Bedwetting, also known as nocturnal enuresis can be a frustrating challenge for parents as well as a socially humiliating concern for children. This frustration is only compounded in the mind of the child as they may experience a sense of helplessness since they feel they have no conscious control over something that happens while they’re sound asleep.
So what is a concerned parent to do? According to the HMI College of Hypnotherapy, (2007), “Biologically, by the age of 8 most kids will grow out it." That, however, offers little consolation to the child or the parent who wants their kids to be able to attend sleepovers, slumber parties, or go to an overnight church lock-in, etc. This is not to say, however, that the condition cannot continue well into and beyond the teenage years. Clinical research studies however have shown hypnosis to be one possible avenue for assistance documenting some very positive results. In fact it has been cited as one of the most successful therapies a clinical hypnotherapist can conduct, (HMI, 2007).
So what is realistic to expect when dealing with this type of challenge? Well certainly every child, family, household, and case is unique and therefore there is no way to predict an outcome in advance. That said, however, taking a look at a few clinical research studies may offer some insight into the area and at the very least offer some education. The American Hypnosis Association points to the following three studies.
In the first comparative study (Banerjee, Srivastav, & Palan, 1993), children ranging in age from 5 to 16 years were divided into two groups. In the first group, the children were treated with imipramine, a prescription antidepressant, while the second group in the study underwent hypnosis and were trained in self-hypnosis which allowed them to take control on their own. The results stated that of the group treated with the prescription antidepressant, 76% had a positive response which meant “all dry beds.” Likewise the group of children who underwent hypnotherapy attained a similar result showing 72% responded positively. Where we see the larger discrepancy is at the 9-month follow up. At that point the study cites that 68% of patients in the hypnosis group maintained a positive response, whereas only 24% of the children treated with the prescription antidepressant continued to show positive results. It could perhaps be construed from the abstract that some children in the hypnotic group were able to do so well as they continued to utilize the self-hypnosis tools that had been taught to them during the study. The research paper did state that younger children in the 5-7 year old range did not fair as well using hypnotherapy as the older children. This often has less to do with age than with vocabulary, conversational skills, and the child’s ability to interact and understand. Of course the ability of the hypnotherapist to be able to get on the child’s level and create the rapport and thereby communicate effectively is equally as important.
A second study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry entitled “Hypnotherapy as a Treatment for Enuresis” looked at the efficacy of hypnosis for boys 8-13 years of age who experience nocturnal enuresis. The children underwent one hypnotherapy session per week for 6 weeks, and then a follow-up was conducted to see how the children were fairing after 6 months. The study’s summary cites, “Treatment consisted of six standardized sessions, one hourly session per subject per week. Results indicated that hypnotherapy was significantly effective over 6 months in decreasing nocturnal enuresis…” (Edwards & Spuvy, 2006).
One final study included 12 boys ranging in age from 8-16. All patients had a family history of enuresis, had used bedwetting alarms, and been treated with prescription medication. The children underwent hypnotherapy for a median of 6 sessions, followed by self-hypnosis exercises for a median of one month, again empowering them to take control of the situation themselves. The study showed very favorable results citing, that at the three month, and one year, follow-up, 9 out of 12 patients had either six to seven, or seven dry nights per week. As for the remaining three children in the study, two were referred to a pediatric surgeon for overactive bladder issues, and the other was referred for psychiatric treatment due to “ongoing family conflicts.” The interpretation of the study cited in full states as follows, “Hypnotherapy had lasting effects for boys with chronic and complex forms of nocturnal enuresis. We suggest that hypnotherapy should be included in the therapeutic guidelines” (Diseth & Vandvik, 2004).
The final clinical study was included in this article last as it highlights a very important point. As with any condition that could have a possible underlying medical etiology it is important to first consult your child’s pediatrician to rule out any causes for the bedwetting that could be medical in origin. Therefore a medical referral is required for sessions involving enuresis.
If you or your child are currently battling bedwetting issues, and would like to learn more about how hypnotherapy may help, contact us online or by calling the office at 469-225-9040.
Banerjee, S., Srivastav, A., & Palan, B. M. (1993). Hypnosis and self-hypnosis in the management of nocturnal enuresis: a comparative study with imipramine therapy. The American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 36(2), 113-119.
Diseth, T. H., & Vandvik, I.H. (2004). Hypnotherapy in the treatment of refractory nocturnal enuresis. Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen, 124(4), 488-491.
Edwards, S. D., & Spuvy, H. I. J. V. (2006). Hypnotherapy as a treatment for enuresis. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 26(1), 161-170.
HMI College of Hypnotherapy. (2007). Student workbook volume 4.Tarzana,CA: Panorama Publishing.