Hypnosis for Irritable Bowel
Hypnosis does not involve a contest of wills or an exotic ability only a few people possess. Self-hypnosis is a skill that most people are able to learn. Trance is a state of relaxed awareness that we all experience, for example, when we drift between sleeping and waking, concentrate on a book, or daydream. The creative, intuitive mind takes over from the analytical mind. The mind works with metaphors, images and stories rather than our usual logic.
The hypnotist's words trigger a creative, problem-solving process. New awareness, insights and connections between the head and the heart can occur. The basis of this receptive state is trust in the natural, instinctive ability of your mind to enhance your health and well-being.
Your own personality and abilities create the experience. Some people see inner movies or drifting colors, others see the inside of their eyelids. Some can speak clearly in trance, others signal with movements to communicate with the hypnotist. Some feel light, as if floating, while others feel warm and heavy.
Mastering the basics of self-hypnosis takes one to five sessions with the therapist, plus frequent practice on your own or with the use of CDs or audiocassettes. Trance produces deep relaxation that releases muscle tension, and refreshes both mind and body. It provides rest from the fatigue of bracing against daily stress and allows you to restore your energy.
Seven structured hypnotic sessions for IBS
Irritable bowel is a painful and embarrassing problem. Symptoms include chronic abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation or both, and sometimes loss of bowel control. Secondary symptoms include bloating, abdominal distention, feelings of incomplete evacuation and urgency. It's called a "syndrome" rather than "disease" because the symptoms vary and there is no clear-cut cause. The fear of loss of bowel control can create a fear of going out in public or traveling by car. This fear can itself become disabling and keep patients housebound. Stress can make the symptoms much worse. Underlying anxiety or anger can make IBS worse. So part of the psychological side of therapy is stress management. Hypnosis is a wonderful stress management tool. More specifically, it can use the mind/body connection to give healing suggestions regarding bowel function and pain perception. The goal is to relieve symptoms and restore comfort and confidence.
You and your doctor can get detailed information on the research on hypnosis for IBS from Dr. Palsson's website at: www.ibshypnosis.com .The evidence has been growing since the early 1980's. You can print out his research page and take it to your doctor. The website also lists therapists that Dr. Palsson has authorized to use his protocol.
Psychological evaluation and treatment of IBS with hypnosis
If your insurance includes mental health coverage, evaluation and treatment by a psychologist should be covered. It will be billed as "psychotherapy", not as "hypnosis". A referral letter from your physician helps.
It begins with a one-hour intake session. The psychologist will ask questions about your medical, family, and personal history to get an overall picture and pinpoint problem areas. Together you will develop a treatment plan that may include other therapies in addition to hypnosis.
Dr. Palsson's authorized protocol consists of seven sessions of hypnosis. During each session, your therapist can make a tape recording for your personal use at home. This will reinforce progress made during sessions and empower you to help yourself. Dr. Palsson's scripts are very carefully worded to help you feel safe and comfortable with hypnosis and to achieve a powerful communication between mind and gut. It's interesting that the nervous system is built to provide intense two-way communication between the brain and the gut.
It is very important that your gastroenterologist or other physician give the psychologist an accurate diagnosis and coordinate care. Your permission for them to discuss your case is essential.
If you have questions and are in the Manitowoc/Sheboygan Wisconsin area, please call me at (920) 683-9500. Your doctor can fax a referral to me at (920) 683-9588. You can check Dr. Palsson's website for qualified therapists in other locations.
Phyllis Kasper, Ph. D.
Additional valuable therapies
Cognitive/Behavioral therapy (CBT) is a very logical, structured approach to clearing out your negative thought patterns and helping you stick to a treatment strategy. It helps you make full use of the hypnotherapy and really make it part of your life. It helps you track your progress so that you are aware of the benefits of doing your homework. It's a useful approach to any changes you want to make in your life.
Biofeedback uses sensitive electronic equipment to monitor muscle tension, skin temperature, electrical activity in the skin, breathing patterns, brain waves and other activities in your body. This helps you develop awareness and control of your body's signals of stress and relaxation.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a very intense method of resolving trauma. During traumatic experiences, our bodies learn reactions that they don't forget. This is called "classical conditioning". This phenomenon is why we can't just "forget" certain things and put them in the past. A common example is learning to salivate when you just think about biting into a fresh lemon. An IBS patient told me that her first episode of IBS struck during a traumatic encounter with her in-laws, when she "swallowed" her anger. Biolateral is a related therapy developed by Dr. David Grand using stereo music with or instead of eye movements. These therapies are highly technical and require teamwork between patient and therapist.
Quick relaxation techniques that can switch you out of negative emotions and into a peaceful mood can be easily learned for you to use as needed. Using these techniques can help you keep your stress level low to maintain progress and help avoid new problems.
Your Body Believes Every Word You Say by Barbara Hoberman Levine.
Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness by Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Minding the Body, Mending the Mind by Joan Borysenko.
The Miracle of Mindfulness: A Manual of Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh.
Meditation as Medicine: Activate the Power of Your Natural healing Force by Dharma Singh Khalsa and Cameron Smith.
Patient Heal Thyself by Jordan S. Rubin.
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