2021 Preliminary Scientific Program Agenda

Scientific Program – 12.5 CE

October 16-17, 2021

Co-Chairs: Barbara S. McCann, PhD and Vivek Datta, MD, MPH

Note: All times shown in PST.  Agenda subject to change.  Conference registration opens in the summer 2021.


Saturday, October 16, 2021

8:00-9:30 AM                    PRESIDENTIAL SYMPOSIUM (90 minutes)


Chairperson:  Janna A. Henning, JD, PsyD, FT, SCEH President


Learning Objectives:TBA

9:30-9:45 AM                    Break   

9:45-10:45 AM                  KEYNOTE (60 minutes)

Public Perceptions of the Unconscious

Magda Osman, PhD, Queen Mary University of London, London, United Kingdom

Dr. Osman is Reader in Experimental Cognitive Psychology at Queen Mary University of London. She is an Alan Turing Research Fellow, Head of the Dynamic Learning and Decision-Making Lab, and head of the Centre for Mind in Society. Her research interests cover a range of areas that include decision-making, learning, problem-solving, biases, risk and uncertainty, agency and control, and the unconscious.

The presentation introduces work that has been carried out of the last four years, examining public perceptions of the unconscious, and manipulation of the unconscious in real world contexts such as advertising, political campaigning, social media, therapy (e.g. hypnosis). These findings show that across countries and irrespective of demographics, people show remarkable consistency in the understanding of the unconscious and associated concepts.

Learning Objectives:

1.) Describe the value of assessing the validity and reliability of materials used to examine an especially nebulous concept. 

2.) Describe ways that people share more in common, and have stable views of the unconscious, that cut across political, religious, age, gender and educational divides, as well as across countries, and across time.

10:45-11:00 AM               Poster Session Blitz #1  (15 minutes)

11:00-11:30 AM               Poster Session #1  (30 minutes)

11:30AM -12: Noon        Lunch Break

12:00-1:00 PM                  KEYNOTE  (60 minutes)

Brain Oscillations and Hypnosis: Empirical Findings and Treatment Implications

Mark Jensen, PhD, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA

Dr. Jensen is Professor and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle. He is the President Elect of the International Society of Hypnosis.

This talk will present the findings from four studies that evaluate the role of brain oscillations as a predictive marker for response to hypnotic and non-hypnotic treatments for chronic pain. The evidence from these studies suggests that slow wave oscillations (alpha and in particular theta) may facilitate response to hypnotic treatment, perhaps because of their role in control of brain activity. The presentation will end with a discussion of the clinical and research implications of the findings.

Learning Objectives:

1) Describe the role of dissociative absorption in obsessive-compulsive disorder and maladaptive daydreaming.

2) Describe the role of EEG-assessed brain oscillation power as a predictor of response to hypnotic and non-hypnotic pain treatment.

3) Describe the implication of the findings to determine which treatments an individual may benefit the most from (i.e., precision treatment) and for potentially enhancing response to hypnosis treatment.

1:00-2:00 PM                     KEYNOTE  (60 minutes)

The Power of Our Words While Communicating with the Critically Ill

Katalin Varga, PhD, DSc, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary

Dr. Varga is a member of the Faculty of Education and Psychology at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest. She is Head of the Affective Psychology Department, and a board member of the International Society of Hypnosis.

Various research results will be presented proving that appropriate communication – called Psychological Support Based on Positive Suggestions -- can improve the medical care in various settings: intensive care; eye-surgery; orthopaedic surgery; obstetrics, etc..  The effect of these techniques is reflected in various parameters (shorter hospital stay, better cooperation, less medication, reduced side effects, etc.).  The approach is based on the observation that the patients in medical settings are in a state very close to the hypnotic state, so any comment may function as a powerful hypnotic suggestion.

Learning Objectives:

1)      List the criteria and typical processing mode of the critically ill

2)      Identify the most important principles while communicating with the critically ill

3)      Review two outcome measures that can be used to check communication effectiveness


Sunday, October 17, 2021

8:00-9:45 AM                    CONCURRENT SESSIONS

8:00-9:30 AM                    PANEL  (90 minutes)

Hypnosis at the Medical Front Line

Panelists: Elvira Lang, MD, PhD, Hypnalgesics, Brookline, MA, USA; Jacqueline Viegas, RN, Toronto Hospital for Sick Children, Labatt Family Heart Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada; ,Alexandra Chisholm, PT, PgCPain, Fellow CFCH, Foothills Medical Centre, Calgary, AL, Canada; Nina A. Mayr, MD, FASTRO, FAAAS ,Professor Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.

