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What is Hypno-Psychotherapy?

 

The House of Lords Science & Technology Select Committee report (1999) defines hypnotherapy as follows,

“Hypnotherapy - The use of hypnosis in treating behavioural disease and dysfunction, principally mental disorders.”

Hypnotherapy was arguably the original modality of modern psychotherapy.  Nowadays, however, a distinction is made between,

1.  Hypnotherapy.  Classed as a branch of Complementary & Alternative Medicine (CAM) following a House of Lords report.  Within this sector there are several organisations which voluntarily self-regulate the practice of hypnotherapy.

2.  Hypno-psychotherapy.  Which is recognised by umbrella bodies like the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), European Association for Psychotherapy (EAP), and World Council for Psychotherapy (WCP) as designating a core modality of psychotherapy.

Hypno-Psychotherapy

Historians believe that the first use of the word “psychotherapy” in a book title came with the English hypnotist Charles Lloyd Tuckey’s Psycho-therapeutics, or Treatment by Hypnotism & Suggestion (1889).  Tuckey popularised the use of the word “psychotherapy” as a synonym for the hypnotherapy of Hippolyte Bernheim's Nancy school in France, and attributes the discovery of “psychotherapy” as a discipline to Liébault, its founder. 

Since the start of the Twentieth century, however, with the advent of Freudian psychoanalysis, the word "psychotherapy" has taken on broader connotations, and now encompasses a wide range of psychological therapies.  As research has progressed in these areas, new models and techniques have been developed, and modern hypno-psychotherapy attempts to benefit from these advancements by re-assimilating aspects of other branches of psychotherapy.

Almost all modern hypnotherapy, therefore, inevitably draws upon concepts and techniques from the wider culture of psychotherapy.  However, some forms of hypnotherapy do this to a minimal degree, while others do so to a greater extent and in a more sophisticated manner.  As one contemporary authority on the subject writes,

A century ago, hypnotherapy often consisted of a hypnotic induction, followed by suggestions of symptom removal.  Consequently, hypnotherapy has been viewed by some writers as a mode of therapy that might be compared with psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioural, or other therapeutic approaches.  However, suggestions for symptom relief play a relatively minor role in contemporary hypnotherapy.  Instead, hypnotherapy generally consists of the addition of hypnosis to some recognised form of psychotherapy.  (Kirsch et al., 1995: 214)

Modern hypnosis is not simply about “hypnotising people and telling them they will feel better”, although this can certainly form part of treatment.  Many training programmes place hypnotherapy squarely within the context of modern psychotherapy.  In the Register's view the ideal training in hypno-psychotherapy selects techniques for integration within a hypnotic psychotherapy framework.  It does so based upon a philosophy of evidence-based (technical) eclecticism, which endorses therapeutic techniques mainly on the basis of their support from the best independent research evidence available. 

Hypnotherapy has always been pragmatic and while dedicated to a particular methodology (hypnosis) it has both drawn from and inspired the theories and practices of most other schools of psychotherapy.  Indeed it is arguably the multi-component nature of modern clinical hypnosis that makes it such a powerful and flexible tool.

The development and publication of a broad research base has allowed evidence-based technical eclecticism, mixing and matching techniques that have a proven effectiveness, within the field of clinical hypnosis.

Moreover, there is reason to believe that much of what can be done by therapeutic methods outside of hypnosis can be done more effectively with hypnosis.  Hypnosis seems to raise motivation, focus attention, enhance relaxation, increase responsiveness to suggestions, and improve visualisation.  It therefore seems capable of enhancing other forms of psychotherapy.

There is evidence from a range of studies showing that using hypnosis increases the impact of other therapeutic techniques.  Moreover, the use of hypnosis in psychotherapy allows the therapist to engage in ways that would seem unusual in normal dialogue, for example, repeating a positive suggestion or image many times.  Hypnotherapy also provides a range of strategies and techniques which add significantly to the armamentarium of other therapies.

Therefore in the Register's view the ideal model for hypno-psychotherapy would select techniques for integration within a hypnotic psychotherapy framework based upon a philosophy of evidence-based (technical) eclecticism, which endorses therapeutic techniques mainly on the basis of their support from the best independent research evidence available. 

 
 

 


Hypnosis Research - www.ukhypnosis.com - Hypnotherapist Register