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effectiveness of hypnosis

Studies supporting effectiveness of hypnosis

Effectiveness of hypnosis, Aspire Hypnotherapy in Moorooka, Brisbane

The effectiveness of Hypnosis.

A number of studies that prove the effectiveness of hypnosis can be in helping with a variety of issues.

The effectiveness of hypnosis has been extensively studied. Below are a number of articles that support the effectiveness of hypnosis in treating a large number of conditions.

Note: If we were to include the studies on meditation – the same brain wave state as hypnosis –  this data would be too much to publish.

In 1970, Alfred A. Barrios, Ph.D. conducted a survey of scientific literature to compare recovery rates for various modalities of therapy:

  • Psychoanalysis can be expected to have a 38% recovery rate after approximately 600 sessions.
  • Behaviour therapy (Wolpian) can be expected to have a 72% recovery rate after an average of 22 sessions.
  • Hypnotherapy can be expected to have a 93% recovery rate after an average of 6 sessions

Source: Barrios, Alfred A. “Hypnotherapy: A Reappraisal,” Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice (1970)

According to an article in the Harvard University Gazette, Hypnosis Helps Healing, by William J. Cromie, Carol Ginandes and Daniel Rosenthal, professor of radiology at the Harvard Medical School, published a report on their study of hypnosis to speed up the mending of broken bones. The result stood out like a sore ankle. Those who were hypnotized healed faster than those who were not. Six weeks after the fracture, those in the hypnosis group showed the equivalent of eight and a half weeks of healing.

Hypnosis has been shown to alleviate the subjective distress of patients with asthma: there were less frequent attacks, and less medication was required. 1
In another study comparing Hypnosis and relaxation therapy the improvement with the Hypnotherapy group was much greater. And only Hypnosis subjects showed an improvement in physiologic measures of respiration. 2
1 Maher-Loughnan, G.P. (1970). “Hypnosis and AutoHypnosis for the Treatment of Asthma.” International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 18, 1- 14.
2 Maher-Loughnan, G.P., MacDonald, N., Mason, A.A. & Fry, L. (1962). “Controlled Trial of Hypnosis in the Symptomatic Treatment of Asthma.” British Medical Journal, 2, 371-376.

Following Hypnotherapy, patients with arthritis achieved significant decreases in pain, anxiety, and depression, and an increases in beta-endorphin-like immunoreactive material.
Domangue, B.B., Margolis, C.G., Lieberman, D. & Kaji, H. (1985). “Biochemical Correlates of Hypnoanalgesia in Arthritic Pain Patients.” Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 46, 235-238.

Bone Fracture
The Harvard Medical School conducted research on the use of hypnosis to enhance physical healing. Twelve people with a recent bone fracture were divided into two groups. One group received hypnosis and the other group served as control. Both groups received standard orthopaedic treatment. The hypnosis group had individual hypnotic sessions and listened to audio tapes designed to increase bone healing. X-ray and orthopaedic evaluations were made during the 12 weeks of the experiment.
The results showed a faster healing for the hypnosis group at week 9 of the experiment. X-rays revealed a notable difference at the edge of the fracture at week 6 of the experiment. The hypnosis group also had better mobility and used less pain killers. The researchers conclude by saying that “despite a small sample size…. these data suggest that hypnosis may be capable of enhancing both anatomical and functional fracture healing, and that further investigation of hypnosis to accelerate healing is warranted.
Ginandes, CS, Rosenthal, DI.1999, “Using hypnosis to accelerate the healing of bone fractures: a randomized controlled pilot study”, Therapy Health Medicine, May, 5(2), pp.67-75.

Women with metastatic breast cancer who received group Hypnosis therapy were able to reduce their pain experience by 50% compared to a control group. 1
At a 10-year follow-up of these same women, the Hypnosis treatment group had double the survival rate of the control group.2
Both adolescent and adult cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy have fewer symptoms of anticipatory nausea and vomiting following Hypnotic interventions.3
1 Spiegel, D. & Bloom, J.R. (1983b).”Group therapy and Hypnosis Reduce Metastatic Breast Carcinoma Pain.” Psychosomatic Medicine, 45, 333-339.
2Spiegel, D., Bloom, J.R., Kraemer, H.,C. & Gottheil, E. (1989a) “Effect of Psychosocial Treatment on Survival of Patients with Metatastic Breast Cancer.” Lancet pp. 888-891.
3Zeltzer, L.; LeBaron, S. & Zeltzer, P.M. (1984).The Effectiveness of Behavioral Intervention for Reduction of Nausea and Vomiting in Children and Adolescents Receiving Chemotherapy.” Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2, 683-690. Cotanch, P., Hockenberry, M. & Herman, S. (1985). “Self-Hypnosis Antiemetic Therapy in Children Receiving Chemotherapy.” Oncology Nursing Forum, 12, 41- 46. Zeltzer, L., LeBaron, S. & Zeltzer, P.M. (1984).

Hypnotherapy has been used successfully to prolong pregnancy and prevent premature delivery. 1
In Britain 55% of birthing women using hypnosis required no medication for pain relief, compared with 22% of women in non-hypnosis groups. In two other reports 58% of women using hypnotic analgesia required no medication. And five other reports quoted 60-79% of women using hypnosis required no medication. Check out In another study subjects given hypnosis reported reduced pain, shorter stage 1 labours, less medication, higher Apgar scores, more frequent spontaneous deliveries than other group. Some had lower depression scores after birth than the other groups.2
1Schwartz, M. (1963) The Cessation of Labor Using Hypnotic Techniques.” American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 5, 211-213.
2Harmon, T.M., Hynan, M., & Tyre, T.E. (1990). “Improved obstetric outcomes using hypnotic analgesia and skill mastery combined with childbirth education.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 58, 525, 530, 1990.

