Tag Archives: Hypnosis

Hypnotherapy So Effective Now Available on NHS in UK.



Part 1 of this article explained how the large amount of studies supporting the effectiveness of hypnotherapy has persuaded the UK government to provide hypnosis to people free on the National Health Service (NHS). I thought it would be useful, then, to give some brief details of some examples of scientific studies which demonstrate just how beneficial hypnotherapy can be for various conditions

CHEST PAINS – many suffer from chest pain even though they do not have heart disease. This is known as non-cardiac chest pain. In some cases, it is linked to anxiety and this can be treated effectively by hypnosis.

In an experiment in Manchester in the UK an NHS hypnotherapy experiment was carried out on 28 patients who were suffering from non-cardiac chest pain. Half received hypnotherapy and the other half received just a placebo. The hypnotherapy group underwent hypnosis that focused on reducing pain and were also given self-hypnosis audios to listen to at home. For those in the hypnotherapy group, 8 out of 10 reported significant improvement at the end of the study.

IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME (IBS) – about 10 – 15% of people are thought to suffer from IBS at any given time and the condition is often linked to anxiety. In an experiment at University Hospital, Manchester, UK sufferers were treated with hypnotherapy for the condition ; this resulted in the  majority becoming well over the long-term and requiring significantly less medication.

CYSTIC FIBROSIS – a research study into how effective hypnotherapy is for this condition was conducted at the University of Michigan in the USA. It was found that after the therapy was administered those treated had significantly reduced symptoms (eg coughs, shortness of breath and anxiety). Another study into the condition, this time carried out at New York State University in the USA, found that those who used self-hypnosis for relaxation, pain relief, headache relief and other symptoms of cystic fibrosis met with an overall success rate of 86%.

SMOKING – a study into the effectiveness of hypnotherapy to help people to quit smoking was carried out at the Scott and White Hospital in Texas in the USA. The smokers in the study were given 8 hypnotherapy sessions spread over 2 months (one per week). One week into the hypnotherapy program they were given the hypnotic suggestion that they would stop smoking. To ensure nobody cheated, each person had their levels of carbon monoxide measured (smoking increases the concentration of this highly poisonous chemical in the body). At the end of the treatment period, 40% had quit smoking and, when a 12 week follow-up was carried out, this figure had increased to 60%.

DENTAL – In the field of dentistry, the use of hypnotherapy is becoming increasingly taken advantage of, especially for those who have dental phobia (extreme fear of going to the dentist). It is also used within the profession for the treatment of anxious conditions related to dentistry such as teeth grinding. Furthermore, it is sometimes used for those undergoing dentistry procedures such as fillings and tooth extraction in place of a local or even general anaesthetic; one example of this is when hypnotherapy for pain control is used during tooth implant procedures in which a titanium rod is inserted into the jaw!

CHILD BIRTH – A study into the effectiveness of hypnosis for pain reduction during childbirth was conducted at the Adelaide Hospital in Australia. Women used self-hypnosis and it was found that this led to a 50% reduction in the need for analgesia and a 70% reduction in the need for epidurals. Furthermore, those who had used self-hypnosis were twice as likely to be satisfied with the pain management that they received during labour.

WOUND HEALING – A study into the effectiveness of hypnosis in improving wound healing was conducted at the Harvard Medical School in the USA. The study showed that wounds and broken bones heal faster in those who have been given hypnotherapy compared to those who had not. The study showed that, six weeks after breaking their ankle, those who were given hypnotherapy healed 3 weeks faster and. also. others given hypnotherapy for pain reduction, anxiety reduction, inflammation reduction and accelerated healing  before surgical procedures recovered faster from the surgery compared to those who had not received the benefit of hypnotherapy.

Best wishes, David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Hypnotherapy – Dispelling the Myths.


Newcomers to the field of hypnotherapy have often heard things said about it by non-experts. Some of these things may be true, but other things may well be untrue. In this brief article, then, I thought I would clear up some of the misconceptions by exposing ten myths about hypnosis.


1) WHEN YOU ARE HYPNOTIZED, YOU ARE ASLEEP – in fact, the person under hypnosis is fully aware of what is going on and is NOT asleep or unconscious. For example, if there was the noise of traffic outside of the consulting room window, the hypnotized person would be capable of hearing it just as well as the hypnotherapist if he chose to attend to it, even deep in hypnosis.

2) THE HYPNOTIZED PERSON IS ‘UNDER THE CONTROL’ OF THE HYPNOTHERAPIST – untrue.The hypnotized person is fully able to exercise free-will and cannot be made to do anything s/he does not wish to do.

