Applying Hypnosis in Dermatology

Philip D. Shenefelt


Dermatology Nursing. 2003;15(6) 

In This Article

Patient Selection

Suitable patients for medical hypnotherapy are patients who are mentally intact, not psychotic nor intoxicated; motivated, not resistant, and preferably medium or high hypnotizable as rated by the Hypnotic Induction Profile (Spiegel & Spiegel, 1978) modified to a 16-point scale (Spiegel et al., 2000) or Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale and its variants. However, a moderate or high-degree of hypnotizability is not critical to the success of self-guided imagery for relaxation and discomfort reduction. Patient selection is an important aspect of successful medical hypnotherapy in dermatology. Part of the art of being a dermatology nurse is the ability to select appropriate therapeutic modalities for specific patients. Hypnosis-assisted therapy works best in moderately to highly hypnotizable patients who are appropriately motivated and who have dermatoses with a large psychosomatic component or which are otherwise known to be responsive to intervention with hypnosis. As with any therapy, it is best to start with simple, easy cases, referring the more complex cases to those more experienced. As the practitioner gains experience, more difficult cases may be added. Hypnosis, like any other tool, can be very effective and gratifying in many cases when applied appropriately. Like any other tool, it is not a panacea. It appears to work miracles for some and to fail completely for others. Most results lie somewhere in between. The specific type of therapy chosen to be assisted by hypnosis is also a key factor in producing positive results. With proper selection of disease process, patient, and provider, hypnosis can decrease suffering and morbidity from skin disorders with minimal side effects.

The print version of this article was originally certified for CME credit. For accreditation details, contact the publisher. Jannetti Publications Inc, Dermatology Nursing, East Holly Avenue, Box 56, Pitman, NJ 08071-0056, phone (856) 256-2300.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.