Hypnosis and Clinical Hypnotherapy in the Treatment of Psychological and Psychosomatic Ailments

Further Research Works and Further Findings

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Further Research Works and Further Findings

In 2001, the Professional Affairs Board of the British Psychological Society (BPS) commissioned a working group of expert psychologists to publish a report entitled “The Nature of Hypnosis,” with the purpose to provide a considerable statement about hypnosis and important issues concerning its application and practice in a range of contexts, notably for clinical purposes, forensic investigations, academic research works, entertainment and training. At the end, the report came out and provided a brief summary of the nature of hypnosis and current scientific research findings on the subject. The most significant issue was that: “hypnosis is a valid subject for scientific study and research and a proven therapeutic medium,” and regarding hypnosis therapeutic uses and related research outcomes, the report came out with the a fact that “enough studies have now accumulated to suggest that the inclusion of hypnotic procedures may be beneficial in the management and treatment of a wide range of conditions and problems encountered in the practice of medicine, psychiatry and psychotherapy.”[61]

Then, the working group (within the same report) provided an overview of some of the most significant contemporary research findings on the efficacy of clinical hypnotherapy, and they were as it follows:

1. there is convincing evidence that hypnotic procedures are effective in the management and relief of both acute and chronic pain and in assisting in the alleviation of pain, discomfort and distress due to medical and dental procedures and childbirth,

2. hypnosis and the practice of self-hypnosis may significantly reduce general anxiety, tension and stress in a manner similar to other relaxation and self-regulation procedures,

3. likewise, hypnotic treatment may assist in insomnia in the same way as other relaxation methods,

4. there is encouraging evidence demonstrating the beneficial effects of hypnotherapeutic procedures in alleviating the symptoms of a range of complaints that fall under the heading psychosomatic illness, including: tension headaches and migraine; asthma; gastrointestinal complaints such as irritable bowel syndrome; warts; and possibly other skin complaints such as eczema, psoriasis and urticaria, and

5. there is evidence from several studies that inclusion of clinical hypnosis in a weight reduction program(s) may significantly enhance positive outcome(s).

In 2002 a study was set to investigate the effectiveness of Erickson’s hypnosis style(s) and Jacobson relaxation technique(s) for the reduction of osteoarthritis pain, where participants reporting pain from hip or knee osteoarthritis were randomly assigned to one of the following conditions: (a) hypnosis (i.e. standardized eight-session hypnosis treatment); (b) relaxation (i.e. standardized eight sessions of Jacobson's relaxation treatment); (c) control (i.e. waiting list). Overall, results show that the two experimental groups had a lower level of subjective pain comparatively to the control group and that the level of subjective pain decreased within time. Furthermore, an interaction effect between group treatment and time measurement was also observed in which beneficial effects of treatment appeared more rapidly for the hypnosis group. Results also show that hypnosis and relaxation are effective in reducing the amount of analgesic medication taken by participants [62].

In 2003, a meta-analysis study on the efficacy of clinical hypnotherapy was published by Flammer and Bongartz (two eminent German researchers from the university of Konstanz - Germany), where they examined a huge body of data related to psychosomatic illnesses, test anxiety, smoking cessation and pain control during orthodox medical treatments.

In their investigation, Flammer and Bongartz considered a total of 444 studies on hypnotherapy published prior to 2002, by selecting the most suitable research designs for meta-analysis through narrowing their focus merely on 57 controlled trials. The surprising outcomes though the procedures were rigorous, showed that on average hypnotherapy achieved at least 64% success compared to 37% improvement among untreated control groups. Conclusively, it means that hypnotherapy is enough effective.

Expansion of their meta-analysis to include the other non-randomized trials, also, produced enough reliable results. When all other 133 studies were included and were analyzed on the basis of previous outcomes (a step in which providing extra data for over 6,000 patients), the findings suggested an average improvement in 27% of untreated patients over the term of the studies compared with a 74% success rate among those who received hypnotherapy treatments [63]

In 2004, on the basis of a literature search of scientific articles cataloged in CINAHL, PUBMED, the Cochrane Library, and AMED databases relating to the effectiveness of 13 non-pharmacologic methods (hypnosis is one of them) used to relieve pain and reduce suffering in labor among women, it was found that there is adequate evidence of benefit in reducing pain for continuous labor support, baths, intradermal water blocks, and maternal movement and positioning. Hypnotherapy in addition to acupuncture, massage, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation were promising, though further investigations are needed. All the methods studied had evidence of widespread satisfaction among a majority of users [64].

In contrary, in 2005, in another meta analysis study conducted by the Cochrane Collaboration, to find no evidence that hypnotherapy as more successful than other therapies, though the study was restricted to following the issue of smoking cessation, it was found that no hypnotic treatment in achieving cessation of smoking for at least six months [65].

When it comes to irritable bowel syndrome, Wilson, Maddison, Roberts, Greenfield, & Singh (2006) published one of their systematic reviews suggesting that hypnotherapy is effective in the management such a case, where over half of the trials (i.e., 10 of 18) showed a significant benefits [66]

With the adoption of the concept of Neuroplasticity in medical sciences, hypnotherapy is being acknowledged as a method to affect and enhance the brain’s neural pathways[67].

In 2007, another meta-analysis by Cochrane Collaboration group found that the therapeutic effect of hypnotherapy was "superior to that of a waiting list control or usual medical management, for abdominal pain and composite primary irritable bowel syndrome and related symptoms, in the short term in patients who fail standard medical therapy;" with no harmful side-effects[68].

For further research findings, searching in many databases, such as the Pubmed, Medline, Dynamed and the PsycINFO and many others, the status of hypnosis and hypnotherapy as a significant clinical procedure found to be in favor of the treatment of many psychological and psychosomatic ailments.

In many of such research works, hypnosis and hypnotherapy found to be useful in the treatment of many conditions, such as pains in children and adolescents,[69, 70] depressions[71], sexuality problems [72], post traumatic stress disorders [73,74], asthma [75], obstetrics, labor and delivery and preterm labor issues [76], cardiovascular responses, [77] fibromyalgia pains [78], dental pains [79], psychosomatic disorders, [80] sleep disorders [81], pain and pain management [82, 83], chronic pains, headaches and migraine [84,85], postoperative pains,86 bowel diseases and gastrointestinal related disorders [87-90], conversion disorders [91], and few to mention.

To end up with pointing to one of those thorough promising research findings, Jensen and Patterson (February-March 2014) in one of their most recent works emphasized on the fact that empirical support for hypnosis for chronic pain management and related stuff has flourished over the past two decades, where many clinical trials showed hypnosis as an effective technique for reducing chronic pain and related psychological and psychosocial factors, although outcomes vary between individuals. In brief, they showed that findings of such clinical trials simply indicate that hypnotic treatments have a number of positive effects beyond any pain control procedures; where such scientific research results as many researchers see it, have an important implications for how clinicians can help their clients experience maximum benefits from hypnosis and those treatments that include hypnotic components [92].

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