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A structured self-hypnosis method by Antonio Capafons, University of Valencia (English language)
A structured self-hypnosis method by Antonio Capafons, University of Valencia (English language)

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Published by: jemf on Feb 19, 2011
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Role of hypnosis and self-hypnosisin cognitive-behavioral interventionsThe interest on hypnosis as an area of re-search, has burgeoned in the last decades ata level only comparable to that at the end of the last Century. Only lack of specificknowledge can bring about the rejection of a series of procedures that are proving to beof considerable importance as adjuncts topsychological treatments, particularly cog-nitive-behavioral ones (Lazarus, 1973;Kirsch, Montgomery, & Sapirstein, 1995).The tendency to include hypnosis withinpsychological treatments is prevalent in theother advanced countries (Capafons,1995a). The rejection of hypnosis amongsome psychotherapists can only be explai-ned by myths and wrong beliefs (Capafons,1998). It is also true, nonetheless, that achange in this attitude is exemplified by theprominent manuals of behavior modifica-tion published recently in Spain (e.g., Caba-llo, 1991; Labrador, Cruzado & Muñoz,1993; Vallejo & Ruiz, 1993). They includechapters on hypnosis although, paradoxi-cally, only one is written from a cognitive-behavioral perspective, in contrast with themain approach of such manuals.Hypnosis is a very efficient way to usesuggestion, but not the only one (Amigó,
Psicothema, 1998. Vol. 10, nº 3, pp. 571-581ISSN 0214 - 9915 CODEN PSOTEG Copyright ©1998 Psicothema 
Antonio Capafons
Universitat de Valencia
 Auto-hipnosis rápida: un método de sugestión para el auto-control.
Se describe unmétodo estructurado de auto-hipnosis “despierta” -auto-hipnosis rápida-, creado desdeuna vertiente cognitivo-comportamental y validado empíricamente. Se detallan algunasde sus aplicaciones clínicas desde una perspectiva de habilidades generales de afronta-miento y auto-control. En ellas se enfatiza la utilización de las sugestiones en la vida co-tidiana, mientras la persona realiza su actividad, con los ojos abiertos y estando activo.Se evitan referencias a estados alterados de conciencia, trance o aspectos esotéricos dela hipnosis.A structured self-hypnosis method -rapid self-hypnosis- is described. This met-hod has been created from a cognitive-behavioral perspective, and has received empiri-cal validation. Some clinical applications of rapid self-hypnosis are shown from a copingskills and self-control orientation. From this perspective, the use of the method in every-day activities are emphasized. Clients can use suggestions while keeping their eyes openand being active. Mention to altered states of consciousness, trance o esoteric ideas isabsolutely avoided.
Correspondencia: Antonio CapafonsFacultat de PsicologiaBlasco Ibáñez, 2146010 Valencia (Spain)E-mail: Antonio.capafons@uv.es
1992; Capafons & Amigó, 1993a, 1993b).As with other forms of suggestion deploy-ment, it reduces the effort and time neces-sary to bring about behavioral change (Ca-pafons, 1994; Capafons & Amigó, 1995).The media, stage shows and literature haveportrayed hypnosis as a method to erase thesubject’s will. Although this «robotic por-trait» is inaccurate, patients typically ask forthis type of methods, because they are una-ware of the other types. The seminal work of Lazarus (1973) showed that fulfilling theclients’ demands and choices with regard tohypnosis enhances therapeutic results.Thus, it is advisable to apply «hypnosis»when the patient requests it, after clarifyingits possibilities, so as to avoid undesirablereactions among the clients (Capafons,1998).Hypnosis can, however, bring about dif-ficulties when dealing with some problems.Such difficulties are mostly centered on theissues of asking patients to close their eyes,to relax, and to adopt postures conducive tosleepiness, heaviness and muscle flaccidity.The therapist often needs to have a rapidcommunication with the patient, to evaluatethe effect of suggestions and to apply somespecific therapeutic procedures (e.g., in vi-vo exposure). This kind of problemsbrought about the development of Emotio-nal Self-Regulation Therapy (Amigó, 1992;Amigó & Capafons, 1996; Capafons, 1994,1995 b; Capafons & Amigó, 1993a, 1993b).This procedures uses «waking» sugges-tions, while patients have their eyes open,are alert, and have an ongoing dialog withthe therapist.It is clear that there are other ways to «in-duce» hypnosis, such as expanding aware-ness («hyperempiria,» Gibbons, 1979) oractive-alert methods (Bányai, Zseni, & Tú-ri, 1993l; Capafons, 1998). These methods,but particularly Bányai’s, emphasize physi-cal and mental alertness. She encouragesmuscular activity to «hypnotize» the pa-tients, mainly using an ergonomic bicycle inwhich the patients keep on pedaling to acti-vate the body. To the extent that the patientcan open the eyes, claim Bányai et al., thepotentials of hypnosis can be best utilized.Indeed, being able to create a situation inwhich the client is open to «hypnotic» sug-gestions, without having to close the eyes orget «sleepy», extends the range of possiblesuggestions, increases the client’s