Hypnosis, Mindfulness and CBT

Daitch (2018) presents an integrative model combining hypnosis, mindfulness and CBT for the treatment of anxiety.

And remember that worries come and go … come and go … they are passing, like a change in the weather … never constant.

And this flowing, shifting, ever-changing experience is just part of being human. But by practicing, detached observation without judgment … now … you can change the lens through which you view this ever-shifting experience of life. You choose your thinking; you can change your thoughts; you can become more optimistic, enhance resiliency …

You can take a moment to visualize practicing the tools of mindfulness, self-hypnosis, and using new self statements in the future whenever you struggle with uncertainty.

Daitch, C. (2018). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness, and Hypnosis as Treatment Methods for Generalized Anxiety Disorder. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 61(1), 57–69. DOI: 10.1080/00029157.2018.1458594


Mindful Hypnotherapy for Stress

The feasibility of Mindful Hypnotherapy (MH) intervention for stress reduction was investigated in a randomized trial.

Results indicated excellent feasibility, determined by participant satisfaction, treatment adherence (84% compliance rate), and low rate of adverse events (4.5%). There were significant differences between the MH and control groups post intervention, with the mindful hypnotherapy intervention resulting in significant and large decrease in perceived distress.

This study indicates that MH is a feasible intervention for stress reduction and increasing mindfulness.

Olendzki, N., Elkins, G. R., Slonena, E., Hung, J., Rhodes, J. R. (2020). Mindful Hypnotherapy to Reduce Stress and Increase Mindfulness: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 68(2), 151–166. DOI: 10.1080/00207144.2020.1722028


Hypnosis and the Immune System

This study tested the effects of hypnosis on the immune system,

High and low hypnotizable subjects were exposed to hypnosis, relaxation or control conditions. Blood samples obtained before treatment and twice thereafter were subjected to flow cytometry analysis.

The results of this study appear to show significant immunomodulation for subjects exposed to hypnosis as measured by B-cells and helper T-cells.

The results of the study demonstrate that hypnosis was specifically associated with an immune system alteration while a treatment known to produce significant relaxation effects (REST) with potential for immuno-enhancement was not associated with similar positive immunomodulation.

The finding that hypnosis can modify the production and / or activity of components of the immune system has far reaching implications for researchers and clinicians.

Ruzyla-Smith, P., et al (1995). Effects of Hypnosis on the Immune Response: B-Cells, T-Cells, Helper and Suppressor Cells. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 38:2, 71-79. DOI: 10.1080/00029157.1995.10403185


Hypnosis Effects on Sleep

A systematic literature review published in 2018 in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine evaluated the available evidence for hypnosis for sleep improvement …

The team found that, overall, more than a half (58.3%) of the included studies reported hypnosis benefit on sleep outcomes, just over 12% reported mixed results, and less than a third (29.2%) reported no hypnosis benefit. The authors concluded that hypnosis for sleep problems is a promising treatment.

They also highlighted that the available evidence suggests low incidence of adverse events.

Chamine, I., Atchley, R., Oken, B. S. (2018). Hypnosis Intervention Effects on Sleep Outcomes: A Systematic Review. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine : JCSM : Official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 14(2), 271–283. DOI: 10.5664/jcsm.6952


Contemplating … the Obvious

Mindfulness has been transformed over recent years from a spiritual practice to a method of clinical intervention. This is a new evolutionary step in applying mindfulness in ways that move it much, much closer to the related domain of hypnosis. Both approaches now share a goal-oriented, purposeful clinical pragmatism.

Understanding of the similar and differential aspects of mindfulness and hypnosis can be enhanced by recognizing that “what is focused upon is amplified.” Similarities between hypnosis and mindfulness should be more widely recognized. Differences between hypnosis and mindfulness exist but not because of innately different structures. Rather, differences exist because of what each general approach is likely to focus upon in regard to goals and content.

