Cancer. Even the word is terrifying. Evidence says managing cancer pain is possible through hypnosis.
Spiegel and Bloom (1983) assigned 54 women with chronic cancer pain from breast carcinoma to either standard care (n = 24) or weekly expressive-supportive group therapy for up to 12 months (n = 30). The women randomized to the group therapy condition were assigned to groups that either did or did not have self-hypnosis training as a part of their treatment. The hypnosis intervention was directed toward enhancing patient competence and mastery in managing pain and stress related to cancer. Hypnotic training included suggestions to “filter out the hurt” of any sensations by imagining competing sensations in affected areas. Patients were also given instructions for using self-hypnosis outside of the group-therapy sessions. Both treatment groups demonstrated significantly less pain and suffering than the control sample. Hypnosis was not the main focus of the expressive-supportive group-therapy sessions, however, patients who received hypnosis in addition to group therapy reported significantly (p < .05) less increase in pain over time (as cancer progressed) compared to patients who did not receive the hypnosis intervention.
Elkins et al. (2004) conducted a prospective, randomized study of 39 advanced-stage (Stage III or IV) cancer patients with malignant bone disease. Patients were randomized to receive either weekly sessions of supportive attention or a hypnosis intervention. Patients assigned to the hypnosis intervention received at least four weekly sessions in which a hypnotic induction was completed following a standard transcript. The transcript included suggestions for relaxation, comfort, mental imagery for dissociation and pain control, and instruction in self-hypnosis. In addition, patients in the hypnosis intervention were provided with an audiocassette tape recording of a hypnotic induction and instructed in home practice of hypnosis. The hypnosis intervention group demonstrated an overall decrease in pain (p < .0001) for all sessions combined. The mean rating of the effectiveness of self-hypnosis practice outside the sessions was 6.5 on a 0-to-10 scale.
Hypnotherapy for the Management of Chronic Pain
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