Complementary & Alternative Medicine
Successful therapy for weight loss
For many years hypnotherapy has been used to help people quit smoking, but
nothing quite compares to the
recent flurry of excitement about its effectiveness as a weight-loss tool,
especially with the new treatment
referred to as Hypno Gastric Banding. Hypnotherapist Graça Ward explains what it
is all about.
You may have heard of psychoneuroimmunology.
It is a new scientific discipline
that is demanding attention. Thankfully it
can be shortened to PNI and is commonly
referred to as “mind-body medicine”. PNI
research shows that hypnosis and trance
are very real states of mind. Hypnosis, in
particular, can be a powerful therapy
because it not only affects the mind but
also the body and is used to treat almost
any bad habit or condition, emotional and
physical alike. However, in this article we
will look specifically at the new Hypno-Gastric Banding, which with the epidemic
of obesity in the Middle East and other
parts of the world, should find increasing
The Hypno Gastric Banding approach
used depends on the therapist’s training
and personal preferences. Some favour a
more analytical approach and start by
uncovering the reasons for the over-eating
and uncontrolled behaviour dealing with
food, while other hypnotherapists may be
more solution-focused and resolve the
symptoms without too many references to the past. An eclectic approach is quite
popular nowadays and this incorporates a
little bit of everything. Ultimately a good
therapist wants to use the techniques
which are most effective to a particular
client and thus the actual treatment may
differ from one client to another.
In order to provide an understanding of
why the therapy is effective and often very
successful, it is important to understand
the basics of how hypnotherapy works and
how it can influence people with food
addictions or food-control issues.
Most people are very successful dieters,
regularly going on difficult and depriving
diets and losing large amounts of weight.
However, these individuals cannot stay on
the diet and usually return to mindless
eating. With so much food readily available
to us in the modern world, Dr Ronald Ruden MD PhD at Lenox Hill Hospital in
New York (and author of The Craving
Brain), says overeating is just like an
inability to resist sleep and that the answer
does not lie in the diet but in changing the
response to signals from the brain. Even
people with the best of intentions and a
strong resolve to diet will find that their
brains eventually override their minds.
“This is the nature of any living organism
where the brain dictates behaviour,” he says.
Hypnotherapy does not strengthen the
resolve to stick to a fad diet. However, it
does offer a mind-full awareness of what and
when we eat and can help to control hunger
and cravings by reducing the stresses that
trigger the over-eating behaviour.
Paul McKenna, world renowned hypnotherapist and author of I Can Make
You Thin says: “It’s the way you think and
behave around food that makes the difference,”
and he’s absolutely correct. Inducing
a hypnotic trance and telling clients they
now have a gastric band which prevents
over-eating is a complete waste of time. We
need to begin with hypnotic sessions which
focus on reprogramming the mind to
change the way we feel about food and this
makes people feel much more in control.
Using hypnosis to induce a belief that chocolate cake tastes terrible, can be
but the belief does not last very long.
The emotional eater
Generally speaking for the therapy to be
successful the emotional eater needs to
change his response to feeling bored or
miserable, tired or irritable or even sad or
angry. All these emotions trigger off a
desire to find satisfaction in food. It helps
to understand the emotion, to react appropriately
to it and to allow it to go away.
What makes things more complicated is
that over-eating is not just something that
emotional eaters overindulge in, we all do
it at times. We use food to celebrate at
weddings, we book a restaurant for a
birthday or to congratulate a friend on a
promotion at work, we bake delicious
treats on a regular basis because it makes
people feel special and looked after. Often
we give boxes of chocolate to people who
invite us to dinner. It’s never-ending.
Sometimes it’s even rude not to over-eat.
The typical treatment offered by a hypnotherapist for over-eating and obesity
will begin by noting the case history. This
helps to identify what sorts of emotions
trigger the mindless eating that leads to
being over-weight and unhappy or simply
Depending on the triggers for the behaviour,
the therapist may do some regression
therapy in a second session so the client
can go back to an emotional occurrence
but with the hind-sight and life experience
which he or she has gained since that time. This helps to neutralize the
then on the event will be remembered in
detail but it will no longer recall the
painful memory associated with it. It’s not
negative or positive, it simply is. This is a
valuable session for those who started to
gain weight rapidly after a traumatic event
or a big life change.
