Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Why is hypnosis not used more widely as a treatment for addiction?

I often get asked this question.  There are several answers, but the most obvious is that the medical profession does not really embrace hypnosis as a modality it recognises. While some hypnotherapist are concerned about this, it ceased to be an issue we were concerned with at Vancouver Hypnotherapy a few years ago. We adopted this position primarily because most of the clients coming through our doors treat the medical profession with skepticism, as a result of their own experiences.

As such, our bookings calendar is increasingly full, and many of the clients consider the use of pharmacy a step backward, particularly when it comes to addiction. Increasingly the general public treats orthodox medicine as flawed. This is not to say that they reject the 'science' of medicine. They are merely appalled at the way it is delivered, and the extremely questionable practice of medicating someone as a solution to what is often a psychological or behavioural issue.

Hypnotherapy is best used to address belief systems and behaviours. I don't think anyone with an understanding of psychology, or hypnosis would question that. Most addictions can be very well managed through the use of hypnotherapy, from someone with appropriate training and experience. That's precisely what we deliver at Vancouver Hypnotherapy. We've been doing it for the last seven years and have seen over 5000 clients.

We screen our addictions clients closely. We will only take a client when we believe there is a strong likelihood of success. While we turn away 2 out of five addictions clients, we do operate with a success rate (tracked over 5 years) of over 80%. Our screening system does weight this figure substantially in our favor, admittedly. However, the fact remains, we have as much work as our six therapists can handle, so we won't be loosening this screening system anytime soon. We simply have to focus our efforts where they will be best applied. Investing hours of work in someone we do not feel is likely to have a successful outcome - at the expense of other clients that desperately need our assistance - is not something we can realistically reconcile.

So why is this method not more widely accepted? Partly because drug treatment is largely seen as an area people do not want to work in. Many consider it financially sidelined. Some misguided observers think that addiction is 'self inflicted', yet acknowledge the undeniable evidence that there are genetic factors involved in addiction. Many who suffer from addiction are very suggestible, so when a man with a level of authority declares the solution to their issue to be something he provides they generally go with it. Unfortunately this often simply results in addiction to the prescription drug they supply in place of the original addiction. The result takes the client no further forward.

My own feeling is that to effectively work in addictions one has to be prepared to look not at medical factors, but at social, psychological, financial and family issues. So, why on earth would we look to an overburdened and increasingly compromised medical profession for solutions?

We don't need to. Their point of view is of little relevance to our clients. It is of less to us.