Hypnosis is a frequently misunderstood practice. It is exploited on television and movies, its benefits and scope of reach exaggerated and mystified. What exactly is hypnosis? Who benefits from it, and why is it used?
Hypnosis promotes mental relaxation and focus. It can be implemented autonomously, apart from any other treatment, or in conjunction with medical treatments (for example, pain management) or psychological treatments (for example, cognitive behavior therapy). Hypnosis is a therapeutic intervention that occurs between a participant and a trained hypnotherapist (American Psychological Association, n.d.; Yeh, Schnur and Montgomery, 2014). The intervention is guided by the hypnotherapist. During the intervention, the hypnotherapist implements a set of techniques to enhance the participant’s concentration and responsiveness to suggestions. The hypnotherapist guides the participant through an alteration of sensations, perceptions, thoughts, affect or behaviors. The strategic use of suggestions most often includes themes of relaxation, calmness, and well-being (American Psychological Association, n.d.; Yeh, Schnur and Montgomery, 2014).
Prior to beginning hypnosis, the hypnotherapist will dispel any misconceptions that the participant may have regarding hypnosis. The hypnotherapist will clarify the intent of hypnosis as well as the scope of outcomes that may result from hypnosis. After these topics are discussed, the hypnotherapist obtains informed consent from the participant. Then the hypnotic intervention begins. The hypnotherapist generally suggests that the participant experience mental and physical relaxation while visualizing calming imagery. A deepening metaphor may also be used. Then the hypnotherapist will make symptom-specific suggestions depending on the participant’s medical needs. At the end of the hypnotherapy session, the hypnotherapist verbally prompts the participant to return to an alert state of mind (Yeh, Schnur and Montgomery, 2014).
Hypnosis has many health benefits. It has also earned efficacy support through research. For example, hypnotherapy can aid in stress reduction and management of irritable bowel syndrome symptoms (Lowén et al., 2013; Lindfors, 2012). It has been found effective in managing symptoms of depression (Alladin, 2010), sleep disorders (Graci and Hardie, 2007), asthma (Brown, 2007), anxiety (Lindfors, 2012; Hammond, 2010), stress (Hammond, 2010), and chronic pain (Lowén et al., 2013).
Alladin, A. (2010). Evidence-based hypnotherapy for depression. The International Journal Of Clinical And Experimental Hypnosis, 58(2), 165-185. doi:10.1080/00207140903523194
American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Hypnosis. Retrieved June 03, 2016, from http://www.apa.org/topics/hypnosis/
Brown, D. (2007). Evidence-based hypnotherapy for asthma: a critical review. The International Journal Of Clinical And Experimental Hypnosis, 55(2), 220-249.
Graci, G., & Hardie, J. (2007). Evidenced-based hypnotherapy for the management of sleep disorders. International Journal Of Clinical & Experimental Hypnosis, 55(3), 288-302 15p.
Hammond, D. C. (2010). Hypnosis in the treatment of anxiety- and stress-related disorders. Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics, 10(2), 263+. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.proxy1.ncu.edu/ps /i.do?id=GALE%7CA251006374&v=2.1&u=pres1571&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=a43ec50af5b66db39830dcd5e5c3e91f
Lindfors, P., Unge, P., Arvidsson, P., Nyhlin, H., Björnsson, E., Abrahamsson, H., & Simrén, M. (2012). Effects of gut-directed hypnotherapy on IBS in different clinical settings-results from two randomized, controlled trials. The American Journal Of Gastroenterology, 107(2), 276-285. doi:10.1038/ajg.2011.340
Lowén, M. O., Mayer, E. A., Sjöberg, M., Tillisch, K., Naliboff, B., Labus, J., & ... Walter, S. A. (2013). Effect of hypnotherapy and educational intervention on brain response to visceral stimulus in the irritable bowel syndrome. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 37(12), 1184. doi:10.1111/apt.12319
Saadat, H., & Kain, Z. N. (2007). Hypnosis as a therapeutic tool in pediatrics. Pediatrics, 120(1), 179-181. doi:10.1542/peds.2007-1082
Yeh, V. M., Schnur, J. B., & Montgomery, G. H. (2014). Disseminating hypnosis to health care settings: Applying the RE-AIM framework. Psychology Of Consciousness: Theory, Research, And Practice, 1(2), 213-228. doi:10.1037/cns0000012