Today’s blog entry is really one for hypnosis professionals and therapists and something I have been discussing a great deal with my students in recent weeks.

Hypnosis seen from a particular perspective, may well be considered an independent modality of therapy comparable to psychodynamic, behavioural, or cognitive approaches to therapy, many academics and hypnotherapists would certainly agree.

In recent times though, hypnosis has been used as an adjunct to other forms of psychotherapy and this is documented greatly in the work of Kirsch et al., in 1995 Hypnosis as an adjunct to cognitive-behavioural psychotherapy: A meta-analysis which featured in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology edition 63. It is this study that I am going to focus on here today, but similar works have also discussed hypnosis as an adjunct, such as Rhue, Lynn, & Kirsch’s 1993 Handbook of clinical hypnosis.

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, we also incorporate hypnosis into other well- established psychotherapeutic interventions.

We then end up employing a wide range of therapeutic strategies, techniques and processes while our client is hypnotised.

The beauty of this for an evidence based hypnotherapist such as myself, is that we get to employ empirically supported interventions in our therapy rooms, in my case those used in CBT for example, in conjunction with hypnosis.

We then end up being able to discuss (the 1995 meta analysis by Kirsch et al. suggests) if and how hypnosis increases the results we get with other therapeutic interventions and not just focus on whether hypnosis is better or not than other therapies.

When you consider that clinical hypnosis is not really recognised as an empirically supported treatment for any psychiatric disorder currently, does it not make sense for us to be using hypnosis as an adjunct to a therapeutic modality that does?

Hypnosis goes well with 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.

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.

There is even some empirical evidence that suggests hypnosis offers a significant benefit to the client when it is employed as an adjunct to cognitive behaviour psychotherapy. The results of the previously mentioned 1995 Kirsch et al. meta-analyses does indeed suggest that hypnosis may significantly 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.

There are some criticisms of results interpretation and so on, but I can’t help thinking that any student of hypnosis and of course hypnotherapy be able to think of hypnosis in a more sophisticated manner than simply hypnotising someone and delivering suggestions as a panacea that competes with other therapies. Instead, why not encourage to train and understand a deeper level of (ideally empirically supported) treatments and interventions and use hypnosis as an adjunct with them?

I know many people then think they need to train even more in specialised fields and that is not necessarily so – the HPD qualification my own school and those others approved by the NCH (National Council for Hypnotherapists) include a rounded depth of processes and influence from other modalities of therapy to offer more proven ways to responsibly help potential clients.

Ok, I am going to be enjoying much hot debate, discussion and shenanigans at our hypnosis Geek Dinner here in Bournemouth tonight, we have a marvellous crowd on board, I had best go don my geek specs and I’ll be back here tomorrow…