As over 65% of Americans find themselves identified as obese or overweight, the search for ways to drop those extra pounds… to help bolster flagging willpower in the face of super-sized portions and calorie-laden treats continues in earnest.

While the diet and fitness industry is all too willing to promote the idea of quick, easy fixes, the readings on our bathroom scales don’t seem to be moving all that much. Everyone is looking for weight loss treatments that work, that are free of side effects and offer lasting results. Hypnosis fits the bill on all these.

Hypnosis is already being used as an alternative treatment to help with chronic pain and stress management. Some use it to stop smoking. Others to treat anxiety issues like phobias and panic attacks. Now, an increasing number are turning to this technique to give a boost to their weight loss efforts. In fact, Harvard Medical School psychologist Jean Fain has seen the numbers of people turning to hypnosis for weight loss double in the last five years.

But does it work? There have been few well designed, quality studies on the effectiveness of hypnosis when it comes to weight loss. Finding subjects of the same age and background is one of the major problems such research has faced. Fain points to a mid-nineties study where those who used self-hypnosis lost twice as much weight as those who did not. How long did the weight stay off? Another study puts the figure at as long as two years.

What about side effects? As a form of focused concentration, hypnosis is a tool that helps you find inner strength and tap into abilities that you’ve used in the past so you can put them to work in the here and now to lose weight. The hypnotherapist doesn’t “cure” you of your eating problems or cravings, but rather helps you stay motivated and teaches you how to handle issues related to food. The side effects that come along with hypnosis include less stress, overall feelings of relaxation and well being.

Learning the technique isn’t difficult, though it does take time and effort. A lot depends on how complex your weight issues are, how motivated you are to overcome them, and of course, your ability to be hypnotized — 8 weeks working with a trained hypnotherapist on your weight issues is a good rule of thumb. A very small percentage of the population, roughly 4 to 5% of us are unable to be hypnotized. As for the rest of us, we make suitable subjects and can use hypnosis as one more tool in our battle against those extra pounds.

If you are considering hypnosis for weight loss — beware. It takes a lot of time and considerable work, despite what some may try to sell you. Anyone (online or otherwise) who promises a 100% success rate should be avoided. Hypnosis is not a magic bullet or an effortless quick fix, for loosing weight or controlling any other troublesome behavior. Just like eating right and exercising regularly, to be effective for weight loss, hypnosis must become part of your everyday life. Equally important to hypnosis being successful for weight loss is the skill of the practitioner and the method being used. The most effective treatment is tailored to the unique needs of the individual. Choose a practitioner who is a licensed mental health professional (social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist or physician) who has a track record of working with weight loss, and who makes you feel comfortable while offering a reasonable treatment plan.

 You can find practitioners by contacting The Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis at http://www.sceh.us/ or the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis at http://www.asch.net/.

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