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a.gifQuestion: I am concerned with the relationship of hypnotherapy and Orthodox Jewish practice. Are there any Halachic issues that are of concern in particular? Are there any ethical issues from a Jewish perspective with regard to hypnosis? Is it in any way counter to Torah?

Since my time has been very limited and will continue to be so for the coming week, I will answer your questions now in short. If needed I can elaborate in the future.

Before I answer your specific questions I would like to preface by saying that for various reasons I do not practice hypnotherapy even though I am certified. In principle, I believe that an emotional and mental healing process has to be conscious, fully utilizing the human power of choice. I am not against using hypnosis for specific needs like addictions of certain kinds and certain levels, as well as in extreme situations. Yet, hypnosis can be dangerous if not practiced in the right way. That means that it can superficially bring about good results, but sometimes with an undesirable side effect. This issue needs to be elaborated at length, but the point of it is that when a shortcut is created through the hypnotic process it can have an impact on the behavior of a person, but it often tampers with defense mechanisms of the sub-conscious that won't be there for the person when needed. Defense mechanisms that are eliminated have to be carefully replaced with other effective emotional mechanisms.

Nevertheless, certain hypnotic tools can be used to deepen and improve the rapore between therapist and client, assisting in creating a supportive environment. Much more has to be said in order to do justice to this topic...

As far as your questions: I am not aware of any halachic issue with regard to hypnotherapy as long as the client is fully aware and gives their consent to the course of treatment, in a detailed manner. Of course, all the ethics of therapy have to be adhered to with the highest measure.  I am admantly against hypnosis shows that are generated just for the sake of entertainment and are compromising human dignity, and could leave long term ill-effects. Such demonstrations of this powerful tool are totally irresponsible, and that's an understatement.

Even though I'm not aware of any halachic issues, as said before, it is my opinion that there could be somewhat of a conflict between hypnosis and the Torah requirement of personal avodah (self work). That is, in regards to tampering with personal choice, as mentioned before. At the same time, if this is correctly avoided hypnosis could help in assisting the client to create an inner environment that is supportive of his healing process.

In conclusion, to some extent any type of communication is (or could be) hypnotic. The main issue is how hypnosis is used, and in what way and to what extent it is applied in manipulating the sub- or super-consciousness.

Wishing you success.

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Dear Mrs. Ginsburg,

You are amazing because you've been our teacher in the real sense, teaching us informally and by your example and interest and appreciation of us as individuals. The other reason is because you believe in us and for me that means I have the confidence to try and be G-dly in ways I couldn't otherwise. Thank you, T.M.


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