Cognitive Hypnotherapy for Depression: An Empirical Study: To investigate the effectiveness of cognitive hypnotherapy (CH), hypnosis combined with cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), on depression, 84 depressives were randomly assigned to 16 weeks of treatment of either CH or CBT alone. At the end of treatment, patients from both groups significantly improved compared to baseline scores. However, the CH group produced significantly larger changes in Beck Depression Inventory, Beck Anxiety Inventory, and Beck Hopelessness Scale. Effect size calculations showed that the CH group produced 6%, 5%, and 8% greater reduction in depression, anxiety, and hopelessness, respectively, over and above the CBT group. The effect size was maintained at 6-month and 12-month follow-ups. This study represents the first controlled comparison of hypnotherapy with a well-established psychotherapy for depression, meeting the APA criteria for a “probably efficacious” treatment for depression. 1
Alternative Treatments for Long-Term Depressed Mood: Meditation and Hypnosis The purpose of this study is to examine the effectiveness to two alternative treatments for long-term depressed mood: mindfulness meditation and hypnosis. The need to find effective treatments for those suffering from long-term low-to-moderate level depression has been known for over a century. Although, there have been some recent advances in the types of drug and psychotherapy treatments available for this condition, some people do not respond to such interventions, have considerable side effects (from the drugs), or are not satisfied for other reasons with these treatment options.
The present study represents an innovative investigation into two alternatives to traditional treatments for long-term depressed mood: mindfulness meditation (plus gentle hatha yoga) and hypnosis in a group therapy format. Although both meditation and hypnosis have shown success in treating stress, anxiety, and pain in studies of non-clinical populations, neither has been systematically investigated as a possible treatment for long-term depressed mood.2
1Assen Alladin and Alisha Alibhai (2000) The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis; Volume 55, Number 2 – May 2000.
2Spiegel, D. MD; Butler, L.D. Ph.D. Xin-Hua Chen; Abramson, M. DDS, Waelde, L. Ph.D. Mental Insight Foundation

Most clinicians and researchers agree that stress affects the course of dermatitis and eczema, and reducing stress levels has a positive effect on the course of the disease. Emotional factors have been shown to have a strong correlation with onset of the disease and also with flare-ups. Further more, several documented case studies have revealed that hypnosis can offer a successful treatment for sufferers.
Kantor, S.D. (1990).Stress and psoriasis. Psoriasis Research Institute, Palo Alto, California 94301. Cutis (USA) Oct 1990, 46 (4) p321-2

Haemophiliac patients taught self-hypnosis significantly reduced both their level of self-reported distress and the amount of the factor concentrate required to control bleeding when compared with a control group of patients who did not undergo Hypnosis.
Swirsky-Saccetti, T.; Margolis, C.G. (1986).”The Effects of a Comprehensive Self- Hypnosis Training Program on the Use of Factor VIII in Severe Hemophilia.” International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 34, 71-83.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Hypnotherapy is one of the most successful treatment methods, giving 80+% success rate for abdominal pain and distension. It often results in assisting with other problems such as migraine and tension headaches. With patients who have severe chronic IBS, it was Hypnotherapy patients that showed dramatic improvement in all measures, and they maintained that improvement at a two year follow-up.
Whorwell P.J; Prior A; Faragher E.B. (1988 & 1987). Whorwell, P.J., Prior, A. & Faragher, E.B. (1984). “Controlled Trial of Hypnotherapy in the Treatment of Severe Refractory Irritable-Bowel Syndrome.” Lancet, pp. 1232-1234. Whorwell, P.J., Prior, A. & Colgan, S.M. (1987). “Hypnotherapy in Severe Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Further Experience.” Gut, 28, 423-425.

Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy in the Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome–Induced Agoraphobia
There are a number of clinical studies and a body of research on the effectiveness of hypnotherapy in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Likewise, there exists research demonstrating the efficacy of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) in the treatment of IBS. However, there is little written about the integration of CBT and hypnotherapy in the treatment of IBS and a lack of clinical information about IBS-induced agoraphobia. This paper describes the aetiology and treatment of IBS-induced agoraphobia. Cognitive, behavioural, and hypnotherapeutic techniques are integrated to provide an effective cognitive-behavioural hypnotherapy (CBH) treatment for IBS-induced agoraphobia. This CBH approach for treating IBS-induced agoraphobia is described and clinical data are reported. (2)
Golden W.L. (2000) The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis; Volume 55, Number 2 – May 2000

Migraine and Headaches
Hypnosis is highly effective in the treatment of chronic migraine headaches. All Hypnotic methods appear to be superior to standard treatment relying on pharmacological approaches alone. Patients treated with Hypnosis had a significant reduction in severity and the number of attacks compared to a control group treated with traditional medications. At the one year follow-up the number of patients in the Hypnosis group who had no headaches for over three months was significantly higher.
Anderson, J.A., Basker, M.A, Dalton, R. (1975). “Migraine and Hypnotherapy.” International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 23, 48-58.

Review of the Efficacy of Clinical Hypnosis with Headaches and Migraines
The 12-member National Institute of Health Technology Assessment Panel on Integration of Behavioral and Relaxation Approaches into the Treatment of Chronic Pain and Insomnia (1996) reviewed outcome studies on hypnosis with cancer pain and concluded that research evidence was strong and that other evidence suggested hypnosis may be effective with some chronic pain, including tension headaches. This paper provides an updated review of the literature on the effectiveness of hypnosis in the treatment of headaches and migraines, concluding that it meets the clinical psychology research criteria for being a well-established and efficacious treatment and is virtually free of the side effects, risks of adverse reactions, and ongoing expense associated with medication treatments.
Hammond C. (2000) The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis; Volume 55, Number 2 – May 2000

Hypnosis was found to be effective in reducing pain and discomfort associated with repeated unpleasant medical interventions in a study of children with cancer.1
A significant reduction of pain and dysphoria was found following Hypnosis in a study of 19 patients with a variety of musculoskeletal disorders.2
1Hilgard, E.R. (1977). “Divided Consciousness: Multiple Controls in Human Thought and Action”. NY: John Wiley. 1977
2Domangue, B.B., Margolis, C.G., Lieberman, D. & Kaji, H. (1985). Biochemical Correlates of Hypnoanalgesia in Arthritic Pain Patients.” Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 46, 235-238


