Hypnotherapy is now recognised to be a valuable way to help a growing range of health problems. Please see the sections below for more information on how hypnosis can help:
Chronic & Acute Pain:
Pain management is one of the valuable and exciting applications of hypnotherapy. It may seem unlikely, but hypnosis can reduce and even eliminate the chronic and acute pain associated with a wide range of conditions. It offers a drug-free solution that empowers the individual whilst avoiding undesirable side effects.
Hypnotherapy is currently being used to alleviate the pain associated with countless conditions and procedures. Whether relief is sought from the pain associated with cancer, childbirth, migraines or dental problems the results are speaking for themselves.
Hypnosis for pain relief is not a new concept. In the 1840’s the British doctor John Elliotson pioneered the use of hypnosis for anaesthesia and pain control in surgery, conducting many successful operations, including amputations¹. There are well documented reports of his work together with that of his colleague James Esdaile who also conducted pain-free surgery on countless patients in India². Operations including amputations, tumor removal and mastectomies were all successfully conducted under hypnosis. Unfortunately, despite the success of hypnotic anaesthesia, mainstream medicine went on to favour the use of nitrous oxide in surgical operations and it is only in recent years that the value of hypnosis has been revisited.
Over the last few years a number of well-controlled scientific experiments have validated the use of hypnosis for reducing sensitivity to pain³. The technique known as hypo-analgesia has been associated with significant reductions in the level of pain experienced and a reduced need for analgesics or sedation in surgery. Patients have also reported a reduction in nausea and vomiting and have needed less time in hospitals to recover after procedures. As a result, surgeons and other health providers have reported much higher degrees of satisfaction from patients treated under hypnosis than with other patients⁴.
Hypnosis for pain relief is a tremendously empowering experience. It works by helping you access personal resources so that you can control and eliminate your pain. Under hypnosis your subconscious mind becomes much more open to suggestions and it is in this “trance state” that changes can be made to the way your brain perceives pain. Scientists still don't fully understand what is exactly going on in the brain when this happens but regardless of how it works more and more people are benefitting from this drug-free therapy.
What is a sleep disorder?
Most of us will be familiar with those rare times when we find ourselves lying awake at night, unable to sleep. This tends to be when we are either anxious, excited or disturbed by a bad dream and usually we will be able to return to our normal routine when things have quietened down. However, for some people difficulty sleeping is something that happens on a regular basis and sleep issues are now considered to be one of the most common health complaints. Sleep problems can have a serious impact on the physical, mental and emotional functioning of many individuals.
Sleep disorders is a term used to describe any problems relating to sleep. These include insomnia, excessive sleep, night terrors, sleep bruxism (teeth grinding) and nocturnal enuresis (bedwetting). Some sleep disorders may be related to an underlying medical condition or be the side effect of prescribed medication, whilst others may have no known medical explanation.
There are a number of warning signs which may suggest a sleep problem:
- Feeling very tired throughout the day
- Drifting off mid conversation
- If your partner is regularly disturbed by snoring, physical movements, sleep talking or sleep walking
- If your quality of sleep has changed after starting a new medication
Please note that not everyone who exhibits some or all these symptoms will necessarily have a sleep problem and the symptoms of sleep disorders will vary from person to person.
How can hypnotherapy help?
If you are experiencing a sleep disorder then it is important that you visit your GP who will be able to provide you with a diagnosis and advice as well as being able to rule out any serious underlying medical conditions. At this stage your doctor may then recommend or refer specialist treatment and services, one of which may be hypnotherapy.
Hypnotherapy is all about changing patterns of behaviour and that is why it works so effectively as a treatment for many sleep disorders. There are a range of sleep related conditions that respond well to hypnosis:
- Sleep Walking
- Night Terrors
- Sleep Talking
- Teeth Grinding
- Sleep Paralysis
- Restless Leg Syndrome
- Confusional Arousals
Although the exact cause of sleep problems will vary from one person to the next there are certain factors which seem to be related to an increased likelihood of some people experiencing them. Personal trauma, sleep deprivation, medical conditions and some medications are all thought to be underlying causes of sleep disorders.
