Hypnosis and Guided Imagery Treatment for Gastrointestinal Disorders: Experience With Scripted Protocols Developed at the University of North Carolina

Palsson OS1, van Tilburg M. Am J Clin Hypn. 2015;58(1):5-21. doi: 10.1080/00029157.2015.1012705.

Completely scripted treatment courses for verbatim interventions are uncommon in the field of clinical hypnosis. This approach was adopted for by a North Carolina research team for treating gastrointestinal disorders 20 years ago and has been used in hypnosis treatment of irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis, as well as in guided imagery treatment for functional abdominal pain. Treatment with these scripted protocols is delivered in a fixed series of sessions over a 2- or 3-month period. They have been found efficacious for improving bowel symptoms in several clinical trials, even in patients who have been entirely unresponsive to medical treatment. Response rates in clinical trials have ranged from 53% to 94%, and the therapeutic benefits have been shown to be well maintained at 6-, 10-, or 12-month follow-ups in different studies. This article describes the development and research on these protocols and summarizes the advantages and limitations of this fully scripted treatment approach.

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