Hypnosis is mostly provided by specialists.  This panel reviews the potential of frontline medical staff using hypnosis.  It is anchored by a clinical trial directed by J. Viegas, RN.  The trial used Comfort Talk techniques for advanced rapport and hypnoidal language.  It assessed self-hypnotic script-reading by nurses in 160 children undergoing cardiac catheterization with general anesthesia, prospectively randomized to: script before entering the procedure room, script before extubation, both scripts, no scripts.  After the pre-script, the anesthesiologists, blinded to group attribution, used significantly fewer intraoperative sedatives even though the children did not self-report less anxiety.  Dr. Lang will supplement this presumed subconscious patient-clinician interaction with experience from her other trials.  A. Chisholm, PT, reports on the use of Comfort Talk during the pandemic to manage stress among patients and staff in burns and plastics settings.  Dr. Mayr discusses her experience with integrating these techniques in radiation therapy for cancer patients.

Learning Objectives:

1)      Assess the feasibility of integration of hypnotic techniques for frontline personnel

2)      Describe the potential and usage of hypnotic script elements in varied clinical settings


9:30-9:45 AM                    Poster Blitz #2  


8:00-9:45 AM                    RESEARCH PRESENTATIONS  (105 minutes)

Paper Session 1     (20 minutes each including Q&A)

Five papers are included in this session.

1)      How Do Suggestibility and Dissociation Contribute to Symptoms Attributed to Environmental Factors?

2)      Taxometric Evidence for a Dimensional Latent Structure of Hypnotic Suggestibility

3)      Revisiting the Position of Hypnosis in the Domain of Suggestion and Suggestibility

4)      Suggestion Alters Stroop Automaticity: Hypnotic Alexia Through a Proactive Lens

5)      Group Hypnosis for Chronic Pain: Potential Benefits and Comparison to Individual Hypnosis

How Do Suggestibility and Dissociation Contribute to Symptoms Attributed to Environmental Factors?

Madeline V Stein, MA; Saybrook University, Pasadena, CA, USA; Rebecca Holt, Goldsmiths, University of London; London, United Kingdom; Lillian Wieder, Goldsmiths, University of London; London, United Kingdom and Devin B. Terhune, PhD, Goldsmiths, University of London, London, United Kingdom

Symptoms attributed to environmental factors (SAEF) are commonly reported in healthy and clinical populations and include diverse conditions such as perceived sensitivity to chemicals, electromagnetic fields, and other environmental stimuli (also known as idiopathic environmental intolerance). SAEF are typically conceptualized as psychogenic in origin, and multiple models have proposed that dissociation and suggestibility may contribute to the manifestation or expression of these symptoms.  According to these accounts, environmental triggers may function as external suggestions, leading to a feedback loop wherein individuals become preoccupied and subsequently distressed by environmental stimuli that they infer to be associated with nondescript symptoms.  In turn, this leads to amplification of somatic experiences, furthering preoccupation with perceived environmental triggers.  Although the reporting of SAEF symptoms are associated with variables germane to hypnosis and suggestion, it remains unclear whether, and to what extent, proneness to direct verbal suggestions, dissociation and trauma indirectly and interactively relate to the experience of SAEF.  This pre-registered study sought to characterize these variables' independent predictive utility and interaction by testing multiple moderation models.  Participants (N=300) completed psychometric measures of dissociative tendencies, trauma, SAEF symptoms, and a behavioral measure of direct verbal suggestibility.  Suggestibility, dissociation, and trauma all independently predicted SAEF with positive albeit weak correlations.  Moderation analyses further indicated that the predictive utility of suggestibility was not independent of dissociation and that dissociation and trauma interacted in the prediction of SAEF.  These results align with the proposal that environmental factors may function as suggestions that trigger involuntary symptoms in some individuals.  In addition, our findings suggest that among individuals with a history of trauma exposure, those with dissociative tendencies may be at an increased risk of experiencing SAEF.


