Examining the feasibility of the Elkins Hypnotizability Scale (EHS) as a therapeutic measure.
Since its inception, hypnosis has been used as a therapeutic tool to address a wide range of physical and psychological symptoms. Understanding an individual’s hypnotizability can provide helpful information to further optimize hypnotic interventions. Moreover, there exists evidence that suggests hypnotizability assessment may confer therapeutic benefits. Studies have shown that a brief hypnotic induction can increase relaxation and reduce stress, while listening to a hypnotic tape for at least one week have resulted in stress reduction. However, there is currently a gap between research and clinical practice; many clinicians do not use hypnotizability measures due to various limitations of current measures, such as length of administration and concerns regarding safety. The Elkins Hypnotizability Scale (EHS) is a reliable and valid measure that addresses some of these limitations. However, the safety and potential therapeutic benefits of the EHS have yet to be determined. The purpose of the present study was to examine the safety and credibility of the EHS as a therapeutic measure, investigate whether the protocol can be delivered as intended, and explore the potential benefits of the EHS immediately after administration and after two weeks of self-hypnosis practice with or without a supplemental audio recording. Fifty-five college students with above-average stress participated in the study. They were administered the EHS and randomized to either two weeks of daily self-hypnosis practice with or without a supplemental audio recording. Outcome measures assessed for perceived stress, general psychological distress, anxiety, depression, and relaxation. Results indicated that the EHS had minimal negative aftereffects, was perceived as credible, and was delivered as intended. Participants experienced large increases in relaxation immediately after EHS administration. Results also indicated a large increase in relaxation, and medium-to-large decreases in psychological distress after two weeks of daily self-hypnosis practice, regardless of group assignment. This study provides evidence for the feasibility of the EHS as a therapeutic measure, and the next line of research should assess the efficacy of the EHS as a therapeutic intervention.