3) THE PERSON BEING HYPNOTIZED MUST GAZE AT A SWINGING WATCH OR SIMILAR ITEM – no, this is incorrect. In fact, most hypnotherapists do not use any physical objects to help them hypnotize the client whatsoever – instead, they just use the sound of their own voice and, perhaps, some relaxing background music.

4) YOU CAN’T REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED DURING THE PERIOD IN WHICH YOU WERE HYPNOTIZED – this is another mistaken belief. This in an idea which comes from the spectacle of stage hypnosis which is carried out for dramatic effect. After undergoing therapeutic hypnosis, the person who was hypnotized is able to remember everything, and, indeed, will almost certainly remember some of the suggestion made by the hypnotherapist whilst s/he was under hypnosis better than s/he normally would.

5) YOU NEED TO LIE DOWN TO BE HYPNOTIZED – no. The therapist will most frequently ask the client to sit in a comfortable chair.

6) YOU CAN BE MADE TO REVEAL SECRETS WHEN YOU ARE UNDER HYPNOSIS – this is another misconception. Just as you have voluntary control over what you do or don’t do during hypnosis, so, too, you have full control over what you say and don’t say.

7) IT IS POSSIBLE TO GET ‘STUCK’ IN THE HYPNOTIC TRANCE – this is incorrect. Hypnosis is just a deep state of relaxation. You can choose to come out of this relaxed state just as easily as you could choose to come out of a non-hypnotic relaxed state.

8) YOU DO SILLY THINGS WHEN HYPNOTIZED – no. Again, this idea comes from stage hypnosis which is a very different thing from therapeutic hypnosis. As already stated, during a hypnotherapy session you cannot be made to do anything that you do not wish to do.

9) YOU ARE ONLY HYPNOTIZED IF YOU CANNOT HEAR WHAT THE HYPNOTHERAPIST IS SAYING – actually, the opposite is true, during hypnosis the client tends to be very focused on the therapists suggestions.

10) HYPNOSIS ‘ANTI-RELIGIOUS’ – another complete myth. There is nothing whatsoever supernatural about hypnosis. Hypnosis is essentially just a very relaxed state in which the client tends to become more receptive to therapeutic suggestions. It is based on scientific theory and is backed by scientific research. It is no more ‘anti-religious’ than taking an afternoon doze.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Hypnotherapy to Break Vicious Cycle of Anxiety.


Hypnosis can be combined with cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) to effectively help break the vicious cycle of anxiety. For many sufferers of anxiety, a vicious cycle of worry often develops which will often comprise the following five stages:

1) A specific situation or event (internal or external) triggers the initial automatic anxiety response.

2) Specific automatic, apprehensive thoughts are triggered about what could happen

3) The individual switches into ‘anxiety mode’ with the accompanying unpleasant symptoms and bodily sensations

4) The individual experiences ESCALATING WORRY. This can include expecting a catastrophic outcome and assuming one is utterly helpless. As a result, maladaptive (unhelpful) avoidance, escape and safety seeking behaviours frequently take over.

5) Frantic attempts to control and/or eliminate the anxiety (paradoxically making it worse).

hypnotherapy for anxiety

Why does trying to control and eliminate the anxiety paradoxically make it worse? This is due to something called the REBOUND EFFECT – by trying to exercise thought control, the unwanted thought tends to come back at us all the harder. In other words, when we try deliberately not to think about something, we can actually think of little else. For example, try very hard not to think of a pink elephant for the next 30 seconds and see what happens! Cognitive hypnotherapy can help us to overcome this problem by training us to ACCEPT our anxiety, which leads to it becoming less intense and less painful.

Another way cognitive hypnotherapy helps us to overcome our anxiety is to help us to ‘ACT AS IF’ we are not anxious. By thinking what we would be doing if we were not anxious, and then just doing it anyway, is a very effective way of loosening its grip.

Thirdly, cognitive hypnotherapy can help us to not get caught up and enmeshed with our worried thoughts – it does this by helping us to take a more DETACHED view of them (for more on the benefits of this, see my post on MINDFULNESS).

A fourth way cognitive hypnotherapy can help is allowing us to EMOTIONALLY REVIEW whatever it is we are worried about. In essence, this means IMAGINATIVELY EXPOSING ourselves repeatedly to what we are concerned about so we EMOTIONALLY HABITUATE to it – this emotional habituation to our concerns weakens feelings of anxiety connected to them.

Finally, cognitive hypnotherapy can help us see that our feelings are connected to our thoughts, and that our thoughts may be inaccurate and full of errors. The type of thinking errors that lead to anxiety and which cognitive hypnotherapy can help us to overcome are as follows:

a) PROBABILITY – anxious thinkers tend to greatly overestimate the probability of the bad outcomes they are expecting happening

b) SEVERITY – even if the feared outcome does actually occur, anxious thinkers tend to greatly overestimate how bad it will be

c) VULNERABILITY – anxious thinkers also often greatly overestimate their vulnerability, whilst underestimating their ability to cope

d) SAFETY – anxious people tend to overlook evidence that they will be safe from what it is that they are concerned about. Also, they often overuse maladaptive (unhelpful) safety behaviors, such as avoidance, which can, in the long-term, worsen the anxiety.

Some specific techniques cognitive hypnotherapy can help individuals develop which are very useful for reducing anxiety are as follows:

i) PERFORMANCE ACCOMPLISHMENTS – this technique helps the individual focus on times in the past when they HAVE COPED with something that caused them anxiety and realize that they can cope in the future too.

ii) VICARIOUS EXPERIENCE – here hypnotherapy is used to help the individual imagine how others have coped (or would cope) in a similar situation and then to imagine how they themselves could cope in a similar manner.

iii) VERBAL PERSUASION – hypnotherapy can help develop the technique of giving oneself positive and helpful self-instruction and activate appropriate cognitive interventions (thought processes).

iv) LOWERING EMOTIONAL AROUSAL – hypnotherapy, too, is very effective for helping individuals develop deep relaxation techniques.


David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Childhood Trauma : Treatment by Hypnosis Combined with Other Therapies.


Hypnosis And Childhood Trauma :

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.

Recovered Memories :

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.

Dissociation :

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.

Resource :

Overcome A Troubled Childhood – Click here for further details.


David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

‘Fighting’ Anxiety can Worsen It: Why Acceptance Works Better.

fighting anxiety

What Happens When We Try To ‘Fight’ Anxiety?

Trying to fight anxiety, research suggests (and, certainly, my own experience of anxiety would tend to confirm this) can actually AGGRAVATE the problem and lead to greater feelings of distress. Stating the shatteringly obvious, none of us wants to experience the feelings an anxiety condition brings; however, difficult as it may sound at first, DEVELOPING AN ATTITUDE OF ACCEPTANCE TOWARDS IT, rather than entering an exhausting mental battle with it, has been reported by many to be a superior strategy for coping with anxiety.

The psychologist Beck, to whom I have made several references already in this blog (he was one of the founders of the very helpful therapy called Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, or CBT, for people suffering from conditions such as depression and anxiety – see my posts on CBT) devised the acronym A.W.A.R.E for ease of remembering the key strategies for coping. Let’s take a look at what the acronym A.W.A.R.E stands for:

A Accept the anxiety (it sounds hard, I know, but so is constantly struggling to fight it):

The benefits of adopting this approach are that it may help to reduce the PHYSIOLOGICAL symptoms commonly associated with anxiety (eg accelerated heart rate, increased muscle tension, hyperventilation, sweating -or ‘cold sweats’- trembling, dry mouth etc). It may, too, help with PSYCHOLOGICAL symptoms (people report that an attitude of acceptance towards their anxiety makes them feel less distressed). A kind of motto which has come to attach itself to the acceptance approach to anxiety is: ‘if you are not WILLING to have it, you WILL’ (see what they’ve done there!)

W Watch your anxiety:

It is suggested that rather than get too ‘caught up’ in anxiety, together with all the distressing negative thoughts and fears it produces, to, instead, just observe it in a DETACHED and NON-JUDGMENTAL manner; this involves trying to adopt a kind of NEUTRAL MENTAL ATTITUDE towards it – in other words, neither liking it nor seeing the experience of anxiety as a terrible, unsolvable catastrophy (again, I realize, of course, that intense anxiety is very painful, so this, too, may sound difficult at first). People report that when they adopt this DETACHED, NEUTRAL view of their feelings of anxiety they starts to lose their, hitherto, tenacious grip on their lives.