Nordin, S., Palmquist, E., & Claeson, A. . (2013). The Environmental Symptom-Attribution Scale: Metric properties and normative data. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 36, 9-17. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2013.06.006


Taxometric Evidence for a Dimensional Latent Structure of Hypnotic Suggestibility

Mikhail Reshetnikov, MA; Devin Terhune, PhD, Goldsmith's - University of London, London, United Kingdom

Hypnotic suggestibility denotes a capacity to respond positively to direct verbal suggestions in an involuntary manner in the context of hypnosis. Elucidating the characteristics of this ability has bearing on responsiveness to suggestions in a variety of clinical and non-clinical contexts. A considerable amount of research has focused on a small subgroup of individuals who display strong responsiveness to hypnotic suggestions. However, it remains poorly understood whether these highly suggestible individuals constitute a discrete subgroup (taxon) that is characterized by a qualitatively distinct mode of responding from the remainder of the population or whether hypnotic suggestibility is better modelled as a dimensional ability. In this study, we applied taxometric analysis, a statistical method for distinguishing between dimensional and categorical models of a psychological ability, to behavioural and involuntariness subscale scores of the Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale: Form A (HGSHS:A) in a sample of neurotypical individuals (N=584). Analyses of HGSHS:A behavioural and involuntariness subscale scores with different a priori taxon base rates yielded consistent evidence for a dimensional structure. These results suggest that hypnotic suggestibility, as measured by the HGSHS:A, is dimensional and have implications for current understanding of individual differences in responsiveness to direct verbal suggestions.

Acunzo, D. J., & Terhune, D. B. (2021). A critical review of standardized measures of hypnotic suggestibility. International Journal of Clinical & Experimental Hypnosis, 69, 50-71.; Wieder, L., Brown, R. J., Thompson, T., & Terhune, D. B. (2021). Suggestibility in functional neurological disorder: A meta-analysis. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 92, 150-157.; Wieder, R., & Terhune, D. B. (2019). Dissociation and anxious attachment influence the relationship between trauma and suggestibility: A moderated-moderation analysis. Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, 24, 191-207.


Revisiting the Position of Hypnosis in the Domain of Suggestion and Suggestibility

Devin B. Terhune, PhD, Goldsmiths, University of London, London, United Kingdom

Although there is emerging consensus that responsiveness on standardized hypnosis scales is best conceptualized as an index of hypnotic suggestibility, many researchers continue to view hypnosis as unique and dissimilar from other suggestion-based phenomena. In particular, the claim that hypnotic suggestibility is either unrelated, or only weakly related, to measures of non-hypnotic suggestibility persists. Here I will argue that formulations along these lines have misrepresented the available data. Part of the problem is that researchers have long neglected the importance of scale reliability. A closer inspection of these data, taking into consideration scale reliability, reveals that hypnotic suggestibility, as measured by standardized hypnosis scales, reliably correlates moderately to highly with scores on standardized, reliable measures of direct verbal suggestibility. Responsiveness to hypnosis scales is best understood as a form of direct verbal suggestibility.



Learning Objectives:

1)      Characterize the state of the evidence regarding the association between hypnotic and non-hypnotic suggestibility.


Suggestion Alters Stroop Automaticity: Hypnotic Alexia Through a Proactive Lens

Mathieu Landry, PhD; Jason Da Silva Castanheira, BSc, McGill University, Montreal, Canada; David Milton, MSc, McGill University, Montreal, Canada and Amir Raz, PhD, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.

Hypnotic suggestions can exert substantial effects on cognitive control.  For example, in the classic Stroop paradigm, a posthypnotic suggestion can produce word-blindness in highly susceptible individuals.  While the mechanisms underpinning this form of alexia remain speculative, some tentative explanations emphasize the importance of anticipation. In line with the dual framework of cognitive control, the present work draws from a unified dataset comprising several published studies (N = 67) to examine whether posthypnotic suggestions engage proactive executive control.  Our approach rests on delta plots --  a form of time-course analysis for estimating the resolution of cognitive conflict to through response time distributions.  We hypothesized that proactive control would manifest at the early stages of cognitive conflict during word-blindness. Our results support this hypothesis.  These findings highlight the centrality of anticipation in hypnosis and opens new research prospects for a nuanced scientific understanding of cognitive control in hypnotic phenomena.

