As we can see below, Hypnotherapy, or hypnosis, is a well researched, safe, side effect free way of treating Bulimia Nervosa.
Griffiths treated bulimic patients with 4 weeks of behavioral therapy highlighting self-monitoring to establish healthy eating patterns, followed by 4 weeks of hypnotherapy to enhance self-control of bingeing and vomiting episodes. There was a significant reduction in both bingeing and vomiting measured in 6 weeks and in two years. Eight of the 14 participants (57%) were abstinent from bingeing and 10 (71%) were abstinent from vomiting for 3 months prior to the 2-year follow-up. These results suggest that adding a self-hypnosis component subsequent to a behavioral treatment may aid participants in maintaining their progress.
The addition of hypnosis to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) revealed significantly less binge frequency and compensatory behavior frequency at posttreatment among the CBT+Hypnosis group than the CBT group (Barga & Barabasz (in press). The hypnotic suggestions were built based on Barabasz’s work (1990) on posthypnotic suggestions for creating awareness in individuals with bulimia which included (a) triggers precipitating urges to binge and to engage in compensatory behaviors, (b) negative consequences of bingeing/engaging in compensatory behaviors and benefits of not bingeing/not engaging in compensatory behaviors, (c) the participant’s control and choice over bingeing and engaging in compensatory behaviors, and (d) rational thinking about the participant’s body weight and shape. The participants were instructed to practice these hypnotic suggestions at least once daily.
Maryelln Crowley and Anna Campion reviewing the treatment of bulimia and obesity in the book Essentials of Clinical Hypnosis: An Evidence-Based Approach, edited by Lynn and Kirsh (2006) described how hypnosis can be used as an adjunct to cognitive-behavior therapy for bulimia. Their treatment protocol includes three stages. In stage one of ten sessions, in addition to education, development of alternative methods of weight control and teaching self-monitoring, hypnosis can be used with posthypnotic suggestions for self-monitoring of dysfunctional behavior and focusing on the benefits of change. Hypnosis can also help clients become more interpersonally oriented and less focused on food and eating behavior. Stage two consists of eight sessions focusing on cognitive restructuring aimed to reinforce that the root of the problem, is very often, extreme dietary rules. The hypnotic component is used to help clients reintroduce forbidden foods gradually and with control. Stage three is oriented to helping clients to set realistic expectations and develop plans to deal with urges to binge or purge. Thus, hypnosis can be a valuable adjunct to behavior and cognitive therapy of bulimia.
Treatment of bulimia with hypnosis involving awareness and control in clients with high dissociative capacity. International Journal of Psychosomatics, 37, 53-56.
Barga, J & Barabasz, M (in press). Effects of Hypnosis as an adjunct to Cognitive-Behavior therapy in the treatment of Bulimia. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. In Barabasz, M (2007) Efficacy of hypnotherapy in the treatment of Eating Disorders. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 55(3):318-335.
Griffifths, RA. (1995) Two-year follow-up findings of hypnobehavioral treatment for bulimia nervosa. Australian Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 23 (2), 135-144.
Lynn SJ & Kirsch I (2006) Essentials of clinical Hypnosis: An evidence-based approach. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.