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3 Important Facts About Hypnotherapy

Historically, hypnosis has had a somewhat patchy past. In its day, the practice of hypnotherapy has been associated with witchcraft and hysteria.

The following review of hypnotherapy research and literature relates to the findings and conclusions of selected, rigorous studies on pain, anxiety and hypnotherapy.

  • Hawkins finds that there is very clear evidence “of sufficient quality, for a number of high-quality review studies, to have concluded that hypnosis has demonstrable efficacy in the treatment of pain.”1
  • One high quality meta-analysis of hypnotically induced analgesia was conducted by Montgomery, DuHamel and Redd (2000). Montgomery et al.’s (2000) meta analysis demonstrated the effectiveness of hypnosis for pain control. The authors concluded that “hypnotic suggestion is an effective analgesic based on analyses of 27 effect sizes and more than 900 participants. For 75% of the population, hypnosis provided substantial pain relief hypnotic suggestion was more effective in reducing pain than nonhypnotic psychological interventions”2 especially with cancer and burn patients.
  • Grondahl and Rosvold (2008)3 conducted a randomised controlled pilot trial on the use of hypnosis to treat “chronic widespread pain in general practice”. The participants were randomly divided into two groups of eight. Seven of the eight patients in the treatment group completed the hypnosis treatment. After the ten week trial, five patients in the control group chose to receive the hypnosis treatment for ten weeks. Grondahl and Rosvold conclude that “hypnosis treatment may have a positive effect on pain and quality of life for patients with chronic muscular pain. The effect seems to persist for at least one year”. The authors recommend research using hypnosis as the treatment option for other client presentations, including anxiety and depression.


  1. Hawkins, R. (2001). A systematic meta-review of hypnosis as an empirically supported treatment for pain. Pain Reviews, 1, 47–73. doi: 10.1191/0968130201pr175ra.
  2. Montgomery, G. H., DuHamel, K. N., & Redd, W. H. (2000). A meta-analysis of hypnotically induced analgesia: How effective is hypnosis? International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 48, 138-153. doi:10.1080/00207140008410045.
  3. Grøndahl, J. R. & Rosvold, E.O. (2008). Hypnosis as a treatment of chronic widespread pain in general practice: A randomized controlled pilot trial. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 9, 124-130. doi:10.1186/1471-2474-9-124.

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