Parris, B. A., Hasshim, N., & Dienes, Z. (In Press). Look into my eyes: Pupillometry reveals that a post-hypnotic suggestion for word blindness reduces Stroop interference by marshalling greater effortful control. European Journal of Neuroscience. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1111/ejn.15105; 

Palfi, B., Parris, B. A., McLatchie, N., Kekecs, Z., & Dienes, Z. (2021). Can unconscious intentions be more effective than conscious intentions? Test of the role of metacognition in hypnotic response.

Cortex, 135, 219-239;  Zahedi, A., Abdel Rahman, R., Stürmer, B., & Sommer, W. (2019). Common and specific loci of Stroop effects in vocal and manual tasks, revealed by event-related brain potentials and posthypnotic suggestions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 148(9), 1575–1594. https://doi.org/10.1037/xge0000574; 

Zahedi, A., Stuermer, B., Hatami, J., Rostami, R., & Sommer, W. (2017). Eliminating stroop effects with post-hypnotic instructions: Brain mechanisms inferred from EEG. Neuropsychologia, 96, 70-77. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2017.01.006; 

Terhune, D. B., Cleeremans, A., Raz, A., & Lynn, S. J. (2017). Hypnosis and top-down regulation of consciousness. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews.

Learning Objectives:

1)      Describe the prevailing view that hypnosis represents a form of increased executive control

2)      Describe the Stroop paradigm - a classic experimental framework to study executive control

3)      Define delta plots “an analytic framework to evaluate the time course of executive control”

4)      Describe the dual framework theory of cognitive control and recent findings highlighting the contribution of anticipation and response expectancy in the context of hypnosis.


Group Hypnosis for Chronic Pain: potential benefits and comparison to individual hypnosis

Erin Connors, PhD, Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville TN, USA; Michael T. M. Finn, PhD, Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program, Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, Grand Rapids, MI, USA; Anna Grace Kelly, BA, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN, USA; Lindsey C. McKernan, PhD MPH, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN, USA

In spite of a growing body of research evaluating the efficacy of hypnosis for chronic pain, key gaps in research applications include empirical evaluation of group-based treatment and hypnosis delivery to diverse pain samples. We discuss the results of a pragmatic pretest-posttest clinical study evaluating pain outcomes in individuals receiving structured group (n=85) and individual (n=13) hypnosis intervention.  Pain intensity, pain interference, and global health were evaluated before, immediately after, 3 and 6 months following treatment.  Participants had a variety of complex pain presentations with longstanding symptom duration averaging 13 years. This talk will present findings regarding significant gains made following treatment and temporal patterns of change over time with respect to individual outcomes.  Further, we will discuss the lack of observed differences between treatment modes and implications for future research and clinical practice.


Jensen, M. P., Mendoza, M.E., Ehde, D.M., Patterson, D.R., Molton, I.R., Dillworth, T.M., Gertz, K.J., Chan, J., Hakimian, S., Battalio, S.L., Ciol, M.A. (2020). Effects of hypnosis, cognitive therapy, hypnotic cognitive therapy, and pain education in adults with chronic pain: a randomized clinical trial. Pain.   

Jensen, M. P., & Patterson, D. R. (2014). Hypnotic Approaches for Chronic Pain Management: Clinical Implications of Recent Research Findings. The American psychologist, 69(2), 167-177. doi:10.1037/a0035644

Ford, I., & Norrie, J. (2016). Pragmatic trials. New England Journal of Medicine, 375(5), 454-463. 

McKernan, L. C., Finn, M. T. M., Patterson, D. R., Williams, R. M., & Jensen, M. P. (2020). Clinical Hypnosis for Chronic Pain in Outpatient Integrative Medicine: An Implementation and Training Model. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.), 26(2), 107. doi:10.1089/acm.2019.0259

Learning Objectives:


9:45-10:45 AM                  KEYNOTE  (60 minutes)

Dissociative Absorption and Its Pathological Manifestations

Nirit Soffer-Dudek, PhD, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheba, Israel

Dr. Soffer-Dudek is Senior Lecturer and Head of the Clinical Psychology track at the Department of Psychology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel.

