Am J Clin Hypn. 2017 Jul;60(1):85-102. doi: 10.1080/00029157.2017.1316233
Although sometimes maligned and often misunderstood, clinical hypnosis can be utilized as a powerful adjunct for the treatment of mind-body conditions, including cancer. Unlike customary medical regimens that treat diseases of the body and psychotherapies that address disorders of the psyche, hypnosis is a uniquely customizable multi-tool that can augment the treatment of both physical and emotional disorders as well as their complex interactions. This article presents a longitudinal, phase-oriented, clinical model that uses hypnosis in a series of sequential interventions that incorporate targeted suggestions to address the unfolding phases of the cancer continuum. Five such phases of the cancer patient’s trajectory, along with their associated medical and psychological challenges, are conceptualized. Each phase is illustrated by case examples from the author’s clinical practice and by a discussion of relevant hypnotic approaches. On the somatic level, the intrinsic capacities of hypnotic phenomena, paired with suggestions, can be harnessed to effect perceptual and functional changes to offer symptom relief, re-establishment of systemic homeostasis, amelioration of cellular chemistry, and the acceleration of tissue healing. In the psychological realm, hypnotic strategies can be used to provide a much needed continuity of emotional support, a sense of mastery and self-agency, emotional regulation, and behavioral change.