Controlling Pain with Hypnosis – Part 3

In the last article we looked specifically at inducing analgesia. Today, in the last of this pain control series, I’m going to take you through some of the more general processes for dealing with pain in various circumstances.

Indeed, although hypnosis for analgesia is often seen as the “exciting” part of pain control, what we’re looking at today are situations you’re likely to come across more often.

Hypnosis is frequently used to help people whose anxiety makes it almost impossible for them to bear the anesthetist’s needle for example, and many people with chronic pain will gain great relief from hypnotic pain management.

Preparing a nervous patient for surgery, dental work or injections

Some people dread the thought of dental work or surgery so deeply that they work themselves up into such a state that even a light touch will be translated by their brain into agony. This can be hugely frustrating for the medics dealing with these patients, and they must be tempted to treat the patient as though they’re making a ridiculous fuss over nothing (which of course they are in a way!).

But of course the tension brought on by such a level of anxiety causes the muscles in the body to tense up and tighten to such an extent that, for example, the insertion of a needle genuinely is much more painful than in a relaxed patient.

As clinical hypnotists we can help this kind of client a great deal. The relationship between hypnotist and client is really important in this situation. Because the problem is mainly anxiety based, the client must feel comfortable with the hypnotist, and must develop a degree of trust.

Ideally they will be taught self-hypnosis in a session or two before undergoing whatever procedure is planned. This also means they can use the techniques whenever they need to, without a hypnotist having to be present.

The key for these clients is to induce deep relaxation. They can be taught fairly rapid, progressive relaxation to carry out for themselves. They can also be given an anchoring signal to use to induce such relaxation almost immediately just by touching their fingers together, or whatever signal they choose to adopt for this purpose. They can be taken in hypnosis through whatever procedures they’re expecting to undergo.

Use strong, visualization techniques to make the procedure as real as possible, while constantly reassuring and reminding them that while the procedure is being carried out, they feel safe and relaxed, knowing everything is fine. They can be taken in visualization to a beautiful, peaceful place, where they are so relaxed that whatever their body is experiencing just doesn’t seem important.

Whether or not hypnotic analgesia is then induced for the procedure itself, in patients like this the level of relaxation will make the whole procedure much more pleasant and trouble free. They will be able to deal with receiving injected anesthesia will little trouble, and will almost certainly be more co-operative throughout the procedure.

Very often, once they have experienced a procedure in such a relaxed state, their fear will simply disappear from that point on, and future procedures will be easily dealt with by them.

Relieving chronic and general pain

Whether it’s just a passing headache, or the unrelenting chronic pain that accompanies certain conditions, the techniques outlined here can help.

In the case of chronic pain, teaching self hypnosis is invaluable. This way the client can manage their own pain much of the time. You might also record a pain management session so that they can listen to you whenever they need to, at home or in hospital.

Substitution: a useful tool is substituting a painful sensation with something less painful. So for example if the client describes the pain as sharp, you might suggest that:

As you relax more, you will notice that the sharp, stabbing feeling of the pain changes subtly. In a strange way it becomes softer… fading more and more into the background… until it feels more like a dull, warm buzzing.

Similarly a raw pain can be translated into a tingling or a mild itch.

Dissociation: the client can learn to remove him or herself from the pain. They learn to step out of themselves, so that they’re outside of their own body, and therefore not experiencing the pain because it’s not happening to “them”. Or they can remove themselves completely, taking themselves in their imagination off to a different place altogether, leaving their body, and therefore their pain, far behind.

This is a very effective technique, and useful as long as the client can take some time to be still and quiet.

Displacement: using clear suggestion, and having agreed with an alternative location for the pain beforehand, it can be hypnotically “moved” from where it is currently being experienced and shifted to an area where it’s more manageable, or even outside of the body altogether.

The dimmer switch: in hypnosis,explain to the client that the pain receptor area of the brain is a bit like a light bulb in an electrical circuit. The stronger the pain, the brighter the light glows. But they can take control of that receptor area.

It’s done its job, by flagging up that there’s a problem. The client is dealing with the problem, and getting the medical treatment they need, so they can “turn down” that warning light in their brain when the interpretation of the pain is too high.

Ask them to imagine the receptor area as a small room, with the light in the center, burning brightly if the pain is strong. On the wall they will see a dimmer switch, and as they slowly turn down the switch, they will see the light gradually becoming dimmer, and as the light dims, they will notice the pain becoming duller, less intense, gentler and more manageable, until it is just a dull, soft sensation in the background, allowing them to get on with the things they want to do.

Take your time with these techniques. Lots of gentle, repeated suggestion will be most effective, and importantly, teach your clients how to use these techniques for themselves.

There are few situations that you’ll come across as a hypnotist that are more rewarding than seeing the relief on the faces of clients who have been dealing with pain on a long term basis and have finally found a way of being virtually pain free at times.

Controlling Pain With Hypnosis Part 3 Conclusion

Well, I hope you enjoyed this series on Controlling Pain with Hypnosis as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you missed the first two articles in the series you can find them below:

Controlling Pain with Hypnosis – Part 1

Controlling Pain with Hypnosis – Part 2

Stay tuned as I have something really special planned in the next few days to help you take your hypnosis practice to the next level.

All I can say is that I have special guest planned that many of you have been asking me to have back. So check back in the next day or so to see who I’m talking about and to learn how to take your hypnosis practice to the next level!