Dissociative absorption and imaginative involvement is the tendency to become spontaneously deeply immersed in internal or external stimuli (e.g. daydreaming, a movie or book) to the point of obliviousness to one's surroundings and "automatic" behavior.  It is popularly referred to as "non-pathological dissociation" and some have even construed it as a tendency for altering consciousness that is not essentially dissociative.  However, it has important linear links with psychopathology in general, and specifically, with "pathological" dissociation, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and maladaptive daydreaming.  The nature of absorption as a dissociative trait and its links with psychopathology will be discussed.

Learning Objectives:

1) Describe the concept of dissociative absorption, including what it means in terms of human consciousness and why it is indeed dissociative.


10:45-11:00 AM               Break


11:00 AM - 12:00 PM     CONCURRENT SESSIONS  


11:00 AM - 12:00 PM     SYMPOSIUM  (60 minutes)

Mind Over Bladder: The Application of Hypnosis to Manage Urgency & Frequency

Faculty: Erin Connors, PhD and Lindsey McKernan, PhD, MPH, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN, USA

There is overwhelming evidence that lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) are associated with numerous psychosocial factors, affective disorders, and reduced overall quality of life (Coyne et al., 2009; Sanford & Rodriguez, 2017; von Gontard et al., 2019). Storage-related LUTS (e.g., urinary frequency, urgency, and nocturia) in particular, significantly interfere with physical activities, social life, sleep, and employment due to a complex interaction between symptom management and emotional burden (Margareta et al., 2009).  Despite its limited use in the treatment of lower urinary tract dysfunction, exploratory analyses suggest that hypnosis can reduce symptoms of urgency and frequency (Komesu et al., 2011; Komesu et al., 2020).  The secondary benefits of hypnosis to urinary symptoms has yet to be evaluated in individual and group contexts.  Accordingly, this symposium will review the potential benefits of hypnosis for urgency and frequency with empirical data from both group and individual investigations and case study.

Learning Objectives:

1)      Describe the effects of hypnosis on urinary urgency and frequency

2)      Provide secondary analyses of both group and individual hypnosis interventions for managing lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS minutes)


11:00 AM - 12:00 PM     RESEARCH PRESENTATIONS  (60 minutes)

Paper Session 2     (20 minutes each including Q&A)

Three papers are included in this session:

1)      Guided Imagery-based Suggestions Increase Cooperation in the "Stag Hunt" Game

2)      Music and Suggestion for Chronic Pain: Theoretical Perspectives, Proposed Mechanisms, and Current Research

3)      The Effectiveness of Different Sham and Real Hypnosis Inductions at Evoking Hypnotic Experiences in a Balanced Placebo Design


Guided Imagery-based Suggestions Increase Cooperation in the "Stag Hunt" game

Melvin S. Marsh, MS; Michael E. Nielsen, PhD, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA, USA; Lawrence Locker Jr, PhD, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA, USA

The present study assessed whether cooperation can be influenced by means of an imagery and suggestion-based intervention.  Participants (N=126) were adult university students. After removing 21 participants due to failure to follow directions, 105 participants remained.  Participants were randomized into two groups which either listened to an approximately seven minutes long audio which included suggestions designed to encourage trust in others or trust in self.  Participants then played a ”Stag Hunt” game in pairs, where highest scores can be achieved by cooperation.  There was a significant difference in the scores for the trust others (M= 21.47, SD=3.28) and the trust self (M=19.82, SD=3.92) conditions, t(103)= -2.35, p = .021, d = 0.46.  The results support the hypothesis that suggestions made in a guided imagery task may generate increased cooperation.  A replication study including a neutral control is in progress.


