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APM publishes paper on the integration of hypnosis into paediatric palliative care

Author: Sue Boucher
07 September 2017

A paper using three case reports to illustrate the effective use of hypnosis to decrease distressing symptoms and suffering in children receiving palliative care has been published by APM.

The APM Annals of Palliative Medicine, an open access journal  for research in palliative medicine has published a paper authored by Drs Stefan J. Friedrichsdorf and Daniel P. Kohen describing current practice of integrating hypnosis into advanced pain and symptom management of children with serious illnesses. The paper provides three case reports of children living with a life-limiting condition which exemplify the effective use of hypnosis to decrease their distressing symptoms and suffering. 

The paper focuses on how hypnosis for paediatric patients experiencing a life-limiting disease not only provides an integral part of advanced symptom management, but also supports children dealing with loss and anticipatory loss, sustains and enhances hope and helps children and adolescents live fully, making every moment count, until death. 

The authors describe hypnosis as "an alternative state of awareness which we are all in and out of all day long" and use examples of two kinds of hypnosis, the first being spontaneous, occurring when we narrow our focus and concentrate on something with the intention of making a change e.g. studying for a test, and the second being that which we invite or initiate with the purpose of accomplishing a specific goal or solving a problem such as eliminating a habit. 

They maintain that when children with a serious illness learn hypnosis it provides therapeutic support and helps them cope with their illness, stating that the process helps to "ease despair, lessen pain and helps to transport the child to places and experiences that diminish the threat of death, and ease their present experience."  

The authors claim that hypnosis "integrates well with pharmacological, procedural, rehabilitative and psychological modalities to address distressing end of life symptoms, such as pain, nausea, vomiting, discomfort, anxiety, and existential distress."

Three case reports describe the use of hypnosis for children with serious illnesses and the authors concludes that hypnosis supports children with a life-limiting disease and those dealing with loss and anticipatory loss,"sustains and enhances hope and helps children and adolescents live fully, until death."

The paper can be read and downloaded from the APM website: http://apm.amegroups.com/article/view/15402 

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