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Research Evidence for Hypnosis (Anxiety)

Research Evidence for Hypnosis (Anxiety)

For today’s blog I have highlighted three studies on a linked with hypnosis and anxiety. 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

Byron, D. (2002) The use of hypnosis to help an anxious student with a social communication disorder to attend school. Contemporary Hypnosis. Vol 19 (3): 125-132

Abstract: Presents the case of a 15 yr old male student with a social communication disorder. This study examined the efficacy of hypnosis as an anxiety management and confidence strengthening technique in the specific area of a social communication disorder of long duration and which had proved resistant to other therapeutic approaches. The student’s anxiety of and inability to enter a classroom was measured before and after intervention, in addition to progress on personal targets and the effect of his difficulties on life at home. In hypnosis the student was taught anxiety management and self hypnosis techniques and, with his mother, approaches to increase assertiveness. Anxiety decreased, and self confidence, social communication and school attendance increased during and following the hypnosis intervention. Four sessions, including hypnosis and self hypnosis, were delivered. Follow up monitoring visits at 1, 3 and 6 mo provided evidence of maintenance or continued improvement in the post intervention measures. In addition to the marked positive gains from pre- to post intervention measures, both the client and his mother reported improvements in his emotional well being and social inclusion. The use of hypnosis as an adjunct to educational psychology is discussed.

Comments: This is a useful case study to be able to site to potential clients, whether teenagers or adults. (NB: only work with children if you are specifically qualified to do so). The work described here shows how rapidly well-structured sessions can result in significant change. It is interesting to note the affect on the client’s mother too which may have been a result of her assertiveness training alone, or more likely that, plus the consequences of having a more settled son. Our clients do not live in vacuums and therefore we need to be aware of all of the implications that various interventions may cause!

de-Klerk, J. et al (2004) Hypnotherapeutic Ego Strengthening with Male South African Coronary Artery Bypass Patients. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis. Vol 47 (2): 79-92

Abstract: Morbidity (i.e., elevated anxiety and depression) is a common feature of coronary artery bypass surgery (CABS) patients, pre- and postoperatively. Since hypnotherapy can possibly reduce morbidity in CABS patients, the aim of this study was to determine the feasibility of hypnotherapeutic ego strengthening (HES) to facilitate patient coping with concomitant anxiety and depression. Fifty patients were randomly assigned to a non-intervention control group (n=25) and an experimental group (n=25) and exposed to a pre- and postoperative HES intervention. Anxiety and depression were assessed with the Beck Depression Inventory and Profile of Mood States, administered preoperatively, at discharge, and at 6-week follow-up. Findings confirmed large practical reductions of anxiety and depression in the experimental group and were maintained at follow-up, while a trend towards increased depression levels occurred in the control group. Although not generalizable, results suggest broadened applications of hypnotherapy with patients in cardiac centers.

Comments: my first thought on this is to wonder why it is not generalizable? The experiment seems well designed and specific enough from which to draw conclusions. It demonstrates the power of a seemingly simple intervention. Ego strengthening is simple and yet almost always has an effect. Heap and Aravind (2004) do not recommend using this with severely depressed clients stating that “unless there are good feelings present to begin with, the whole thing may backfire. The client needs to have a base to work from, but if they do, the effects can, as here, be magical. This is one of the reasons the National College of Hypnosis and Psychotherapy has had the Hartland Ego Strengthening process as a major component its curriculum.

German, E. (2004) Hypnosis and CBT with depression and anxiety. Australian Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. Vol 32 (1): 71-85

Abstract: This case illustrates the use of hypnosis as an adjunct to cognitive behaviour therapy in the treatment of a mixed depressive and anxiety reaction of Mark, a 20-year-old university student. A predominant feature in his presentation was his perfectionistic standards of academic performance. He presented to the counselling service of a large university after failing an exam. Hypnosis contributed to achieving remarkable therapeutic progress in a relatively short time. On initial presentation his dysphoric feelings were extremely high. Recent test results indicated that levels of anxiety, depression, and stress returned to normal levels. Therapy is in progress. Mark’s case highlights the value of hypnosis as “a tool of empowerment, specially important to diminish depression” (Yapko, 2001, p. 23).

Comments: This is an interesting case study in that it highlights the anxiety producing effects of perfectionism and how dealing with the underlying issue that is resulting in the symptoms of anxiety can be highly effective, especially in combination with the learning of ways to cope with anxiety. Mark learned how to view his situation differently thus reducing a need to react in the way he had been doing, and to see the reaction differently too. Hence the significant progress made by the client in question.

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