With yet another Bank Holiday weekend here and having been teaching for five days prior to that, we had a small blip in new articles here for a wee while. Though with me having been running my cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy certificate, it makes it doubly relevant to be writing on this topic here today….

I’ve just been reading a great article entitled “Hypnosis with cognitive behavioural therapy may benefit breast cancer patients” over at the CBS news website. It is a great article and quotes Professor Guy Montgomery from Mount Sinai Medical Centre in New York stating that they are testing out a combination of hypnosis and cognitive behavioural therapy to help breast cancer patients in their oncological sciences programme. You can read the article here.

It is great to read about the practical applications in real-life medical units where hypnosis is used in conjunction with cognitive behavioural therapy. Yet this natural, powerful combination does not seem to have filtered through to the majority of clinical hypnotherapists, many of whom I encounter seem to be unaware of how well the two go hand in hand….

In recent times, hypnosis has been used as an adjunct to other forms of psychotherapy and this is documented greatly in the work of Kirsch et al (1995), in  Hypnosis as an adjunct to cognitive-behavioural psychotherapy: A meta-analysis. Similar works have also discussed hypnosis as an adjunct rather than as a stand alone therapy too (e.g. Rhue, Lynn, & Kirsch, 1993).  

Hypnotherapy in the modern world is quite different in theory and in real-life from the traditional approaches. Today, instead of just relying on delivering suggestions to someone who is hypnotised as a means of creating change (which is still a fantastic application), we hypnotherapists also incorporate hypnosis into other well- established psychotherapeutic interventions.

We can subsequently employ a wide range of impressive therapeutic strategies, techniques and processes within our hypnotherapy and self-hypnosis sessions.  The added beauty of this (for the evidence based approach offered up here at my school in particular), is that we get to employ empirically supported interventions in conjunction with our therapeutic hypnosis clients.

When you consider that clinical hetero-hypnosis is not really recognised as an empirically supported treatment for any psychiatric disorder currently (though getting very close with some applications), does it not make sense for us to be using hypnosis as an adjunct to a therapeutic modality that does? 

Hypnosis goes well with cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) for example, because many of the processes and techniques used in the field of cognitive behaviour therapy (the mental imagery techniques, for example) have real parallels to those used in hypnosis and self-hypnosis.

There are some dissenting viewpoints about the level of enhancement that hypnosis offers CBT, often based upon expectancy and belief as well as hypnotisability factors all effecting results, but hypnosis has been used as a successful adjunct to CBT for a wide variety of issues and ailments.

The results of the previously mentioned Kirsch et al. (1995) meta-analyses does indeed suggest that hypnosis may even enhance cognitive behaviour therapy. Other similar studies suggest the same, but the Kirsch et al. meta-analysis of 18 studies that compared CBT with and without hypnosis as an adjunct found fairly significant improvements when hypnosis was an adjunct to the treatment. It seems to make sense to me that we can therefore employ a number of strategies from the field of CBT within our hypnosis sessions.

So there is without a doubt some evidence and research to support the moves being made by this very credible establishment in New York and the feedback in the article from a lady who used the programme gives a very encouraging account of her experience.

Let’s hope we see plenty more of this in the media!

… And for you already qualified hypnotherapists who want to learn more… Go read about my own cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy certification here 🙂