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    Why hypnosis is right for your practice

    Far from being phony stage magic, clinical hypnosis has the ability to help you and your practice thrive.

    What if there were a way to increase your patients’ satisfaction, separate yourself from the dozens of other dentists in your area and create a great atmosphere for patients and staff alike? And what if that that way didn’t involve any extra time or effort on your part?

    Sounds too good to be true, right? But if Judy Thomas, DDS, is correct, then the answer could really rest on one simple word: hypnosis.

    Dr. Thomas operated a highly successful practice for over 30 years before recently retiring. She attributes the success of that practice not to marketing techniques (she says that the only marketing her practice did was word-of-mouth), but says it was because she taught her partner and staff about therapeutic communication, also known as hypnotic communication.

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    Now, Dr. Thomas urges dentists and other health professionals to incorporate those same techniques into their practices. Why? She says that the number one thing dental professionals tell her after putting hypnotic therapy techniques into their practices is “I had no idea this would help this much.”

    What is hypnosis?

    This question hasn’t been fully answered yet, with various explanations for what’s happening in the brain during hypnosis. But the most basic and most common definition is a state of highly focused attention or concentration, where one is more relaxed and open to suggestions.

    Dr. Thomas describes it simply as affecting how the mind responds to situations. “Everything comes from the brain,” she says, “It’s that whole mind-body [connection]. If you can help someone control what their brain is putting out, then you can help them do a lot.”

    SpiralShe stresses that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis — no one can force someone to do something they don’t want to do. Clinical hypnosis is wildly different than stage hypnosis; it’s about getting a patient to use his or her mind in a way that’s helpful, rather than harmful or for a few laughs.

    “Just about everyone has this capacity,” she says. “People walk in and out of essentially trance states all day, and it’s a natural ability. It’s [hypnosis] just helping them to really recognize it and really hone it in when they need it. That’s what hypnosis is.”

    In dental school, she says, “we didn’t really learn that much about the brain and how pain really works in the brain. When you realize that there are certain parts of the brain that can be affected by just the words that you choose and you can change it, it really makes a huge difference.”

    What does the research say?

    Many professionals dismiss the idea of hypnosis out of hand, conjuring up images from movies. This same stigma has often applied to researchers, meaning that hypnosis has not been as widely studied or accepted as other methods of therapy — but that’s quickly changing.

    Related article: Do you know why patients aren't coming in?

    The first thing to know about hypnosis is that it isn’t magic or something that’s only useful on stage as entertainment. It only works for some (what’s known as “hypnotic suggestibility” varies widely from person to person as all human attributes or capabilities do), and it can’t force someone to do something they find objectionable.

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