Azar, O. H. (2019). The influence of psychological game theory. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 167, 445-453. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jebo.2018.09.009

Belloc, M., Bilancini, E., Boncinelli, L., & D’Alessandro, S. (2019). Intuition and Deliberation in the Stag Hunt Game. Scientific Reports, 9(1), 14833. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-50556-8

Ulrich, M., Kiefer, M., Bongartz, W., Grn, G., & Hoenig, K. (2015). Suggestion-Induced Modulation of Semantic Priming during Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging. PLoS ONE, 10(4), 1-15. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0123686

Learning Objectives:

1)      Describe how suggestion based interventions may be useful in influencing cooperation


Music and Suggestion for Chronic Pain: Theoretical Perspectives, Proposed Mechanisms, and Current Research

Morgan Snyder, MA, Baylor University, Waco, TX; Joshua Rhodes, BS, Baylor University, Waco, TX; Mattie Biggs, MSCP, Baylor University, Waco, TX; Gary Elkins, PhD, ABPP, ABPH, Baylor University, Waco, TX

Chronic pain is a prevalent and complex condition and involves a multitude of factors including biological, psychological, and social factors.  Treatment for chronic pain is multidimensional and includes pharmacological and non-pharmacological options. Given the negative side effects of opioids and other pharmacological treatments, the development of non-pharmacological treatment options is crucial.  Music listening has been studied as a treatment option for chronic pain, and we propose that music will be more effective for chronic pain relief when it is paired with therapeutic suggestion.  Suggestion may enhance the effects of music listening interventions by influencing cognitive mechanisms and increasing positive expectancy.  We will discuss theoretical perspectives and proposed mechanisms of music and suggestion for the reduction of chronic pain.  We will also discuss the method of an ongoing study in which music and suggestion is compared to music listening alone and pain education recordings.


Fitzpatrick, K., Moss, H., & Harmon, D.C. (2019). The use of music in the chronic pain experience: An investigation into the use of music and music therapy by patients and staff at a hospital outpatient pain clinic. Music & Medicine, 11(1), 6-22.  

Howlin, C., & Rooney, B. (2020). The cognitive mechanisms in music listening interventions for pain: A scoping review. Journal of Music Therapy, 57(2), 127-167.  

Johnson, A.J., Kekecs, Z., Roberts, R.L., Gavin, R., Brown, K., & Elkins, G.R. (2017). Feasibility of music and hypnotic suggestion to manage chronic pain. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 65(4), 452-465.

Learning Objectives:

1) Describe what chronic pain is, the consequences of chronic pain, and chronic pain treatment options

2) Describe the proposed mechanisms of the use of music and suggestion for reducing chronic pain


The Effectiveness of Different Sham and Real Hypnosis Inductions at Evoking Hypnotic Experiences in a Balanced Placebo Design

Zoltan Kekecs, PhD; Gary Elkins, PhD, ABPP, ABPH, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA; Yeganeh Farahzadi, ELTE, Budapest, Hungary; Balazs Nyiri, ELTE, Budapest, Hungary; Vanda Vizkievicz, ELTE, Budapest, Hungary; Istvan Farkas, ELTE, Budapest, Hungary; Peter Simor, PhD, ELTE, Department of Affective Psychology, Budapest, Hungary; Universit Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium; Anna Lutoskin, ELTE, Budapest, Hungary; Kyra Giran, Budapest, Hungary; Endre Csikos, ELTE, Budapest, Hungary; Pietro Rizzo, Lund University, Lund, Sweden; Robert Johansson, Lund University, Lund, Sweden and Jay Olson, PhD, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA

Sham hypnotic inductions are an important component in the development of control conditions for hypnosis research.  Expectancy, social norms, and contextual factors may influence hypnotic responses, but the extent of their effect and the mechanisms are not fully understood.  In our ongoing study, we explore the role of expectancy and procedural elements of inductions in a balanced placebo design.  University students (target N=52) underwent four different induction procedures.  Two of the techniques were “real” hypnosis inductions (relaxational induction and confusion induction) while two were “sham” inductions. One real and one sham induction were described as effective hypnosis inductions to the participants, while the others were described as control procedures that are relaxing but do not evoke hypnosis.  Expected and self-reported hypnosis depth, self-reported hypnosis experiences and EEG were recorded.  Preliminary results will be discussed, focusing on the differences and similarities in the four conditions regarding expectancies and experiences.


Kekecs, Z., Arlinghaus, N., Johnson, D. P., & O’Donnell, A. K. (2018). Expectancy of the effectiveness of sham hypnosis techniques, International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 67(1), 111-112 Gaab, J., Locher, C., & Blease, C. (2018).

