Uses of hypnosis and hypnotherapy in the medical setting

Another way to organize the uses of hypnosis and hypnotherapy in the medical setting, rather than by symptom, is by function. For example these are valuable uses:     medical hypnosis

• Improving patient compliance with medical treatment protocols. For example, addressing a dysfunctional pattern of passive/aggression with authorities through hypnotherapy could significantly improve a given patient’s willingness to cooperate with “doctor’s orders”.

• Addressing collateral behavioral or muscular habits that impact on whether medical treatment will be successful or not. For example, hypnosis can be instrumental in reducing muscle clenching and bruxism, important in treating temporomandibular disorder, headache and tinnitus. Hypnosis has been effective in the management of diabetes, including regulation of blood sugar, increased compliance, and improvement of peripheral blood circulation and this has been the case with adolescent diabetics as well.

• Improving motivation for self-care. For example, a tendency toward self-sabotage or self-destructiveness can be ameliorated through hypnotherapy oriented to discovering deep-seated beliefs of unworthiness.

• Reducing anxiety and depression about being ill. Hypnosis and hypnotherapy can be powerful ways of accessing the underlying emotions that otherwise remain invisible to conscious awareness, and then consciously changing them.

• Facilitating visualization to promote health improvement.

• Assisting in the treatment of infertility and in-vitro fertilization procedures. Hypnosis and guided imagery is beneficial in modifying attitudes, optimism, and mind–body interaction related to infertility or receptivity to IVF.

• Assisting in many aspects of childbirth. The use of hypnosis in preparation for childbirth, labor and delivery is becoming commonplace, and patients have fewer complications, higher frequency of normal and full-term deliveries, and more positive postpartum adjustment.

Hypnosis may play an important role in reducing preterm labor for patients who have higher levels of psychosocial stress. Hypnotherapy has been used to convert breech birth presentations to the normal vertex position; in one study of 100 women with breech presentation, 81% of subjects receiving hypnotherapy successfully converted as compared to 48% of matched controls. Hypnotherapy has been shown to be effective as an alternative anesthesia for childbirth, and in treating postpartum depression.

• Providing a sense of mastery and control over the disease when the patient may feel an overwhelming dread about the future and a depressing sense of their life spinning out of control. Hypnosis, or self-hypnosis, is a “simple, portable, self-contained therapeutic technique by which they themselves can exert some control over their illness. This sense of mastery is often as important as the benefits of symptom and pain management in allaying the dread and depression which are often accompaniments to the diagnosis of cancer.”

• Ameliorating side effects of medications, such as nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. Studies have demonstrated that hypnosis can be an effective means for some cancer patients to alleviate nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, including with children. For example, the highly hypnotizable patient can frequently control nausea and vomiting by hallucinating the taste of orange or mint and dissociating from negative environmental cues. 

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