Reviews of the Clinical Hypnosis Textbook

Review by the publication Quarterly Journal of Mental Health - January 2007:



The Clinical Hypnosis Textbook

By Professor Ursula James. Radcliffe, Oxford. ISBN 1-85775-725-4. Pp 159.


I confess with some degree of shame that despite being a consultant psychiatrist and having a special interest in alternative states of consciousness, my knowledge of hypnosis was very scant and my clinical experience was absolutely zero. Nevertheless I agreed to read and review the book from the point of view as a novice. And I'm very glad I did.


This textbook is a perfect introduction into this fascinating and clinically relevant topic. The book offers concise explanations of the process and rationale behind the practice of hypnosis. It traces the history of the subject through to the present day and describes its multiple therapeutic applications.


Ursula James, who teaches at St. Georges, London and Oxford University Medical Schools, admits the subject does not (presently) lie at the centre of mainstream teaching. She uses the book to reduce, rather than amplify, the mystery of hypnosis. Despite its challenge to the materialistic viewpoint of medicine, James describes how hypnosis also has a place in modern practice by providing an effective and safe clinical tool.


The hypnotic state is neither a sleep state nor, strictly speaking, an alternative state of consciousness. It is rather a natural phenomenon - like daydreaming - in which the patient is assisted in focusing their mind on their internal activity whilst disengaging from external distractions. There is an emphasis on the importance of planning the session, providing information for the patient and techniques to improve the therapeutic relationship between patient and therapist. Not unlike Transpersonal therapy, the issues of Set and Setting are paramount - as is the importance of a post-session integration of material released by the experience.


The book explodes the myth (propagated by popular stage show acts) that under hypnosis the patient is a mere passive bystander, at risk of exploitation from the suggestions of a con artist. In fact, hypnosis is a very empowering process. The therapy aims to educate and encourage the patient to take control, have ownership over their health problems and, crucially, their treatment. This is something that doctors in their ivory towers are often not always very good at (and perhaps why they may often frown on 'alternative' therapies such as hypnosis). Nevertheless, this holistic-style is an essential practice in today's user-lead and NSF-driven National Health Service.


To confine oneself only to the normal every-day waking-state of consciousness in working with one's patients may be to miss an important (if somewhat scientifically intangible) treatment angle. Reading this book helped me to re­-examine my prejudices towards non-mainstream therapies and open up to the possibility of hypnosis for my patients.


The book (which includes a CD of practical instruction for hypnosis) is also highly readable, with clear text, subsections, bullet-points and a broad glossary - so it certainly won't send you to sleep.


Ben Sessa, Consultant Adolescent Psychiatrist

Orchard Lodge Young Peoples Unit, Cotford St. Luke, Taunton TA4 7 DB, UK

Review by the publication Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice:



By Ursula James

With a forward by Mark Feldman

Radcliffe Publishing Ltd. Oxon

ISBN: 1 85775 725 4


This is a well written practical guide to facilitate the practical intervention of clinical hypnosis. As such it should be essential reading on the reading list of any hypnosis teaching courses.


The book offers an overview of clinical hypnosis and its practical application within medical environments.


Whilst there are a number of books dealing with this topic, I found it refreshing to find a text offering so much practical guidance for clinical practitioners. This book can be read from the beginning or used as a reference guide or aide memoire for the practical application of hypnosis. The addition of a CD is really helpful.


This book has the rare ability to offer something for the novice and expert alike. Ursula James has managed to present the subject in a clear unambiguous format. Topics range from an introduction to hypnosis to specific therapeutic use such as smoking cessation or phobias to a particularly well structured breakdown of a clinical hypnosis session with clear explanations given for each stage of the encounter. Common questions asked by clients are addressed by James as well as addressing techniques for clinical problems frequently encountered in daily practice.


There is also a particularly valuable (and current) list of web sites to explore for further information.


Whilst we are presented with a lot of valuable practical information, it is curious that James does not cite any references in this book. Indeed, even a bibliography would have been helpful to the reader keen to expand their scientific knowledge of this topic.


Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and as long as someone does not choose to interpret it as a DIY guide to hypnosis but as a clinical aid towards enhancing their skills, this book will be an excellent clinical teaching tool.