  • Student test anxiety : Students taught self-hypnosis showed a significant reduction in anxiety scores (maintained at 6-month follow-up) then a control group.1
  • Public speaking : The group who received hypnosis had a greater expectation for change and that change was achieved, than those who had non-hypnotic treatment.2
  • Fear of flying : 50% of patients afraid of flying were improved or cured after Hypnosis treatment.3

1Stanton, H. E. (1994)
2Schoenberger, N. E.; Kirsch, I.; Gearan, P.; Montgomery, G.; Pastyrnak, S.L. (1997).
3Spiegel, D. (1998) Report in the Harvard Mental Health Letter, September 1998, vol. 15, p. 5-6

Smoking Cessation
In a recent stop smoking study, where smokers attended individual hypnotherapy for stop smoking over three sessions, 81% had stopped smoking after the treatment ended, and at a 12 month follow-up nearly 50% remained smoke free. And 95% of the people were satisfied with their treatment.
Elkins GR, Rajab MH. (2004) “Clinical hypnosis for Smoking Cessation: preliminary results of a three session intervention.” International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis 2004 Jan; 52 (1):73-81

Stress and Hypertension
A trial compared Hypnosis with biofeedback or a combination of both. All groups had significant reduction in blood pressure.1 However, at six-month follow-up only patients receiving Hypnosis had maintained the reduction.2
1Friedman, H. & Taub, H. (1977). “The Use of Hypnosis and Biofeedback Procedures for Essential Hypertension.” International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 25, 335-347.
2Friedman, H. & Taub, H. (1978). “A Six Month Follow-up of the Use of Hypnosis and Biofeedback Procedures in Essential Hypertension.” American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 20, 184-188

Surgery Recovery
Patients trained with Hypnosis before surgery had significantly shorter stays in hospital. Research shows that Hypnosis methods have been used successfully for anxiety associated with medical procedures.
Rapkin, D.A., Straubing, M., Singh, A. & Holroyd, J.C. (1988). “Guided Imagery and Hypnosis: Effect on Acute Recovery from Head and Neck Cancer Surgery” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, Asheville, N.C. Spiegel, D, (1998). Report in the Harvard Mental Health Letter, September 1998, vol. 15, p. 5-6.

Prepubertal children respond to Hypnotherapy almost without exception, although adults sometimes do not. Clinically, many adults who fail to respond to hypnotherapy will heal with individual hypnoanalytic (combination of hypnotherapy and psychotherapy) techniques. By using hypnoanalysis on those who failed to respond to hypnotherapy, 33 of 41 (80%) consecutive patients were completely cured. Self-hypnosis was not used.1
There was a particularly interesting report of hypnosis used to treat a 7-year-old girl who had 82 common warts. The warts had been present for 12-18 months and were not amenable to any of the routine medical treatments. Hypnotic suggestions were given for the facial warts to disappear before warts from the rest of the body. After 2 weeks, eight of 16 facial warts were gone, with no other changes. After three additional biweekly sessions, all 82 warts were gone. This was, to our knowledge, the first reported case of systematic wart removal in children and the researchers concluded that there is an intimate relationship between psychological mechanisms and the immune system.2
1Ewin DM Hypnotherapy for warts (verruca vulgaris): 41 consecutive cases with 33 cures. Tulane Medical School, New Orleans, LA. Am J Clin Hypn (UNITED STATES) Jul 1992, 35(1) p1-10
2Hypnotherapy of a child with warts.Noll RB Department of Pediatrics and Human Development, Michigan State University,East Lansing 48824.J Dev Behav Pediatr Apr 1988, 9 (2) p89-91


Hypnotherapy has been proven to be highly effective in treating a large variety of conditions.
For your free 15 min phone consult call us on 0734117796. or click here.

hypnosis and anorexia. Aspire hypnotherapy brisbane

Hypnosis success leads other psychotherapy approaches with a 93% recovery rate

Study finds an impressive hypnosis success rate for hypnosis over 6 sessions, when compared to other psychological based therapies.

by Bree Taylor Molyneauxhypnosis success

In a review of literature published in Psychotherapy: Theory Research and Practice [1] various types of techniques were profiled for their success. The percentages speak for themselves.

  • Hypnosis: 93% recovery after 6 sessions (about 1.5 -2 months)
  • Behavior Therapy: 72% after 22 sessions (about 6 months)
  • Psychotherapy: 38% recovery after 600 sessions (about 11 1/2 years).

“Hypnosis often is used to modify behavior, overcome fears and eliminate bad habits. It assists you in making permanent changes that you’ve been unable to make otherwise.”

Hypnosis works because it addresses problems at the level at which they are occurring. For most people seeing to change their habits, their habits are behaviors that were done once or twice and then automated to the level on unconscious behavior. So, if a problem is occurring and reoccurring at the level of the unconscious mind then it needs to be changed at the level of the unconscious mind.

This is essential how hypnosis works and why it works compared to other therapies, many of which are useful to some degree.

Hypnosis fixes problems at the level of the unconscious mind where they are occurring and being replicated.

So, in the future the new or desired behaviour gets acted out when a context or environment presents itself where the desired behavior is required or seems to be appropriate.

The added benefit of this is that by changing with hypnosis no conscious motivation or will power is required. What surprises many clients with hypnosis isn’t how effective it is, but how easy it is as well.

Hypnosis can resolve your issues fast

Aspire Hypnotherapy offers appointments at Moorooka, Brisbane or over Skype.

Get more information on our Brisbane hypnosis services or make an appointment today.

To make an appointment phone 07 34117769 or book online now.


[1] Psychotherapy: Theory Research and Practice (Volume 7, Number 1, Spring, 1970, Alfred A. Barrios, Ph.D.),

what does hypnosis feel like

Hypnosis can treat dyspepsia and gastrointestinal disorders

Dyspepsia is a very common gastrointestinal disorder and while researchers and doctors are not sure what the underlying causes are, research has found hypnotherapy has helped treat the symptoms of the disorder.

The major symptom of dyspepsia is upper abdominal pain which is not caused by a type of disease. The symptoms often overlap with irritable bowel syndrome and researchers believe that both could be a result of the same disorder. Some theories as to what causes dyspepsia include acid secretion, stiff stomach, delayed stomach emptying, and stomach hypersensitivity.

