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Research Evidence for Hypnosis (Unusual Cases)

Research Evidence for Hypnosis (Unusual Cases)

For today’s blog I have highlighted five studies linked with hypnosis and more unusual cases. 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.

Walters, V. & Oakley, D. (2002) Hypnosis in post-abortion distress: An experimental case study. Contemporary Hypnosis. Vol 19(2), pp. 85-99

Abstract: The present case study of a 23-year-old woman begins by exploring post-abortion distress in context with hypnosis and identifies particular themes across symptoms that indicate that hypnosis may be an appropriate adjunct to therapy for this problem. For treatment a three-phase framework was used, as proposed by D. Brown (1995) for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Symptom changes were monitored throughout the course of therapy in a multiple-baseline study design. The client also completed pre- and post-therapy questionnaires. The therapeutic outcome is described with reference to data collected from weekly monitoring and from written feedback regarding her own feelings about the therapy. The results indicate that the therapeutic interventions improved specific symptoms as well as general mental health and it is concluded that hypnosis may be a particularly appropriate adjunct to therapy for post-abortion distress.

Comments: I am always interested to see papers that detail the use of hypnosis for cases where it is unlikely (except to the profession) to be thought of as an intervention. This case reinforces my belief that hypnosis can in most cases improve the effectiveness of other therapeutic interventions.

LaCrosse, M. (1994) Understanding change: Five-year follow-up of brief hypnotic treatment of chronic bruxism. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis. Vol 36(4), pp. 276-281

Abstract: Describes the treatment of a 63-yr-old woman with a 60-yr history of nocturnal bruxism. Treatment included assessment, 2 psychotherapy sessions, including a paradoxical behavior prescription to reduce daytime worrying, hypnotic suggestions for control of nocturnal grinding, and reinforcement of the patient’s expectations for success. Follow-up assessments at 2, 3, and 5 yrs revealed that she continued to be symptom-free with her self-reports corroborated by her spouse and family dentist.

Comments: Isn’t it wonderful to see an example of such a profound result, brought about quickly and simply even though the problem had existed for sixty years!

Shenefelt, P. (2004) Using Hypnosis to Facilitate Resolution of Psychogenic Excoriations in Acne Exocrine  American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis. Vol 46(3), pp. 239-245

Abstract: Hypnotic suggestion successfully alleviated the behavioral picking aspect of acne exocrine des juenes filles in a pregnant woman who had been picking at the acne lesions on her face for 15 years. Acne exocrine is a subset of psychogenic or neurotic excoriation. Conventional topical antibiotic treatment was used to treat the acne. Compared with other treatments for uncomplicated acne exocrine, hypnosis is relatively brief and cost-effective and is non-toxic in pregnancy

Comments: this case shows how hypnosis can be used to complement other interventions, and reminds me of the need to use the word complementary rather than alternative, and again this is a situation which is common, but one in which most people would not immediately think hypnosis! This would also extend to other forms of picking or itching, even to straightforward issues such as insect bites.

Sampson, R. (1990)Hypnotherapy in a case of pruritus and Guillain-Barre syndrome. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis. Vol 32(3),  pp. 168-173

Abstract: Describes a 24-yr-old female who, 6 mo after successful treatment with hypnotherapy (HT) for pruritis (intense itching of the skin), sought HT for unexplainable, increasing numbness and pain. The S experienced temporary relief with HT. Later, a diagnosis of Guillain-Barre syndrome was made. HT appeared to improve muscle function in the acute phase of the S’s disease. Further research is indicated in the use of HT in reducing the symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Comments: Guillain-Barre syndrome is an uncommon inflammatory disorder in which your body’s immune system attacks your nerves, typically causing severe weakness and numbness that usually starts in your extremities and quickly worsens. Again this case shows the importance of hypnosis being used as an adjunct, and its potential for efficacy for unusual issues.

Lankton, S. (2007) Psychotherapeutic Intervention for Numerous and Large Viral Warts with Adjunctive Hypnosis: A Case Study. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis. Vol 49(3), Jan 2007, pp. 211-218

Abstract: The client was a sixteen-year-old active cheerleader in her high school and had highly developed verbal and social skills. In the process of seeking medical treatment for warts over a period of five years this client had experienced a great deal of disappointment. A visible wart on her hand had grown from a small single circle to a size that was embarrassing. Additionally, the affected area had spread from the back of her hand to the inside of both of her legs leaving her with more than 200 smaller warts on her legs. Her self-image was damaged as a result of these prolific and highly visible warts. As a result she received the diagnosis of “mood disorder due to medical condition” (DMS 293.89). In this case, psychotherapy with hypnotic treatment relied upon an emphasis on two interventions: reduction of wart area with guided imagery and suggestions for the optimization of the client’s immune system functioning. The veracious area experienced a 100% reduction in five treatment sessions spanning a total of seven weeks. One of the unique aspects of this case is the length that the client and her family had gone to to exhaust every medical solution to remove the warts. The duration between her last medical treatment and seeking psychotherapy with hypnosis was sufficient to rule-out any latent or residual curative effect that might have been set in motion by medical treatments.

Comments: Cases such as this can be used as convincers with clients, whatever their issue.

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