The Nature of Pain

If you’ve been suffering with pain for a long time, you’ll know just how distressing it can be.

Many people with long-term pain have sought help in many places but are still struggling, and often the cause of their persistent pain goes unexplained.

If you’ve been suffering with pain, hypnotherapy may be a good option for you. Pain is much more than a sensation we experience in our bodies, it’s also a psychological and emotional experience. We experience pain as whole person and as an individual – it’s not merely in a body part or in our brain. Our mind and body are not separate, and as such, we’re best helping the whole person who is experiencing the pain.

Whilst pain is protective, if it’s gone on for a long time, the original cause has either passed or presents no immediate threat to our well being, and yet the pain may continue. In other words, the pain no longer serves a a useful protective role. In effect it becomes over protective, preventing us from doing the things we want to do and leading our lives as we would wish to. Many people lose mobility and become socially isolated in these circumstances. All the while suffering emotionally. This concept of chronic pain has become central to our understanding as to why pain may persist. Of course this is far from the whole story. It certainly does not mean that there is never any other reason we experience chronic pain. Certain inflammatory processes are such examples but even in these states much can be done with psychological approaches to reduce suffering. It remains true that often the severity of pain that we experience relates poorly to tissue damage or the extent of it and the risk posed to our general health.

How can hypnotherapy
help with pain relief?

When we are in pain, we are often hypervigilant about bodily sensations with the unpleasant experience of pain re-enforcing the belief that something dangerous must be happening even when this is not the case. This can lead to endless worry, and possibly catastrophising, which is a feeling that something dreadful is happening leading to a spiral of excessive worry about the pain, and a feeling of hopelessness and powerlessness.

Pain hypnotherapy utilises a relaxed state of deep focus to enable a mental state where it becomes mush easier for us to change our perceptions about pain and how it alters our before. A very important example of this is fearing movement. Hypnosis can help us break links between our pain and unhelpful perceptions about what it means and ultimately our experience of pain itself.

@Copyright –  Artwork by Constanza Isaza Martínez

@Copyright –  Artwork by Constanza Isaza Martínez

The hypnotic state can also be used to bring about muscle relaxation and reduce guarding postures preventing normal movement. At times of increased pain, very brief self-hypnosis can often bring us some immediate relief.

When our pain levels are much more manageable, we tend to move more, engage with life more, and extend our activity boundaries. This creates a virtuous circle of doing more, which rewards us with confidence, feeling better about ourselves and our lives, and raising our expectations of what we can do.

What is the evidence for hypnotherapy helping with pain?

There is very good evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of hypnotherapy for pain relief. I have listed some useful scientific articles and books here. These are written for a professional audience. For more accessible sources of information please see the list here. Please note that I cannot be responsible for information provided by external sources.

What hypnotherapy for pain is not

Hypnotherapy for pain relief is not about “making the pain go away” or tricking yourself into ignoring the pain; nor is it a “cure” after other things haven’t worked -after a single session of hypnotherapy you won’t walk out “pain free”.

It is certainly not a form of mind control or trickery.

Instead, it empowers you to live with your pain in a different way, giving you a set of skills to reduce the unpleasantness of pain, and increase your function and well-being.

Hypnotherapy is a cooperative process. We work together to bring about change which includes altering your expectations of what you’re capable of and being able to reach your goals and your full potential.

@Copyright –  Artwork by Constanza Isaza Martínez

Self-hypnosis is a skill that needs repetition to master it.

Self-hypnosis is a skill that needs to be practised. The goal of our sessions together is to teach you how to be self-sufficient in managing your pain through the skill of self-hypnosis, and like any skill, practise makes perfect. We might also use post-hypnotic suggestions to enable you to respond to a cue in a desired way, so that you can readily switch your state and feel better. You are usually aware and have full memory of your hypnotherapy sessions although this is not the case for everyone and every time. I usually spend as much time before the actual hypnosis discussing and planning with you how we will use the session and we will usually spend time too immediately afterwards to discuss how you felt the session went. I will never introduce new ideas to you during hypnosis that we have not already discussed immediately beforehand.

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10 Harley Street, London