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Is Hypnotherapy Evidence-based Therapy?


Hypnotherapy is a form of adjunctive technique that utilizes hypnosis to aid in the treatment of different specific symptoms or conditions. Hypnotherapy works by inducing a hypnotic state that is marked by a state of waking awareness in which people experience detached external attention and a focus on inner experiences. It is sometimes used as part of a treatment plan for phobias and other anxiety disorders. It is also used for pain management, weight loss, smoking cessation, and a variety of other applications.


Hypnosis can create a highly relaxed state of inner concentration and focused attention for patients, and the technique can be tailored to different treatment methods, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy. Patients also can become more empowered by learning to hypnotize themselves at home to reduce chronic pain, improve sleep, or alleviate some symptoms of depression or anxiety.


Hypnosis has been used for centuries for pain control, including during the Civil War when Army surgeons hypnotized injured soldiers before amputations. Recent studies have confirmed its effectiveness as a tool to reduce pain. Among the leading researchers in the field is Guy H. Montgomery, PhD, a psychologist who has conducted extensive research on hypnosis and pain management at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where he is director of the Integrative Behavioral Medicine Program.


Hypnosis is effective for pain control and the reduction of anxiety. There are studies that provide clear and significant evidence that participants who receive hypnosis for painful medical procedures, for the pain control of chronic or acute pain, and for the reduction of anxiety, gain moderate to large positive benefits and effects. These positive benefits have been consistently shown to continue over at least six to twelve months.


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