Despite some web sites and promotional materials that say otherwise, hypnosis is not an approved therapy by the American Medical Association (AMA). The organization does not have an official position on the use of hypnosis. A position statement regarding the use of the technique for medical and psychological purposes was rescinded by the AMA in 1987.
Motivation, concentration and focus, as well as overall mental health, are considered vital components in a winning athletes training. As the mental component in sport is such an important factor, psychology is assuming an increasingly important role in the field. It’s believed that the difference between a sports person with strong psychological training and a sports person without this could mean the difference between first and second place.
In 1979, Devi at the University of Illinois published an article ("About Smocks and Jocks") in which he contended that it was difficult to apply specific laboratory research to sporting situations. For instance, how can the pressure of shooting a foul shot in front of 12,000 screaming fans be duplicated in the lab? Rainer Martens contended: "I have grave doubts that isolated psychological studies which manipulate a few variables, attempting to uncover the effects of X on Y, can be cumulative to form a coherent picture of human behavior. I sense that the elegant control achieved in laboratory research is such that all meaning is drained from the experimental situation. The external validity of laboratory studies is at best limited to predicting behavior in other laboratories." Martens urged researchers to get out of the laboratory and onto the field to meet athletes and coaches on their own turf. Martens' article spurred an increased interest in qualitative research methods in sport psychology, such as the seminal article "Mental Links to Excellence."
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According to Dr. Clifford N. Lazarus, speaking for Psychology Today, hypnosis is a “genuine psychological phenomenon that has valid uses in clinical practice … hypnosis is a state of highly focused attention or concentration, often associated with relaxation, and heightened suggestibility. While under hypnosis (i.e., in a hypnotic trance), it seems many people are much more open to helpful suggestions than they usually are.” The suggestions made in a therapeutic setting get deep into a person’s brain, beyond their conscious thinking, leading to behavior change and the ability to overcome challenges that might otherwise seem insurmountable.