When diagnosing dyspepsia, other disorders must be ruled out and treatment often depends on patients symptoms. With hypnosis already being shown to be a highly effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome this study aimed to research the effect of hypnosis on dyspepsia symptoms.

The study consisted of 126 participants diagnosed with functional dyspepsia who received hypnotherapy, supportive therapy and placebo, or medical treatment. Symptoms were analyzed before treatment began, after the 16-week treatment, and during a 56-week follow-up.

Results showed that the hypnotherapy group saw more improvement in the short-term (16 weeks) compared to the therapy and medication groups. Looking at the long-term results, the hypnotherapy group showed significantly improved symptoms.

Of the participants in the study, 73% of those in the hypnosis group reported improvement, compared to 34% of the therapy group and 43% of the medicine group.

Hypnosis is often overlooked for use in medical treatments due to misconceptions and very few doctors being trained in hypnotherapy. However, due to the effective treatment of irritable bowel syndrome with hypnosis, multiple studies have been conducted involving hypnosis and the treatment of upper digestive function and dyspepsia.

Hypnosis works effectively to treat dyspepsia due to the therapeutic nature of hypnosis. Hypnotherapy gives the dyspepsia sufferer the power to focus their attention on healing the pained areas. It has also been shown to speed up the emptying of the stomach. Shortening gastric emptying helps ease the symptoms of dyspepsia and improves the quality of life for the dyspepsia sufferer.

Hypnotherapy is a natural form of treatment that has been shown to be highly effective in reducing dyspepsia symptoms, over the short and long term.


Using hypnosis for gastrointestinal disorders

Aspire Hypnotherapy offers appointments at various locations in Brisbane, including Eatons Hill, Redcliffe, Bowen Hills.

Get more information on our Brisbane hypnosis servicesmake an appointment phone 07 3325 2741 or book online now.


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effectiveness of hypnosis

The magical powers of hypnosis

It’s helped people quit smoking, turned others into on-stage buffoons, and been embroiled in controversy over “recovered memory therapy”. Now hypnosis may offer unique insights into the workings of our brain. 

– Article by Fenella Souter –

In her office in the department of cognitive science at Sydney’s Macquarie University, Amanda Barnier is showing me a video of one of her recent human experiments. On the screen is one of the associate professor’s willing subjects, a young male student who is perfectly normal aside from being highly hypnotisable, a quality only 10 to 15 per cent of the population possess. Seventy to 80 per cent of us are moderately hypnotisable.

Simon, let’s call him, sits on a chair beside a mirror, in a small, bare room, alone with Barnier. Barnier has induced hypnosis and Simon is now in what seems like a waking trance, alert but slightly dazed. Earlier, she has given him a hypnotic suggestion that when he looks in the mirror – at his own reflection – he will see a stranger.

“Who do you see in the mirror?” Barnier asks in the video.  “A man. I don’t know who he is.” Can he describe him? “Brown hair, brown eyes. A big nose.” So he doesn’t look familiar? “Well, he looks a bit like someone I knew at school. I think his name was Anthony or something like that. Yeah, Anthony.”

Simon agrees that both he and the stranger have brown hair but says that the stranger’s nose is bigger. The stranger has brown eyes. His, he points out, are hazel. Barnier asks him to touch his nose. He smiles when he sees the stranger do the same. “He’s copying me …”

“Why?” asks Barnier. A pause. “Maybe he’s trying to make me look crazy or something.” Simon agrees he can see the man talking but doesn’t know what he’s saying. “I can’t lip-read .”

From time to time he glances around the room, trying to find the other man, but, extraordinarily , the absence of a third party doesn’t break the delusion. And there is no sense he’s faking. “When I brought him out of hypnosis and cancelled the suggestion,” Barnier says, “he looked at himself in the mirror and immediately started fiddling with his hair. During hypnosis, he hadn’t done any of that kind of grooming behaviour , the sort of thing we tend to do when we look at ourselves.”

Hypnosis, in and out of fashion, is enjoying a resurgence in the lab as a tool in neuroscience and neuropsychology. It’s a way to create “virtual patients” and simulate conditions ranging from functional amnesia to paranoia to hysterical blindness, from auditory hallucinations to a conviction that “my arm belongs to someone else” .

Barnier and her colleagues are using it to fathom why the brain can fail to process information in the usual way and abandon logical thinking. What’s going on with the unshakeable delusions produced by mental illness or disorders of self mis-identification or, say, Capgras syndrome, a condition in which people become convinced their spouse or family members have been replaced by impostors?

In other experiments, subjects have been hypnotised into believing they are of the opposite sex. Asked to assess “herself” in the mirror, one hypnotised man said rather wanly, “I’m not as attractive as I thought I was.”

Except for stage hypnotists, hypnosis is a means rather than an end. Psychologists often use it to help treat problems like smoking addiction, phobias, low self-esteem or chronic anxiety. Some doctors and dentists call on it to help with pain or at least quell anxiety and panic.

In Europe, hypnosis is even offered for some forms of surgery, including cosmetic, paired with a local anaesthetic. Since 1992, for example, Marie-Elisabeth Faymonville, a Belgian anaesthetist , has performed more than 5000 hypnosedations , using hypnosis and a sedative five times less powerful than a general anaesthetic. At another Belgian hospital, a third of surgeries to remove thyroids and a quarter of all breast cancer surgeries, including biopsies and mastectomies, use hypnosis and local anaesthetic. There have even been cases of abdominal surgery with hypnosis alone … It’s not for everyone.

Cultures throughout the ages have used trance states, but in the West our modern notion of hypnosis dates to Anton Mesmer, the charismatic 18th-century French doctor who gave his name to mesmerism, which included the notion of “animal magnetism”. His theories were discredited (Benjamin Franklin convened one of two royal commissions to investigate the work), yet Mesmer achieved an impressive cure rate at a time when little else worked and, perhaps by force of personality, had notable success in pain relief.

