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Hypnosis Articles

Hypnosis in treating depression: applying multidimensional perspectives

By Michael D. Yapko, Ph.D.

Guest Editorial, American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis (2024)

Michael was honored to be asked to be the guest editor of a 2-part special issue of the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis on the theme of “Hypnosis in Treating Depression.” Michael has been the leading advocate for the use of hypnosis in addressing depression for more than 30 years. This article is his guest editorial and is availalbe for free access. 

Hypnosis Revisited: Harnessing Therapy’s Most Versatile Tool

By Chris Lyford

Psychotherapy Networker (2023)

This article was written by Chris Lyford Senior Editor at Psychotherapy Networker. He interviewed Michael for this article and has authorized us to share it here with you. Read article.

The “Whack-a-Mole” Challenge of Hypnosis Reserach: A Commentary Regarding “Guidelines for the Assessment of Efficacy of Clinical Hypnosis Applications

By Michael D. Yapko, Ph.D.

International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis (2022)

In this short commentary, I have acknowledged the merits of trying to establish treatment guidelines for the use of hypnosis in treatment and applauded the efforts and intentions of the Task Force for Establishing Efficacy Standards for Clinical Hypnosis. I have identified a few of the complex issues in trying to promote guidelines for conducting research and clinical practice in the domain of hypnosis; these include the difficulties in defining hypnosis and hypnotically-based interventions, the divergent ways hypnosis is applied in actual pratice by clinicians who rely on their own undertandings and biases in designing and delivering hypnosis, and the inevitable variations in skill level across practitioners. To their credit, the Task Force has considered these and ohter practical issues in their approach to formaulting guidelines. Read More…

Encouraging Hindsight in Advance: Age Progress in Therapy – and Life

By Michael D. Yapko, Ph.D.

American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis (2022)

Each person forms a relationship to the dimension of time, called a “temporal orientation.” How that relationship is defined and prioritized, whether consciously or non-consciously, plays a huge role in the way people go about living their lives. In psychotherapy, the quality of one’s expectations plays a pivotal role in virtually every phase of treatment. As a class of hypnotic interventions, age progression treatment strategies are intricately connected to expectancy since they typically involve guiding the client experientially, i.e., subjectively, into the future. While absorbed in this suggested projection, clients may have the opportunity to imagine and experience the consequences of current or new choices, integrate suggestions at deeper levels for eventual activation, rehearse new patterns of thought, feeling or behavior, and, in general, obtain a greater overview of his or her life than a narrower focus on day-to-day living typically affords. To paraphrase Milton Erickson, one can think of it as encouraging hindsight while it is still foresight.   Read more…

Contemplating…the Obvious: What You Focus On, You Amplify

By Michael D. Yapko, Ph.D.

International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis (2020)

I’m grateful to Editor Gary Elkins for inviting me to participate in this special issue of the IJCEH regarding contemplative practices. This contribution is essentially an “op-ed” piece regarding my subjective view of the relationship between mindfulness and hypnosis practitioners.

Mindfulness Good, Hypnosis Bad?

            When I wrote what I believe is the first book on the combined subjects of mindfulness and hypnosis called Mindfulness and Hypnosis: The Power of Suggestion to Transform Experience (2011a), I did so after considerable study of the methods of mindfulness and after interviewing the acclaimed leaders of the mindfulness movement about their understandings of the nature of their methods. I experienced first-hand the judgmental aspects of their oft-stated non-judgmental philosophies; many of the interviewees reacted with various degrees of indignation, if not downright revulsion, as if to say, “Don’t get that icky hypnosis all over my nice mindfulness!”

Read more…

The Spirit of Hypnosis: Doing Hypnosis vs Being Hypnotic

By Michael D. Yapko, Ph.D.

American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis (2014)

The spirit of hypnosis is reflected in the belief that people are more resourceful than they realize and through hypnosis can create meaningful possibilities for improvement. Thus, it is puzzling why hypnosis isn’t better regarded. Do we present as too internally conflicted to inspire their confidence? Do we overstate the dangers of hypnosis and scare people away? Do we define hypnosis as so unique an approach that others don’t see its relevance for their work? Self-exploration is important if we want to ensure we are not unwittingly adding to our image problems as a field. Beyond these considerations, the novel and spirited application of hypnosis in the context of captive elephant breeding is discussed, as is a personal acknowledgment of some of the pioneers who manifested the spirit of hypnosis.

