Saybrook University has huge impact at recent National Hypnosis Conference

Eric Willmarth receives ASCH Presidential Award for 2015

Eric Willmarth receives ASCH Presidential Award for 2015

Saybrook University faculty and students made a major impact at the recent annual conference of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis in Jacksonville, Florida, held March 27-31. Long-term faculty member Stanley Krippner, Ph.D., made the opening plenary address of the conference with a speech entitled, “Healing Ceremonies of Shamans and Survival of the Suggestibles.”  As well, a Saybrook student, Arielle Denise Dance, won the award for best poster presentation at the conference for her poster on “The Utilization of Hypnosis, Hypnotherapy, and HypnoBirthing for Childbirth and Labor.”  Not to be outdone, Mind-Body Medicine faculty member Eric Willmarth, PhD, received the association’s 2015 Presidential Award during the ASCH conference.

In his plenary speech Dr. Krippner examined the similarities between shamanic healing rituals and contemporary hypnosis, which he terms an “18th century social construct.” He proposed that suggestibility to hypnosis is a human trait that was adaptive in the process of evolution. When tribal shamans conducted healing rituals, those rituals that relied upon human suggestion for their effectiveness tended to become part of the shaman’s repertoire. Further, humans who did not respond because of their lack of suggestibility often did not survive and their genes dropped out of the gene pool. Shamanic rituals typically consisted of induction, deepening, suggestion, and enactment, the same stages that characterize most forms of contemporary hypnosis.

“Saybrook has an outstanding dream studies certificate program,” said Dr. Krippner. “Whenever I visit the group I tell them that there is no better way to learn about consciousness than to study hypnosis.”

Ms. Dance’s poster was a literature review based on the increasing use of hypnosis and hypnotherapy to cope with the anxiety and pain of childbirth in place of medication. “Hypnobirthing,” a maternal health specialized hypnosis practice, has become more prevalent recently. Benefits Ms. Dance found in the literature included fewer birthing complications, less pain, shorter labors, cost savings, potential reduction in preterm delivery, and even reductions in post-partum depression. The conclusions from her research include the need for increased education and training for maternal health medical providers, more patient education on the benefits of these new techniques, and greater preparedness in healthcare facilities for women who have chosen hypnosis and hypnotherapy for their childbirth. Ms. Dance was also recently featured in this previous Saybrook Forum post.

Dr. Willmarth earned this year’s American Society for Clinical Hypnosis Presidential Award “in recognition of steadfast commitment to further the knowledge, understanding, and applications of clinical hypnosis,” by ASCH President Philip Colosimo, PhD. “He has given extensively of his time and talent not only to this Society but also to the field of hypnosis,” said Dr. Colosimo. Donald Moss, chair of Saybrook’s School of Mind-Body Medicine, said, “Eric Willmarth has contributed generously of his time and creative energies to the field of hypnosis.  He has served as President of Division 30 (hypnosis) of the American Psychological Association and as Secretary of ASCH, and now serves as President of the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. In addition, he has traveled worldwide and spent hundreds of hours recording and editing video interviews with many of the world leaders in hypnosis research and practice. His online archive provides a wonderful collection of video interviews illuminating the history of hypnosis.”

Dr. Willmarth also presented a session at the conference on “Integrating Hypnosis and Biofeedback in Pain Management” and with fellow Saybrook faculty member Marina Smirnova, PhD, on “Clinical Hypnosis and Gene Expression Modulation.”

The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH) was founded in 1957 by Milton Erickson, MD. It is an interdisciplinary organization of medical, dental and mental health professionals interested in the clinical use of hypnosis. ASCH promotes understanding and use of hypnosis as a clinical tool with broad applications in medicine, dentistry and mental health. ASCH offers training and certification programs and provides practitioners with ethical and treatment guidelines for the clinical use of hypnosis by trained, licensed professionals. Currently, ASCH has nearly 2,000 members in the U.S., Canada and other countries. Approximately 300 ASCH members attended the Jacksonville conference.