Gastric Band Hypnotherapy – Just another fad!
Over the years in practice as a registered hypnotherapist, I have witnessed a number of “new” treatments that have come and gone. Gastric Band Hypnotherapy is the latest catch phrase when you want to lose weight. “New” hypnotherapy treatments can be created as a response to a new development or invention. In this case, the medical development is Gastric band surgery, an operation that limits the amount of food you can consume by reducing the capacity of your stomach. Rather than having this intrusive (and costly) medical procedure, you can have your “mind” taken through the process, in a course of gastric band hypnotherapy and live your life as if your stomach has been reduced in size…well, in theory anyway!
Does gastric band hypnotherapy offer anything more credible for weight loss than other personalised courses of hypnotherapy administered by an experienced practitioner? In my view, it does not. When you delve a little deeper into what is being offered in a gastric band hypnotherapy course, it is little more than a re-hash of common methods, disguised to look new and more effective under a catchy phrase.
What are the shortcomings?
Gastric Band hypnotherapy: Where’s the evidence?
Until Gastric Band hypnotherapy research is published in reputable journals e.g. European Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, its claims to be any “more effective and long lasting” than weight loss hypnotherapy is nothing more than marketing tricks. Where is the evidence? What sample was used in the research? How was the trial controlled? These are some of the questions that when posed to a hypnotherapist offering Gastric Band hypnotherapy courses, they will be honest enough to admit that it has no evidence to be any more successful than traditional hypnotherapy. So, unless something has been published since writing this article, I would view the claims with scepticism.
Gastric Band hypnotherapy: If the Gastric Band hypnotherapy treatment is that successful, there wouldn’t be a need for the surgery.
When a treatment is consistently effective, the NHS is quick to establish where money can be saved. Gastric band surgery can cost about £5000 and if there was a more efficient method that can save the NHS funds, they would promote that treatment which is cost-effective and reliable. At the time of writing, patients who are eligible for gastric band surgery must have (amongst several criteria) tried and failed with other weight loss treatments. I’m not aware that the gastric band surgery is in decline because of the success of Gastric Band hypnotherapy courses.
Gastric Band hypnotherapy: Does one story of success mean it’s good for everyone?
When you desperately want something, you are vulnerable to believe anything that might confirm your ambitions. You can over-generalise one incident and take it as a fact that it will apply to everybody, in every situation. So when you see an article with a celebrity who has lost weight with Gastric Band hypnotherapy, it’s easy to believe that “if it worked for them…it’ll work for me”. Unfortunately, one incident of success can disguise some major issues that either wasn’t reported or just didn’t come to light in that treatment. So you go into it with an inflated expectation only to be disappointed when the hidden issue blocks the success of your treatment.
In my hypnotherapy practice, you would think that when a patient makes a rapid change, the “word-of-mouth” success story referrals would be great for business. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. It can be quite harmful to business. Those referred patients arrive with that same inflated expectation and want to benefit in exactly the same way that the original patient did. Every patient is different. When those patients haven’t had their miracle cure, they leave with a feeling of disappointment. Expectation is important in therapeutic change, but inflated expectation can create unrealistic demands and disappointment.
Gastric Band hypnotherapy: Regardless of what you visualise, are you just having fewer calories?
When a newspaper article headlines that hypnosis was the cause of an 8 stone weight loss, you are likely to believe that it was the Gastric Band hypnotherapy suggestions that caused the change. It’s as if a magic wand was waved and from that point forward, the patient lives the life of a gastric band surgery patient. In a Daily Mail article published on 30th August 2011, the patient followed the same extreme diet as that given to a gastric band surgery patient. They started on an all-liquid diet and then proceeded through to pureed foods and then on to solids. The article failed to mention the number of calories being consumed during this period of the programme. What is common understanding with weight loss is that if you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight.
Gastric Band hypnotherapy: It’s more than just visualising that you have had the surgery in hypnosis.
In the same newspaper article, the Gastric Band hypnotherapy patient had ten sessions of hypnotherapy altogether. The programme was aimed at three consultations. She had seven continuation consultations that supported or motivated her to keep on the programme. There must have been a number of other issues surrounding the patient’s weight loss that aren’t mentioned in the article. So you can assess that it was not all down to gastric band suggestions alone.
It’s likely that she will have paid between £700 and £900 for the total cost of her treatment. Losing eight stone over this period is certainly an achievement and the therapist in question deserves credit for having treated those other issues. Those other issues aren’t emphasised in the article.
With weight loss programmes, if independent lifestyle changes haven’t been internalised over this period, a patient can easily slip back into old habits.
Gastric Band hypnotherapy: Is it necessary to visualise anything different from a traditional weight loss hypnotherapy course.
When you read weight loss hypnotherapy scripts, they commonly use suggestions that help you visualise that “your stomach feels smaller and tighter and you feel fuller and satisfied on less food”. This is a common direct suggestion building block that focuses the patient towards their goal. Helping to alter what they are eating and how they are eating it is also part of the treatment. Imagining that your stomach has shrunk in size can be a beneficial visualisation that creates the same effect – thereby feeling fuller and satisfied on less food. If the patient can imagine this, it will have the same effect as a Gastric Band hypnotherapy treatment. Going through the process of imagining gastric surgery is just not needed.
Gastric Band hypnotherapy: A good reason to be cynical about its effectiveness.
When you keep hearing that “in order to lose weight, eat fewer calories than you burn”, there must be something authoritative in that information. There are many ways that you can achieve that goal. Gastric Band hypnotherapy attempts to treat weight loss in a specified number of sessions. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it can treat your weight loss successfully in that number of sessions. The psychology and behaviour of weight loss has a number of issues that can affect whether you ultimately eat or drink fewer calories. A personalised approach (rather than an unconfirmed “one treatment fits all”) takes into account your personal weight loss issues. It has the best opportunity to guide you further into achieving your goal.