Read more…

Hypnosis in the treatment of Depression: An Overdue approach for Encouraging Skillful Mood Management

By  Michael D. Yapko, Ph.D.

International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis (2010)

While the pharmaceutical industry and the mental health profession at large have been carefully researching and developing new and better treatments for depression, the hypnosis community in particular has been noticeably absent from the endeavor.  This is puzzling, because the clinical literature affirming the merits of applying hypnosis in psychotherapy is already substantial on other disorders that are far less common or debilitating than depression.  Given that depression is the most common. mood disorder in the world … READ MORE

hypnotically catalyzing experiential learning across treatments for depression: Actions Can Speak Louder Than Moods

By Michael D. Yapko, Ph.D

International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis (2010)

A number of psychotherapeutic approaches for the treatment of major depression have received empirical support in the literature, most notably cognitive-behavioral (CBT) and interpersonal (IPT) therapies. Recent studies have shown the therapeutic value of the behavioral activation component of such interventions. Depressed individuals actively learning and applying new skills on their own behalf is widely considered a critical component of recovery.  This article descdribes the use of hypnosis to catalyze experiential learning and encourage behavioral activation in the depressed client by directly addressing …READ MORE

Depression and General Therapy Articles

Therapy in the 21st Century: One Step Forward, One Step Backwards, One Step to the Side

A commentary by Michael D. Yapko

The Science of Psychotherapy Issue 100 (2022)

Almost three decades ago, a powerful book by Jungian analyst James Hillman and newspaper columnist Michael Ventura exploded into the awareness of the psychotherapy community, challenging therapists to be more socially aware and politically engaged rather than focusing only on helping individuals. They pointed out the folly of continuing to try to help people adjust to ever-increasingly crazy world circumstances rather than trying to improve the circumstances themselves. The provocative title of their book is We’ve Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy—And the World’s Getting Worse. Now well into the second hundred years of psychotherapy, has the world, indeed, gotten worse? The answer, of course, isn’t simple or one-dimensional; some things have, indeed, gotten worse, even much worse. Other things have continued pretty much as they did before, and some things have gotten better, even much better. One step forward, one step backwards, and another step to the side… READ MORE

Backwards, Forwards, and Round-and-Round

By Michael D. Yapko, Ph.D.

The Science of Psychotherapy (2020)

As 2020 comes to a close, the phrase that seems to best represent it is Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (or, more commonly, WTF?). It seems to capture well the weird combination of incredulity, despair, frustration, fear, and resignation, all combined with a tentative hopefullness that 2021 will be much, much better. The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged most regions of the world, and despite all we could have learned from the admirable ways that some countries (such as Australia and New Zealand) have dealt with it, we in the US missed that opportunity. The price of our government’s willful ignorance and a large segment of our citizenry’s inflated sense of entitlement to unrestricted freedoms at the expense of social responsibility has proved to be deadly in more ways than one.  Read more…

Treating Depression with Antidepressants: Drug-Placebo Efficacy Debates Limit Broader Considerations

By Michael D. Yapko, Ph.D.

American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis (2013)

The core issue regarding antidepressants for many clinicians is whether they perform significantly better than placebos. However, this article suggests eight additional concerns beyond drug efficacy alone to consider regarding antidepressants including: (1) formulating only a one-dimensional, biological view of depression; (2) defining the client’s role as passive in treatment; (3) economic corruption of the research and reporting; (4) false or misleading consumer advertising; (5) conflicting data that confuse practitioners and consumers alike; (6) over- and under-prescription of medications; (7) drug side-effects; and (8) harm to the environment. The enhanced effects of psychotherapy utilizing hypnosis offer a means of avoiding most, if not all, of the problems associated with the use of antidepressants as a primary form of treatment.  Read more…