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Creating Effective Hypnosis Interventions for Chronic Physical Symptoms

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Presented by the Office of Continuing Education and the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis

Recorded on Friday, January 22, 2021

This program, when attended in its entirety, offers 1.5 APA CEs for Psychologists, and 1.5 BBS California CEUs for LPCCs, LPSW, and LMFTs.

Workshop Description:

Chronic physical symptoms that have already proven unresponsive to the usual medical treatment methods can present formidable challenges in healthcare. Clinical hypnosis offers unique techniques for addressing medically unresponsive symptoms, but for the best effects the clinician often has to apply treatment differently for those problems than in other therapeutic applications of hypnosis. In this webinar, Dr. Palsson will provide participants with a detailed overview of a specific structure and set of essential elements in hypnosis treatment that together produce high probability of improvement in chronic and stubborn physical symptoms.

The success of this approach has been empirically demonstrated in published research on GI disorders, including IBS, functional abdominal pain, inflammatory bowel disease, and esophageal disorders, but the same framework is equally useful for creating successful hypnosis treatment for other chronic health problems, such as migraine and fibromyalgia. This includes the approach to the chronic medical patient, formulating the hypnosis sessions to contain key principles that maximize therapeutic impact, and crafting suggestions and metaphors that effectively target psychological and physiological processes that influence body symptoms

Learning Objectives:

After attending this intermediate-level workshop, participants will be able to:

1. Create and outline on how to structure hypnotherapy sessions in a way that is specifically designed to maximize therapeutic impact on chronic physical symptoms;

2. Describe five specific techniques for enhancing receptivity to therapeutic suggestions and imagery.

Professional Bio of Presenter Olafur S. Palsson, PsyD, Professor of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dr. Olafur S. Palsson is a clinical psychologist and Professor of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was previously Director of Behavioral Medicine and Assistant professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia. Much of Dr. Palsson’s work has focused on biopsychosocial and epidemiological aspects of functional gastrointestinal disorders, psychological factors that modulate physical symptoms, and treatment of chronic GI problems with hypnosis. He developed the fully scripted North Carolina hypnosis protocol for IBS, which has been tested and found efficacious in seven published studies. It is used in clinical practice by hundreds of hypnosis-trained health professional in the U.S. and world-wide, and has served as a model for the development of standardized hypnosis treatment approaches for several other health problems. Dr. Palsson has authored more than 130 published papers in psychology and medicine, as well as numerous book chapters in edited books.

Program Standards and Goals

This program meets APA’s continuing education Standard 1.1: Program content focuses on application of psychological assessment and/or intervention methods that have overall consistent and credible empirical support in the contemporary peer reviewed scientific literature beyond those publications and other types of communications devoted primarily to the promotion of the approach.

This program meets APA’s continuing education Goal 1: Program is relevant to psychological practice, education, and/or science.

Registration and Fees:

Community members: $65.00

SCEH Members/Faculty: $55.00

Students: $15.00


Keefer, L., Taft, T. H., Kiebles, J. L., Martinovich, Z., Barrett, T. A., & Palsson, O. S. (2013). Gut-directed hypnotherapy significantly augments clinical remission in quiescent ulcerative colitis. Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 38(7), 761-771. doi:10.1111/apt.12449

Palsson, O.S. (2018). Hypnotic treatment of chronic gastrointestinal pain. In M. Jensen (Ed.), Hypnotic techniques for chronic pain management: Favorite methods of master clinicians (pp. 76-92). Denny Creek Press.

Robin, S. G., Keller, C., Zwiener, R., Hyman, P. E., Nurko, S., Saps, M., Di Lorenzo, C., Shulman, R. J., Hyams, J. S,. Palsson, O., van Tilburg, M. A. L. (2018). Prevalence of pediatric functional gastrointestinal disorders utilizing the Rome IV criteria. Journal of Pediatrics, 195,134-139. doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2017.12.012

Palsson, O. S., & van Tilburg, M. (2015). Hypnosis and guided imagery treatment for gastrointestinal disorders: Experience with scripted protocols developed at the University of North Carolina. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 58(1), 5-21. doi:10.1080/00029157.2015.1012705

Simrén, M., Törnblom, H., Palsson, O. S., Whitehead, W. E. (2017). Management of the multiple symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. The Lancet: Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 2(2), 112-122. doi:10.1016/S2468-1253(16)30116-9


Target Audience: Hypnosis practitioners, psychologists, LCSWs, MFTs, LCPCs, all mental health disciplines, health care professionals, graduate students welcome.

Psychologists. This program, when attended in its entirety, is available for 1.5 continuing education credits. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is committed to accessibility and non-discrimination in its continuing education activities. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is also committed to conducting all activities in conformity with the American Psychological Association’s Ethical Principles for Psychologists. Participants are asked to be aware of the need for privacy and confidentiality throughout the program. If program content becomes stressful, participants are encouraged to process these feelings during discussion periods. If participants have special needs, we will attempt to accommodate them. Please address questions, concerns and any complaints to [email protected]. There is no commercial support for this program nor are there any relationships between the CE Sponsor, presenting organization, presenter, program content, research, grants, or other funding that could reasonably be construed as conflicts of interest.

MFTs, LPCCs, and LCSWs. Course meets the qualifications for 1.5 hour of continuing education credit for MFTs, LPCCs, and/or LCSWs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. If you are licensed outside of California please check with your local licensing agency to to determine if they will accept these CEUs. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is approved by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) to offer continuing education programming for MFTs, LPCCs, LEPs, and/or LCSWs. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is an accredited or approved postsecondary institution that meets the requirements set forth in Sections 4980.54(f)(1), 4989.34, 4996.22(d)(1), or 4999.76(d) of the Code.

Participation Certificate. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is able to provide students and other participants who simply wish to have documentation of their attendance at the program a participation certificate.

Non Psychologists. Most licensing boards accept Continuing Education Credits sponsored by the American Psychological Association but non-psychologists are recommended to consult with their specific state-licensing board to ensure that APA-sponsored CE is acceptable.

*Participants must attend 100% of the program in order to obtain a Certificate of Attendance.

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology maintains responsibility for this program and its content.