Hypnosis, the term coined by James Braid, a Scottish surgeon, in 1842, still defies definition. It’s not a science so much as a psychological phenomenon. It is not sleep. It is not meditation, although there are similarities. It could be called a trance, but then, what is a trance? It can produce hallucinations or just compliance. It is a focused state – rather like driving, both engaged and abstracted – even though it can feel like relaxation.

“Relaxation is often used as the pathway into hypnosis but it doesn’t have to be,” says psychologist Ann Wilson, a spokesperson for the Australian Society of Hypnosis. “One experiment had people on exercise bikes, pedalling furiously while they were put into trance.” So what is it? “It’s an altered state. I often talk to my clients about the ‘committee of the mind’ , meaning all the talk that goes on in our mind, usually negative talk,” Wilson says. “In hypnosis, that committee shuts up.”

On a day of furious rain, I visit Leon Cowen, executive director of the Academy of Applied Hypnosis, to be hypnotised. Cowen is one of the practitioners working to have standards tightened within the profession because, worryingly perhaps, hypnotherapy is a wildly unregulated industry, answerable only to itself and managed by a bewildering array of associations. Anyone can attend a workshop or read a book on hypnotherapy and hang out a shingle.

Cowen’s office, a suite of rooms above a KFC outlet, is old-fashioned and homely. A sofa holds stuffed toys; they are for adult clients who like to hold them “when they feel anxious and go to a childlike situation” , he explains. Soothing photos of sea and sunsets hang from pale-pink walls. A black Jason recliner sits opposite his desk.

Cowen, trim with short grey hair and a beard, likens the state of hypnosis to the total involvement some people experience watching a film or reading a book, where the external world falls away. Imagination helps. “A child falls over and is crying. You kiss them better and they’re better. That’s hypnosis,” says Cowen. It’s impossible to define, he says, and – because it feels so natural – quite difficult to prove it even exists, although obviously he thinks it does and so must his clients, willing to pay $210 a session.

We talk a little and I stand up ready to drop into the recliner and be entranced. “Wait! Wait! Have you ever done meditation? The state of hypnosis is one where your eyes are closed, you’re relaxed, everything else is normal.” He warns I may feel very little or as if I’m sinking or floating. I may or may not experience REM. I may or may not feel a little tipsy.

Once I’m settled, he begins.“Relax and enjoy it. Okay, just pick a spot above you and focus on it … In a few moments I’m going to count to three and as I do, I just want you to let your eyes close and as they close go into a comfortable, relaxed state … One, really concentrating. Two … finding your eyes blinking as you concentrate. There they go, right on cue.” His pleasant, resonant voice drops lower and grows softer, more mellow. It’s … mesmerising. “And now, three. Just close your eyes now and leave them closed. With every word that I say, every breath that you take, let yourself relax even deeper.” We continue and at some point, in the absence of a specific problem, he plants and repeats a suggestion that I should think about something I want to do, and think about completing it exactly as I wish. I try. After a while, he counts me back out of the state.

Was I hypnotised? I don’t think so, certainly nothing like Simon in Barnier’s experiment. It was very calming and relaxing, however, with that inward focus that comes with closing your eyes, and I did have a lovely floating sensation afterwards.

A few days later, Amanda Barnier agrees to rate me on the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale. After the induction process (the focusing on an object, the counting, “your eyelids are feeling heavy” , etc), she gives a series of suggestions, including: “Your arm is so rigid you are having trouble bending it … Imagine a piece of chocolate . The taste in your mouth is getting sweeter and sweeter … Now bitter … You’ve lost all sense of smell – you can’t smell this … You’re in fifth class … Write your name … What can you see?”

I did find it quite hard to bend my arm and so on, but I suspect that was a result of being obedient rather than hypnotised. There was a sense of dislocation but the external world didn’t fall away as I had hoped. Call it a failure of the imagination, but I could still smell. I couldn’t conjure up a bitter taste. Yet I did have a clear picture of a sunny day in fifth class, my teacher writing on the blackboard.

At the end, Barnier adds up my score. I am crestfallen to find I score a meagre 3/10, a result that she says, in a kindly way, is “low to moderate”. I’m intrigued, however, about my vivid recall of those moments in fifth class. Was it a real day I was remembering or an imaginary one?

Hypnosis earned a particularly bad name in the 1980s and ’90s, with an epidemic of people claiming to have “recovered” long-repressed memories of childhood sexual abuse. Many had been hypnotised, and asked leading questions, in therapy. Patients described in lurid detail ordeals at the hands of “satanic cults” , often naming relatives as ringleaders. Scores of fathers, teachers and others were charged with abuse, and sometimes jailed, on the strength of “recovered” memory . People who had been merely unhappy or depressed became convinced they had been sexually abused – how else to explain the vivid images and recall that came under hypnosis?

In the ’80s and ’90s in the US, and to a much lesser degree in Australia, police and lawyers eagerly embraced the use of hypnotically induced or “hypnotically refreshed” evidence in trials. Witnesses were hypnotised to “sharpen” their memory of events, details or assailants – the kind of thing Australian actor Simon Baker does with a pale-eyed glance and a few words in The Mentalist. Hypnosis was involved in two famous cases here: that of former NSW police chief inspector Harry Blackburn, in 1989, accused of a series of rapes; and the “Mr Bubbles” case, where two kindergarten owners and two teachers in Sydney were charged on multiple counts of child sexual abuse. In the latter, a three-year-old girl was hypnotised and questioned, in a highly leading way, by police. In both cases, charges were dropped because of the dubious nature – hypnosis only one culprit – of evidence gathering, and Blackburn received substantial compensation for his wrongful arrest.

Most experts now agree hypnosis is not a reliable method of recall, even if it feels as if it is. It’s not so much that hypnosis has a more distorting effect on memory; rather, that people, especially the highly hypnotisable, are much more confident of the truth of memories produced under hypnosis, even though experiments have shown they are no more dependable than the usual sort.

On nights when he is plagued by his arthritis, Graham Jamieson practises self-hypnosis. Fortunately, he’s highly hypnotisable. He’s also a researcher at the University of New England, and has spent years studying hypnosis and states of consciousness, including meditation. Using functional MRIs and EEGs, he’s looking to see what changes occur during hypnosis.

