Grad student research encourages using hypnosis to relieve stress

Brunei fourth year clinical psychology doctoral candidate Ming Hwei Yek is studying hypnosis and said it is possible that hypnosis could be introduced as a therapeutic measure. Baylee VerSteeg | Multimedia journalist

By Vivian Kwok | Reporter

People may often couple hypnosis with comedy acts and shy away from hypnosis for this reason. However, one graduate student is studying how hypnosis may actually help to relieve stress.

Brunei fourth year clinical psychology doctoral candidate Ming Hwei Yek said hypnosis has actually been used for a long time for clinical purposes.

“The hypnosis that we use over here is very different from what’s usually portrayed in the media,” Yek said. “The purpose of hypnosis is really to empower the patient or participant to achieve their goals through a state where they can really focus their attention and respond positively to suggestions, whatever that may be.”

Yek said her research in the Mind-Body Medicine Research Lab uses the Elkins Hypnotizability Scale (EHS) to study if it has potential therapeutic effects.

“The EHS is a scale that measures how hypnotizable people are,” Yek said. “What my study is trying to find out is that if this scale can not only measure how hypnotizable people are, but also can improve relaxation and reduce stress right off the bat.”

Yek said it is possible that hypnosis could be introduced as a therapeutic measure. However, she said she first has to find if it is a feasible method to incorporate into therapy at all.

“[That is,] if people would want to accept this kind of intervention and practice hypnosis on their own using this scale,” Yek said.

Secondly, Yek said she would like to see if using hypnosis would actually decrease stress for her participants. She said in the study, participants will come in for two lab visits where they will first answer some questionnaires, complete an interview and review the hypnotiziable scale guided by a researcher.

“Doing that hypnotizabiity scale is a first-hand experience for them to see how hypnosis works for them,” Yek said.

Yek said the researcher will then teach the participant how to use hypnosis on their own. She said they will either use just a script or a script with an audio recording.

“They’re encouraged to practice hypnosis on their own using the script and/or the audio recording for two weeks at least once a day. Then they come back two weeks later to complete some questionnaires,” Yek said.

Yek said participation in the study is open to people in the community as long as they’re at least 18-years-old. Moreover, according to its webpage, students enrolled in certain psychology courses may receive SONA credit for participating. Yek said her study is one of them.

“I think most people come in with some sort of expectation [of hypnosis],” Yek said. “They’re not going to cluck like a chicken, for example. They do have some sort of expectation that it’s used clinically and not for them to do something embarrassing.”

Yek and her colleague both encourage students to contribute to research. Bella Vista, Ark. fifth-year doctoral candidate in the department of Psychology and Neuroscience Alisa Johnson said students’ participation in research is highly valued and appreciated.

“The findings that we get from that research actually goes out into the larger research community and helps further a lot of different studies as we go through our careers,” Johnson said. “I think it’s important for students to understand their contribution to these studies is not limited.”

Yek said students may even learn from participation in research that could help them in their everyday lives.

“Most people probably wouldn’t even know that hypnosis is an option for stress reduction or pain reduction until they participate in one of our research studies,” Yek said.