Placebo and psychotherapy: differences, similarities, and implications. International review of neurobiology, 138, 241-255.

Locher, C., Gaab, J., & Blease, C. (2018). When a placebo is not a placebo: problems and solutions to the gold standard in psychotherapy research. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 2317.

Learning Objectives:

1)      Describe differences and similarities in the experiences evoked by sham and real hypnosis induction procedures.


12:00-12:30 PM                Lunch and Poster Session #2

Lunch is from 12-12:30 PM.  Attendees wishing to visit the Poster Sessions during this time are invited to do so.


12:30-2:00 PM                  SYMPOSIUM (90 minutes)

Report from the Research Task Force on Guidelines for the Assessment of the Efficacy of Clinical Hypnosis

Chairperson & Moderator:  Donald Moss, PhD, Dean, College of Integrative Medicine and Health Sciences, Saybrook University, Pasadena, CA, USA

Presenters (by presentation order):  Zoltan Kekecs, PhD, Assistant Professor, Institute of Psychology, Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest, Hungary; Gary Elkins, PhD, ABPP, ABPH, Editor, International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis and Professor, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA and Olafur Palsson, PhD, Professor of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

About Our Speakers:

Donald Moss, PhD, BCB, is Dean, College of Integrative Medicine and Health Sciences, at Saybrook University, Pasadena, CA.  Dr. Moss is the Education Chair and Immediate Past President the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis and a board member of Division 30 of the American Psychological Association. He is also the ethics chair and international certification chair for the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance.  He has also served as president of Division 30 and the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB).  Moss’ most recent books are a co-authored book on chronic illness, Integrative Pathways (Springer, 2019), and three co-edited books, Mindfulness, Acceptance and Compassion in Biofeedback Practice (AAPB, 2020), Physiological Technology and Applicants in Biofeedback and Neurofeedback (AAPB, 2019) and Foundations of Heart Rate Variability (AAPB, 2016).

Zoltan Kekecs, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at Eotvos Lorand University, Department of Affective Psychology, and a part time Senior Lecturer at Lund University, Institute of Psychology, in Budapest. His research is related to the effectiveness of hypnosis interventions used in medicine, and the psychophysiological mechanisms underlying these effects. He has performed several research trials and systematic reviews on the effectiveness of various applications of hypnosis-based treatments in medicine. He is also involved in the development of methods and tools to improve the credibility of research in psychological science. Dr. Kekecs Treasurer of the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis and a member of the Data and Methods Committee of the Psychological Science Accelerator.

Gary Elkins, PhD, ABPP, ABPH, is a Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Baylor University in Waco, Texas where he is the Director of the Mind-Body Medicine Research Program. He is Editor of the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis and a Past-President of the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. Dr. Elkins’ publications include Mindful Hypnotherapy: The Basics for Clinical Practice and The Handbook of Medical and Psychological Hypnosis: Foundations, Applications and Professional Issues.  His research has focused on hypnosis interventions for menopausal symptoms, sleep disturbances, pain, and stress management.

Olafur S. Palsson, PsyD, is a clinical psychologist and Professor of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  He was previously Director of Behavioral Medicine and Assistant professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia. Much of Dr. Palsson's work has focused on biopsychosocial and epidemiological aspects of functional gastrointestinal disorders, psychological factors that modulate physical symptoms, and treatment of chronic GI problems with hypnosis. He developed the fully scripted North Carolina hypnosis protocol for IBS, which has been tested and found efficacious in seven published studies. It is used in clinical practice by hundreds of hypnosis-trained health professional in the U.S. and world-wide and has served as a model for the development of standardized hypnosis treatment approaches for several other health problems. Dr. Palsson has authored more than 130 published papers in psychology and medicine, as well as numerous book chapters in edited books.

