Although hypnosis has been used for a very long time to treat the effects of trauma (for example, it was used effectively to treat soldiers who were traumatized by their experiences in both World War One and World War Two), in the 1990s its use became controversial and misunderstood. This was due to the fact that there had been some cases in which hypnosis was used to try to recover painful memories which traumatized indivduals were thought to have buried in their unconscious.
However, it was later found out that these ‘recovered memories’ were false. Despite this setback and because far more care is now taken in considerations of whether hypnosis should be used in an attempt to recover memories, hypnosis is enjoying something of a renaissance. It is increasingly being argued that hypnotherapy can be very effective in the treatment of trauma, especially in relation to facilitating the individual’s processing of (genuine) traumatic memories. Many believe that it is necessary for traumatized individuals to process their traumatic memories properly in order to gain relief from the anxiety they cause. Indeed, hypnotherapy is being increasingly used by adult survivors of childhood trauma.
One particular benefit of the use of hypnosis in the treatment of trauma is that it can give rise to feelings of DISSOCIATION which can help an individual protect him/herself from the full impact of the shock which would otherwise have been caused by the particular traumatic event which has occurred. It is a flexible therapy and is being used in innovative ways.
There is some debate about whether hypnosis should be seen as a treatment in its own right, or whether it should more accurately be seen as a procedure which, used in combination with other therapies, can augment the postive effects of those therapies.
The debate has not been fully resolved, but hypnosis is increasingly being used as an ADJUNCT to other therapies, enhancing their effectiveness. For example, hypnotherapy is now used effectively in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to give a therapy called cognitive hypnotherapy. It has also been used in combination with psychodynamic therapy (known as psychodynamic hypnotherapy). Initial results are encouraging and research is ongoing.
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