Out of hypnosis, conscious awareness and the actions it controls – from scratching your nose to choosing a restaurant – are overseen by a kind of cerebral CEO with top-down management. That executive function has a control component, which modulates what’s going on in the rest of the brain, as well as a monitoring function. “You can’t exercise control if you’ve got no idea about what’s going on out there,” Jamieson explains. “Those two components have to integrate to allow executive regulation.”

Part of what’s happening under hypnosis, he believes, is that the communication channels between those two components break down: “They don’t stop working, but there is a dissociation.” The logical, “reality-checking ” aspects of the brain also retreat.

That muting of the usual restraints means other parts of the brain – especially the more posterior regions, which process sensory information – are free to play a bigger role. In a highly susceptible person under hypnosis, the brain doesn’t have to work at consciously implementing a suggestion, however far-fetched – for example, that he or she can no longer experience colour. It just happens. “Show them an image of a Kandinsky and tell them they can’t see colour and, for them, the colour simply drains away. It’s experienced as involuntary.”

If you can take the colour out of a Kandinsky or convince a man he’s a woman, can you make people act against their own moral code? Perhaps create a “hypno-operative”,a Manchurian Candidate-style assassin, programmed to kill on cue? That sensational scenario was presented by the defence lawyer of Sirhan Sirhan, Robert Kennedy’s assassin in 1968, in a failed attempt to have Sirhan’s conviction overturned. A woman in apolka-dotdresswasclaimedtobethe “controller” .

Along with brainwashing, the hypnotically programmed operative was a popular idea in the ’50s and ’60s, that golden age of secret CIA experiments, communism, conspiracy theories and crypto-science. Canadian-American psychologist George Estabrooks, who worked with US military intelligence during and after World War II, boldly claimed he could “hypnotise a man – without his knowledge or consent – into committing treason against the United States” .

It’s a long way from leaving people with hypnotic suggestions to stop biting their nails or being afraid of clowns. Those are things they want to do, so they’re open to it. A psychologist with long experience of hypnosis tells me that while a highly hypnotisable person can be vulnerable, he or she would have to have some psychopathology embedded in their nature to take up extreme suggestions. Experimental studies suggest it’s unlikely hypnosis can make people do bad things, but science isn’t in a position to know for sure. Ethics tend to get in the way. These days it’s just not the done thing to program an assassin in the name of hypnosis research.

Keen to experience hypnosis for yourself?

Aspire Hypnotherapy offers appointments at various locations in Brisbane, including Eatons Hill, Redcliffe, Bowen Hills.

Get more information on our Brisbane hypnosis servicesmake an appointment phone 07 34117796 or go to our contact us page.


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Relief for migraine sufferers with hypnosis

Many people suffer from migraines, but the good news is many studies are finding hypnosis to be quite a beneficial treatment approach.

A migraine is a debilitating form of a headache. Many people suffer from migraines. Various triggers can produce the onset of a migraine. However, reducing the likelihood of a migraine occurring and getting rid of one once it occurs, can be challenging.

Studies have been conducted showing that hypnotherapy can be quite beneficial to the migraine sufferer, and in many studies, hypnosis has been shown to be more beneficial than medications.

Common triggers of migraines include hormonal changes, stress, food, changes in sleep patterns, medications, and changes in the surrounding environment. Symptoms of migraines vary from person to person and can last for 4 to 72 hours, but frequency varies greatly.

One study compared the effect of hypnotherapy versus the prescription medication prochlorperazine (Stemetil). The study consisted of 47 participants who reported feedback every month for a year. They reported number of attacks per month, severity of attacks, and complete remission.

Results of the study showed that those who received hypnotherapy reported far fewer migraine attacks compared to those who received medication.

Out of 23 participants who received hypnotherapy, 10 of them (almost half) ceased to experience migraines, VS 3 of the 24 control participants who used medication,ceasing to experience migraines.

Another study reported the benefits of behavioral therapy. These approaches include relaxation, biofeedback, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and hypnosis. Hypnosis can help migraine sufferers avoid triggers such as controlling stress and avoiding certain foods.

Two hypnotherapy techniques used in treating migraines include the hand warming and glove anesthesia. These techniques put migraine sufferers in control of their pain by helping them transfer warmth or numbness to their head where their head hurts.

These techniques were shown to be more beneficial than simple relaxation exercises and the study concluded that medication is ineffective in treating chronic migraines and supports psychological treatment because there are no side effects.

These studies show that hypnotherapy and natural methods of treating migraine headaches are more effective than using medication.

The fact that hypnosis has no side effects and many prescription medications have many side effects makes hypnotherapy a more natural and safe approach to treating migraines. In addition to no side effects, many studies have shown that the effects of hypnosis are more lasting and beneficial compared to the use of medication.

Using hypnosis to treat migraines

Aspire Hypnotherapy offers appointments at various locations in Brisbane, including Eatons Hill, Redcliffe, Bowen Hills.

Get more information on our Brisbane hypnosis servicesmake an appointment phone 07 3325 2741 or book online now.


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Anderson, J.A., Basker, M.A., & Dalton, R. (1975). Migraine and hypnotherapy. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 23(1), 48-58.

Heap, M. (1988). Hypnosis: current clinical, experimental and forensic practices. Taylor & Francis.

Sandor, P.S. & Afra, J. (2007). Nonpharmacologic treatment of migraine. Current Pain and Headache Reports, 9(3), 202-205.

Hypnosis ‘can help ease motor neurone disease’

– Evening Chronicle –

Nov 24 2008

by Helen Rae

THE power of hypnosis is being used for the first time in Tyneside to help control symptoms in patients with motor neurone disease.

HYPNOTHERAPY can at times, be associated with showmen peddling silly pranks in front of packed-out theatres. But this holistic therapy can be an alternative form of health treatment, which is said to use the healing powers of the mind to help tackle a whole host of medical problems.

And for the first time in Tyneside, hypnosis is being used to help those live with debilitating motor neurone disease (MND).

Lisa Cairns, clinical hypnotist at Newcastle’s St Oswald’s Hospice, is currently carrying out a PhD to look at the use of hypnosis in controlling symptoms in patients with the condition.

