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 Therapy in the hypnosis trance state

Bruni Brewin JP

Australian Hypnotherapists Association -

President Emeritus – AHA (Life)

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Bruni Brewin – President - Australian Hypnotherapists’ Association

Free Advisory Line 1800 067 557

Prepared for 2UE interview 3rd November 2007.

Hypnosis has been used for centuries to treat diverse ills, but it went into relative decline with the rise of modern medicine, and in the last 200 years it's been more associated with stage magicians and movie villains than medicine.

In a UK article published in January 2007, Dr Deirdre Barrett of Harvard Medical School, who has studied more than 200 films about hypnotism was quoted as saying that Film-makers take a lot of blame for damaging the image of hypnotism: "When a hypnotist appears on screen, expect evil. If his induction features magnetic hand passes, he's probably about to compel someone to commit a crime. If he hypnotises with an intense stare, his intent is likelier seduction,''

Stage Hypnotherapy has also been around for a long time.   I can remember an elderly gentleman came to see me a few years ago to get some help with his painting.  He was telling me the story of how he went on stage with the Great Franklin stage hypnotist when he was about 25.  He showed me a card given to him at that event which thanked him for being part of the show and inviting him to come to any future shows free of charge.  The Gentleman informed me that he went to six of his shows and went on stage each time.  He had thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  

When we are in hypnosis we are very focused on what we are doing and can forget that there are people watching us, if then a stage hypnotist suggests things for a subject to do that they might not normally do outside of hypnosis, it could severely embarrass the subject, and leave them with feelings that could leave them with a detrimental affect.   Usually the suggestions made are quite harmless.  But unless we follow up all the people that have been on a stage show, it would be difficult to judge how many had been left with detrimental psychological effects.    I personally would not call myself an introvert, and there is no way you would persuade me to run on a stage for people to laugh at me.  

There are many benefits to be derived from the use of hypnotherapy when used by a suitably trained therapist.  Members of the Australian Hypnotherapists’ Association have been helping people through the use of hypnotherapy since 1949.   For anyone wishing to seek therapy by a suitably qualified hypnotherapist there is a free National Advisory line that can be called  - 1800 067 557  You can ask questions and be referred to a member that has shown that they have met the standards as outlined on the AHA website.   

Currently, Associations and Training organisations from all States have been meeting and are forming an Umbrella Group for the profession.  I believe that in the next decade you will see the hypnotherapy profession as a whole will have organized itself to present uniform minimum training standards where the Public will have the ability to check a National Website that will list all suitably trained hypnotherapists.    

In UK - At the University Hospital of South Manchester, Professor Peter Whorwell, a gastroenterologist who heads the National Health Service-funded hypnotherapy centre in Britain, which has been pioneering the therapy as a treatment of irritable bowel syndrome.

The UK large-scale study of 250 people suffering from acute long term Irritable Bowel Syndrome participated in 12 sessions of hypnotherapy that clearly demonstrated that hypnotherapy significantly reduced their symptoms and improved their quality of life.  

There were also the additional benefits, for most participants, in that they experienced a noticeable reduction in feelings of anxiety and depression.     

In 2005, Professor Peter Gibson, Director of the Department of Gastroenterology at Box Hill Hospital, kindly collaborated with the Australian Hypnotherapists Association in setting up an all-day workshop, and together with Sue Shepherd, an Accredited Dietician ….to date we have trained over 100 Clinical Hypnotherapist’s in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane based on the research and treatment undertaken by Wendy M Gonsalkorale, Lesley A Houghton and Peter J Whorwell at the Dept. of Medicine, University Hospital of South Manchester, in the United Kingdom.  

This IBS treatment approaches the problem from a ‘physical’ perspective, in helping patients to develop mental skills and techniques to control physiological mechanisms not normally under conscious control.

Professor Peter Whorwell is quoted as saying:   "One of the problems is the name,'' and suggested that, "If we started off again with a name like neuromodulation, it would be more readily accepted, as the name hypnotism has so much baggage attached to it.

In his opinion, Cognitive behavioural therapy is now reasonably well accepted, and so, too, is psychotherapy, but of the three, he would say hypnotism is potentially the most powerful.

Dr Linda Edwards, in her article on Hypnotherapy and Somatic Hypnotherapy, cited Sept.7, 2006  recommends the work of psychiatrist Dr Stanislav Grof who she says has written numerous books and research articles on the healing power of non-ordinary states of consciousness.  Dr Edwards states there is documented evidence that hypnotherapy compares very favourably with the most popular forms of therapy.   Her comments she says are supported by Dr Alfred A Barrios, who has reported recovery rates in:

Hypnotherapy with a 93% recovery after 6 sessions (about 1.5 months) compared to

Behaviour Therapy with a 72% recovery after 22 sessions (about 6 months) and

Psychotherapy with a 38% recovery after 60 sessions (about 11.5 months)

Medical and Clinical Hypnosis rather than stage or movie hypnotism, is increasingly being used to treat the symptoms of stress related conditions as diverse as asthma, snoring, psoriasis, pain control, migraine headaches, insomnia, stuttering, bed wetting, self esteem, phobia, concentration, fingernail biting, addiction cessation, weight issues, anxiety, phobias and warts etc.

Hypnosis has been used to allow surgery and dental work without anaesthesia, and for pain-free childbirth without medication. And new evidence from the UK's first and only NHS centre offering hypnotherapy shows that it's highly effective in treating some types of chest pain as well as irritable bowel syndrome.

I agree with Dr. Bernie Siegel, Author of Love, Medicine and Miracles, and Peace, Love and Healing ….. when talking about patient’s beliefs he says,  “I use two major tools to change the body--emotions and imagery. These are the two ways we can get our minds and bodies to communicate with each other. Our emotions and words let the body know what we expect of it, and by visualizing certain changes we can help the body bring them about.”

Taken from:

Roger Dobson reports Article, “All In The Mind” - Published: 30 January 2007

Edwards L. (MD); ‘What is depression?’  DepressioNet:, cited Sept.7, 2006, updated 4th January 2009

*DepressioNet no longer exists due to lack of funding.

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Interview on Hypnosis

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