Research Profile: Dorothy Larkin PhD, RN 

Interview by Jackie Levin RN, MS, AHN-BC, CHTP & Jen Reich PhD, RN, ANP-BC, Connections Co-Editors


Dorothy M. Larkin, Ph.D, RN
Dorothy M. Larkin PhD, RN

Why do you think it is important for Holistic Nurses to define and refine concepts we use in practice and research?


I think Holistic Nursing theories, practice and research can and should guide health care reform and inter-professional practice.  We need to explicate our knowledge more blatantly, and as the IOM report emphasizes, we need to be at the inter-professional table in guiding health care reform.  I am amazed when I present my research and holistic nursing theory informed practice to other health care professionals and see how eager they are to embrace unitary science/holistic nursing theories and concepts, which then can support, guide and inform their practice. Holistic Nursing is growing exponentially, and as we embrace our power as “knowing” participation in facilitating change, we can actualize our intentions and facilitate healing for all.


Tell me a little bit about your research.


My doctoral research at NYU was entitled “Ericksonian Hypnotherapeutic Approaches in Chronic Care Support Groups: A Rogerian Exploration of Power and Self-Defined Health-Promoting Goals”.  It was published in Nursing Science Quarterly in October, 2007 and received the first “Best Paper Award” from Nursing Science Quarterly and Sage Publications.  This honor will hopefully give more people the opportunity to integrate the recommendations into their practice!


The study focused on those experiencing a chronic illness as more than 50% of North Americans are projected to have a chronic illness during their lifetime.  Rogers’ Science of Unitary Human Beings identifies the purpose of nursing as promoting the health and well-being of all people. Health in Rogerian science is viewed as eudaimonistic, which is ever- evolving well-being.  Promoting eudaimonistic health involves actualizing desired health promoting potentials which is done by empowering the individual to a participant in the change process with power as knowing participation in change. This study examined how traditional and Ericksonian hypnotherapeutic support groups facilitated self defined health promoting goals and power as knowing participation in change for a convenience sample of 49 participants with chronic physical illness who were randomly assigned to either a traditional support group or an Ericksonian hypnotherapeutic support group for five weeks duration. All participants were encouraged to share their stories and give and receive support in the group. Participants in the Ericksonian hypnotherapeutic support groups received additional education in self-hypnosis. Measurements of power and self defined health promoting goals were obtained seven times over a ten week period. Instruments utilized were Barrett’s “Power as Knowing Participation in Change Test” semantic differential and Matas’s, “Self Defined Health Promoting Goals” visual analogue scale.


The results indicated that both the traditional support groups and the Ericksonian hypnotherapeutic support groups experienced significantly enhanced power, p < .001, and significantly facilitated progression toward self-defined health promoting goals, p < .001. .. There was no significant difference detected between the two types of groups in terms of participants’ power, p = .55 nor in progression toward their chosen health goals, p = .227. Although correlations for the self defined health promoting goals and power were not significant at pre-test (r=.09), the correlations progressively increased through the time to a strong correlation of r = .62 at one month following the group (p < .01). This finding supports Barrett’s claim that power relates to evolving health.


Further research is needed on the health and power promoting benefits of traditional and Ericksonian hypnotherapeutic support groups for persons with chronic illness.


What are some of the benefits and challenges to conducting research in a small college setting?


Some of the benefits I have experienced relate to the interpersonal support I have received with administration, faculty and in the IRB process.  An ongoing challenge is the lack of resources in terms of faculty time and financial support. 


Any advice you would like to share with Holistic Nurses just getting started in research?


Consider questions that you are passionate about.   Explore the inter-professional literature.  Talk with and deeply listen to experts, colleagues, and patients.   Consider your own learning style.  Do you work better alone or with partners?  Reflect on the required logistics in terms of time, space, recruitment, ease of obtaining your population.  Seek mentors.  Consider enrolling in a masters and/or doctoral program and obtain academic credit while conducting your research.  We need more doctorally prepared faculty!  Enjoy the process!



Dorothy Larkin PhD, RN is an Associate Professor and faculty/coordinator for the Master’s Program in Holistic Nursing at The College of New Rochelle.  Her doctoral dissertation from New York University was on Ericksonian Hypnosis in Chronic Care Support Groups:  A Rogerian Exploration of Power and Self Defined Health Promoting Goals.  This research received the best paper award for 2007 from Nursing Science Quarterly and Sage Publications.  Dorothy is a consultant for hospitals on integrating holistic nursing and transforming cultures to augment caring practices and healing relationships.  Her current research focuses on integrating hypnosis in support groups for persons with chronic pain and building relationship based care for hospitals seeking magnet status. She has published numerous articles and chapters on hypnosis, therapeutic suggestions, therapeutic metaphors, storytelling, spirituality, consciousness, intentionality and community, and conflict resolution and peer mediation in schools. Dorothy is a founder and trainer for the conflict resolution and peer mediation program at Daniel Webster Elementary school in New Rochelle, NY.  She is past president of the New York Milton Erickson Society for Psychotherapy and Hypnosis.  Her private practice since 1986 integrates health patterning holistic nursing modalities, brief solution focused psychotherapy and Ericksonian hypnosis for pain and stress management.




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