A Act with your anxiety:

Severe anxiety can leave us feeling as if we are incapable of functioning on even a basic level. It is important to remember, however, as I have repeated at, no doubt, tedious length througout this blog, that just because we believe something it does not logically follow that the belief must be true. Indeed, when my anxiety was at its worst, I did not feel able, or even believe I could,shave or brush my teeth etc…etc… Many people report, however, that if they take the first (often, extremely challenging) step to try to carry on with normal activities, despite the feeling of anxiety which may accompany this, they can, after all, accomplish that which they originally believed they couldn’t. Success then tends to build upon success: completion of the first activity increases the self-belief and the confidence to go on to the second activity, the completion of which provides further self-belief and confidence…and so on…and so on…

In order to make this easier, it may be necessary to slow down the pace at which, in different circumstances, we would otherwise carry out the particular tasks that we set ourselves.

R Repeat the steps:

This just means that by repeating the ACCEPTING ANXIETY, WATCHING OUR ANXIETY (in a detached and neutral manner) and ACTING (despite the feelings of anxiety which may accompany such action) CYCLE, the anxiety may be slowly eroded away.

E Expect the best (even if it does not come naturally)

When we are depressed and anxious we, almost invariably, expect the worst. This is overwhelmingly likely to perpetuate the condition. However, just as expecting the worst can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, so, too, can expecting the best. If, like me, you are not a natural optimist, the concept of expecting the best may go against the grain. However, research shows that optimistic people are more likely to achieve their goals than those of us who do not appear to have been blessed with quite such a sunny disposition. It is worth adapting the strategy on, at least, an experimental basis. It is also useful to keep in mind that even if the best does not occur, we will still have the inner-strength necessary to cope.

eBook :


childhood trauma and depression


Above eBook now available for immediate download on Amazon.  CLICK HERE.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

What Neuroimaging Tells Us About Hypnosis.


Hypnosis And Neuroimaging :

Neuroimaging refers to a technique of examining which areas of the brain are active at any one time and can tell us something about how hypnosis works it involves the use of very expensive equipment which can display images of brain activity when the brain is involved with various tasks. I will start off by looking at neuroimaging in relation to the brain’s experience of pain.


A study by Rainville et al (1997), using a brain imaging technique, showed that when a HYPNOTIZED subject was given the HYPNOTIC SUGGESTION THAT HE WOULD EXPERIENCE PAIN (ie he wasn’t exposed to a real painful stimulus), the degree of activity in a brain regions associated with the experience of real pain (SOMATOSENSORY CORTICAL AREAS) could be increased and decreased by the experimenter making the suggestions that the subject was experiencing more or less pain respectively.

Another study, by Derbyshire et al (2004), again using NEUROIMAGING, found that subjects given the hypnotic suggestion that they were experiencing pain showed a similar response in brain acivity. However, those subjects merely instructed to IMAGINE PAIN (WITHOUT HYPNOSIS) did NOT display the activity.

hypnosis and neuroimaging

These studies suggest that, under hypnosis, without the application of a real painful stimulus, subjects can be caused to experience pain by the hypnotic suggestion that they will experience it. It seems, too, hypnosis is having a real effect, as merely telling the subject to imagine pain (without use of hypnosis, does not have the same effect).

It seems as if, according to such studies, effects of hypnotic suggestion are GENUINE, not only at the subjective level, but also in as far as they have been shown to EFFECT BRAIN FUNCTION IN A MANNER WHICH SHOWS UP VIA NEUROIMAGING: it appears that hypnotically suggested experiences CAN CAUSE SIMILAR BRAIN ACTIVITY PATTERNS TO THOSE WHICH WOULD BE CAUSED IF THE EXPERIENCE WERE REAL.


If hypnotically suggested experiences have a similar effect on the brain as real ones, there follow implications for treatment of conditions that make use of exposure therapy, such as phobias (ie the person suffering from the phobia could be given the hypnotic suggestion that s/he was exposed to the feared object as part of the DESENSITIZATION PROCESS; that is, getting used to the object feared so that the fear it induces gradually diminishes over time.

A caveat, however, is that  studies of brain imaging in relation to hypnosis have not given consistent results; more studies into this area of research need to be conducted.


Marquet et al (1999), using a neuroimaging technique, discovered that subjects given the instruction, under hypnosis, to re-experience pleasant memories from their own lives showed significantly more activation in related brain regions (eg the PREFRONTAL CORTEX and OCCIPITAL LOBE) than when they they were merely instructed to imagine the same events (not under hypnosis); again, this suggests that the HYPNOTIC EFFECT IS A REAL ONE, with real, OBSERVERABLE effects on brain activity. Again, however, a lot more research needs to be conducted in order to clarify the relationship between hypnosis and its effect upon brain activity.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).