Hypnotherapy has been used for a long time as a very effective way of altering and reconditioning negative patterns of behaviour. Hypnosis works by accessing the subconscious mind so that old behaviour patterns can be changed and replaced with positive patterns instead. A good example is that many sleep disorders are worsened by stress and anxiety. Usually it is not a situation itself which causes stress but the way in which we react to it; and this is where hypnotherapy can help. By inducing a state of deep relaxation under hypnosis it is possible to gain access to the subconscious mind so that negative thought patterns and reactions to a particular situation can be turned into more positive ones.
Other techniques used may include that of hypnoanalysis which is a combination of hypnosis and psychotherapy as well as visualisation techniques. Visualisation may involve asking someone to imagine being in a particular situation feeling relaxed and calm.
Regardless of which technique is used, hypnotherapy can offer a very effective way to resolve sleep problems and your treatment plan can be tailored to your own personal circumstances.
Migraines are a common condition that could be described as a debilitating form of a headache. Whilst common they should not be belittled as they can cause a great deal of distress to sufferers. There are various triggers which can trigger the onset of a migraine. However, reducing the likelihood of a migraine occurring and getting rid of it once it occurs, can be a challenge. There is now growing research to suggest that hypnotherapy can be of great benefit to migraine sufferers.
Common triggers of migraines include changes in sleep patterns, medications, hormonal changes, stress, food and changes in the surrounding environment. Symptoms of migraines vary from person to person, but many people report moderate to severe pain that pulsates, worsens with physical activity and interferes with day-to-day activity. In addition people may experience nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light or sound.
There are several ways in which hypnosis can help migraine sufferers. Firstly on a behavioral level, individuals can be helped to avoid triggers such as stressful situations and certain foods. By working with the subconscious mind, automatic behaviours (ones that we do without thinking) can be modified to help reduce the frequency of migraines. Additionally hypnotherapy can be very effective at relieving pain and simple techniques can be used to help alleviate symptoms quickly, whenever needed. The sufferer can be taught to use these techniques at home so that pain relief is available on demand. Research suggests that hypnosis can be of greater benefit than using simple relaxation exercises alone and this drug-free therapy has been show to have a long-lasting positive effect on people's lives.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition of the digestive system. It can cause bouts of stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation. This unpleasant and distressing condition can cause a great deal of discomfort. Although the exact cause is unknown research suggests that stress seems to play a part, and this is where hypnotherapy can help.
Hypnotherapy is now recommended as a potential treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome by the NHS. According to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) hypnosis should be considered as a potential treatment option, particularly if the condition hasn't responded to other treatments.
Hypnotherapy can help IBS sufferers by helping to reduce the impact of stress on the digestive system as well as by improving overall well-being.
Fertility & Sexual Problems:
Many people experience sexual difficulties at some point during their life, sometimes these problems will resolve themselves but if they don’t then professional help may be required. Sexual difficulties can occur early in an individual’s life, develop suddenly after a previously satisfying sex life or develop gradually. It is important that physical factors are ruled out before hypnotherapy is sought, so consulting your GP should be your first step.
Sexual difficulties are generally problems that prevent the individual or couple from enjoying sex, and make sex difficult. The most common sexual problems for men are erectile impotence and premature ejaculation, and for women, failure to reach orgasm or vaginismus.
If you’re experiencing sexual difficulties it is important to first contact your GP to rule out any physical factors. Psychosexual therapy (PST) has proven success rates and is often referred to by GPs and other medical professionals. Sex therapists are trained counsellors who've undertaken extra training in psychological and physical issues related to sexual functioning and they are able to deal with almost any sexual problems that are causing distress.
Hypnotherapy may also be beneficial for individuals who want to release negative or limiting beliefs by identifying the triggers that started them. Learning how to manage and deal with them may then be possible. Hypnoanalysis therefore, may help to identify the root cause of the issue and deal with it.
Stuttering (also known as stammering) is a speech disorder in which the flow and timing of speech is disrupted.
Stuttering includes involuntary repetitions and prolongations of sounds, words or phrases, syllables, and silent pauses or blocks in which an individual is unable to produce sounds. These speech disruptions may also be accompanied by rapid eye blinks, tremors of the lips or other struggle behaviours of the face or upper body. The term stuttering is used to cover a wide spectrum of severity, and ranges from individuals with only minor speech barriers to those who find most oral communication impossible.