The client will also be given positive
suggestions throughout the treatment and
this will bring about an enormous awareness
of how much to eat, what to eat and
when to eat. Often regression therapy
takes a client back to a time and place
which they do not recognise at all. Carl
Jung, the renowned psychologist, believed
that these images are part of the collective
unconscious and they are memories shared
by everyone, which are passed down to us
from our ancestors. Regression therapists
and psychologists sometimes refer to these
memories as past-life regressions and these
are very effective because they provide an
opportunity to simply observe a problem
without the attached pain or embarrassment
associated with it. Even symbols of a
metaphorical nature can come up in
hypnosis and help people feel more aware
of why they behave in the ways they do, so
they can make appropriate changes which
make them happier and healthier. Healing
past hurts is part of the process.
Deep hypnotic trance
When the therapist feels the client is able
to go into a deep hypnotic trance and if
he is willing to participate fully, to day-dream and use his imagination, it’s
time to use a session for the Hypno
Gastric Banding and again it’s up to the
individual therapist as to how to control
the procedure. The therapist may opt for
a more medical visualisation, where the
medical procedure of an actual gastric
banding is described in detail and the
client imagines they are being operated
on. The anesthetizing process is described
and if the client has ever been in an operating
room he will surely be able to relate
to that feeling of becoming more and
more sleepy until he cannot count backwards
from 10, past the first few numbers.
It is important to give the client a lot of
detail about what is going on in the operating
theatre, who else is there, what the
instruments look like and exactly where
the band is being placed. The client
values all the information provided, such
as how the band is now creating a smaller
area of stomach at the top and the larger
part of stomach hangs down below it.
They become convinced that small
amounts of food will enter the top part of
the stomach and make them feel full and
satisfied and any extra food or fatty foods
will stretch the small stomach created
and make them feel over-full and uncomfortable.
The therapist will explain that
the gastric band is in place and secure and
talk them all the way through to their
awakening from the anaesthetic (this happens at the same time that they are
counted out of their hypnotic trance).
It is quite common to give the client a
golf ball and explain that this golf ball is
the size of their new stomach. The client
should take the golf ball with them wherever
they go for the next week or even two
as a visual reminder of how much to eat,
now that their stomach is much smaller.
Clients are further empowered with neuro-linguistic-programming (NLP)
techniques to help reduce cravings. All
this helps to focus on the fact that the
stomach has reduced in size, leads to
weight-loss and a great amount of pleasure
and accomplishment as a result.
Sometimes clients are also asked to eat
only liquidised foods for two days after
their gastro-hypnosis and then soft foods
for a further day before small amounts of
regular foods are introduced.
For clients needing to be even more in
control, the therapist may choose to use a
visualisation where they become small
enough to travel into their own body,
sometimes in a submarine down the bloodstream
for example. When they reach the
stomach they can
take a look around
and install their
own gastric band.
The process should
be creative and
detailed. One client
who told me it was
dark and she
when I suggested
she uses her flashlight!
After that she
was able to carry
out the procedure
with the precision
of a gastric-surgeon.
So, what if the client relapses and goes
back to mindless over-eating after a while?
Well they should come back to have the
gastric band “tightened” or “re-fitted”.
One of my clients came back to tell me she
actually felt hers snap off minutes before
she was filled with uncontrollable hunger.
One last session sorted the problem out
and she’s not been back.
The success of the therapy depends on
the experience of the therapist and the
nature of the client – put a good therapist
and a good client together and the weight
loss can be remarkable. It is believed to be
as successful as smoking cessation through
hypnosis which has quite a high success
rate around the world. Actual figures are
not readily available as the profession is
not regulated in most countries and hypnotherapists don’t have to provide
results to any governing body.
Graça Ward is a hypnotherapist
working in Dubai with many years’
experience. She uses a variety of techniques
learned from other great therapists.
“Clients always teach me so
much more than courses and teachers
and books,” she says.
of upload: 26th Sep 2012