Scientific Basis for Medical Support Hypnotherapy

National Institutes of Health in conjunction with the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, Funded the Nation’s Largest Scientifically Peer-Reviewed Study of Hypnotherapy Using Our Integral Hypnotherapy™ Methodology.

May 2018 News: The 4-year 3-million dollar study funded by the NIH and conducted at University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center utilizing our Integral Hypnotherapy methodology is now complete.  It was a great success for hypnotherapy. This study’s purpose was to determine if hypnotherapy is, or is not, inferior to drug therapy in the treatment of Overactive Bladder/Urinary Urgency Incontinence.  We know of no other hypnotherapy study better funded or utilizing such a rigorous study design as this one. Part of what makes this such a significant research study is that it involved 152 patients – a significant sample of the population. Also unique to this study is that it tested hypnotherapy against the current standard treatment (drug therapy.)  Patients were randomized into either the hypnotherapy group or the drug therapy group.

A critical distinction: Historically, studies on the effectiveness of hypnosis have utilized a single static technique. This means previous studies used the same scripted technique and applied it to all study subjects in every hypnotherapy session. This study however, utilized our Integral Hypnotherapy methodology which is a varying multi-session system, so each session for each patient was tailored to the individual needs of that patient.

Preliminary trend lines show that the patients receiving hypnotherapy had equivalent results to drug therapy, and in those patients who were moderately to highly responsive to hypnosis, the one-year follow-up showed superior results to drug therapy. While hypnotherapy may not be appropriate for everyone, this scientifically rigorous study is breaking new ground in the mainstream acceptance of hypnotherapy as an adjunctive modality.  When the final analytics and peer review are completed, we will update this page again.

33 million Americans, or one-tenth of the population, suffer from Overactive Bladder/Urinary Urgency Incontinence. We’re very happy to be contributing to helping these people live better lives.


Below is information about the pilot study from 2011 which led to the NIH-funded study:

IBH Director and Hypnotherapy Academy of America Associate Instructor, Robert Sapien,  Conducts Clinical Trial of IBH Methods

Overactive Bladder Syndrome
“Hypnotherapy for Treatment of Overactive Bladder: Randomized Controlled Trial Pilot Study”
Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery, 2011Nov;17(6):308-13. Komesu, YM, Sapien, RE, Rogers, RG, Ketai, LH

A recent study at the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque shows the effectiveness of the IBH hypnotherapy methods in comparison to behavioral therapy alone. The population studied was women who suffer with overactive bladder (OAB) syndrome. OAB syndrome, affecting 17% of all women in the United States, is experienced as urinary urgency, increased frequency, nocturia (need to urinate often at night), and sometimes with incontinence. Along with the physical symptoms, women with OAB also experience stress, embarrassment and decreased self-esteem.

IBH director, medical researcher and Chief of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Dr. Robert Sapien, designed the study using the methodology developed by Tim Simmerman Sierra, one of the directors of the IBH. Sapien said the objective of the study “was to gather data to compare hypnotherapy to an already proven standard treatment, in this case, behavioral therapy.”

Conclusion: Both groups showed improvement with treatment; however, the hypnotherapy group showed significantly higher scores in the effective relief of symptoms and improvement in quality of life, than the behavior therapy group.

The hypnotherapy group had an overall improvement of 67% (in only three sessions), while the behavioral therapy group only 42% improvement.

The research team (Yuko M. Komesu, MD; Robert E. Sapien, MD; Rebecca G. Rogers, MD; and Loren H. Ketai, MD) concluded: “This pilot study is notable in that the hypnotherapy group had superior global improvement in their OAB symptoms compared with behavioral therapy alone.”

Dr. Sapien added as a side note, that the group of women in the study who did not receive hypnotherapy (the control group) indicated that they were disappointed that they did not receive hypnotherapy. After the study was completed, they were given the option of returning to have the hypnotherapy protocol. All but one of the women chose to return for the added benefit of hypnotherapy.

Preoperative Use of Hypnosis

One area of particular interest now is the preoperative use of hypnosis to prepare patients for surgery. This has been found to significantly reduce the pain/unpleasantness/discomfort experienced post-operatively as well as reducing the amount of pain medications required, and reducing the overall recovery time.

A major study of preoperative hypnosis for breast cancer surgery patients was published in September 2007 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute,(JNCI Vol. 99, Number 17). This study used only a 15-minute preoperative hypnosis session. The results showed:

  • The hypnosis reduced costs to the institution by $772.71 per patient.
  • Hypnosis reduced the time in surgery by an average of 10.6 and also showed a significant reduction in use of pain medications that are titrated to patient’s condition.

For the full study, go to:

Effects of hypnosis on post-operative hot flashes in breast cancer surgery patients.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Vol 26, No 31 (November 1), 2008: pp. 5008-5010, found: “Hypnosis appears to reduce perceived hot flashes in breast cancer survivors and may have additional benefits such as reduced anxiety and depression, and improved sleep.”

For the full study, go to:

The BBC published a story of a man using hypnosis as effective anesthesia for a surgical procedure on a smashed bone in the thumb

Hypnosis to relieve IBS symptoms

A wonderful overview of many studies on the effectiveness of hypnosis to relieve IBS symptoms can be found at: