Hypnotherapy for chronic pain treatment uses concentration, relaxation, and focused attention to attain a heightened state of awareness called a trance or hypnotic state. The person in the trance becomes able to block out outside stimuli and concentrate on specific tasks or thoughts. It is used to help people perceive stimuli differently, such as by blocking the perception of pain. Hypnotherapy is used in two ways:
- Suggestion therapy: Being hypnotized helps a person respond to suggestions from the therapist. It can help someone change his or her behavior, for example, to stop nail biting or smoking. It is particularly useful in treating pain.
- Analysis: The therapist uses the relaxed state to find the cause of a disorder or symptom, such as a traumatic past event. Once the person reveals the trauma, his or her problems can be treated in psychotherapy.
Hypnotherapy is especially useful in treating depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, phobias, fears, anxiety, stress, sleep disorders, and grief. Hypnotherapy addresses both physical and mental causes of pain. Therapists say that hypnotherapy helps people regulate the type, strength, and amount of pain signals that reach the brain. People can reprogram their bodies to lessen the amount of pain-inducing chemicals released. Conversely, people also can learn to regulate the amount of pain relieving endorphins. One hypnotherapy pain remedy is called neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). NLP technique was developed to help people control stress. It is called “flash,” and its goal is to reprogram the mind to use stress-creating thoughts to trigger thoughts that instill relaxation. After you’ve mastered the practice, therapists claim that your mind instantly and automatically exchanges, in a “flash,” stress thoughts for relaxing thoughts. Evidence from a 1995 panel shows that hypnotic interventions have been extremely successful in the management of cancer pain, temporalmandibular disorders, tension headaches, and irritable bowel syndrome. The goal of hypnotherapy in relation to chronic pain is to produce deep relaxation to lower the fear, tension, and anxiety that usually accompany pain. In many cases of chronic pain, through the use of hypnotherapy patients were able to reduce or completely stop their use of pain medication. This blog post is an excerpt from A Day Without Pain (Revised) by Mel Pohl, MD, FASAM; Published by Central Recovery Press (CRP).