Hypnosis, Biofeedback and Virtual Reality Therapy

   Hypnosis has a long history of use. The Egyptians recorded how "sleep temples" served to the benefit of people by having them placed in a deep sleep attended to by the priests. Trance work appeared in modern times with the work of the French physician Mezmer. An English surgeon in the early 1800s used hypnosis over 400 times while performing surgery (before there were any anesthetics). With the advent of modern anesthetics the use of hypnosis fail out of favor until promoted again by Sigmund Freud in the early 1900s.

     After World War II the use of hypnosis was expanded as causes and treatments were sought to help war-torn veterans. Hypnosis began to return to general medical practice in the 1950s and the principle professional organization (the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis-ASCH) was founded in 1959, receiving official recognition from the American Medical Association.

     With the growth of complementary therapies aside traditional medical practices there has been a renewed interest in how the mind-body connection can be encouraged and explored through techniques such as hypnosis. A central investigation of many auto-immune disorders (Arthritis, Lupus, AIDS) is how some people do much better than others and whether hypnosis might strengthen the person's ability to effect change in their physical body.

   Biofeedback was developed in the late 1960s with the use of sensitive monitoring equipment that could capture accurately the changes in the body such as muscle tension, temperature, and electrical response. Being very objective and measurable there has been a great deal of research looking at how learning to regulate internal functions can lead to reduction in negative symptoms (for example headaches) and an increase in positive attitudes.

     My training and education in both hypnosis and biofeedback are extensive and involve legitimate instruction and not just attendance at some weekend retreat. I was fortunate to have been introduced to both hypnosis and biofeedback by well-known leaders in their respective field. I was supervised in biofeedback while completing my Ph.D. at Indiana State University as well as at my internship at the Olin E. Teague Veteran's Hospital in Temple, Texas. I later served as the Director of the Biofeedback Clinic at the University Rehabilitation Center associated with the UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas from 1988 to 1990. I have used EMG and temperature biofeedback for many years in working with people with chronic pain and other psychological aspects of physical health problems.

     My involved with hypnosis was initiated during my work with pediatric cancer patients while completing my Master's degree at St. Mary's University in San Antonio from 1981 to 1983. During that time I completed three semesters of supervised practicum under the direction of a pediatric oncologist and Licensed Psychologist and participated in their research on the use of hypnosis in helping children cope with painful medical procedures. During my tenure at the University Rehabilitation Center I was fortunate to be supervised by Harold Crasilneck, Ph.D. who is the past president of both professional societies in hypnosis. We met weekly for supervision and continued to have telephone contact for many years after I returned to Lubbock. I have continued my training in hypnosis and earned the highest level of credentialing as an Approved Consultant with ASCH in 1994.

     I view hypnosis as a naturalistic state that can occur without any formal induction. I tend to use hypnosis in helping my clients find an "internal helper" that can help to resolve past trauma and bring about greater self-understanding. I do not usually offer hypnosis for simplistic intervention with stopping tobacco use or losing weight. The research in overcoming those problems shows that hypnosis alone has little chance for success while more structured behavior modification programs are much better in producing lasting results.

     Hypnosis, formally or informally used, fits nicely with my style of counseling. I view people as having multiple "ego states" or personalities that we tend to switch from one to the other with little effort. Identifying those ego states that came about due to negative life training or traumatic psychic injury can help guide the counseling and reintegration of the person's total personality.

Virtual Reality Therapy

   VR offers customized virtual environments that are intended to provide a controlled method by which the client can encounter and gain authority over situations that previously were too difficult to face.  VR places the client in a computerized real-time video and audio environment where they "experience" the feared moment. The client wears a sophisticated headgear that provides for an immersive experience. Following a process of graduated exposure therapy the therapist maintains control over multiple features of the situation so that the client is able to approach their fear and develop and deploy strategies that help them to overcome the stress. VR involvement allows the therapist to find the best fit between the individual and the challenges they face during a standard therapy session, all within the comfort of our office.

To find out more visit our Virtual Reality Page

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Hypnosis allows one to access that larger part of themselves that otherwise remains hidden . In trance you gain awareness of issues that can be road blocks to success. Although not a "cure-all" hypnosis strengthens our life coping skills.

Dr. Brian Carr