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Hypnosis Research (Alcohol Issues)

Hypnosis Research (Alcohol Issues)

For today’s blog I have highlighted three studies linked with hypnosis and alcohol issues. I will give some of my own comments on the applicability of the research in the work of hypnotherapy/hypno-psychotherapy in practice. It is my hope that these papers will help to give you a greater insight into the effectiveness of hypnotherapy.

Jayasinghe, H. (2005) Hypnosis in the Management of Alcohol Dependence. European Journal of Clinical Hypnosis. Vol 6(3) pp. 12-16

Abstract: The misery caused by alcohol addiction to the addict and to his family members and the entire society in general, is a matter of serious concern to health authorities. Alcohol dependence can be broadly divided into physiological dependence and psychological dependence. The physiological dependence can be successfully controlled with appropriate medical management. But the difficulty faced by medical professionals in offering a complete, long lasting and an effective form of treatment for psychological dependency continued to remain a major health and social problem until recently. But today with the introduction of some of the effective hypnotherapeutic techniques such as guided imagery, visualization techniques, dream induction, rational emotive behavior therapy and aversion therapy, psychological dependence can be successfully managed. When dealing with alcohol dependents, it is an essential prerequisite to determine whether the patient is sincerely motivated to abstain totally from all forms of liquor for the rest of his life. If not, he has to be properly motivated by employing Hypno-Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT). Hypnotically induced dreams too can enhance the patient’s potential to utilize his internal resources to motivate positively. Once the patient is well motivated, institution of aversion therapy in the treatment of alcohol dependence has proved to be quite effective.

Comments: I find the idea of the necessity for the client to be motivated to abstain totally interesting. It would be interesting to know if this is based on the author’s own value system. I have certainly found in working with this issue that some clients are able to take control of their drinking without having to abstain totally. Some clearly cannot, but why the presumption that this is essential?

Pekela, R. et al. (2004)Self-Hypnosis Relapse Prevention Training with Chronic Drug/Alcohol Users: Effects on Self-Esteem, Affect, and Relapse. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis. Vol 46(4, pp. 281-297

Abstract: This study evaluated the effectiveness of a self-hypnosis protocol with chronic drug and alcohol patients in increasing self-esteem, improving affect, and preventing relapse against a control, a transtheoretical cognitive-behavioral (TCB), and a stress management (attention-placebo) group. Participants were 261 veterans admitted to Substance Abuse Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Programs (SARRTPs). Participants were assessed pre- and postintervention, and at 7-week follow-up. Relapse rates did not significantly differ across the 4 groups at follow-up; 87% of those contacted reported abstinence. At follow-up, the participants in the 3 treatment conditions were asked how often they practiced the intervention materials provided them. Practicing and minimal-practicing participants were compared against the control group for each of the 3 interventions via MANOVAs/ANOVAs. Results revealed a significant Time by Groups interaction for the hypnosis intervention, with individuals who played the self-hypnosis audiotapes “at least 3 to 5 times a week” at 7-week follow-up reporting the highest levels of self-esteem and serenity, and the least anger/impulsivity, in comparison to the minimal-practice and control groups. No significant effects were found for the transtheoretical or stress management interventions. Regression analyses predicted almost two-thirds of the variance of who relapsed and who did not in the hypnosis intervention group. Hypnotic susceptibility predicted who practiced the self-hypnosis audiotapes. The results suggest that hypnosis can be a useful adjunct in helping chronic substance abuse individuals with their reported self-esteem, serenity, and anger/impulsivity

Comments: How refreshing to see this recognition of the importance of self-esteem, serenity and anger/impulsivity in this issue. So often, it seems to me, programs forget these elements, working on physiology predominantly. We have a very effective tool to help people to develop the sense of self and ground they need to be able to leave drug and alcohol problems in the past, and it is good to see this recognized in the literature.

Stoil, M. (1989) Problems in the evaluation of hypnosis in the treatment of alcoholism. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. Vol 6(1) pp. 31-35

Abstract: Argues that although hypnotherapy has been applied to alcoholism for over a century and is accepted by the American Medical Association as a medically valid technique, the effectiveness of hypnosis in treating alcoholics remains controversial. Systematic evaluation has been hampered by the unique role of hypnosis as a cultural artifact, by problems in defining and verifying hypnotic intervention, by individual and situational variation in hypnotizability, and by difficulty in separating hypnosis from the therapies to which it is applied. Clinicians using hypnosis are likely to continue to base their claims for its effectiveness on intuition, especially since no study has demonstrated that hypnotherapy is contraindicated for patients requesting its use.

Comments: I found this puzzling! A cultural artifact? However, I do agree that it is tricky to pull apart the components of a hypnotic intervention to say exactly what it is that makes the intervention effective, or not of course. Do clinicians base their claim for its effectiveness on intuition? I feel that intuition is part of it, but not all. We do have a scientific basis, so, for me, the idea of hypnosis being art and science is helpful.

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