Stuttering often begins in childhood and can differ in severity in different situations (such as talking on the telephone) depending on the level of anxiety associated with that situation. Research suggests that one in five children in the UK go through a phase of stuttering, and although three in four of those will grow out of it, that’s still half a million people in the UK who stutter. Other research suggests that 1% of the world is affected by stuttering (approximately 66 million people). Stuttering has affected many famous people, including Marilyn Monroe, Bruce Willis and Gareth Gates.
Signs of stuttering
- frequent sound and syllable repetitions
- excessive repetitions of whole words and phrases
- struggling with speech
- avoidance of situations where an individual has to talk
- facial tension or tightness in the speech muscles
- vocal tension resulting in rising pitch or loudness
- silent pauses or blocks in speech.
Causes of stuttering
There is no known cause of what causes stammering, or why it is triggered in certain situations. However, some research suggests there could be a genetic link and may result from the way some people's brains process speech.
Treatment for stuttering
Although there is currently no cure for stuttering, there are many methods that can improve stuttering to some extent. It is important to get a diagnosis by an expert first and your GP should be able to refer you to a speech therapist who can offer advice on the issue.
Hypnoanalysis (psychotherapy using hypnosis) seeks to ‘unlearn’ behaviours that have been learnt, such as stuttering. Stuttering has a psychological basis and if an individual can speak fluently in some situations, then they can often learn to speak fluently in other situations. Hypnoanalysis aims to access the same state of mind that an individual is in when they are speaking fluently, to help improve their speech in other difficult situations.
Blushing is the reddening of the face, ears, neck and often the upper part of the chest, followed by a feeling of heat and tingling.
Blushing is an unconscious, physical reaction that is caused by certain situations, and is a perfectly normal bodily reaction. Some people believe blushing is naturally attractive as individuals are likely to show their true emotions! However, for many people blushing can cause discomfort and distress as they worry about when and where they may blush. The embarrassment of blushing can become so severe for those who are extremely anxious in social situations that the sufferer avoids social contact (known as social anxiety).
Blushing responds well to hypnotherapy treatment. There are two different types of blushing which require a different approach depending on whether or not it is related to what is known as "illogical guilt". Treatment for blushing where illogical guilt is not present requires suggestions to build the individuals confidence often referred to as “ego strengthening” together with a suggestion that deals directly with the blushing. This is a suggestion to the effect that it is happening less and less often and that the client is worrying about it less and less. This reverses the vicious circle built up when the individual started to worry about blushing and replaces it with a beneficial circle.
When illogical guilt is present this needs to be explored and dealt with so that the client can see that his/her feelings of guilt were out of all proportion to what actually occurred.
Treatment is generally completed within a few weeks. Most clients experience a reduction in blushing within the first couple of sessions and most go on to completely overcome the problem.
Those facing surgery often have many difficulties dealing with the anxiety about the procedure and the thoughts of the potential side effects of the surgery itself. Often these people must be treated with mood enhancing anti-anxiety medications, in order to relieve their stress and worry enough for the surgery to be successful. However, there is another alternative that can be helpful in dealing with these preoperative issues, as well as postoperative pain control - hypnosis. This often-overlooked therapy can take a huge amount of stress off those who are facing any type of surgery.
Preoperative anxiety has been shown to not only cause severe stress, but also to slow the healing process after surgery. The body expends so much energy on the process of worrying about the surgery itself, the energy stores that are needed to heal after the operation is complete have been depleted. A study by Yale University showed that patients who went through hypnosis sessions prior to an upcoming surgery were 47% less nervous, on average, than those who received no treatments at all. Hypnosis will make the hours leading up to surgery much more tolerable and less nerve wracking.
Reduction of Necessary Medication
For years, doctors have used hypnosis as a form of anesthesia when medications were not available. Though now these medicines are in ample supply, often supplementing with hypnosis can help to reduce the amount of anesthesia and other medications necessary to keep a patient comfortable and pain-free during and immediately after their surgery. Many patients who are receiving less invasive procedures are opting to use local anesthesia, coupled with hypnosis, rather than being placed under full anesthesia. Less medication means fewer side effects, which is always desirable for a patient.
