Healing anxiety with hypnotherapy

Anxious in Vancouver? Don’t suffer any longer. Book a session today!

Andrew Gentile and Michael Nolan are Certified Hypnotherapists available remotely no matter where you are in the world by Skype, Google Hangouts, or telephone. Browse our website for more information and if you have remaining questions, drop us an email at info@torontohypnotherapy.ca or give us a call at 647-389-1186.


Does hypnotherapy help with anxiety?

You bet it does! And it is much more quick, effective, and cost-effective than talk therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, or medication. Hypnotherapy resolves anxiety at its roots. More to follow on how it works, as well as the scientific research showing its effectiveness.

Most people find their anxiety is greatly reduced after a single session. You’ll see this for yourself in the feedback at the bottom of this page from clients who had a single hypnotherapy session for their anxiety.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is our nervous system stuck in overdrive. And the brain is part of the nervous system. That’s why anxiety is something we both feel in our bodies (butterflies in stomach, tightness in chest, panic attacks), and experience in our thoughts (racing thoughts, negative thinking, worry).

If you know the story about Chicken Little, you can probably see how this poor little bird was suffering from anxiety as it continually exclaimed “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” That’s how anxiety feels.

Anxiety often results in many other symptoms of an overactive mind: insomnia, poor attention and focus (attention-deficit disorder), agitation, frustration, restlessness. While mainstream medicine may prescribe 3 different medications for (1) anxiety, (2) insomnia, and (3) ADD, the truth is that most of the time, anxiety is the only issue that needs attention.

What causes anxiety?

Anxiety can be caused by events from our past, life in the present, or worries about the future. The causes of anxiety are as varied as we are!

Events from the past can be experienced as traumas – emotionally upsetting situations that are hard to come to terms with. Such events can instil in our minds a belief that we are not safe. Our mind and nervous system can then get stuck in fear – always on alert for the next disaster. Other events from the past can make us feel like we are not capable of handling what life hands us. This fear of being inadequate or unequipped can make normal life circumstances feel overwhelming.

Life in the present can often get out of control. If we are overworked at our jobs, over scheduled due to work and family, not getting enough alone time to recharge, eating poorly, going through breakups, financial changes, a health crisis, divorce or relationship stress, then we can be thrown into anxiety. The human mind is designed to solve problems, and all biological systems (including the human body) seek homeostasis, or balance. When we have a current life situation out of balance, the mind can continually spin and spin looking for a way to achieve balance. When we don’t take action to do so, or are unable to do so, the constant state of stress and frustration can develop into anxiety.

Worries about the future are similar to having problems we can’t solve. We can’t foretell the future, nor can we control it. If we cannot come to terms with the fact that the future holds an unknown narrative, we can spend a lot of time worrying about it. Worrying is the mind trying to solve an imaginary problem. Since there is no solution, there is long-term stress. When the nervous system is in an extended state of stress, it can get stuck there through chronically elevated levels of adrenaline and cortisol – and this is anxiety.

How does hypnotherapy heal anxiety?IMG_6170

Hypnotherapy meets you wherever you are. Regardless of the source of your anxiety, hypnotherapy can bring you back to peace and calm.

For events from the past, hypnotherapy is used to help the mind file away the past into the past, where it belongs. Anxiety can happen when the mind erroneously extends past experiences into the present and projects them into the future, assuming that the initial threat is still present and will be present looking forward. As our subconscious minds engage defence mechanisms in response to these threats from the past, our bodies and minds can remain in hyper-alert status, ready for crisis to hit. Hypnotherapy reminds the deeper, instinctive parts of the mind that there is no threat, that the self is safe, and that it is okay to relax. Through this work, the defences can be lowered, the nervous system and mind can relax, and peace can be restored.

For life in the present, hypnotherapy offers a way to move into alternative perspectives, change what you are focusing on, or change your priorities. A hypnotherapist can also teach you self-hypnosis to learn to calm the mind and body. By being able to access a calm state of mind through self-hypnosis, calmer perspectives arrive naturally. For anxiety rooted in present-day circumstances, sometimes the change that needs to happen is inside of you, and at other times it is a lifestyle change that is needed to bring you into more balance. Hypnotherapy can also be used to reprogram limiting self-beliefs around our ability to handle what life hands us; beliefs that often result in us feeling overwhelmed even by the smallest of challenges. As we improve our self-perception and take ownership of our capabilities, the mind perceives the daily challenges to be smaller and we are restored to a natural level of strength, capacity, and confidence.

For worries about the future, hypnotherapy is powerful at changing what your mind is focusing on. Optimism can be learned. Trust can be learned. Faith and hope can be cultivated. A bigger picture perspective can be adopted. Hypnosis is a powerful state where the mind is malleable and impressionable to new, more emotionally supportive and resilient perspectives.

