Integration of Hypnosis with cognitive behavioural therapy was beneficial for the treatment of depression. During the development of psychotherapy based on various theoretical aspects, hypnosis had been using as a tool with all psychotherapeutic approaches.
- During classical conditioning: In the time of development of classical conditioning and behavioural therapy, the state of hypnosis was described from the view of classical conditioning. The phenomenon of the subject going to the trance is the effect of conditioned reflex action. According to classical condition theory, hypnotic suggestions can be used for re-conditioning the clients. Through this re-conditioning, the behaviour of the clients can be changed.
- During psychoanalysis: In the time of psychoanalysis, hypnosis was explained as the phenomenon of the subconscious mind. Psychoanalysis mainly focused on the unconscious process of mind. Freud believed that all the mental disorders were due to the inner conflict of the mind. Psychoanalysis therapist used hypnosis to reveal the mind of the clients to explore the internal conflicts. Hypnotic suggestions were used to refill the subconscious mind with new beliefs.
- During Conditioned learning: In the time of development of conditioned learning theories, by Pavlov, hypnosis was explained as the process of modified reflex actions, induced by language. According to Pavlov’s theory, behaviours and responses are the reflex actions, and it depends upon the conditioning process of the persons through the life span. In this theoretical aspect, the therapists used hypnosis to re-condition the clients, to change reflex actions.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
Cognitive therapy was originated from Alfred Adler. Albert Ellis and Aron T Beck bring out the importance of thoughts and cognition to behaviouristic approach. For many neurotic disorders, behavioural strategies were beneficial. But behavioural approaches had limitations in the treatment of depression. When we consider the theoretical aspect of cognitive behaviour therapy, hypnotherapy is also a cognitive-based therapy.
CBT with the aid of Hypnosis
In the period of emerging cognitive behaviour therapy, hypnosis has its role in the treatment process. Now we can explain hypnosis as the cognitive process. Cognitive behaviour therapy focuses on changing cognitive distortions, which are unhelpful for the person. So, in cognitive behaviour therapy, the therapist tries to transform the client’s thoughts, attitudes and beliefs. So the clients can change behaviours positively. Significant areas were hypnosis helps CBT are following.
- Relationship: Cognitive behaviour therapy is a client-centred and problem focus therapy. So a good relationship between clients and therapist is essential. Active participation of the client is vital for a successful CBT. In the case of depression, it is challenging to develop cooperation and relationship with the client because the client will not have a positive mood or interest in communication. Hypnotherapy can be used as a relaxation technique to make the client be relaxed. Positive hypnotic suggestions will be helpful to create a positive mood in the client. Through these techniques, we can improve the rapport between client and therapist. That means we can use hypnosis to make an excellent platform for cognitive behaviour therapy.
- Problem focussed: CBT is a “problem focussed” therapy. For that, the client must have the ability to self-analysing to understand the issues and current emotional state. To improve the analysing ability thinking ability of the client should be enhanced. Imagination technique, which is one of the tools in hypnotherapy, can be used to enhance the thinking ability of the client. In imagination technique, after making trance, give suggestions to imagine positive mood creating visuals. The visuals of natures, flowers or birds can be used. This process will help the client to enhance the thinking ability.
- Experiencing nature: In the trance state, the subject will feel the imagination as a real experience. Experiencing natures is an amazing and unique experience. Experiencing nature will make positive mood and energy in human being. Exposure to nature can really improve human health physically and mentally. It will activate the secretion of serotonin, which helps to maintain a positive mood and to decrease stress in depressive patients. These all are happening without bringing the clients to be outdoor.
- Sound sleep: Hypnosis also can be used to help other symptoms of depressive patients. Hypnosis helps the client to enhance their sleep. Even though sleep is not a “deep” intervention, yet therapeutically it is a valuable one. Good sleep is essential for good health. Good sleep decreases anxiety and provides refreshment. Cognitive behaviour therapy is an action-oriented therapy. To do things and home works, the client should have to maintain the energy level. Good sleep helps the client to avoid fatigue.
- Specific skills: Hypnosis can be used to boost up skills acquisition. Providing training to acquire some particular expertise to the clients is a standard part of cognitive behavioural therapy. These specific skills may include social skills or problem-solving skills. The most potent form of learning is experiential learning. Hypnosis can be used as a tool for experiential learning. The imaginations in a hypnotic trance state are not mere imagination. It is something to be absorbed on many different levels.
To conclude, when we focus on the clients on their cognitive dimension of experience, hypnosis can be used for identification and corrections in a very natural way.