The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis announced that today is Clinical Hypnosis Day. It is a day when we recognize the many proven uses of hypnosis and the work of the pioneers of clinical hypnosis including the celebrated Dr. Milton Erickson who founded ASCH in 1957 and is considered by many to be the “father of modern hypnosis.”
We’ve come a long way since then, with several generations of well known clinical hypnotherapists being trained by him and his proteges. Since the 1950’s hypnotherapy has become a recognized and scientifically validated technique for treating behavioral disorders such as smoking, binge eating, anger management and substance abuse. Emotional issues commonly treated with hypnosis include anxiety, phobias and depression.
Medical uses of hypnosis include chronic pain management, which makes it a good alternative to the overuse of prescription pain medication with all of its side effects and dangers including problems related to addiction that have been in the news so much recently. Hypnosis is a first line treatment for symptoms related to irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia, for which medical treatment is not very effective. By giving patients the ability to control their symptoms, they not only feel better, but recover more function in their lives. Being more in control also helps relieve the depression associated with these syndromes.
Cancer patients benefit from the use of hypnotherapy in combination with their medical treatment. Hypnosis can reduce the anxiety associated with the diagnosis of cancer and and any necessary surgical procedures. Patients who undergo preoperative hypnosis have been shown to need less anesthesia, have less intraoperative bleeding and recover faster. In addition, hypnosis can reduce the symptoms associated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
I recently learned of a fascinating use of hypnosis from Dr. Gary Elkins of Baylor University. Over the last 10 years he has demonstrated that hypnosis can reduce the severity and number of hot flashes in post-menopausal women by up to 80%! This is very important for women who don’t want to take hormones or can’t use them due to other risk factors. It is also very important for breast cancer patients who are often placed on anti-estrogen drugs which result in menopausal symptoms.
I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years will bring!