PTSD and Hypnosis


Over the last year I have been conducting my own meta-analysis of the efficacy of hypnosis in the treatment of a wide variety of different conditions (47 in total) as you can see below.

Hypnosis Research Articles

With my area of expertise being PTSD and Trauma, I could not miss an opportunity to dig deeper into this field and as with all the other subjects, I found that hypnosis either outperformed other modalities or greatly enhanced their performance in the treatment of the illnesses and conditions listed in my research. The papers and articles referenced in the links are available for you to read at your leisure and make your own conclusions, however, in the course of my research I have reinforced and deepened my understanding and belief that hypnosis is a hugely powerful form of treatment for so many afflictions of the human mind, body and spirit.

Study 1: Hypnosis and Combat-Related Post Traumatic Stress Insomnia (Hypnosis As Effective or Better Than Ambien)

Hypnotherapy in the Treatment of Chronic Combat-Related PTSD Patients Suffering From Insomnia: A Randomised, Zolpidem-Controlled Clinical Trial

http://www.medecine.ups-tlse.fr/du_diu/fichiers/ametepe/1212/PTSD_et_Insomnie.pdf
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00207140802039672

Results: Those in the study given hypnotherapy had improvement in all sleep variables assessed: quality of sleep, total sleep time, number of awakenings during the night, ability to concentrate upon awakening and morning sleepiness. The hypnotherapy group had better quality of sleep, better concentration, and lower sleepiness than the group that received Zolpidem (a prescription insomnia medication sold under brand names such as Ambien). The hypnotherapy group and the group given Zolpidem had equal levels of improvement for total sleep time and number of awakenings.

Notes: This study evaluated the benefits of add-on hypnotherapy in patients with chronic PTSD who were suffering with chronic difficulties in initiating and maintaining sleep, night terrors, and nightmares. Thirty-two PTSD combat veteran patients treated by SSRI antidepressants and supportive psychotherapy were randomised to 2 groups: 15 patients in the first group received Zolpidem 10 mg nightly for 14 nights, and 17 patients in the hypnotherapy group were treated by symptom-oriented hypnotherapy, twice-a-week 1.5-hour sessions for 2 weeks. The hypnotherapy included age regression where participants imagined returning to earlier periods in which normal restorative sleep was present (for example, an exhausting day of games with friends during childhood). All patients completed the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale, Form C, Beck Depression Inventory, Impact of Event Scale, and Visual Subjective Sleep Quality Questionnaire before and after treatment.

International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, Vol. 56, Issue 3, 2008
By: Eitan Abramowitz, Yoram Borak, Irit Ben-Avit et Haim Y. Knobler, Israel Defense Forces, Mental Health Department, Israel

Study 2: Hypnosis for PTSD in Children Traumatized by Death of Close Relatives
Hypnotic Treatment of PTSD in Children Who Have Complicated Bereavement.

http://www.asch.net/portals/0/journallibrary/articles/ajch-48/iglesias.pdf

Results: Following the single session hypnosis, the mother reported significant improvements in her son’s skin with noticeable changes in itching, irritation, and swelling. The dermatologist was impressed with the child’s recent progress. According to the mother, at follow up, her daughter was feeling increasing relief from the abdominal discomfort. She was no longer debilitated by pain, which had narrowed her range of activities. Follow-up a month later was conducted by phone with the mother and she reported that both children had recovered completely from the debilitating somatisation (that is, the production of recurrent and multiple medical symptoms with no discernible organic cause) features. The children were no longer demonstrating intrusive morbid ideations of the course of their father’s death and were no longer experiencing obsessive preoccupations over the degree of terror and agony their father must have endured during the course of the traumatic events that led up to his death. The mother indicated that at this juncture both children were also able to reminisce about happy times with their father. The mother at this follow-up also reported the restart of grief in both children and assured us that her family would offer comfort for their mourning. (Note—It was suspected that the traumatisation/PTSD had been interfering with the children’s ability to complete normal grieving and move on, so this was a good sign.)

Notes: This paper reports on two cases where children were suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of the traumatic death of close relatives in rural Guatemala. The normal grieving process had been inhibited due to the horrific nature of these deaths and the children’s grief had become a pathological psychiatric disorder. Both children were only treated with a single session of hypnosis involving the Hypnotic Trauma Narrative (a protocol the authors developed specifically to help children deal with situations like this). There was a follow-up one week later and again after two months when the authors noted that the children’s symptoms had cleared and they were now beginning to grieve in a normal fashion.

