Hypnotherapy in Palliative Care

Dr Rumi Peynovska, Stone House Hospital; Dr Jackie Fisher, Wisdom Hospice,

Professor V.M.Mathew, Stone House Hospital, West Kent NHS and Social Care Trust




To study the benefits of Hypnotherapy, as a supplement therapy in the management of terminally ill patients.


Hypnotherapy is a brief psychotherapeutic approach, which utilizes the persons’ ability to enter into trance and thus make ones mind receptive to therapeutic suggestions given during the session.

Hypnosis has been recognized as an effective psychotherapeutic instrument in panoply of psychological and psychosomatic conditions.


22 cancer patients were offered three hypnotherapy sessions and were assessed with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale before and after the third session together with a follow up after 3 to 4 months after the last session. To avoid bias, patients were also, independently assessed by the nursing staff using a visual assessment scale of 1 to 10. 

Particular attention was paid to:

  • management of anxiety, depression, anger, frustration
  • management of pain, fatigue, insomnia
  • management of side-effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy

All hypnotherapy sessions were individually tailored to cover the specific individual needs and symptoms.


Of the 22 patients who took part in the study all reported reduction in their anxiety level, feelings of improved well-being and self-confidence and much better day to day coping skills. There was no significant improvement in the depression level.


The present study represents a small number of patients who showed a clear benefit from the use of hypnosis in alleviating a number of symptoms associated with cancer illness. Despite the limitations of the small number of patients and the short-term follow-up, the findings suggest that hypnotherapy is a valuable tool especially with regard to enhancing the coping mechanisms of cancer patients