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  • Writer's pictureKate Roberts

Can Hypnotherapy Help With Pain? Exploring the Potential Benefits


Key Takeaways -

  • Hypnotherapy is a therapy that uses hypnosis to help people manage physical and psychological conditions.

  • Studies have demonstrated that hypnotherapy can be useful in managing pain, especially chronic pain.

  • Hypnotherapy has the ability to change how a person experiences pain, making it easier for them to manage.




Did you know that approximately 28 million adults in the UK are affected by chronic pain?


If you're one of those individuals, it's likely that you're constantly searching for effective ways to manage your discomfort and enhance your overall well-being.


As you navigate the often-complex landscape of pain relief options, you may be curious about alternative and complementary therapies. In this article, we'll look in-depth at hypnotherapy and its potential role in pain management.


We'll offer valuable insights backed by research, helping you make well-informed decisions about whether hypnotherapy could be a helpful addition to your existing pain management plan. Now, let's embark on this journey to explore the intriguing realm of hypnotherapy together.



Understanding Chronic Pain


Understanding chronic pain is essential for developing effective strategies to manage and alleviate it.


Unlike acute pain, which is typically a temporary response to a specific injury or illness, chronic pain persists for an EXTENDED PERIOD of time, often lasting months or even years.


Chronic pain's causes can vary, ranging from ongoing medical conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, or nerve damage, to injuries that have not healed properly.


Chronic pain symptoms not only impacts PHYSICAL WELL-BEING but also takes a significant toll on mental and emotional health.


It can lead to frustration, anxiety, depression, and even social isolation. As a result, finding the most comprehensive and personalised chronic PAIN solutions is crucial for those with chronic pain.


These solutions may include a COMBINATION of medical treatments, physical therapy, lifestyle modifications, and complementary therapies like hypnotherapy, all tailored to the specific needs and preferences of the individual (and remember, laughter may be the best medicine, but a little hypnotherapy can't hurt either).


Pro Tip: Remember to only use it in combination with other treatments and medications recommended by your healthcare provider.



Chronic Pain Conditions Which May Benefit From Hypnosis


Many chronic pain conditions may benefit from the use of hypnotherapy. These include:


  • Migraines

  • Lower back pain

  • Arthritis

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Neuropathic pain

  • Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

  • Chronic pelvic pain

  • Post-surgical pain

  • Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)



How Can Hypnotherapy Help With Pain Management


The Mind-Body Connection

Hypnotherapy can play a valuable role in your management for pain by tapping into the mind-body connection and utilising the power of SUGGESTION to influence your perception of pain.


Entering a Receptive State

During a hypnosis for pain session, a trained hypnotherapist guides you into a state of DEEP RELAXATION and heightened focus, making you more receptive to positive suggestions.


Techniques Used in Hypnotherapy

The hypnotherapist may use techniques, such as guided imagery [1], progressive relaxation, and direct suggestions, to help you reframe your experience of pain and develop NEW coping mechanisms.


Pro Tip: The outcome will vary based on the person and the severity of their ailment.


Altering Pain Perception

By altering how your mind interprets and processes PAIN SIGNALS, hypnotherapy can potentially provide the most significant reduction in pain intensity, promote relaxation, and minimise the impact of pain on your daily functioning.


Developing Self-Awareness and Stress Management

Additionally, hypnotherapy may help you develop greater self-awareness and stress management techniques, which can further contribute to IMPROVED managing your pain.


Complementary Therapy and Individual Variation

It is important to note that while hypnotherapy can be an EFFECTIVE complementary therapy for some individuals, its success may vary from person to person, and it should be used alongside conventional medical treatments and other pain strategies.



The Hypnotherapy Process for Pain Management


Initial Consultation and Treatment Plan

Your hypnotherapy journey for pain management starts with a comprehensive CONSULTATION, where the hypnotherapist discusses your medical history, pain sensations, and desired outcomes.


This crucial conversation allows the hypnotherapist to tailor the session to your UNIQUE needs and preferences.


Entering a Trance and Techniques Utilised

As the session commences, the hypnotherapist guides you into a deeply relaxed state called "trance" (no, not the dance music genre!). This state enables your conscious mind to recede, allowing your subconscious mind to become more RECEPTIVE to positive suggestions.


The hypnotherapist employs techniques, such as guided imagery, progressive relaxation, and direct suggestions, to help you REFRAME your pain experience, develop new coping strategies, and cultivate a more positive mindset towards pain.


Session Duration and Ongoing Adjustments

The duration of each session may vary based on your needs and the therapist's approach, generally LASTING between 60 to 90 minutes.