The hypnotic induction consisted of simply asking the children to close their eyes. The following “Hypnotic Trauma Narrative” was then used: You’re old enough to know that when you look through telescope things that are far away look much closer. Important events in our lives can also be viewed as though you were looking through a telescope that brought them close to you. When you do that, you gain access to even the minutest details of the image that you are examining. At that point, you could see more than you need to see and could become stuck with certain images and unable to let them go. This can be overwhelming because the details that you seem stuck on are upsetting and hurtful. There is an alternative—you can turn the telescope around and view the same picture form the wide lens and then things can seem very, very far away. When that happens, you may not realise it, but many details of the image that you are examining get lost and are no longer available. Events that take place in life can be examined from either end of the telescope…. Now, I ask that you see yourself looking through the wide lens of a telescope at events that have taken place in your life, that need to be viewed from a less painful perspective, so that you can be well again. Look through the eye of your mind into the wide end of the telescope. This offers you the ability to see things in a far away, far away, far away space, place, and time.

By placing them far away, you’re able to see them in a more manageable fashion and elements of that image that used to upset you, are no longer so noticeable. Of course, horrible events in our lives do not simply disappear, but with the passage of time the details of the painful event get blurry, you start forgetting, and your mind makes room for current memories. Your mind is also capable of giving you a picture of yourself a week from today, a month from today, three months from today, and even a year from today…It’s fun to be able to look ahead and to get a glimpse of what our lives will be like in the future. As we now look ahead…. and I wonder if you are able to project ahead a week…. I wonder if you can move ahead a month or two or three, and I wonder if you are old enough to be able to see a year into the future. As you look ahead, no matter how far into the future, you find yourself able to accept all of the happy memories that you have not given yourself the opportunity to enjoy. As you put everything that is painful in its proper perspective, you grow and strengthen inside, as well as outside, and you become more mature and older. Also, any complaints that your body has been voicing that are no longer necessary can quietly follow in the same direction as the images that you are looking at through the wide lens of the telescope. As these complaints become a thing of the distant past, never to trouble you again, you become well and able to move ahead with the assignments that are appropriate for someone your age.

Am J Clin Hypn. 2005 Oct-2006 Jan;48(2-3):183-9
By: A. Iglesias, Virginia Commonwealth University

Study 3: Hypnosis for “Complex Trauma” PTSD (such as from childhood abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence)
Hypnosis For Complex Trauma Survivors: Four Case Studies

http://bscw.rediris.es/pub/bscw.cgi/d4438997/Poon-Hypnosis_complex_trauma_survivors.pdf

Results: Data from self-reports, observation and objective measures indicate a significant reduction in the trauma symptoms of these four subjects after hypnosis treatment.
Notes: This report describes the use of hypnosis to help four Chinese woman who were suffering from complex trauma. Two were victims of sexual abuse when they were children, the third had been raped and the fourth had been repeatedly battered by her husband. The hypnotic treatment involved three steps: “stabilisation, trauma processing, and integration.” Hypnosis was first used to help stabilise the victims. Then age regression techniques were used to help them to remember the traumatic events that led to their condition (and to begin to distance themselves from these memories). Finally, hypnosis was used to help them integrate and consolidate the gains they had made. When their treatment was finished they were all assessed by various self-reported and objective measurements. These all indicated that they experienced a significant reduction in their symptoms as a direct result of this hypnotic treatment. One key thing to note is that the researchers comment that adequate rapport and explanation about hypnosis must be provided before clients feel comfortable to use the tool, especially in survivors of childhood abuse who tend not to trust people easily.

Am J Clin Hypn. 2009 Jan;51(3):263-71
By: Maggie Wai-ling Poon, Clinical Psychologist, Social Welfare Dept. Hong Kong

Study 4: Hypnosis for PTSD in Immigrants who Escaped to America After Being Tortured, Raped and Abused
Indirect Ego-Strengthening in Treating PTSD in Immigrants from Central America.

http://www.readcube.com/articles/10.1002/ch.227?locale=en

Results: This report focuses on the limitations of conventional therapy to help these individuals and it presents two ego-strengthening techniques involving indirect hypnosis that have proved helpful in treating this population.

Notes: As a result of civil war in Central America many refugees escaped to America suffering from PTSD as a result of being tortured, raped and abused.
Contemporary Hypnosis Vol. 18(3):135-144

By: G. Gafner, S. Benson, Southern Arizona Veterans Affairs Health Care System, Tucson Arizona; Progressive Insurance Employee Assistance Program, Temple, Arizona

Please feel free to comment and discuss the findings and any experience you have had either personally with PTSD and Trauma or in treating people who are struggling with it, as I would love to hear about different experiences and view points.

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