For too long hypnosis has had a bad rap. People have associated it either with cheap entertainment designed to amuse an audience, or with fear that somehow they will ‘lose control’ when they ‘go under’. But not only is a growing body of research starting to prove the benefits of hypnotherapy, hypnosis techniques are increasingly being used in the medical profession
Forget the Little Britain sketch where after a quick ‘Look into my eyes’ the hypnotist gets the unwitting recipient to eat food from a bin. Hypnotherapy is at last gaining credibility in mainstream medicine as an effective treatment for a whole range of conditions, from pain to anxiety to giving birth.
Hypnosis involves putting your mind into a ‘trance’ or state of focused attention and concentration where your mind is fixed internally and you lose awareness of anything going on around you. It doesn’t mean you are unaware, just that your focus is within and you don’t notice time passing.
- Pain relief Numerous studies show that hypnosis can improve a variety of chronic pain problems, from lower back pain to the side-effects of cancer treatment. In one study at the pain clinic in Liège University Hospital when hypnotised volunteers were subjected to painful heat on a palm their perception of its unpleasantness was 50% less than that of people who were just resting, and 40% less compared with those instructed to distract themselves with a pleasant memory. Some evidence suggests hypnosis can bring more relief for those in chronic pain than hands-on physical work and cognitive behaviour therapies.
- Anaesthesia Hypnosis is now being used in surgical procedures as an alternative to general anaesthetic. It means doctors can perform simple procedures such as biopsies and laparoscopies under a local anaesthetic, avoiding the risks and side-effects of a general.
- Childbirth The Royal College of Midwives now accredits using hypnotherapy in birth, and as our in-house expert Serena Williams teaches on her hypnobirthing courses self-hypnosis enables women to feel relaxed, less anxious and in control of the birth of their baby.
- IBS The National Institute for Health and Care excellence (NICE) recommends hypnosis for irritable bowel syndrome.
- Anxiety Last year the University of Hertford, Connecticut, gave a resounding endorsement for hypnosis. After analysing all studies published to date on the use hypnosis to reduce anxiety, researchers concluded that the average person showed more improvement from hypnosis than 84% of those who didn’t receive this intervention. The best part of the research was that they found that self-hypnosis was just as good as hypnotherapy – in other words hypnosis can be learnt as a skill or coping mechanism to reduce your anxious feelings.
- Opioid alternative Studies show that people with chronic pain can reduce their use of painkillers through hypnosis. Surely when doctors are under pressure to reduce the number of prescriptions they give for opioids, and with headlines screaming about the dangers of opioid addiction, hypnotherapy should be given a place on the NHS?
The Hub’s hypnotherapist Paul Hill specialises in using hypnosis for pain and anxiety. His mantra is ‘Turn your can’ts into cans and don’ts into dos’. To find out more or to book an appointment click here