Keep in mind that chronic pain patients may require MULTIPLE sessions to achieve lasting results, and the effectiveness of hypnotherapy can differ from person to person.


Regular follow-ups and open communication with your hypnotherapist ensure the process is continuously adjusted to best SUPPORT your pain management journey.


Self Hypnosis

Your hypnotherapist might give you resources like techniques and self-hypnosis recordings to enable you to PRACTISE self-guided hypnotherapy at home.


If you learn to put yourself in a trance state, you can manage your pain better and experience the relaxing EFFECTS of hypnotherapy.


Pro Tip: We would encourage pain relief alongside hypnotherapy - medication, physiotherapy, exercise, etc.



Finding a Qualified Hypnotherapist


When seeking a qualified hypnotherapist, looking for someone with the appropriate TRAINING, credentials, registration with governing bodies and experience in clinical and experimental hypnosis is important. To ensure you receive the best possible care, consider the following steps:


Research Professional Organisations

In the UK, there are several professional bodies, such as the British Society of Clinical and Academic Hypnosis (BSCAH) [2], the National Hypnotherapy Society [3], and the General Hypnotherapy Register (GHR) [4].


These organisations maintain registers of QUALIFIED hypnotherapists and have strict codes of ethics and practice.


Check Credentials

Ensure the hypnotherapist you choose has completed a recognised training programme in hypnotherapy. Additionally, look for MEMBERSHIP in professional organisations, demonstrating that the practitioner adheres to high professional standards.


Ask For Recommendations

Word of mouth can be a powerful way to find a qualified hypnotherapist. Ask friends, family, or healthcare professionals if they have any personal RECOMMENDATIONS.


Arrange An Initial Consultation

Before committing to a course of treatment, it's a good idea to meet with the hypnotherapist for an initial consultation. This will allow you to DISCUSS your specific needs, ask any questions, and determine whether you feel comfortable working with the practitioner.


Discuss Your Pain Management Goals

It's essential to be clear about your pain management objectives and discuss them with your potential hypnotherapist. This will help ensure the therapy is TAILORED to your individual needs and preferences.


Pro Tip: Make sure you feel comfortable with the therapist and the process, and feel free to ask any questions you may have.



Realistic Expectations and Limitations


Understanding Hypnotherapy's Role

When considering hypnotherapy as part of your chronic pain management plan, having REALISTIC expectations and understanding its limitations is crucial.


Firstly, it's important to remember that hypnotherapy is a complementary therapy, not a cure-all. It can be an incredibly VALUABLE addition to your pain management toolkit but should be used alongside conventional medical treatments and other pain management strategies.


Individual Differences in Effectiveness

Secondly, remember that hypnotherapy's effectiveness can vary from person to person. While some individuals may experience significant benefits, others might find MINIMAL relief.


It's essential to approach hypnotherapy with an OPEN MIND and patience, recognizing that it may take time and multiple sessions to see results.


Open Communication with Healthcare Providers

Lastly, maintaining open communication with your healthcare providers is CRUCIAL. Tell them about your hypnotherapy sessions and any progress or changes in your pain symptoms.


This will allow them to monitor your overall treatment plan and make any necessary adjustments to ensure the best possible outcomes for your pain management journey.


Remember, hypnotherapy is one piece of the puzzle, and collaboration with your healthcare team is key to achieving optimal results.



Conclusion


The mind-body connection is a valuable aspect of hypnotherapy that can effectively manage pain by altering how your brain processes pain signals.


When done by a certified expert, this practice can assist you in enhancing your self-awareness, managing stress, and changing the way you perceive pain.


It is important to understand that hypnotherapy should be used in conjunction with traditional medical treatments and other techniques for managing pain for chronic conditions.


To achieve better results from your hypnotherapy process, it's important to have practical expectations and communicate openly with your healthcare providers.



Sources -

  1. What are the benefits of guided imagery? Headspace. Published 2023. Accessed April 19, 2023. https://www.headspace.com/meditation/guided-imagery

  2. Home - BSCAH. BSCAH. Published March 23, 2023. Accessed April 19, 2023. https://bscah.co.uk/

  3. Hypnotherapy Society. Hypnotherapy Helps. National Hypnotherapy Society. Published 2013. Accessed April 19, 2023. https://nationalhypnotherapysociety.org/

  4. General Hypnotherapy Standards Council & General Hypnotherapy Register. General-hypnotherapy-register.com. Published 2022. Accessed April 19, 2023. https://general-hypnotherapy-register.com/


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