The following case demonstrates how hypnosis can be used as an adjunct in the treatment of a stress-influenced physical spasm of the cricopharyngeal muscle. Hypnosis was used first to explore precipitating contextual events related to the spasm and second to induce a relaxation response and related soothing of the spasm-prone muscle when tense . This provided a sense of control and mastery for the patient and insight was gained into the circumstances surrounding the muscle spasm.
Self-defeating thoughts which increased the stress and anxiety the patient experienced were explored and related to the cricopharyngeal spasm through cognitive–behavioural therapy. Alternative ways of managing stress and anxiety were addressed and encouragement to use social support actively provided. Treatment resulted in a decrease in voiced discomfort and occurrence of cricopharyngeal spasm making hypnosis an easy adjunctive treatment to swallow.
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