Patients who receive hypnosis and self-hypnosis training prior to a surgery often have fewer problems with pain as a result of their surgery. Many also learn techniques of self-hypnosis that will allow them to work through their pain without the need for powerful painkillers, or in some cases, with no medication at all. Many believe that the positive results seen are a combination of the reduced levels of stress and anxiety, a more positive outlook, and learning the techniques of pain control without medication. All of these effects can be achieved through preoperative hypnosis.
Process of Pre-Operative Hypnosis
Hypnosis sessions should begin a few weeks prior to surgery. The process involves a combination of therapeutic hypnosis treatments to suggest a positive response and attitude from the patient, plus education on inducing a state of self-hypnosis outside the office. While clinical hypnosis alone is quite helpful, the self-hypnosis techniques are what make the true difference in success. On the day of surgery, the patient can calm any fears and anxieties that pop up by using the techniques they have learned. After surgery, they can also use these techniques to relieve pain and decrease their need for painkillers and medications.
Eczema & Skin Complaints:
When most people think of hypnotherapy they tend to associate it with treatment for addictions or phobias, but few people know of the benefits it can bring to skin conditions such as eczema, acne and psoriasis. The subconscious part of our mind controls all our bodily functions such as breathing, blinking, and the regulation of all our organs and hormones. It's able to fight infection, heal, mend broken bones and it is this part of the mind that can also be used to resolve skin complaints.
Through making suggestions to the subconscious mind hypnotherapy can be an extremely helpful tool that enables the individual to take control of any itching, discomfort and pain. In addition there are often other factors involved such as stress, low self-esteem, anxiety and any fears that arise as a ‘by-product’ of the illness. Hypnosis can be of value both for the short and long term relief it can offer. In the short term uncomfortable symptoms can be relieved through hypnotic suggestion and in the long term the role of stress, anxiety and fear can be addressed so that they no longer exacerbate the condition.
There is now growing research to show that hypnosis can be of real clinical benefit to sufferers of skin complaints, especially those that may be related to stress⁵. If you suffer from eczema or a skin problem such as acne or psoriasis you should speak to your GP in the first instance. However, if the issue remains unresolved and you would like to discuss whether hypnotherapy may be of help please get in touch for a free initial phone consultation: email@example.com
Conditions Worsened by Stress:
Any condition that is worsened by stress is likely to benefit from hypnotherapy. Whilst hypnosis is no magic cure it does offer a way for many people to regain control of their life. This simple technique can also help to relieve any pain, discomfort or emotional stress generated by the condition.
Many illnesses generate stress by their very nature; they restrict or limit normal life, and this in itself can be a cause a level of stress. Ironically, that stress can then go on to worsen the condition, and before you know it you are caught in a viscous cycle of symptoms and stress. Hypnotherapy can break that link and can offer a new perspective as well as relief from those symptoms that are worsened by stress. Often this external influence, can be all that is needed to transform the nature of the condition and improve overall quality of life.
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² Esdaile, J., Mesmerism in India, and its Practical Application in Surgery and Medicine, Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, (London), 1846.
³ Patterson, D. R., & Jensen, M. P. (2003). Hypnosis and clinical pain. Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 129, pp. 495-521.
⁴ Lynn, S. J., Kirsch, I., Barabasz, A., Cardeña, E., & Patterson, D. (2000). Hypnosis as an empirically supported clinical intervention: The state of the evidence and a look to the future. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, Vol. 48, pp. 235-255.
⁵Tausk, F.; Whitmore, S. E. (1999). "A pilot study of hypnosis in the treatment of patients with psoriasis". Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics 68: 221–225
Mirvish, I. (1978). "Hypnotherapy for the child with chronic eczema: A case report". South African Medical Journal 54: 410–412
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Shenefelt, P. S. (2008). "Relaxation, meditation, and hypnosis for skin disorders and procedures". In De Luca, B. N. Mind-body relaxation and research focus. New York: Nova Science Publishers. pp. 45–63