How do I book a session?

Andrew Gentile and Michael Nolan are Certified Hypnotherapists available remotely by Skype, Google Hangouts, or telephone.

You can browse our website for more information and if you have remaining questions, drop us an email at info@torontohypnotherapy.ca.

What have our clients experienced?

Most of our clients find a significant reduction in their anxiety after a single session. Here are some examples of client feedback we have received:

Andrew helped me more than any doctor has in years with only 1 hypnosis session. I had issues with anxiety. He truly listens to all your concerns and answers with knowledge and compassion. I was a bit skeptical at first but quickly realized he was the real deal. His session also included a free personalized mp3 hypnosis recording which is a world of help. His office space calms you immediately and gives you a sense of home and comfort. His personality is so welcoming, friendly and calming.– Melissa, Toronto

A social worker who suffered from anxiety that kept her from leaving the house if she didn’t have to, with a particular anxiety around social situations, after a single hypnotherapy session: “I have been doing MUCH better since our first session. 2 days after meeting I was unexpectedly thrown into a “social setting” at my future father in laws house. He invited us for dinner and didn’t mention that he had other people coming. So we arrived there and I was surprised to see 3 strangers sitting at the table. This would normally send me into a panic. But I was totally cool with this!! I went up to everyone, shook their hand and introduced myself!! That was totally out of character for me!! I chatted with everyone about various topics throughout the night. I didn’t have any weird awkward moments like I usually do. I felt confident about myself. It’s like I was a new person!

Thank you very much for helping me! Your personalized hypnosis track also makes a huge difference. I’m so grateful that I found your website. I would like to come back for another session soon.

A lawyer who experienced anxiety before speaking in Court, after a single hypnotherapy session: “I can say that I experienced an improvement in my anxiety. Had a big matter in Court the other day and was not as nervous as in previous times.

A student who experienced test anxiety in the past, after a single hypnotherapy session: I am noticing an increase in confidence when reviewing my study materials. My mantra since Tuesday has been “I know this!” and “I will pass this test this time!” It has felt good to see this boost in feeling positive since our meeting.

and then, a week later: “I listened to the recording of our session together earlier today and have felt a renewed sense of determination and motivation.

A corporate employee who experienced anxiety when having to speak at meetings, after a single hypnotherapy session: I do feel a definite ease in meetings so that’s a step in the right direction.

A young man struggling with anxiety and panic attacks related to childhood traumas, after a single hypnotherapy session: “Thank you for the hypnotherapy yesterday!! I felt immensely at ease, safe, calm and collected. Your melodious voice / skill set does wonders.

A young woman struggling with anxiety attacks, after a single hypnotherapy session: Thank you for the session–I found it helpful for the rest of the night. Still some mild anxiety attacks today, but it’s become easier to catch my breath and breathe deeply when they happen.

A professional man who had anxiety related insomnia and overeating, after a single hypnotherapy session: I slept amazing last night.  Thanks Andrew. and then a week later: Feeling pretty good.  I am definitely cutting down on my portions and doing less snacking.

A professional woman who had anxiety that was affecting her sleep, work and relationship with her spouse, after a single hypnotherapy session: I have felt the affects of our session.  In particular, I’ve noticed a tendency to take deep breaths as my body starts to tighten in a moment of stress. The deep breathing loosens my muscles and calms me.  I’ve also noticed some change in thought patterns.  For some reason that seems to be especially true when I start to get upset and angry with certain people.  I start to be able to detach my own feelings a bit more and see how to present the situation to them in a way that is not as overly emotional.  This seems to be related to some of the work we did around understanding how my mother expressed her love to me. 

“I haven’t been waking up at night in a state of anxiety but I still feel anxious at times before I go to sleep.  I’d say my anxiety has definitely lessoned, though it hasn’t gone away.  There still feel like there are some edges.”

A professional man who was having sexual anxiety that was causing erectile dysfunction. This was his feedback one week after a single hypnotherapy session: Couple of observations from the last week.  Definitely not thinking about the dysfunctions as much.  I came to that realization this afternoon when I had a thought about it.  I will get a chance to test things out tonight so we’ll see.  I am finding there is less anxiety around it for tonight at least.  Some other changes I noticed, a bit of a more relaxed confidence which may be in conjunction with the lower anxiety.  The feeling of making some progress as well.  That helps with the whole circle of anxiety and confidence etc etc.

A female artist in her 30s who was having anxiety-related insomnia. This was her feedback a couple of days after a single hypnotherapy session: Thank you for taking such good care of me! A second restful night. Thank you, thank you.”

A dancer who was having panic attacks: I feel a million times better thanks to you and I realized I do create fears for myself which I would like to work on sometime soon.