I have no doubt that any practitioner employing hypnosis in the clinical setting will find something of value in this text.


Denise Rankin-Box

Editor-in-Chief Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice

Review by the publication Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies (FACT):


James U.: Clinical Hypnosis Textbook

Clinical Hypnosis Textbook – a Guide for Practical Interventions

Oxford: Radcliffe Publishing Ltd, 2005. 159 pages. £24.95.

ISBN 1-857757-25-4

Reviewed by K Schmidt, Exeter, UK


The word ‘hypnosis’ is derived from the Greek god of sleep, Hypnos, who was the father of Morpheus, the god of dreams. For most people the word ‘hypnosis’ carries some sort of fascination and possibly a slight feeling of unease to some extent. A hypnotist can cause significant changes in a person’s behaviour by the simple uttering of words. Hypnosis involves a modified condition of a person’s consciousness, which can be caused by various techniques and which is typical for certain people’s talents to react to suggestions by changes of their cognition and perception, memory, motivation and the feeling of self-control.


Ursula James is honorary lecturer at the St George’s Medical School in London and visiting teaching fellow at the Oxford Medical School. She is also vice president of the British Society of Clinical Hypnosis. Her recent book contains nearly everything there is to know about clinical hypnosis, although she calls it ‘merely an overview’ – what hypnosis and what self-hypnosis is, what the benefits for patients with different conditions are, how a hypnosis session is structured and what it entails, what the common questions are that hypnosis patients often ask, hypnotic events, the application and contraindicators of hypnosis, what a hypnotherapeutic protocol looks like, what hypnosis can do for smoking cessation, phobias and performance anxiety and finally the book also contains a brief history, a glossary of terms and useful contacts and websites for curious readers. The book is accompanied by a CD, which contains various hypnosis techniques.


There are many lay and professional books about hypnosis available but the advantage of this book is that it is very practical; it is a book for healthcare professionals such as medical students, therapists and general practitioners who would like to explore this field further.


An important additional point which is not mentioned in the book is that the hypnotherapist should always be a licensed or certified mental health professional who has obtained specialised, post graduate training and certification in the use of clinical hypnosis within the context of counselling, psychotherapy, or other medical specialty. All members of the British Society of Clinical Hypnosis, for instance, sign and adhere to a code of conduct.


This book provides in depth information on clinical hypnosis that I would have had a hard time gathering otherwise.

Review by Doody's Book Review Service:


James: Clinical Hypnosis Textbook


JAMES / Clinical Hypnosis Textbook: A Guide for Practical Intervention

Radcliffe Publishing, 2005, $48.00.


[AUTHOR] James, Ursula

[BIBLIOGRAPHIC DATA] ISBN: 1-85775-725-4, 159 pages, soft cover.

[DOODY'S NOTES] An audio CD accompanies the book.

[REVIEWER'S EXPERT OPINION] Susan Richardson, MA, PSY.D(Private Practice)


This is a pragmatic introduction to the uses of hypnosis in a variety of clinical settings.



The book is designed to introduce the clinician to the uses, methods and guidelines of hypnosis in medicine, dentistry, psychiatry, and psychology. It also seeks to teach individuals how to use self-hypnosis and induce it in others. It is intended to give professionals in the helping professions another excellent tool.



The author has taught at two prominent medical schools in the United Kingdom. She states that this book is for any professional in any helping professional who wishes to utilize clinical hypnosis as a tool of their practice.



While small in size and written in very accessible language, the book is comprehensive in terms of practical interventions. The author writes as if the reader knows very little about clinical hypnosis, yet those with some training and education on the subject can still benefit. Sections define the uses and limitations of hypnosis and a terrific chapter outlines and answers typical patient questions about hypnosis. Nuts and bolts sections of the book outline the structure of a hypnosis session. A CD-ROM included in the book provides a guideline for self-hypnosis; a script for this CD-ROM is also provided. There are three appendixes, all of interest, and the last includes terrific web-based resources for the interested reader.



This is a wonderful choice for clinicians who want to learn about or how to use hypnosis in clinical practice.


Weighted Numerical Score: 95 - 4 Stars

[Note: In Doody's scoring system, this equates to "Outstanding Title"]