Her study involves helping patients control their saliva secretions, a common symptom of MND. Since qualifying as a hypnotist in 2002, Lisa, of Woodside, Ryton, has helped as many as 10 people alleviate their symptoms of MND and curb their saliva problems by the use of hypnotherapy.

The 39-year-old said: “The original idea to use hypnosis for MND came from a patient who had tried medication and radiotherapy to control one of her salivary glands, with little benefit. MND patients produce normal amounts of saliva, but in some patients the disease impairs swallowing, which causes the saliva to spill out of the mouth instead of being swallowed.

“The use of hypnosis could appear to be an unusual approach, but dentists trained in clinical hypnosis use this technique to dry the mouth to allow them to carry out procedures.  We also know from existing research that hypnosis can influence the autonomic nervous system, which controls saliva production.

“As far as I’m aware, there is nowhere else in the world using hypnotherapy to treat MND patients. “Most people have only heard of hypnosis on TV, so when a patient is first referred they often have many misconceptions and worries about losing control. They soon realise, however, that clinical hypnosis actually helps them to take control of their saliva secretions, which in turn can help with their self-esteem and improve their quality of life, as they are more willing to try new activities.”

Using hypnosis for MND can help patients gain confidence to continue with their everyday lives as well as relieving the stress, embarrassment and anxiety caused by their condition.

Mum-of-one Christine O’Neil, 46, a former mail order manager, was diagnosed with MND in May last year. She said: “After many tests and scans and, when all other possibilities were eventually ruled out, I was given a diagnosis of MND. During that time I had an MRI scan, looking for a tumour that could possibly account for my symptoms. I found myself hoping they found one because at least that would give me a chance of a cure, whereas there is no cure for MND.

“When I was given the diagnosis, and with a very short shelf life, my priorities changed. I wanted to make the most of however long I had – holidays, golfing for as long as I am able, visiting friends and removing all forms of stress from my life.

“The statistics are pretty grim for MND, with 50% of all people diagnosed dying within 18 months. I have a form called progressive bulbar palsy and the average life expectancy is between six months and three years – thankfully I’m still going strong.”

She added: “One of the problems I had, before hypnosis, was playing golf.

“When addressing the ball for a shot, I would stand over it and I used to occasionally drool as I looked down – it was so embarrassing. I have a weak lip seal so it can be uncomfortable, sometimes impossible, to keep my mouth closed tightly enough to prevent leakage.

“Thankfully, the hypnosis has greatly lessened the problem, by reducing the saliva, and leaving me to concentrate on my game.

“For me it’s not just about everyday activities, it’s also about having the confidence to do more without feeling uncomfortable or self conscious around people that aren’t familiar with MND or the socially unacceptable symptoms.”

Christine had tried medication to help curb her symptoms, but she suffered uncomfortable side effects and decided to look for alternative treatment.

“It was at the MND clinic at the RVI where it was suggested that I give the hypnosis a try,” she explained.

“I have an open mind and as I studied psychology with the Open University. I could see how there might be some benefit. I didn’t notice any significant improvement immediately, but as my sessions continued it gradually started to kick in.

“I find that the benefits can last for a few hours now. The effects are now immediate after having a session. I would definitely recommend the treatment to anyone with this condition and excess saliva is a very common problem for people with bulbar symptoms.”

Mum-of-two Lisa added: “The challenge clinically has been to develop a treatment programme using hypnosis that can not only reduce saliva, but also to be able to work with individual patients to teach them how to apply the hypnosis in their everyday activities.”

Wondering if hypnosis can help you?

Discover the benefits of hypnotherapy at Aspire Hypnotherapy,  Mango Hill, Brisbane

To make an appointment phone 07 3491 6533 or book online now.


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Hypnosis for pain relief. Aspire Hypnotherapy North Lakes

Hypnotherapy increasingly recognised for safe and effective pain reduction during operations and childbirth.

Hypnosis could be the next step in surgical pain relief, reducing the need for anesthesia.

Fearing pain in operations is understandable. So, would you believe it possible to undergo surgery without a general anaesthetic, and not feel a thing? A report in the New Scientist last week revealed how a patient at the Lister Hospital in London was hypnotised by a specially trained anaesthetist minutes before having breast surgery, and experienced no pain as the surgeon made incisions.

So powerful was her hypnotic trance that 46-year-old Pippa Plaisted claims: “The plastic surgeon was cutting and sewing inside me, but I couldn’t feel any sensation at all.”

After the procedure, which was carried out seven years ago, Plaisted said she suffered “no nausea or wooziness” and had “a clear head”. Her case is unusual, but not unique. Hypnotherapy is gaining credence within the medical profession as a safe and helpful practice in a wide range of situations, from weight loss to pain relief and quitting smoking.

In Belgium, where much of the research has been done, doctors routinely use hypnotherapy combined with small amounts of analgaesics as an alternative to a general anaesthetic. About 5,000 procedures have been carried out on hypnotised patients at Liege Hospital, where researchers have found benefits included less bleeding and making operations easier to perform. When an incision is made into the body, blood vessels naturally constrict to prevent copious bleeding, a reaction that is inhibited by anaesthetic drugs.

In Britain, surgery under hypnosis is rare, but Tom Connelly, secretary of the British Society of Clinical Hypnosis, says that a growing number of women are turning to the practice to help cope with the pain of labour.

There is evidence that “hypnobirthing” works. At the University of Florida, Professor Paul Schaubel and his colleagues showed how women who learnt self-hypnosis before giving birth needed less medication, had fewer complications and were more likely to deliver healthier babies. They also suffered less stress and anxiety in the weeks before birth.

Typically, hypnotherapists use visual imagery to help someone enter a hypnotic state. Clients are often asked to close their eyes and think of somewhere they feel safe and secure, such as a beach on holiday. Gradually slowing down his voice, the hypnotist asks them to report what they see, smell and hear as they slip into a hypnotic state, usually within several minutes.

Although there are four stages of hypnotic trance (hypnoid, light, medium and deep), only a light state is required for most health procedures, although a deep trance (which takes longer to induce) may be needed to block out extreme pain.