A young woman whose insecurities and anxiety caused her to be jealous and untrusting with her boyfriend. This feedback was from a week after a single hypnotherapy session: I’ve noticed lately that the things that would normally make me angry or blow my stack, don’t irritate me that much anymore. I get upset but I don’t blow up, I’m just slightly annoyed and laugh about it. A while after we saw you a girl came up to us and started talking to my boyfriend about our rottweiler. My boyfriend was surprised because I didn’t get jealous at all – I was cool when before I would get overly jealous. It was such an amazing experience that I’ve been talking about it to everyone and recommending you to everyone 🙂 Thank you again Andrew! You are amazing!

A middle-aged woman who was having anxiety related insomnia and obsessive negative thoughts, after a single hypnotherapy session:i felt really quite positive the rest of sat. night, even despite some bummer developments, and finally started feeling better about sleep–slept lots of sunday and feel more on track now with less of the anxious spinning mind, more hope about and gratitude for anticipating more ease/less stress.  yay!  thanks very much

A father and career man who was having anxiety and cycling negative thoughts. This feedback was from two days after a single hypnotherapy session: Sunday and yesterday I felt like one of those aphasia patients from the movie Awakening. Truly miraculous! great day with family and at work yesterday.

What studies have been done?

Here are some abstracts of research articles that have shown the efficacy of hypnosis in reducing anxiety.

Am J Clin Hypn. 2014 Apr;56(4):343-67.
Childhood anxiety and psychophysiological reactivity: hypnosis to build discrimination and self-regulation skills.
Kaiser P.

Clinically anxious, worried, and fearful children and teens need clinicians’ assistance in reducing their exaggerated psychophysiological stress reactivity. Affective neuroscience finds that chronic activation of the body’s emergency response system inhibits neurogenesis, disrupts neuronal plasticity, and is detrimental to physical and mental health. Patterns of faulty discrimination skills, for example, over-estimation of threat and danger and under-estimation of their coping capacity, fuel this over-arousal. Similarly, contributory patterns of reduced self-regulation skills are shown by “stuck” attention to and poor control of their exaggerated psychophysiological reactivity and somatization. This article considers the literature and focuses on cognitive hypnotherapy to enhance these under-developed capacities. A case illustration highlights various hypnotic phenomena and techniques, psychoeducation, and relaxation training that address the goals of interrupting these unproductive, interconnected patterns and fostering new patterns of more realistic and accurate discrimination capacities and sturdier psychophysiological self-regulation skills.

Expert Rev Neurother. 2010 Feb;10(2):263-73.

Hypnosis in the treatment of anxiety- and stress-related disorders.
Hammond DC.

Self-hypnosis training represents a rapid, cost-effective, nonaddictive and safe alternative to medication for the treatment of anxiety-related conditions. Here we provide a review of the experimental literature on the use of self-hypnosis in the treatment of anxiety and stress-related disorders, includinganxiety associated with cancer, surgery, burns and medical/dental procedures. An overview of research is also provided with regard to self-hypnotic treatment of anxiety-related disorders, such as tension headaches, migraines and irritable bowel syndrome. The tremendous volume of research provides compelling evidence that hypnosis is an efficacious treatment for state anxiety (e.g., prior to tests, surgery and medical procedures) and anxiety-related disorders, such as headaches and irritable bowel syndrome.

The Journal of Cardiovascular Surgery [1997, 38(1):69-75]
Self-hypnosis reduces anxiety following coronary artery bypass surgery. A prospective, randomized trial.
Ashton C Jr, Whitworth GC, Seldomridge JA, Shapiro PA, Weinberg AD, Michler RE, Smith CR, Rose EA,Fisher S, Oz MC
Department of Surgery, College of Physicians & Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.

RESULTS: Patients who were taught self-hypnosis relaxation techniques were significantly more relaxed postoperatively compared to the control group (p=0.032). Pain medication requirements were also significantly less in patients practising the self-hypnosis relaxation techniques than those who were noncompliant (p=0.046).

CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates the beneficial effects self-hypnosis relaxation techniques on patients undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery.

The Journal of Pediatrics, Volume 101, Issue 6 , Pages 1032-1035, December 1982
Hypnosis and nonhypnotic techniques for reduction of pain and anxiety during painful procedures in children and adolescents with cancer
Richard W. Olmsted (Editor), M.D., Lonnie Zeltzer, Ph.D., Samuel LeBaron

Hypnosis was compared with nonhypnotic behavioral techniques for efficacy in reducting pain and anxiety in 27 children and adolescents during bone marrow aspiration and in 22 children and adolescents during lumbar puncture. The patients and independent observers each rated (scale of 1 to 5) pain and anxiety during one to three procedures prior to intervention and one to three procedures with intervention. Prior to intervention for both groups, pain during bone marrow aspiration was rated as more severe (P<0.01) than pain during lumbar puncture. During bone marrow aspiration pain was reduced to a large extent by hypnosis (P<0.001) and to a smaller but significant extent by nonhypnotic techniques (P<0.01), and anxiety was significantly reduced by hypnosis alone (P<0.001). During lumbar puncture only hypnosis significantly reduced pain (P<0.001); anxiety was reduced to a large degree by hypnosis (P<0.001) and to a smaller degree by nonhypnotic techniques (P<0.05). Thus hypnosis was shown to be more effective than nonhypnotic techniques for reducing procedural distress in children and adolescents with cancer.