Deep questions remain. How do we create the conditions that encourage knowing and growing the best parts of ourselves and others? How can we make the merits of mindfulness, hypnosis, and other such opportunities for experiential learning more understandable, usable, and available to the clients we serve?

Yapko, M. D. (2020). Contemplating…the Obvious: What you Focus On, you Amplify. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 68(2), 144–150. DOI: 10.1080/00207144.2020.1719841

Michael Yapko (1954 –) is a prominent clinical psychologist and author with significant contribution in the areas of treating depression, developing brief psychotherapies and advancing the clinical applications of hypnosis.


Hypnosis, CEN and DN Networks

Our review highlighted the CEN (Central Executive Network), SN (Salience Network) and DN (Default Network) as key networks implicated in hypnotic susceptibility, hypnotic induction, and response to hypnotic suggestions. Activity and connectivity both within and between these higher-order networks seem to support mental absorption and facilitate the deployment of reliable top-down strategies for producing hypnotic responses. In addition, these network dynamics may contribute to reduced awareness of extraneous events and decreased episodes of mind-wandering.

Our overarching synthesis highlights novel ways to link higher-order neurocognitive processes with hypnotic phenomena. We carried out the ALE (Activation Likelihood Estimates) meta-analysis to quantify brain patterns associated with hypnosis. However, instead of confirming the role of higher-order networks, our ALE analysis revealed that hypnotic responses correlate most robustly with activation of the lingual gyrus, likely indexing mental imagery. Whereas several limitations may account for the absence of predicted CEN, SN or DN clusters in our meta-analysis, our results nonetheless invite researchers to explore hypotheses beyond the top-down model of hypnosis.

Landry, M., Lifshitz, M., Raz, A. (2017). Brain correlates of hypnosis: A systematic review and meta-analytic exploration. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, Volume 81, Part A, October 2017, 75-98


Listening to the Self

The mind coming in contact with the mind is really powerful because it’s really hard to shift something that we are not aware of … instead of thinking about ourselves, we listen to ourselves.

… that sort of, moment by moment, just noticing what’s actually coming up into our awareness and experience sheds a light on how we process each moment … and that kind of tracking is much more productive than simply analysing our past or thinking about it or storytelling in terms of the events.

Dr Tori Olds

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Relaxation Response during Hypnosis

… subjects rated themselves as significantly more relaxed and more absorbed during hypnosis than when not hypnotized. Conversely, they rated themselves in hypnosis as being significantly less distracted by outside stimuli, having a reduced tendency to analytical thinking, and experiencing less of a feeling of their mind being cluttered up compared to the non-hypnotized condition.

Deeley, Q., Oakley, D. A., et al (2012). Modulating the Default Mode Network Using Hypnosis. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 60(2), 206–228. DOI: 10.1080/00207144.2012.648070


Altering Areas in the Brain

Study identifies brain areas altered during hypnotic trances, Stanford University, 2016:

Now that we know which brain regions are involved, we may be able to use this knowledge to alter someone’s capacity to be hypnotized or the effectiveness of hypnosis for problems like pain control.

A treatment that combines brain stimulation with hypnosis could improve the known analgesic effects of hypnosis and potentially replace addictive and side-effect-laden painkillers and anti-anxiety drugs, he said. More research, however, is needed before such a therapy could be implemented.


Hypnosis fMRI and Pain Perception

Schulz-Stübner, S., Krings, T., Meister, I. G., Rex, S., Thron, A., Rossaint, R. (2004). Clinical hypnosis modulates functional magnetic resonance imaging signal intensities and pain perception in a thermal stimulation paradigm. Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, 29(6), 549-556

Our observations indicate that clinical hypnosis may prevent nociceptive inputs from reaching the higher cortical structures responsible for pain perception. Whether the effects of hypnosis can be explained by increased activation of the left anterior cingulate cortex and the basal ganglia as part of a possible inhibitory pathway on pain perception remains speculative given the limitations of our study design.