Telehypnosis is more effective than face-to-face therapy, according to a study bySusan Simpson, a clinical psychologist at Royal Cornhill Hospital in Scotland. She hypnotized 11 patients who live in the remote Shetland Islands in Scotland using a video hook-up. This allowed her to see her patients during their 1 ? hour-long sessions.

The patients suffered from eating disorders, insomnia and phobias. Four of them reported feeling considerably more relaxed and confident about dealing with their problems following telehypnosis, compared with regular hypnosis, Simpson found. She believes that remote hypnosis gives patients a better sense of control over the procedure. ?They say they feel they have more personal space and feel less self-conscious about being watched, particularly patients with eating disorders,? she says.

TV screens linked to six ISDN lines — three audio and three visual — let both Simpson and the patient to zoom in and out and change the volume. ?At the beginning of the session the patient looks at the screen while I talk them through the hypnosis. Then they close their eyes and I monitor their relaxation on the screen by asking them to signal how relaxed they are through finger movements,? Simpson says. ?It?s almost like sitting face-to-face. There is a tiny delay, but the quality is so good that it?s not that tiring staring at the screen.?

Tom Connelly, of the British Society of Clinical Hypnosis, says that while certain patients, such as agrophobics (who are afraid to leave the house), may benefit from therapy in their own homes, visiting a professional works better. ?Visiting a therapist at their office brings with it an element of prestige and expectation, and with that comes the motivation to improve. We tend to watch a television screen in a relaxed, less critical way,? he says.

Simpson believes that telehypnosis gives patients more privacy. ?These patients live in small communities; if they get therapy from someone in Aberdeen, at least they know they?re not going to bump into their therapist in the supermarket.?

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