Wednesday, April 15, 2009

PTSD Treatment: What About Hypnotherapy?

As many of you know, I have a big soft spot for hypnotherapy. When all else failed, hypnotherapy finally helped me (as hypnotherapists like to say, You did the work yourself!) find relief from insomnia, nightmares, anxiety and a slew of other lovely PTSD symptoms.

I've written about hypno a lot already - the history of it, why and how it works, and my own experience with it. I'm not going to repeat all of that here (exept to say that it's a lot like guided visualization). Instead, I'm going to let Laura King, my hypnotherapist, have the floor. I interviewed her recently about how hypno saved her life and why it motivated her to open her own practice.

Before I let Laura speak, however, I just want offer this interesting, documented-from-a-high-up-source tidbit:

The American Medical Association (AMA) has officially recognized hypnosis as a valuable and beneficial treatment as applied and used since 1958. In “Psychotherapy” magazine (Volume 7, Number 1), various types of techniques were listed and profiled in a review of relevant literature by Alfred A. Barrios, PhD. In the above quoted text, the techniques that proved to generate the greatest success in providing lasting change were the following (listed in order of success rate):

Hypnosis -- 93% recovery after 6 sessions (approx. 1 1/2 months @ 1 session per week).

Behavior Therapy -- 72% after 22 sessions (approx. 6 months @ 1 session per week).

Psychotherapy -- 38% recovery after 600 sessions (approx. 11 1/2 yrs @ 1 session per week).

Hmmmm.…. Just a little factoid for you to chew on today.

(Photo: zoomar)


Anonymous said...


The numbers for Psychotherapy are even worse than they look. If you compared them with "those who did nothing but got on with their lives" you'll find they come out pretty close - perhaps no statistical difference.

When I was looking for professional help it struck me that for all the talk about vanilla psychotherapy the numbers that make it a valid branch of science for the treatment of trauma just don't add up.

This is in marked contrast to the things that we know work which tend to work on relatively short timescales.

Michele Rosenthal said...

@Mike - Great point! I hadn't even thought about that aspect of the stats.

I think a major problem with psychotherapy is that it indulges our desire to hash and rehash the past without giving us conscious and subconcious tools for moving into the present and future.

Sure, we need to give language to our pain but then we need to act against it; talk therapy never seems to get to that point. I just don't think it's equipped to address the psychological evolution that needs to take place to heal trauma.

Luckily, with a little research we find there are other methods to help us.

zebra's polkadots and plaids said...

Michele - excellent post and such a good point about talk therapy and hashing and rehashing the past and the tools we need to move beyond this place which are key to being able to live in the here and now...Susan

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