Research conducted at Baylor University, Texas (1) has shown how a combination of mindfulness and hypnotherapy can decrease the effects of stress, and is even quicker than using mindfulness on its own.
I often use a combination of mindfulness, hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and other techniques to help clients who are feeling stressed, as I find this works quicker and more effectively than each technique on its own. Clients can also use the techniques privately when needed throughout their day – at work, at home, etc., so no-one else need know that they are feeling stressed.
The researchers at Baylor University, who were from the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, called their therapy “mindful hypnotherapy”. They defined this as “an intervention that intentionally uses hypnosis (hypnotic induction and suggestion) to integrate mindfulness for personal and therapeutic benefit” (2).
Mindfulness is defined as “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, nonjudgmentally” (3), whereas hypnosis is defined as “a state of consciousness involving focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness characterized by an enhanced capacity for response to suggestion” (4).
The research team recruited 42 college-age participants with self-reported high stress (via flyers placed around the University). The participants were split randomly into two groups.
Participants in one group were given a weekly 1-hour individual session that included hypnosis, relaxation, and mindfulness. Participants also were given recordings based on that week’s session and asked to listen to it each day, keeping a record of this. The second (control) group did not take part in the intervention.
The Baylor researchers commented that mindfulness can be an effective treatment for stress and anxiety, but treatments are time intensive. Group mindfulness sessions are typically 2 to 2.5 hours long and usually include an all-day retreat as well. They have also not been found to be better than cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). The researchers considered that if a shorter mindfulness treatment could be developed to still get results that were equal to or better than existing treatments, it could have advantages for anxiety and stress reduction.
At the end of the study, significant results were obtained for the hypnosis and mindfulness group for decrease in stress and psychological distress. The results for mindfulness and psychological flexibility were equal or better than mindfulness in a non-hypnotic context. There was also an increase in mindfulness and psychological flexibility. The second (control) group did not show any significant changes.
Most participants were very satisfied (e.g. with the number of sessions, the ease of home practice and the clarity of content). The average participant practiced almost every day, and overall satisfaction with the intervention was 8.9 on a scale of 10.
The researchers stated that limitations for the study included the small number of people studied, and that those studied were mainly female (81%), white (65%), and college-students. They considered future studies could investigate using mindful hypnosis for depression and chronic pain.
© Lisa Billingham, 2020
I hope this has been of some assistance to you. As a hypnotherapist who uses the complete system of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and hypnosis, I can help you realise the power of your subconscious mind to decrease stress and anxiety, and help you create the vision for your future.
Please feel free to contact me (Lisa) for a chat about your specific circumstances.
- 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), p151-166. https://doi.org/10.1080/00207144.2020.1722028
- Elkins, G. R., & Olendzki, N. (2019). Mindful hypnotherapy: The basics for clinical practice. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company, LLC.
- Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever you go, there you are: Mindfulness meditation in everyday life. New York, NY: Hyperion.
- Elkins, G. R., Barabasz, A. F., Council, J. R., & Spiegel, D. (2015). Advancing research and practice: The revised APA Division 30 definition of hypnosis. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 63(1), 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1080/00207144.2014.961870
- Simona Stefan & Daniel David (2020) Mindfulness in Therapy: A Critical Analysis, International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 68:2,167-182. https://doi.org/10.1080/00207144.2020.1720514