Does Hypnotherapy Work? – CORP research programme

I am often asked “Does hypnotherapy work for …?” or “Can hypnotherapy help with …?” or just simply “Does hypnotherapy work?”.  I normally answer with something along the lines that I don’t have a magic wand but if people come to see me open to making changes and with a willingness to take on board the evidence, as revealed by the latest neuroscience, on how the brain works then you can be confident that hypnotherapy will make a very real difference to your well-being. And that’s regardless of the reason you have expressed an interest in the first place.

My Clients tell me hypnotherapy has worked for them – but is that enough?:

Of course, I have many client examples of how successful my work with them has been.  I don’t blame those people who are cynical (I was a cynic about hypnosis and hypnotherapy once!) and I know anecdotes do not make the best evidence, especially if those come from the mouth of an enthusiastic practitioner like myself.  There is already a huge amount of evidence that demonstrates the effectiveness of hypnotherapy, but it is important we continue to uncover more.  It was for this reason I chose to become part of an excellent research programme which was created to demonstrate the effectiveness of Solution Focused Hypnotherapy for a variety of conditions.

The Research Programme:

The programme is called CORP (Clifton Practice Rating Outcome Programme).  I ask my customers to rate themselves against the following scales (either on a piece of paper or, more usually, on a piece of software of the same name) during the Initial Consultation and at the end of each session after that.  The seven scales are:

1/ Thoughts – How positive have your thoughts been?

2/ Interaction – How interactive have you been with others?

3/ Activity – How would you rate your level of activity?

4/ Confidence – How would you rate your confidence?

5/ Strengths & Resources – How well are you utilising your strengths and resources?

6/ Achievement – How much have you achieved?

7/ Happiness – How would you rate your level of happiness?

The information gathering fits seamlessly in to our sessions.  Once customers have indicated, on a bar, where they feel they fall, between two points (for example, my thoughts have been very negative at one end to very positive at the other), the software allocates a score out of 10. The scores from all the questions are added together to give a result out of 70.  In this way changes over time are measured and illustrated in the form of a graph.  Customers can then see by how much they have improved on these scales in the time they have been to see me.  I can also monitor how well I am doing across my whole client population and my results contribute to the broader results of the research which, at the time of writing, includes more than 80 Solution Focused Hypnotherapists nationally. As a result, of a volume of results are being collected giving a statistically significant indicator of the success of Solution Focused Hypnotherapy.

Solution focused therapy, by its very nature, is not problem focused.  This can make it difficult to measure its effectiveness without focusing on problems or symptoms.  By choosing these outcome rating scales rather than more problem specific ones negates this difficulty, and encourages clients to focus on those areas which will, with appropriate effort, inevitably lead to an improvement in their condition.

Who Benefits?

The short answer is everybody!  But most importantly, my clients benefit.  The programme allows them to monitor their own progress in a way which may not be obvious when relying on pure feelings and emotion at that moment, whilst trying to compare that with their feelings and emotions of a few weeks ago. It also enables me in many situations to indicate (by showing the graph of past results) how quickly and to what extent they might expect to see an improvement across those measures.  Moreover, customers complete this shortly before leaving the clinical environment which serves as a nice reminder of where their focus should be to continue to move forwards.

I benefit, and so do my clients, by being able to compare my performance against the global average of other Solution Focused Hypnotherapists across the country.  This helps keep me sharp and encourages me to stay on top of my game!

And of course, hypnotherapy generally benefits.  The greater the base of evidence, the more we can prove that hypnosis and its associated ideas are an effective, helpful and powerful set of tools for improved wellbeing, overcoming symptoms and a driver for good health the more it will become mainstream and the more people can benefit from it.

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