motility(for role playing, in vivo exposures, etc)and, above anything else, fosters the activeparticipation of the client in effecting beha-vioral changes.Nonetheless, the Bányai methods (Gib-bons’ hyperempiria does not solve the issueof closed eyes enough) have their difficul-ties. For instance, the requirements of an er-gonomic bicycle or a large room in whichthe patients may walk can be difficult orawkward (Capafons, 1998). In fact it wasfound that about a 30% of experimental par-ticipants drop out from the bike method(Cardeña, Alarcón, Capafons, & Bayot,1998). In addition, pedaling may be dange-rous for some patients suffering from heartillnesses. Pedaling or walking fast can pro-duce sweating or fatigue, and are difficult togeneralize to everyday life as self-hypnosismethods.Although another method is proposed asan alternative for solving many of these pro-blems («awake-alert hypnosis», Capafons,1998), it is not thought as a self-hypnosismethod. Self-hypnosis is necessary whenthe therapist needs to generate a sense of self-determination in the patient (as oppo-sed to be dependent on the therapist) and/orwhen additional practice in hypnosis is ne-cessary.For all of these reasons it was proposed aprocedure that would link hypnosis to self-regulation therapy, in its sense of «wakinghypnosis». This procedure would satisfythose patients who want to be hypnotized,allowing them to be «activated» so as to fo-
Psicothema, 1998 
llow suggestions quickly, certainly and in aconcealed way. The purpose is to includehypnosis as one of the procedures for theactive management of stress (Denney,1983), particularly in the frame of the tea-ching of applied relaxation of Hutching,Denney, Basgall and Houston (1980). Ac-cording to the logic of these procedures, thepatient learns how to relax, usually as a va-riation of Jacobson’s (1938) progressivemuscular relaxation, so that later on the pa-tient can relax quickly in order to handlestress. The approach of Hutchings et al. al-so emphasizes the use of relaxation in thepatient’s everyday life by adapting the exer-cises to the needs of the clients so that theycan do them without anybody else noticing.In this way, the person can relax «in situ»(whenever there is a problem), which allowsfor in vivo shaping of the relaxation. Theperson will also perceive this as an activetechnique to reduce stress.Thus, the self-hypnosis method had tofulfill the following requirements: 1) Userapid «self-hypnotizing» so as to allow it tobe maximally used in the everyday activi-ties of the clients. 2) Alongside with the pre-vious point, the exercises should be done ina «concealed» way, also keeping the eyesopen, so that they would not be noticed byothers. 3) Finally, the exercises should opti-mize the likelihood that people would havecertain experiences than could be easilythough of as «hypnotic» (Capafons, 1998;Capafons & Amigó, 1993b), while interfe-ring minimally with everyday tasks. For thisreason, the use of «goal-directed fantasy»(Spanos, 1971) should be minimized becau-se not everyone can imagine vividly and in-tensely, and vividness of imagery is nothighly correlated with the ability to respondto hypnosis.Much of the literature on self-hypnosisis, and has been, concerned with the processof self-hypnosis, not with induction met-hods. Some examples include the work of Ruch (1975), Fromm (Fromm & Kahn,1990), Johnson (Johnson, 1979), Brown,Forte, Rich and Epstein (1982-83), and Or-ne and McConkey (1981).Paradoxically, self-hypnosis is systemati-cally used either as an adjunct to «hete-rohypnosis» treatments, or as the basic pro-cedure of other «hypnotic» procedures for agreat variety of alterations and problems(Ganer, 1984; Martínez-Tendero, 1995;Sanders, 1993). Nonetheless, as mentionedthere are very few structured self-hypnosisinduction methods, specially awake self-hypnotic methods. Only those of Wollman(1978) and H. Spiegel & D. Spiegel (1978)have a very detailed and structured format.The majority of these self-hypnosis induc-tion methods, including that of Spiegel &Spiegel, are variations of heterohypnoticmethods, which makes them similar. Thissimilarity carries the limitations we havementioned: closed eyes, have to practice athome in a particular context, intense use of imagery and meditation, etc. In addition, so-me forms of self-hypnosis are just post-hyp-notic suggestions in which the client is gi-ven a cue that needs to be activated to again«enter» into the «hypnotic state.»Only the method by H. Spiegel and D.Spiegel (1978) attempts to adapt self-hypno-sis exercises to the needs of the patient. Des-pite this, the client must keep the eyes clo-sed. Other problem are the requirements of asking the client to roll the eyes upwards,which is difficult or bothersome for manypeople, and requesting arm levitation, whichmany people find difficult because whenthey are relaxed they feel their arms to be he-avy rather than light. Last, empirical rese-arch (Martínez-Tendero, 1995) shows that60% of the people who used the Spiegels’method needed to use their imagination toexperience a floating sensation after closingthe eyes and exhaling, and 76.6% of partici-pants were really able to have that sensation.Only 26.6% of participants were able to sen-
Psicothema, 1998 

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