Hypnosis, Hypnotherapy, and Hypnotherapists

> Pain Management Through Hypnosis

Pain management can only be taught on the strength of a doctor’s referral and frequently in consultation with and supervision by him/her.  There is good reason for this: pain is a symptom of something wrong in body and/or mind.

If the primary cause of the pain is physical, the client can be taught to induce analgesia or anesthesia in the painful area.  In these situations it is usually adviseable to reduce the pain but not eliminate it.  The residual discomfort reminds the client that there is a physical condition which needs to be or is being treated and warns him/her not to over do.

A football player may have and injured knee which causes intolerable pain.  If it is eliminated with steroids, he can play as if there is nothing wrong and without medical intervention damage the knee irreparably.  The same risk is involved in eliminating the pain hypnotically.

Pain may result from a number of non-medical or non-physical causes.  Sometimes a person feeling the weight of intolerable guilt from a real or imagined experience will inflict pain on oneself to get rid of the guilt or avoid punishment from a higher authority.

In this situation the objective is to help the client forgive him or herself and to internalize the release from real or imagined mistakes.  Once the client truly experiences the forgiveness and release, supportive suggestions can be made which help the client with new subconscious understanding.  Often verbalizing is all that is needed for effective relearning.

If there is resistance to self-forgiveness and to release the self-punishment, regression therapy or parts therapy is frequently helpful.

Regression therapy is possible thanks to the storage capacity of the subconscious to store our life-long experiences.  A client is guided backward in time to prior events.  The client can either “see” them from a distance (such as on a tv screen) taking with him his present level of maturity to understand them or re-experience them and release the associated emotions.

Sometimes there is a part of us that holds on to a symptom or a behavior in spite of our desire to be rid of it.

The client can be guided to become of aware of this part and the hypnotherapist can talk to it and negotiate a trade-off in which it can trade off its unyielding hold on the behavior or symptom and have its need met in an alternative way.  The hypnotherapist becomes not only a negotiator with the particular part but an arbiter between conflicting parts.

Objectification & Identification
One of the techniques found to be successful in diminshing pain is objectification and identification.  In hypnosis, the client is asked to see a large circle in front of them.  If they can’t actually “see” it they can imagine they see it, the same thing is accomplished.  They are asked to let this represent their pain.  Then, they are asked what color it is.  They usually see their pain as red or white hot etc.

If the client is successful in objectifying the pain (by letting it become an object or in this instance the circle) and identifying the pain with the circle, it can be controlled by using the imagination to change the circle.  At first, the client is asked to imagine the circle coming nearer and therefore larger as the color becomes more intense and then asked what they are feeling.  If they’ve been successful with the objectifying and identifying, the pain increases.  This demonstrates to them that  1) they have control over the pain and  2) that they can diminish the pain be reversing the process.  We then have them visualize the circle move away from them, shrink in size as the color becomes less intense, gradually descending the spectrum into the cool colors.  The client experiences the pain diminishing.

These techniques and others, practiced in daily self-hypnosis, allow the client to control the pain whenever they find it necessary.

There are some other pain management techniques which bear noting:

Pain displacement or Pain Transference: the pain can be moved from its site to an insignificant place in the body like an earlobe where it can be modified and reduced.

Glove anesthesia: one of the hands is made numb and then that numbness is applied to the painful site as it leaves the hand. The numbness may be induced by the suggestion that the hand is submerged in a bucket of ice water or injected with lidocaine or novocaine. This is particularly useful for dental work.

Ideomotor exploration & turning pain off at unconscious level: the source of the pain can be discovered with questions to be answered by ideomotor signals (the movement of a finger perhaps). Then an “on/off” switch can be imagined which when moved to the “off” position in hypnosis turns off the pain.

The inner advisor: The client imagines an inner advisor who will modify or release the pain.

The Protective Shield: Here, the client imagines a protectivedorce around the body shielding the body from pain and/or unpleasant feelings.

Time and body dissociation: Escape to the enjoyment of a pleasant past event while healthy and pain free and/or escape to a peaceful place.

What is Hypnosis? | What is a Hypnotherapist? | Choosing a Hypnotherapist | Why does Hypnotherapy Work? | Pain Management through Hypnosis | Hypnosis and Phobias | Hypnosis and Human Memory | Hypnosis and Sports Psychology | Hypnosis and Stress Management

Referring to this article:
“Hypnosis, Hypnotherapy, and Hypnotherapists” was written by G. Edward Riley, M.Div., CH, Certified Master Hypnotherapist, and C. J. Newton, MA, and published in the Find Counseling.com (formerly TherapistFinder.net) Mental Health Journal in April, 2001.

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