This month’s newsletter includes information from part of our hypnosis training program along with data from the two articles listed in the sidebar. If you are interested in learning to become a hypnotist, we are offering a new program starting January 2014.
Hypnosis can be used to treat pain in multiple ways. First, it can be used to address the emotional component that accompanies the physical sensation of pain. Many meditative techniques for pain management work largely with the emotional suffering a person experiences. For example, a person who was in a car accident might be reminded of somebody carelessly hitting them every time they feel the pain from the accident. In turn, they feel angry or blame the other driver for their suffering.
The key with emotional pain is forgiveness. Forgiving the other driver is important, but forgiving the body is the main priority. Going through a dialogue with the body while in hypnosis can be helpful. You acknowledge that the body is attempting to send a signal, that you have received the signal, looked into any possible issues, found nothing to be wrong, and finally you let the body know it’s okay to stop sending the signal. This is not a major change for most people, but it can be helpful in removing resistance to their own body’s sensations. It helps to ease the suffering from the physical pain and from the emotional pain of feeling like their body has betrayed them.
By just being in hypnosis, physical pain can be alleviated to some degree. At deep enough levels, people spontaneously stop feeling pain. This is partially because the person is disassociated from their body. In addition, a hypnotist can purposely make suggestions to enable disassociation, which helps with pain control as well. One way to do this is through visual kinesthetic association, wherein you take a feeling and make it visual.
For example, with arthritic pain in the knuckles of your fingers, imagine the discomfort as a shape. What shape would it be? How big would it be? What colour would it be? The more detailed you can be, the better. Now what if we were to make the size smaller? What about bigger? Does it make the pain worse? Does it make it better?
Part of this process, even if you are making the pain worse, is to show that you have control over the subjective experience of the sensation. After you have control over something, it is easier to accept the idea that you can make it better. Playing with the feelings, changing the colours, and manipulating the manifestation of the pain often changes the sensation of the pain. All of these submodalities can be identified with a feeling. You can play with these and see what combination of submodalities actually makes the pain easiest to bear.
Before seeing a hypnotist to work with any kind of pain, it is important to get a doctor’s referral. Hypnotherapy can help manage pain, however, it could lead to inadvertently masking a symptom of a deeper problem. Appendicitis, for example, can sometimes feel similar to menstrual cramps. Never having had such pain before, you wouldn’t necessarily know it is appendicitis, so you might assume it’s just very bad menstrual cramps. Hypnosis can help manage the pain; however, because you weren’t examined by a doctor first, your appendix could burst a day later.
In some situations, hypnotists can remove pain entirely. They can remove pain from dental work or ease phantom limb pain because they can safely say they are not masking a symptom of a deeper problem by making the pain go away. Hypnobirthing, or the use of hypnosis during childbirth, is another example of how hypnosis can be an effective treatment for pain.
In a recent article written by Julie Relevant and published by Fox News, Cynthia Overgard, a hypnotist from Connecticut, explains how stress and worry lead to fear and tension that cause or contribute to physical pain. Hypnosis can help induce an intense state of relaxation and focus through deep breathing and visualization. When a pregnant woman is fully relaxed, she can eliminate the fear of pain during childbirth and deliver with little to no struggle. Kate Middleton recently used hypnosis while giving birth to Prince George.
As more studies are conducted, the findings will contribute to a growing body of evidence that hypnosis is a viable and effective alternative treatment for pain management. This will help to provide more options for people seeking alternatives to traditional medicine.