Therapeutic Utilization of Spontaneous Out-of-Body Experiences in Hypnotherapy

Joseph Meyerson, Marc Gelkopf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An out-of-body experience (OBE) is a unique dissociative event in which the person feels separated from his/her body. Studies and anecdotal reports have observed that this experience tends to appear spontaneously in stressful and hypnogogic situations. It often contributes to the person's later having a new perspective of himself and his conception of the world, and may influence his functioning and behavior. Despite its potential as a powerful therapeutic lever in hypnotherapy, little has been written about applying OBE in this milieu. The current article describes three individuals who were contending with different therapeutic issues (i.e., symbiotic involvement, somatization, and cessation of therapy) for whom spontaneous OBE was used therapeutically during hypnotherapy and proved to significantly advance the therapeutic processes. In accordance with the literature, and as observed in the presented cases, we have found that the OBE experience tends to appear in dissociative and highly suggestible subjects. Furthermore OBE may help those patients to cope with strongly anxiety-loaded issues that arise in therapy and may function, through the "body-self" detachment experience, as a therapeutic metaphor for promoting complex separational processes. In view of the cases described, a spontaneous OBE appearing in hypnotherapy is proposed as an effective therapeutic resource.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-102
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychotherapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


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