Can hypnotherapy work for bedwetting?

Bedwetting can create a desperate situation for you and your child. If you’re an adult bedwetter, you too will probably be spending every waking moment trying to find a solution.

The first thing that comes to mind when hearing the word “hypnotize” for a lot of us is thoughts of those TV shows or stage shows where a celebrity hypnotist or magician gathers a group of people, waves a swaying medallion in front of them for a few seconds, then has them performing all sorts of actions which they’ll no longer remember once he “wakes” them up again.

Whether you believe this stuff is real is a matter that has surely resulted in living room debates for a long time! But is that what hypnosis is really all about? And how can it relate to bedwetting?

Medical hypnotherapy has nothing to do with magic tricks. And that’s what this article is going to be about.

What exactly is hypnotherapy?

The idea behind hypnosis, when used in real life and not for entertainment purposes, is to attempt to change habits and behaviors.

By that definition, hypnosis seems a match for bedwetting since for children suffering from nocturnal enuresis who have no medical complications, the real cure lies in behavioural and habit change, and in training the brain to respond appropriately.

The goal of hypnotherapy is to promote these changes on a subconscious level. Hypnotherapy is not a recognized treatment for any condition, although the NHS in the UK does acknowledge it, and they make a notable point that (which applies to most other countries as well), that it’s basically possible for anyone to offer hypnosis services, so it’s important to research the background, experience and reputation of anyone offering hypnotherapy.

Is hypnotherapy for everyone?

In short, no it’s not. If you’re considering taking your child to a hypnotherapist – perhaps you’ve become desperate after other methods like bedwetting alarms haven’t improved the situation (note, you can still use the bedwet alarm while undergoing other options) – consider whether your child is a good candidate for hypnotherapy.

Honest and reputable hypnotherapists will clearly state that not everyone is suited to hypnosis. Very young children who experience bedwetting are likely to grow out of it. Those who seek hypnotherapy are usually doing so for kids who are still wetting the bed regularly at ages 8, 10 or older. Most of all, a child has to be motivated about hypnotherapy, otherwise there is no chance of it having any positive benefit and your money will be wasted.

Can It Really Work? Studies on Hypnotherapy for Nocturnal Enuresis

I wanted to look for any and every study done surrounding hypnotherapy and nocturnal enuresis. Not surprisingly, there aren’t a whole lot of them. Hypnosis isn’t an area that scientists pay attention to and thus, genuine scientific studies are not going to be in abundance.

A study back in 1993 involved hypnosis alongside the use of the medication imipramine.

The study, in people aged 5-16, showed that the group that underwent hypnosis for 6 weeks had just a slightly lower rate of completely dry nights by the end of that period, compared with the group on the medication (72% vs 76%).

Most interesting of all though was that, after following up with the participants 9 months later, a significantly larger portion of the hypnosis group (68%) stayed dry, while only 24% of the people that used imipramine continued staying dry 9 months later.

After the initial study was done, those in the hypnosis group continued using self-hypnosis methods during this 9 month period, seeing largely positive results as mentioned above. Kids aged between 5 and 7 saw the least benefit from hypnotherapy though, and they did better on the medication.

Another study back in 1985 in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry also found hypnotherapy to have positive outcomes. The study was carried out with a group of 8-13 year old boys who were suffering from nocturnal enuresis. They each had one hypnosis session per week. After 6 months it was found that hypnotherapy was effective at decreasing bedwetting. The conclusions that the researchers drew from this study was that they considered hypnotherapy to be “an effective alternative or adjunctive form of treatment for enuresis.”

Another study published in the journal of Paediatrics & Child Health focused on comparing the effectiveness of hypnotherapy versus that of alarm therapy in children with nocturnal enuresis aged 7-12 years old. In the study, the group who were assigned hypnotherapy we given an audio recording to listen to every night, while the alarm group had to make use of a bedwetting alarm. The study found that the group of children using the alarms had a much higher success rate of dry nights compared with those using hypnotherapy.