Hypnotherapy with Helen
Chronic pain has been referred to as a the world’s silent epidemic. In fact, it’s so “silent,” you might be shocked to know just how prevalent it is.
According to the latest statistics, as many as 80 million American adults have experienced pain lasting more than 24 hours. In the UK, the numbers are similar. Two-fifths of UK adults experience chronic pain. And it affects many millions more around the world.
How do you treat chronic pain? Well, drugs have traditionally been the most commonly prescribed treatment option. Yet, more and more people are asking:
Is there are a drug-free alternative that can provide immediate and lasting pain relief?
The answer: Self-hypnosis. While long term you don’t need a hypnotherapist or a recording you do need to learn how to guide yourself into self-hypnosis which is where I come in – to teach you how to do this.
A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Utah looked at how hypnosis could reduce pain in the short-term. The participants in the study had come to the hospital reporting “intolerable pain” and difficulty controlling pain. The researchers then prescribed hypnosis to one group, as well as mindfulness and pain coping strategies to others.
In the hypnosis group, 29 percent experienced immediate pain reduction (as well as a decreased desire for opioid medication). In other words, hypnosis was as effective at reducing pain as a small dose of a narcotic painkiller.
More interestingly, that was the effect after just a single hypnosis session.
In studies that have looked at long-term hypnotherapy treatments, the percentage of participants who experienced significant reductions in pain rises.
For example, a 2015 study found that roughly 50 percent of people suffering from chronic back pain experienced relief lasting more than six months. And a comprehensive review of research conducted that hypnosis could provide long-term and shorter lasting results.
"Using hypnosis for pain management, we can help the mind think differently (or not at all) about the pain we feel."
Pain relieving techniques
Hypnosis allows us to immediately alter our mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and reduce pain intensity. We’re able to do this in a few ways. Using hypnosis for pain management, we can help the mind think differently (or not at all) about the pain we feel, and there are four general ways we can do it.
Have you ever been so deep into a thought that you forget your freeway exit? Or you accidentally cut your finger while chopping onions? In the moment, we’re often so distracted with stopping the bleeding – we forget how much it hurts. The pain comes after we’ve wrapped it with a paper towel.
Using self-hypnosis, we can train the mind to distract itself from the intensity of pain. We might suggest that the subconscious thinks of a pain-free time in our lives, or thinks about another pain-free part of the body. As a result, we can’t hyper-focus on the pain and how intense it is – which is a powerful method for helping to reduce pain.
Distraction can be effective for short-term and immediate pain relief.
When we use reframing, we feed the subconscious with suggestions about how to perceive pain. For example, many chronic pain sufferers describe their pain as a “burning” feeling. Using self-hypnosis, we can begin to alter this description – from burning, to a feeling of warmth, and ultimately, to a cool sensation.
Often, for labor pain, a hypnotherapist might suggest to the subconscious that the feeling isn’t pain to discomfort, or pressure. Some reframing techniques ask the mind to think differently about the pain in a more abstract way, i.e. not that it has control over our lives, but that it is something that happens in the background that we tune into, for example.
Reframing works well long-term, as it may take multiple sessions to alter how the subconscious perceives and responds to pain. But over time, it can be a very helpful tool for reducing intense pain.
When we guide ourselves into a deep trance, we can begin to work with sensory information. For example, a common hypnotherapy technique might require you to imagine your hand in ice-cold water. We can take that further and further, until, in your trance state, you perceive that your hand is actually numb.
Once this happens, you might visualize that numbness moving to where you feel pain. This technique – although advanced – does help to dull or numb the pain entirely. But it requires practise and can take time to master.
Finally, we have dissociation. With dissociation, we ask ourselves to separate the pain or ourselves from the body. We visualize ourselves across the room, watching ourselves. Or visualize the area of our low back that’s in pain, as floating behind ourselves.
It sounds abstract, but just try it for a moment. Imagine you’re sitting across the room, watching yourself reading this.
Did you notice a difference? Did you feel calmer, or more grounded? Where you able to break your focus from your pain?
Dissociation can be a helpful tool, but like numbing, it takes time to master.
But over time, you’ll become proficient in the technique, and you can begin to use it – not just for pain – but when you feel anxiety, stress, when you feel a lack of motivation. The technique can instantly calm the mind.