Mindful hypnotherapy: combined strength against stress
One plus one does not always have to be two. According to a recent study, the combination of mindfulness and hypnotherapy works more effectively against stress than if both approaches are used separately. Particularly stressed people could benefit from the new therapy.
Researchers at Baylor University, Texas, developed a new stress reliever using hypnotherapy to make mindfulness more readily available. The resulting "mindful hypnotherapy" was recently presented in the "International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis".
Hypnosis and mindfulness in harmony
"Mindfulness focuses attention on the consciousness of the present moment," explains Dr. Gary Elkins from the research team, who is also director of the Mind-Body Medicine Research Laboratory at Baylor University. Hypnosis also involves focusing attention, but it focuses more on mental images, relaxation, and suggestions for symptom reduction.
How is hypnosis used in therapy?
Hypnosis interventions are usually short and are often used in clinical practice to treat pain and symptoms. In the current study, hypnosis was used to train participants' mindfulness so that they could better implement mindfulness goals to avoid stress in everyday life.
One hour a week was already having an effect
"Combining mindfulness and hypnotherapy in a single session is a novel intervention that can be equivalent or better than existing treatments, with the advantage of being more time-effective and easier to use," says Elkins. The new therapy could become a valuable option for treating stress and anxiety. As a short intervention, "mindful hypnotherapy" could be widely used.
Mindfulness - a proven remedy for stress and anxiety
According to Elkins, mindfulness is a proven remedy for stress and anxiety even without hypnosis. However, learning and implementing the principles is not easy. A mindfulness learning course can often include 24 hours of therapy or more. This is the first hurdle for many people. Mindfulness is not easy to try out. But it is worth jumping over this hurdle, since mindfulness-based treatments are consistently superior to the cognitive standard of behavioral therapy, emphasizes the research director.
Goals of mindful hypnotherapy
The new mindful hypnotherapy aims to make the principles of mindfulness accessible to a wider audience by reducing entry difficulties. Mindful hypnotherapy was tested in the study on over 20 participants who suffered from high stress. All received a one-hour session and 20-minute audio recordings for self-hypnosis each week. The therapy is intended to promote the following areas:
- awareness of the present moment,
- a non-judgmental perception of the five senses,
- a non-judgmental perception of thoughts and feelings,
- the ability to self-hypnosis,
- Compassion for yourself and others,
- the perception of personal values.
Participants were very happy with the treatment
At the end of the study, the test group reported a significant decrease in stress and a significant increase in mindfulness. Most of the participants were very satisfied with the number of sessions, the ease of the exercises and the clarity of the content, Elkins sums up. On a scale of one to ten, the participants rated the new therapy with an average of 8.9 points.
The therapy should now be tested on a larger number of people. It is also conceivable, according to Elkins, that the therapy can help with other psychological problems such as depression or chronic pain. (vb)
Also read: "Mindfulness: The panacea for stress" and "Hypnotherapy - application and effect".
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek
- Nicholas Olendzki, Gary R. Elkins, Elizabeth Slonena, and others: Mindful Hypnotherapy to Reduce Stress and Increase Mindfulness: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study; in: International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 2020, tandfonline.com
- Baylor University: Mindfulness Combined with Hypnotherapy Aids Highly Stressed People, Baylor University Pilot Study Finds (published: June 15th, 2020), baylor.edu