A recent clinical study by Swani & Breuner, 2017 stated that clinical hypnosis is a natural state that can be cultivated, with permission from the adolescent and builds on the adolescent’s existing strengths and interests. It is an altered state of consciousness (awareness and alertness) within a focused state (with or without physical relaxation), in which an individual is selectively focused, absorbed, and concentrating upon a particular idea or image aimed at improving mental or physical health. Clinical hypnosis is a teachable skill that most adolescent patients are able to learn with minor effort, and is safe, effective, and free of adverse side effects in trained hands. Hypnosis promotes the cultivation of imagination and patients’ positive expectations and motivation for success.
Hypnosis in adolescents is more permissive and less directive than in adults, as it utilizes the natural hypnotic abilities that teens bring to the clinical encounter. As a result, adolescents can enter into the hypnotic state quicker and easier than adults and are highly responsive to therapeutic suggestions/goals (hypnotherapy).
Examples of therapeutic suggestions include decreasing or eliminating undesirable symptoms, reframing and rethinking distorted thoughts about situations and stressors, building positive expectations, and re-enforcing control over reaction to problems/situations, and strengthening the concept/belief in the ability of the mind and body to work together to create desirable changes in behavior/outcome. Clinical hypnosis allows the adolescent to gain a sense of control, increase self-esteem and competence, and reduce stress, therefore helping them to manage their physical and emotional well-being. For some problems, hypnosis may be the treatment of choice (e.g., enuresis, headaches, abdominal pain, procedural pain/anxiety, and adjustment reaction to stress). For more complex problems/conditions, hypnosis may be more adjunctive but a highly effective and important modality in the overall management.