The nonmedical clinician is advised to inquire of clients as to whether any medical evaluation of their condition has been performed prior to initiating an hypnotic intervention. Common presentations to the hypnotherapist such as headaches, insomnia, and back pain may have organic etiologies that require surgical or pharmaceutical treatment (Olness & Libbey, 1987). A hasty hypnotic intervention may delay proper diagnosis, cloud symptoms or actually worsen a client's condi tion. For example, a highly hypnotizable client presented with what he thought was a sprained ankle to an inexperienced therapist, and asked to be hypnotized so he could manage the pain. His responsiveness to the hypnotic suggestion that he would feel no pain, allowed him to walk on the injured foot for several days, after which time increased swelling led him to the Emergency Room, and an x-ray determined he had a broken ankle. This is not a danger inherent in hypnosis, but a danger in the clinician's faulty judgment. The skillfulness and clinical experience of the practitioner are operating variables that affect outcome of treatment and need to be separated from the value or success of hypnosis itself.
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