What is Hypno-CBT? – The UK College of Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy

The Cognitive-Behavioural Approach to Hypnotherapy

Hypno-CBT® is a legally registered trademark of the UK College of Hypnosis & Hypnotherapy. It designates a proprietary system of cognitive-behavioural hypnotherapy. See the article What is Cognitive-Behavioural Hypnotherapy? for more detailed information.

What is Hypno-CBT® (HCBT)?

Hypno-CBT® (HCBT) is one among several extant systems of cognitive-behavioural hypnotherapy. It is not simply “hypnotherapy plus CBT”, however. As opposed to “theoretical eclecticism”, HCBT is a tight integration of social, cognitive and behavioural psychology with traditional hypnotism. It is based upon various established models of theory and practice which pre-date the development of modern cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). Nevertheless, HCBT embraces the principle of evidence-based “technical eclecticism” (Lazarus) which encourages clinicians to seek proven methods from different modalities of psychological therapy and attempt to incorporate them within a consistent theoretical model.

Modern research on hypnotherapy is increasingly focused upon the integration of hypnotherapy and CBT since the publication in a mainstream peer-reviewed psychology journal of an influential meta-analysis carried out in 1995 by Irvine Kirsch et al. Kirsch’s research team pooled data from 18 separate controlled studies, including 577 participants, comparing the efficacy of cognitive-behavioural hypnotherapy to CBT alone. They proved that for between 70-90% of clients, cognitive and behavioural therapies were more effective when integrated with hypnosis, i.e., that for the vast majority of clients cognitive-behavioural hypnotherapy is superior to CBT alone.

A meta-analysis was performed on 18 studies in which a cognitive-behavioural therapy was compared with the same therapy supplemented by hypnosis. The results indicated that the addition of hypnosis substantially enhanced treatment outcome, so that the average client receiving cognitive-behavioural hypnotherapy showed greater improvement than at least 70% of clients receiving nonhypnotic treatment. […] These results were particularly striking because of the few procedural differences between the hypnotic and nonhypnotic treatments. (Kirsch et al., 1996)

This finding led to the inclusion of cognitive-behavioural hypnotherapy for obesity on the list of empirically supported treatments (ESTs) compiled by the American Psychological Association. The only other therapies to have proven their efficacy sufficiently to meet these stringent research criteria are almost exclusively cognitive-behavioural.

However, throughout the history of CBT, since the 1960s, expert clinicians’ reports and individual studies have converged on a similar conclusion,

We believe on the basis of our clinical experience that when behaviour therapy and hypnosis are used together, a synergistic effect results. (Kroger & Fezler, 1976: 74).

There has long been a consensus among certain clinicians that hypnosis enhances cognitive and behavioural interventions, specifically, by raising “response expectancy”, facilitating autonomic relaxation, and improving the client’s degree of “imaginal absorption”, etc.

The UK College of Hypnosis & Hypnotherapy have been teaching cognitive-behavioural approaches to hypnotherapy since our first courses and workshops in 2003, long before other training schools. We are well-known as pioneers and specialists in this area and in evidence-based approaches to hypnotherapy in general.

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