Did you know that clinical hypnosis is a thoroughly researched and respected pain treatment option for people with acute and chronic pain? In fact, it has even been found to be more effective than other treatments that involve attention, physical therapy and education. Believe it or not, clinical hypnosis for chronic pain is a real treatment option.
What Is Clinical Hypnosis?
Clinical hypnosis can trace its roots back to the 1700s, but its use has advanced exponentially in the last half-century. According to the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, hypnosis is “an altered state of awareness” that is used to treat a psychological or physical problem.
Clinical hypnosis is performed by a highly trained and licensed psychologist or health professional. It is usually used to complement or facilitate other therapies or treatments, and has been used to help with a variety of issues, including:
- Speech disorders
- Weight control
- Pain management
How Does Hypnosis for Chronic Pain Work?
When hypnotized, a person is in a relaxed and focused state, making them unusually open to the power of suggestion. A properly trained professional can then guide a patient’s attention to specific thoughts and tasks. In short, clinical hypnosis can help change relevant perceptions, sensations and behavior. This effectively reduces pain and makes it easier to manage.
Clinical studies have found that using hypnosis to lessen a patient’s sensitivity to pain often achieves that goal. Additionally, it can reduce the need for analgesics or sedation. Not only that, it can help avoid nausea and vomiting, and shortens the average length of a hospital stay.
If you decide to pursue clinical hypnosis, you can expect a series of half-hour or one-hour sessions. Alternatively, some providers suggest one longer initial session followed by 10- to 15-minute follow-up sessions. Contrary to common misconceptions, you will be fully conscious and in control of yourself at all times. While your body is at rest, your mind will be active and alert. With time and practice, you might even learn how to self-hypnotize, much as you might learn the art of mindful meditation.
Will It Work for Me?
The effectiveness of clinical hypnosis varies from person to person, but it seems that most people can benefit to some degree. Some people are naturally more receptive to hypnotic suggestion than others. Those who are most receptive experience the greatest and longest-lasting relief. The majority of people fall into the category of “moderate suggestibility,” which means they have at least some potential for clinical hypnosis to improve their condition. Although your level of suggestibility seems to be a genetic trait, your attitude can also make a difference.
Clinical hypnosis is considered safe in that there is little chance of negative side effects. However, hypnosis is not right for everyone. For instance, although hypnosis can be used to recover repressed memories, it has the potential to plant false memories in those susceptible to them. As such, it is not usually recommended for people with psychotic symptoms, dissociative disorders and certain other conditions. For most people, though, the biggest risk involved is that clinical hypnosis might not be the most effective form of treatment.