J Psychosoc Oncol. 2012;30(3):281-93. doi: 10.1080/07347332.2012.664261.
A randomized trial of hypnosis for relief of pain and anxiety in adult cancer patients undergoing bone marrow procedures.
Snow A, Dorfman D, Warbet R, Cammarata M, Eisenman S, Zilberfein F, Isola L, Navada S.

Pain and anxiety are closely associated with bone marrow aspirates and biopsies. To determine whether hypnosis administered concurrently with the procedure can ameliorate these morbidities, the authors randomly assigned 80 cancer patients undergoing bone marrow aspirates and biopsies to either hypnosis or standard of care. The hypnosis intervention reduced the anxiety associated with procedure, but the difference in pain scores between the two groups was not statistically significant. The authors conclude that brief hypnosis concurrently administered reduces patient anxiety during bone marrow aspirates and biopsies but may not adequately control pain. The authors explain this latter finding as indicating that the sensory component of a patient’s pain experience may be of lesser importance than the affective component. The authors describe future studies to clarify their results and address the limitations of this study.

Am J Clin Hypn. 2011 Jul;54(1):16-31.
Childhood anxiety, worry, and fear: individualizing hypnosis goals and suggestions for self-regulation.
Kaiser P.

Determining hypnosis goals and specific suggestions for childhood anxiety, worry, and fear can be enhanced by a developmental psychopathology perspective. This article examines underlying causal risk factors that guide a focused assessment and individualized interventions, targeting self-regulation of emotional, cognitive, behavioral, and psychophysiological arousal and reactivity. The author summarizes current knowledge about childhood anxiety disorders and outlines a hypnotic approach when encountering anxious children and youth, including strategies to use spontaneous trance states and enhance underdeveloped resources (e.g. locus of control, discrimination of realistic risk appraisal, coping capacities).

J Oral Rehabil. 2006 Jul;33(7):496-500.
Changes in neurophysiologic parameters in a patient with dental anxiety by hypnosis during surgical treatment.
Eitner S1, Schultze-Mosgau S, Heckmann J, Wichmann M, Holst S.

It was hypothesized that dental anxiety, which leads to neurophysiologic alterations in heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure prior, during and subsequent to dental treatment, can be influenced by medical hypnosis. We report the positive impact from non-invasive hypno-sedation during dental implant surgery on a 54-year-old female patient who experienced neurophysiologic reactions as a result of the psychosomatic process of dental anxiety (dental anxiety scale value = 13). The neurophysiologic changes during dental surgery performed with and without hypnosis were compared after the patient underwent the same surgical treatment protocol. This case report was part of a study designed to evaluate hypnosis as a non-invasive therapy for dental-anxious patients over six sessions using subjective experience and objective parameters, which included electroencephalogram, electrocardiogram, heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation of the blood, respiration rate, salivary cortisol concentration and body temperature.

Anesth Analg. 2006 May;102(5):1394-6.
Hypnosis reduces preoperative anxiety in adult patients.
Saadat H1, Drummond-Lewis J, Maranets I, Kaplan D, Saadat A, Wang SM, Kain ZN.

In this study we examined the effect of hypnosis on preoperative anxiety. Subjects were randomized into 3 groups, a hypnosis group (n = 26) who received suggestions of well-being; an attention-control group (n = 26) who received attentive listening and support without any specific hypnotic suggestions and a “standard of care” control group (n = 24). Anxiety was measured pre- and postintervention as well as on entrance to the operating rooms. We found that patients in the hypnosis group were significantly less anxious postintervention as compared with patients in the attention-control group and the control group (31 +/- 8 versus 37 +/- 9 versus 41 +/- 11, analysis of variance, P = 0.008). Moreover, on entrance to the operating rooms, the hypnosis group reported a significant decrease of 56% in their anxiety level whereas the attention-control group reported an increase of 10% in anxiety and the control group reported an increase of 47% in their anxiety (P = 0.001). In conclusion, we found that hypnosis significantly alleviates preoperative anxiety. Future studies are indicated to examine the effects of preoperative hypnosis on postoperative outcomes.

Leave a Reply

Sorry, but you must be logged in to post a comment.