Recent studies have identified hypnotherapy to be an effective alternative to medication in treating both acute and chronic pain.
Hypnotherapy incorporates both the conscious and subconscious mind or in other words, the whole mind.
We begin by consciously discussing and exploring the client’s pain. Triggers, length of time, chronic or acute, where and when are all important information. We then work on the desired outcome.
The second part of the session is when the client enters a state of self-hypnosis.
All hypnosis is self hypnosis
It’s the therapist’s job to guide the client into a state of trance. Once the client is in the right state, the therapist can then make the suggestions that were discussed in the conscious counselling part of the session.
Trance allows this to be done directly to the client’s subconscious mind with no resistance from the conscious mind. It’s important to remember that the client is always in control. A client will never accept something that is not in alignment with their values.
Once you learn self-hypnosis, then it’s a skill that stays with you which you can use to help manage your pain even when you’re not in the clinic.
A number of studies regarding pain management with hypnosis have clearly demonstrated its effectiveness in relieving pain. Hypnoanalgesia (pain relief using suggestion in the hypnotic state), is known to significantly reduce pain level, the need for a hospital stay, and reduce the need for pain relief medications.
A recent study involving 3,500 patients has found that about 15% of patients exposed to heat, cold, pressure, laser, or exercise-induced pain were more receptive to hypnotic suggestions. They also experienced almost a 40% pain reduction.
Patients who were moderately receptive to hypnotic suggestions had been found to experience a 29% pain reduction. According to these findings, on average, most of the patients will experience a 30% reduction in pain, making hypnosis a clinically significant pain reliever.
Studies have found that hypnosis can alter brain activity and connectivity. There is increased connectivity between the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and insula. This enhances the mind-body connection to help control the physiological responses of the body.
It’s important to remember that once you decide to try hypnotherapy to help with your pain management, you will need a referral from your doctor.
You also need to ensure that your hypnotherapist has the required training, certification, and is a professional organisation member. This ensures that the therapist has completed recognized training to meet the criteria required for professional-level membership.
I’ll also mention here that any Australian professional hypnotherapist is required to undergo monthly supervision. This ensures that their clients are getting the best treatment possible. We must also continue regular ongoing training.
The amount of sessions required is dependent on each client. Usually, 3-6 sessions are needed, making it a pleasant, relaxing, and cost-effective pain relief solution.
The references and findings are published in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews April 2019 issue and Hypnoanalgesia and the study of pain experience