Clinical hypnosis has been used for hundreds of years. It is one of the oldest of the therapeutic procedures. Modern hypnosis is dated from the 1700's, and the term itself was introduced by Dr. James Braid, M.D., around 1841. Hypnosis as a therapeutic technique was approved by the AMA (American Medical Association) in 1958.
Contrary to some common misconceptions, people who have been hypnotized do not lose control over their behavior or lose consciousness. Although hypnosis is an altered level of consciousness, the patient/client does not become unconscious; neither is the will changed or weakened. The patient/client does not reveal things that they would not want others to know; they are always in control and can terminate the hypnotic state by opening their eyes. Patients experiencing hypnosis do not behave as passive automations but, instead, are active problem solvers who incorporate their moral and cultural ideas into their behavior.
In an interesting article in Scientific American magazine, Dr. Michael R. Nash* states “…as scientists discover more about hypnosis, they are also uncovering evidence that counters some of the skepticism about the technique. One such objection is that hypnosis is simply a matter of having an especially vivid imagination. In fact, this does not seem to be the case. Many imaginative people are not good hypnotic subjects, and no relation between the two abilities has surfaced.
So what are the medical benefits of hypnosis? A 1996 National Institute of Health technology assessment panel judged hypnosis to be an effective intervention for alleviating pain from cancer and other chronic conditions. Voluminous clinical studies also indicate that hypnosis can reduce the acute pain experienced by patients undergoing burn-wound debridement, children enduring bone marrow aspirations and women in labor. A meta-analysis published in a recent special issue of the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, for example, found that hypnotic suggestions relieved the pain of 75 percent of 933 subjects participating in 27 different experiments. The pain-relieving effect of hypnosis is often substantial, and in a few cases the degree of relief matches or exceeds that provided by morphine."
Clinical Hypnosis has been used successfully to treat such conditions as anxiety disorders, stress reduction, hypertension, post- traumatic stress disorder, pain management, addictions, weight control, eating disorders, obstetrical/gynecological procedures, cancer, and chemotherapy to name just a few.
Professionals using hypnosis should have taken post-graduate courses in hypnosis, along with appropriate supervision in the uses of this technique. The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH) requires the following minimal requirements for certification: 40 clock hours of formal instruction; 20 hours of individually supervised training; and 2 years of independent practice in their specialty. MSCH strongly suggests that you seek the services of only licensed medical or mental health professionals who have been certified by ASCH.
*Dr. Michael R. Nash is associate professor of psychology at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and is editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. He received his Ph.D. from Ohio University in 1983 and completed his clinical internship at the Yale University School of Medicine the same year. He has published two books and is author of more than 60 publications in scientific Journals.
Information also taken, in part, from a brochure written by William C. Wester, II, Ed.D., ABPH and from APA Division 30.