Self-hypnosis training for headaches in children and adolescents

J Pediatr. 2007 Jun;150(6):635-9, Kohen DP, Zajac R.
Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.



To describe the effect of treatment with self-hypnosis for youth with recurrent headaches.


A retrospective review was conducted of outpatient clinical records of 178 consecutive youths referred to the Behavioral Pediatrics Program (University of Minnesota) from 1988 to 2001 for recurrent headaches. All patients were taught self-hypnosis for self-regulation. Intensity, frequency, and duration of headaches before, during, and after treatment were measured. Outcomes included number and frequency of visits, types of medication, and nature of self-hypnosis practice.


Data were available for 144 patients in this patient self-selected and uncontrolled observation. Compared with self-reports before learning self-hypnosis, children and youths who learned self-hypnosis for recurrent headaches reported reduction in frequency of headache from an average of 4.5 per week to 1.4 per week (P < .01), reduction in intensity (on a self-rating scale of 0 to 12) from an average of 10.3 to 4.7, P < .01, and reduction in average duration from 23.6 hours to 3.0 hours, (P < .01). There were no adverse side effects of self-hypnosis.


Training in self-hypnosis is associated with significant improvement of chronic recurrent headaches in children and adolescents.