in prime health, but also recognise the challenge for a patient to make the mental leap to recovery. This is where clinical hypnotherapy comes in. 

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Clinical Hypnotherapist, Peta Cavanagh

Can clinical hypnotherapy be viewed as a standalone treatment, or does it need to be combined with psychotherapy?

Several patients who have undergone clinical hypnotherapy with me have had a successful rate of overcoming the physical or mental challenges they were facing. From trying to give up smoking or losing weight, there are a myriad of conditions that can be managed and treated with clinical hypnotherapy. I treat patients from a wide age group and work with many children as well who struggle with socialising at school. Especially with younger patients who might find a visit to the hospital overwhelming, clinical hypnotherapy proves to be a comforting option. By practicing mindfulness and mediation within clinical hypnotherapy, younger patients can build their self-esteem and self-confidence, therefore proving to be successful as a standalone form of treatment. 

What disorders or medical conditions can clinical hypnotherapy successfully treat and is most suitable for?

Patients who suffer from trauma, addictions, fear and phobias, anxiety, OCD, ADHD, and PTSD can benefit from clinical hypnotherapy. In terms of anxiety, many teens and children have experienced a pandemic for the first time, wherein their lifestyles were impacted, and they’ve struggled to return to a ‘new normal. For patients with OCD or ADHD, hypnotherapy is calming and helps them identify their quiet space. This is achieved through guided visualisations, which they can also do at home. For post-traumatic stress, I delve into the subconscious and try to detach the connection of the subconscious with the event that took place. It helps the patient to distance themselves from the traumatic event and being able to acknowledge the event without it offsetting triggers during their daily lives.

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