In January, researchers at Stanford University Medical School showed how hypnosis helped children cope with painful health examinations.

In a study of 45 children facing voiding cystourethography (VCUG), which checks to see if urine is backing into the kidneys, Professor David Speigel, a psychiatrist at Stanford, saw “less crying and less distress” in children who were hypnotised.

“Technicians said the procedure was easier to perform on those with hypnosis,” Spiegel says. “And the duration of the operation was cut from 50 minutes to 35 minutes.”

Until recently, neuroscientists were puzzled about how hypnotherapy works. Now they are beginning to understand why. Last year, researchers at the University of Iowa used magnetic resonance imaging scans to find out if hypnosis alters brain activity in a way that might explain pain reduction.

Their results, reported in the journal Regional Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine, showed patients under hypnosis experienced significantly less pain when exposed to strong heat and had a distinctly different pattern of brain activity when not hypnotised. Researchers concluded that hypnosis somehow blocks signals from reaching parts of the brain that perceive pain.


Interested to experience hypnosis for yourself or as a means of pain relief?

Aspire Hypnotherapy is located in Mango Hill, Brisbane

To make an appointment phone 07 3491 6533 or book online now.


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IBS relief at Aspire Hypnotherapy, North Lakes

Treating irritable bowel and IBS with hypnosis

New research indicates that hypnosis may be effective at mitigating stubborn cases of “irritable bowel syndrome,” a catch-all phrase used to describe moderate to severe abdominal pain that doesn’t seem to be caused by something specific.

Several studies since the 1980s have linked “gut-directed” hypnosis to an easing of symptoms in some patients with IBS when other standard treatment has failed.

The latest study, which was published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, differs from earlier studies in that patients were treated by therapists in their own communities instead of by practitioners at highly specialized medical institutions. Therefore, researchers said, the findings provide a better idea of how hypnosis might be effective for IBS in the “real world.”

Noticeable improvements in some IBS patients receiving hypnosis

IBS patients suffer from repeated bouts of abdominal cramps and bloating, and alternate between constipation and diarrhea. Regular treatment includes changes in their diets, anti-diarrheal medications and laxatives or fiber supplements for constipation. For many patients that is enough to bring relief. But for those with IBS that is unresponsive to such standard treatment, psychological therapy – namely hypnosis – has proven to be effective in clinical trials.

In a pair of studies, scientists randomly assigned 138 patients with IBS that did not respond to traditional treatments to either 12 sessions of hypnosis or to a “control” group.

One study, which involved 90 patients, saw 38 percent of hypnosis patients responded to their treatment after three months, meaning symptom “scores” had fallen by at least 25 percent, compared with just 11 percent of patients in the control group, who were only given advice on diet and relaxation techniques as their treatment.

“This study shows that hypnosis can work in ‘real life,’ in the community setting, and not only the specialized research setting,” said Palsson, who was not involved in the current study but who researches and uses hypnosis therapy in treating IBS.

Still, the benefits in the most recent study were not as good as those seen in some of the past studies, where as many as 80 percent of patients saw significant improvements in their IBS symptoms after hypnosis therapy.

It makes sense to try standard treatment like dietary adjustments and laxatives first, but if patients don’t respond to such therapies within a few months it might behoove doctors to prescribe some psychological intervention if they exist near where the patient lives.

No one understands exactly why hypnotherapy works for some patients stricken with IBS, but it is thought that hypnosis “might change pain sensitivity in the intestines,” reported.


Discover how hypnosis can ease your IBS

Aspire Hypnotherapy is located in Mango Hill, Brisbane

To make an appointment phone 07 3491 6533 or book online now.



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Specialists Hypnotherapy Brisbane, Apsire Hypnotherapy, Moorooka

Research shows effectiveness of hypnosis

Hypnosis and hypnotherapy can be very effective and beneficial for treating a variety of disorders.effectiveness of hypnosis

The effectiveness of hypnosis is often questioned because the cause of hypnotic phenomenon is not yet known. Research has been conducted on hypnosis for hundreds of years. Thousands of studies have been performed, yet the origination of hypnosis has not yet been realized. The Mayo Clinic has found hypnosis to be very effective and beneficial with a variety of disorders. Hypnosis does not always work the same way for everyone, but its effectiveness cannot be denied.

The Mayo Clinic defines hypnosis as being an altered state of consciousness. There are many changes that occur while a person is in a trance-like state. A person is able to focus their attention in a more direct way while under hypnosis. People are also more open to suggestion, which often helps people make changes in their thought process and in their actions. While in a hypnotic state, people tend to be less critical and more believing. The Mayo Clinic believes that the purpose of hypnosis is a therapeutic technique to help you understand and gain more control over your behavior, actions, emotions, or physical well-being.

Researchers and doctors at the Mayo Clinic are not sure how exactly hypnosis works, but current research points to a mind-body connection through nerves, hormones, and chemicals in the brain and body. Hypnosis is best used in conjunction with other forms of therapy.

The Mayo Clinic lists the following benefits of hypnosis: changing negative habits (stop-smoking), reduce stress and anxiety, control pain, relieve irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), lower blood pressure, reduce frequency and intensity of migraines, treat asthma, and heal skin disorders.

The Mayo Clinic also puts many hypnosis myths to rest. Many people think that under hypnosis, they will have no free will. This is untrue; under hypnosis people have a heightened state of concentration, but they are in complete control. Another myth is that a hypnotherapist can control people under hypnosis. The truth is that a hypnotherapist serves as a guide and cannot make anyone do something that they do not want to do. It is also not true that people can become hypnotized without consent. Hypnosis involves a person`s willingness to participate (Goal Oriented Hypnotherapy).

The Mayo Clinic is a one of the leaders in research in the medical field. Their research of hypnotherapy is evidence-based (Hypnosis). They are a reputable source of information on the topic of hypnotherapy and medicine.


Keen to experience the benefits of hypnosis yourself?

Aspire Hypnotherapy is located in Moorooka, Brisbane

To make an appointment phone 07 34117796 or contact us here.


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