While the science might not fall in favor of hypnosis’ effects, the experiences of Margaret and Jonathan speak loudly to its potential. What’s important is that those considering hypnosis perform some due diligence. Becoming a hypnotherapist isn’t like becoming a doctor where there’s a set curriculum and a series of nationally recognized qualification tests; rather there are variety of ways to become “certified,” ranging from traditional schools to online courses. One of the most respected certification-givers is the American Council of Hypnotist Examiners. McGrail cautions that hypnotherapy isn’t regulated in California or most other states. “There are a lot of people that call themselves certified that are not well-trained or competent,” he says. “While they can’t do any harm, they won’t do any good. Do your homework.”
In order to help an athlete, a sport psychologist must be able to first identify the problem that the athlete is facing. An athlete might benefit from a counseling sport psychologist in a number of situations. Some athletes, for instance, may be having trouble concentrating due to a number of personal issues, such as family problems or relationship problems. Contrary to what some may think, athletes also suffer from such things as confidence issues, low self-esteem, and body image. Performance anxiety and burnout are other common problems faced by many athletes, no matter how talented they are.
No amount of executive coaching could have alleviated Bernstein’s disorder. Narcissists rarely change their behavior unless they experience extraordinary psychological pain—typically a blow to their self-esteem. The paradox of Bernstein’s circumstance was that working with his executive coach had only served to shield him from pain and enhance his sense of grandiosity, as reflected in the feeling, “I’m so important that the boss paid for a special coach to help me.” Executive coaching further eroded Bernstein’s performance, as often occurs when narcissists avoid the truth.
It might seem that way at some organizations, at least to the untrained eye. IBM has more than sixty certified coaches among its ranks. Scores of other major companies have made coaching a core part of executive development. The belief is that, under the right circumstances, one-on-one interaction with an objective third party can provide a focus that other forms of organizational support simply cannot.
To get certified by the AASP, an individual must be a member of the organization, hold a graduate degree, demonstrate the requisite knowledge of the sports psychology field, and have several hundred hours of specific experience. Candidates with master’s degree are eligible for a provisional certification; a doctorate is required to obtain a standard certification.
Unfortunately, the managers and coaches did not take Griffith's recommendations seriously. Manager Charlie Grimm did not see a need for a psychologist as a consultant on a baseball team. Even though Griffith's recommendations were not taken seriously with the Cubs, he was still given the honor with the title of 'America's first sports psychologist' by University of Massachusetts professors Walter Kroll and Guy Lewis in 1970.
Imagery (or motor imagery) can be defined as using multiple senses to create or recreate experiences in one's mind. Additionally, the more vivid images are, the more likely they are to be interpreted by the brain as identical to the actual event, which increases the effectiveness of mental practice with imagery. Good imagery, therefore, attempts to create as lifelike an image as possible through the use of multiple senses (e.g., sight, smell, kinesthetic), proper timing, perspective, and accurate portrayal of the task. Both anecdotal evidence from athletes and research findings suggest imagery is an effective tool to enhance performance and psychological states relevant to performance (e.g., confidence). This is a concept commonly used by coaches and athletes the day before an event.
How well hypnosis works to help people stop smoking depends on who you ask. Study results have been mixed. In 2010, a systematic review of published studies found that there wasn't enough evidence to support the use of hypnosis. Another review published in 2012 said that studies do support a possible benefit from the use of hypnosis. In discussing alternative methods for quitting smoking on its web site, the American Cancer Society says that while controlled studies have not supported the effectiveness of hypnosis, there is anecdotal evidence that some people have been helped.
Both sport psychology (focusing on the dynamic interplay between psychological factors and athletic performance) and sport and exercise psychology (focusing on using psychological insight to increase exercise and activity levels) are essential components in empowering performance. Whether that be for professional athletes or the general population, an understanding of how the mind works can have a huge impact.
While the findings about the efficacy of hypnosis on smoking are often murky, studies on the matter have shown increasingly positive results. Even Matt Damon and Charlize Theron have gotten in on the act. And the folks offering the service aren’t bearded men dangling pocket watches and telling you how heavy your eyelids are getting, or seeing patients in dingy basements outfitted with lava lamps and burning incense. Rather they’re people with advanced degrees who practice in the same kinds of clinics where you’d see your shrink or your ophthalmologist; rates usually start at around $80 per hour and can go as high as $200 (most practitioners recommend between one and four sessions).
Since hypnotherapy is an adjunct form of therapy, used along with other forms of psychological or medical treatment, there are many applications. Hypnotherapy can be used to treat anxiety, phobias, substance abuse including tobacco, sexual dysfunction, undesirable spontaneous behaviors, and bad habits. It can be used to help improve sleep, learning disorders, communication, and relationship issues. Hypnotherapy can aid in pain management and help resolve medical conditions such as digestive disorders, skin issues, and gastrointestinal side effects of pregnancy and chemotherapy. It can also be used by dentists to help patients control their fears or to treat teeth grinding and other oral conditions.