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My wife has been diagnosed with clinical depression. She has been seeing a psychologist for about a month, she is also taking 20mg/day of celexa. She hasn’t been making much progress though. During her last session with her psychologist she was asked if she would be willing to try hypnosis. the psych said she thought there might be deeper things that my DW is not letting go of and thought this would be the best way. This would be performed by the psychologist. I would like to know what merit this type of treatment has. Is this a common practice or scam? Can something like this actually help?

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Despite being known to psychology for over one hundred years the phenomena of hypnosis still has an aura of mystery about it. Probably most of us associate hypnosis most easily with entertainers in a Las Vegas style show. It doesn’t seem intuitive that the same thing that can make a grown man act like a chicken could help people to recover from problems. However, most scientists do accept that hypnosis is a real thing that can be clinically useful. Having said this – the mechanisms that govern how hypnosis works are still not well understood. There are several theories that speak to what is happening – notably the Neodissociation Interpretation of Hypnosis due to Ernest R. Hilgard. A good (although somewhat out of date) book to look for that would discuss all of this is Theories of Hypnosis published by Guilford Press.


p>Hypnosis is a recognized form of therapy. There is a body of literature discussing its efficacy as a method of clinical change (I’m not personally familiar with this literature, however, and cannot speak to how much better or worse hypnosis is compared to other forms of therapy). I do know that clinical hypnotherapy is considered a “hazardous psychological practice” (at least here in Ohio, USA) – meaning that only a psychologist with the proper background, training and experience in hypnosis should be using it. If you are concerned about the credentials and background of your psychologist you are well within your rights to ask him or her about it. I hope this information is helpful to you.

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