Hypnosis works and the empirical support is unequivocal in that regard. It really does help people. But, hypnosis isn’t a therapy in and of itself. Most people wouldn’t regard it that way.
Michael Yapko, PhD,
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, as far back as the Civil War when Army surgeons hypnotized injured soldiers before amputations. Recent studies have confirmed its effectiveness as a tool to reduce pain.
In one study, researchers tested the effectiveness of a 15 minute pre-surgery hypnosis session versus an empathic listening session in a clinical trial with 200 breast cancer patients. In a 2007 article in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (Vol. 99, No. 17), the team reported that patients who received hypnosis reported less post-surgical pain, nausea, fatigue and discomfort. The study also found that the hospital saved $772 per patient in the hypnosis group, mainly due to reduced surgical time. Patients who were hypnotized required less of the analgesic lidocaine and the sedative propofol during surgery.
Hypnosis helps patients to reduce their distress and have positive expectations about the outcomes of surgery. There is also a study, which found that a combination of hypnosis and cognitive-behavioral therapy could reduce fatigue for breast cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy. Research has also shown the benefits of hypnosis for burn victims.