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445 Posts

Posted - 06/22/2006 :  3:49:31 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I found this excange on a UK forum and both writers have allowed me to post it here. I believe some very interesting questions and answers are raised. Gil Boyne

Richard posts;
I think we need to draw a distinction between complementary medicine
and complementary therapy. Homeopathy, reiki, dowsing and spiritual
healing fall into the first category, whereas hypnotherapy, eft and
some forms of counselling fall into the latter.

In other words, hypnotherapists are working primarily with the mind
(with, of course, the knock-on benefits this has for the body). We
are not pretending to offer an alternative to mainstream healthcare;
instead, we complement it by working at an emotional and cognitive
level (something the NHS is woefully lacking in many cases).

In other words, we do not pretend to be carrying out some kind of
magical ritual that will purge the body of 'bad blood' or bad energy.
We are merely helping people to behave, think and feel in ways that
are benefical to them. From that point of view, hypnotherapy is not a form of healthcare at all, but is a form of psychological
intervention. The British Psychological Society now lists
hypnotherapy as a valid intervention, and has its own set of
guidelines. So, it could be questioned whether hypnotherapy can even be classed as 'complementary' at all; it is becoming a mainstream occupation, just as counselling did 10 to 15 years ago.

Finally, there is an impressive body of evidence to prove that
hypnotherapy does indeed work. Irritable bowel syndrome appears to be the most widely researched area, and the results almost invariably
suggest that hypnotherapy is a useful form of treatment. But there
are many others (sadly, smoking is not as widely researched as it
needs to be).

To summarise, I would argue that hypnotherapy belongs in the same
category as couselling, cognitive behavioural therapy and
psycho-analysis as opposed to homeopathy, reiki and other unproven
forms of healthcare.

Response from Dr. John Butler, Director Hypnotism Training Instute of Britian
I find that focussing on "complementary" versus "mainstream" to be such loose concepts as not to be very helpful - what is termed mainstream varies with fashion - bloodletting used to be mainstream, then the automatic removal of tonsils and adenoids was mainstream, in Germany a diagnosis of low blood pressure as an illness is mainstream, in the UK this diagnosis does not exist (unless BP is extremely low), just to cite a few examples. What is complementary is even harder to define - many people who use various types of "complementary" therapies use them as an alternative, not a complement, to mainstream medicine. Such therapies are sometimes considered to "complementing" the individuals health rather than "complementing" orthodox Western medicine. However, I think we're stuck with the concepts of "complementary" and "mainstream" for the moment and have to work with them.

When this whole debate started up some decades ago, the terms used were more usually "holistic" vs "allopathic", and the word "complementary" was unknown. It was common to talk of "alternative" medicine. Then the word "complementary" became commonplace - this is sometimes used to sideline and reduce the position of the therapies so described, and is hierarchical in its effect, putting a spin on the debate as being between therapies already proven for effectiveness and those struggling for admittance. Many therapists seem to be essentially accepting this view of things. However, many "mainstream" treatments that were supposedly proven at the time this debate started have since been withdrawn from the market, proven to be unsafe or less effective than proposed, and the idea that "mainstream" represents some irreversibly/ unquestionably superior state is, I think, an illusion.

There is an important point that comes out of this discussion ie that hypnotherapy is established with a greater body of evidence than many other therapies classified as "complementary" therapies. I accept that some approaches that are positioned under this umbrella are very suspect, at least as understood and practiced by their adherents. However, I don't share the concern for the need to be classified as "mainstream" rather than "complementary" as I don't feel either term is completely meaningful. I also don't feel it to be any great advantage to be pigeon-holed with psychoanalysis, cognitive behaviour therapy or counselling, as I don't think any of these has anything approaching the evidence/results that hypnotherapy has (I don't know how EFT can be sensibly proposed as a serious method in a complementary never mind a mainstream approach). Hypnotherapy has been in and out of fashion partly because it has been around so long. As the original psychological therapy, initially it was, of course, the only "stream" in town.

Another point that arises is that hypnotherapy is not offering a "treatment" in the medical sense. This has important ramifications legally in the USA although less so in the UK where we have a lot of freedom in the practice of therapies for all kinds of physical or mental illnesses. I don't think we should surrender this (in the UK) to the medical hierarchy, at same time caution needs to be exercised in what is claimed for hypnotherapy when dealing with very serious physical illness. In general, hypnotherapy can be used in a wide variety of ways to assist medical treatments but is also much better seen as part of "complementary" therapies (or even complementary medicine) as opposed to being lumped together with conventional psychotherapy (overwhelmingly aetheistic) or swallowed up by orthodox medicine. Personally, I've always described hypnotherapy as a "natural" therapy that is the original holistic therapy.

Gil Boyne
[Gil Passed Away May 5, 2010]
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