In 2018, the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis initiated an organizational meeting at the Montreal meeting of the International Society of Hypnosis. Six major hypnosis societies agreed to sponsor an international “Task Force on Guidelines for the Assessment of the Efficacy of Clinical Hypnosis.” Co-sponsors included SCEH, ASCH, APA Division 30, the Milton Erickson Foundation, the National Pediatric Hypnosis Training Institute, and the International Society for Hypnosis. Researchers from nine countries participated in monthly meetings commencing in February 2019 and continuing to the present. Five additional researchers agreed to serve as consultants.  The Task Force pursued three objectives: 1) To create guidelines for the assessment of the efficacy of hypnosis applications, based on methodological criteria, 2) To create recommendations for best practices in future outcomes research on clinical hypnosis, and 3) To conduct an international survey of clinicians, researchers, and students in the field of hypnosis, to provide the most comprehensive picture to date on current practices and views in clinical and experimental hypnosis.  This symposium will report on all three areas, including results from the survey responses by over 400 researchers and clinicians in over 30 countries.

Hypnosis has historical strengths in pure and applied research, with thousands of published studies.  Nevertheless, the outcomes literature on applying hypnosis to clinical disorders in medicine and mental health is inconsistent with many methodological lapses.  The emphasis in healthcare today is on the use of Evidence-Based interventions, and methodological standards in outcomes research have advanced dramatically, with expectations of randomized controlled trials, pre-registration of research protocols, and samples of adequate power to support significant results.

The program will consist of three presentations and a moderated discussion.

Presentation 1 -- Guidelines for the Assessment of Efficacy of Clinical Hypnosis Interventions

Dr. Kekecs will present the Hypnosis Efficacy Task Force’s Guidelines for the Assessment of Efficacy of Clinical Hypnosis Applications, that were designed to assist researchers and clinicians when assessing the efficacy of the application of clinical hypnosis in the treatment of medical and mental health disorders. The field of clinical hypnosis is at a state where there are hundreds of research trials investigating the effectiveness of hypnosis-based interventions. Clear evidence-based recommendations are needed for the efficacious hypnosis interventions to be integrated into public health. So far there has been no consensus on standards for formulating such clinical recommendations, preventing the field from putting out a clear and unequivocal message about the efficacy of hypnosis-based treatments. In order to facilitate the take-up of efficacious clinical hypnosis interventions in public healthcare, the Hypnosis Efficacy Task Force. This presentation will review the guidelines put forward by the Task Force, the consensus-process through which they were formulated, and the rationale behind the recommendations.

Presentation 2 -- Best Practice Recommendations for Hypnosis Research Randomized Clinical Trials

Dr. Elkins will summarize the best practices recommendations of the Task Force for future outcome research in hypnosis. Empirical evidence attests to the effectiveness of clinical hypnosis in treating a wide range of conditions.  Efficacy of hypnosis interventions have been supported through randomized clinical trials (RCTs)in the treatment of acute pain, chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, menopausal hot flashes, and a range of medical and psychological disorders. In addition, hypnosis may be employed as an adjunctive tool to complement and enhance existing medical, psychological, and behavioral therapies. However, best practices for conducting RCTs is essential future research empirical investigation. The Task Force collaboration aims include the creation of clear recommendations for best practices in future outcomes research on clinical hypnosis. This presentation will review recommendations for design of hypnosis intervention RCTs, registration of clinical trials, protocol development, considerations for blinding, identification of outcome measures, consideration of mediators and moderators of hypnosis intervention effects in RCTs, hypnotizability assessment, and rigor in clinical research.  Future research directions will be discussed.

Presentation 3 -- Key findings of the International Survey of Hypnosis Clinicians and Researchers

Dr. Palsson will summarize key findings of this large and detailed Internet survey of hypnosis professionals in more than 30 countries, carried out in late 2020 and early 2021 by the Task Force on Guidelines for the Assessment of the Efficacy of Clinical Hypnosis. The survey findings provide insights into current clinical hypnosis practices, the frequency and nature of adverse effects associated with hypnosis treatment, the extent of the recent shift to video and telephone delivery of clinical hypnosis services necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the experience with such teletherapy, clinician perceptions of relative effectiveness of their own hypnosis intervention for different presenting problems, and the views by both hypnosis clinicians and  researchers of future research priorities and standards for good research in the field of hypnosis. 

Learning Objectives:

2)      Explain the difference between clinical efficacy and clinical effectiveness.

3)      List two best practices for outcomes research in hypnosis.

4)      Compare clinician and researcher perspectives on the effectiveness of various hypnosis applications.


2:00 PM                               Scientific Program Adjourns





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