Counsellor's Corner: Clinical Hypnosis in Therapy- Anxiety and Beyond

At the start of my career I was concerned by the large number of individuals experiencing debilitating anxiety. This motivated me to learn more and investigate therapeutic strategies to help these individuals. Treating anxiety may involve a number of different therapeutic protocols; what is most important is to collaborate with the client to meet their specific needs. I have found that the combination of cognitive behavioural therapy and clinical hypnosis has been effective in addressing the issues of clients I have worked with and it often enhances their strengths and ability to manage their anxiety.

“Hypnosis is conceptualized and treated as a means of helping clients develop powerful personal resources that can be purposefully directed toward achieving their therapeutic goals” (Yapko, 2003). Clinical hypnosis is a client centered approach utilized to address the individual needs of the client. It has been effectively applied in the treatment of many conditions and disorders including pain management (Chaves, 1999), anxiety (Kirsch et al., 1995), phobias (Crawford & Costantino, 2000), depression (Yapko, 2001c) and PTSD (Brom, Kleber, & Defare, 1988) to name a few.

Unfortunately many preconceived views or myths about hypnosis have created challenges for therapy practitioners, the media portrayal of stage hypnosis as a `magical means of instant problem resolution or having control over the individual` leads to misinformation and fear. Clinical hypnosis is a therapeutic strategy that is done in collaboration with the client, understanding that the client remains in control at all times. Hypnosis is a state of deep focus therefore when an individual is guided into this state they are able to amplify their resources focusing on achieving their goals. Clinical hypnosis is focused specifically on attaining positive outcomes for the client.

Submitted by: Diane Bodnarchuk, MEd. (psych), Registered Psychologist #775

References:

Brom, D. Kleber, R. & Defare, P. (1988). Brief psychotherapy for post-traumatic stress disorder. Journal of Consulting and Clinical psychology, 57, 607-12

Chaves, J. (1999) Applying hypnosis in pain management: Implications of alternative theoretical perspectives. Clinical hypnosis & self-regulation: Cognitive-behavioural perspectives (pp. 227-47) Washington, D.C..: American Psychological Society

Crawford, H. & Barabasz, A. (1993). Phobias and intense fears: Facilitating their treatment with hypnosis. In J. Rhue, S. Lynn, & I Kirsch (Eds), Handbook for clinical hypnosis (pp. 311-38) Washington D.C.: APA

Kirsch, I., Montgomery, G. & Spirstein, G. (1995). Hypnosis as an adjunct to cognitive-behavioural psychotherapy: A meta-analysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 63, 241-20.

Yapko, M. (2003) Trancework, 3rd Edition,( pp. 6-19) New York , NY

Yapko, M. (2001c). Treating depression with hypnosis: Integrative cognitive-behavioural and strategic approaches. Philidelphia., P.A.: Brunner/Routledge.