Hypnosis and Acute Stress Disorder

A paper entitled, “The Additive Benefit of Hypnosis and Cognitive–Behavioral Therapy in Treating Acute Stress Disorder“* describes the first controlled treatment study of hypnosis and cognitive–behavioral therapy (CBT) of acute stress disorder (ASD).

Civilian trauma survivors (N . 87) who met criteria for ASD were randomly allocated to 6 sessions of CBT, CBT combined with hypnosis (CBT–hypnosis), or supportive counseling (SC). CBT comprised exposure, cognitive restructuring, and anxiety management.

CBT–hypnosis comprised the CBT components with each imaginal exposure preceded by a hypnotic induction and suggestions to engage fully in the exposure. In terms of treatment completers (n . 69), fewer participants in the CBT and CBT–hypnosis groups met criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder at posttreatment and 6-month follow-up than those in the SC group. CBT–hypnosis resulted in greater reduction in reexperiencing symptoms at posttreatment than CBT.

These findings suggest that hypnosis may have use in facilitating the treatment effects of CBT for post traumatic stress.

The paper concludes that, “Although the mechanisms that potentially mediate hypnosis in the context of CBT are unclear, the clinical gains that may be achieved through combining hypnosis and CBT justify systematic study of the effects of combining hypnosis with the full range of CBT techniques to alleviate post traumatic stress.”


* The Additive Benefit of Hypnosis and Cognitive–Behavioral Therapy in Treating Acute Stress Disorder Richard A. Bryant, Michelle L. Moulds, Rachel M. Guthrie, and Reginald D. V. Nixon University of New South Wales

Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 2005, Vol. 73, No. 2, 334–340



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