In another hypnosis related blog that I follow, I noticed the author mention some amazing statistics about the efficacy of hypnotherapy according to a study conducted by Dr Alfred Barrios.
So I went and investigated this study before mentioning it myself. I searched through many scholarly archives and could not find the actual original citing of the article…
As I googled and explored, I noticed that many, many hypnotherapists were using these amazing statistics and figures on their websites, quoting Barrios to display the effectiveness of hypnotherapy. Yet it was tough to find the original source and copy of the study.
The study was (and still is) a review of psychotherapy literature by Dr Barrios, which was published in 1970 and originally featured in the The Psychotherapy Journal of the American Psychiatric Association which showed some impressive findings indeed.
After surveying over 2000 journal articles, Dr. Alfred Barrios came up with the following recovery rates:
Type of therapy Recovery rates Number of sessions
Hypnotherapy 93% 6
Behavior therapy 72% 22
Psychoanalysis 38% 600
It is important to remember that these are average numbers and should not really be interpreted to suggest that any condition can be helped in 6 hypnotherapy sessions. Indeed, some would be overcome in a great deal less time and likewise, some may require more.
To summarise; in this review article, Dr Barrios pointed out that the average success rate for hypnotherapy was 93% after an average of 6 sessions. This was compared to a 38% success rate after an average of 600 sessions for psychoanalysis and 72% after 22 sessions for behavior therapy.
If you’d like to diligently review the article word for word and see how it was conducted you can read it in full at Dr Barrios’s own website where he has the article featured for all to read entitled Hypnotherapy: A Reappraisal.
Some of the hardened evidence based hypnotherapists may not think it bears up to modern scrutiny, but it makes for interesting reading bearing in mind it is 40 years old now and much has changed in that time alone.
It does amaze me though how many websites mention the figures without quoting the study or giving it any robust examination… Some even do not quote anything other than the sensational figures… Hmmm… Maybe I should stop thinking so critically and go and amend my hypnotherapy consultation page with the addition of these figures…. Is a 1970 review still pertinent today?
Will be back briefly tomorrow before heading out to New York in the afternoon…
Welcome to the states! We hope you enjoy your stay. Come down to Texas sometime.
I don’t think I’ve read this before. It’s a good article for hypnotherapists. The data are mainly from the 1960s or earlier. Still better than a load of anecdotes or case studies though.
I think his methods are really just pie-in-the-sky. I’ve often quoted comparative figures like this but they’re largely of historical interest and as a very rough-and-ready comparison of treatments. It’s good fun though!
I’m not sure how he gets the figure of 93% success for hypnotherapy, which sounds totally unrealistic across studies, although six sessions is still about the average for hypnosis in clinical studies.
Incidentally, qute a lot of the data he’s quoting from Wolpe (and possibly Lazarus) actually refer to hypnosis used in behaviour therapy anyway, which kind of muddies the comparison.
I’ve got a blog article about a recent journal article by Barrios here,
Thanks Don, I enjoyed the article too, thanks 🙂
I am studying to become a transpersonal hypnotherapist and have found your website a couple of times during my studies.
I do appreciate the information you have here and it’s been helpful in clarifying some of the conflicting information I find between the Academia and the Healing Arts providers.
Thank you for having this information posted. I hope all of us who have the gift of affective hypnosis are free to practice for the greater good regardless if we have a medical or psychology degree.
Sending lots of happiness your way from Alaska!
Thank you Mishelle, I wish you the very best with your continued studies.