Does this sound familiar? Deep piercing pain in the stomach or aches that persist, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea? These symptoms may have just become a part of your life. You may have gone to a doctor, yet the medication they prescribed may not have worked so well for you. You feel like your life has shrunk a little. Now, you are concerned and even anxious about when your next flare-up will be, so you aren’t as active socially as you once were.
In both my Evanston and Chicago based practices, I see many women who can relate to your story. They would “get you.” These women would also probably want you to know that there can be relief from these symptoms and the anxiety in almost all cases. Their GI distress and chronic pain lessened and they were able to resume normal living.
Have you ever thought that hypnosis might help you to regain some independence and personal power back in your life? Perhaps you have tried cognitive behavioral therapy to reduce anxiety and pain. What about hypnotherapy with a health psychologist?
Let me tell you about what hypnosis looks like during a therapy session, what we would do together, and how you might possibly feel throughout several sessions.
What is hypnotherapy?
What comes to mind when you think of hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a trance-like state where you are highly focused. It is not at all “woo-woo.” In this state, you might be likely to remember things in greater detail and you are totally in control of what you do and think.
With a health psychologist, you are more sensitive to suggestions of imagery and relaxation to reduce the pain. This is the good stuff that will help you to feel better during and after a hypnotherapy session with me.
When you are engrossed in the latest episode of The Queen’s Gambit, or about to level up after playing Candy Crush for an hour, you are in a type of trance. The feeling is the same as the one you get when you are driving somewhere and just end up there without thinking about it. We go in and out of this type of state all day.
What about hypnotherapy and IBS? Does it really work?
It wasn’t until 15 to 20 years ago that clinical health psychologist Olafur Palsson, PsyD, crafted a treatment protocol to use with his patients suffering from IBS. His clients saw their irritable bowel symptoms like cramping, bloating and gas diminish after participating in several sessions of hypnotherapy.
Since that time, treating IBS symptoms with hypnotherapy has been studied extensively. Generally, studies show that “symptoms improve in up to 80% or more of all treated patients who have well-defined “classic” IBS problems, especially if they do not have complicating factors such as psychiatric disorders.”
In some situations where “typical” medical care for chronic symptoms failed, patients who received hypnosis had fewer IBS symptoms, like constipation or diarrhea, for up to a year after treatment. The relaxed state of hypnosis, allows clients to experience lowered anxiety and learn to cope more effectively with their pain.
I am a health psychologist with offices in Evanston and Chicago who specializes in working with patients like you with IBS. Many physicians may not be aware of the benefits of treating IBS and gastric distress with hypnosis.
What will you experience in a hypnotherapy session with me?
I follow a very similar series of steps to what Dr. Palsson did with his clients. The technique is called the North Carolina Protocol as Dr. Palsson is from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
I will ask you to close your eyes and lead you into a hypnotic trance, as I described above. I will guide you through some breathing and relaxation exercises so that your muscles will become completely relaxed. You will be fully aware of what is happening in the room and will be able to respond to me.
I will use suggestions to get you to create imagery in your mind. I might ask you to see yourself walking on a nature trail on a beautiful sunny day. You will go there with all of your senses: hearing the birds chirping, smelling the earth, feeling the crunch of leaves under your feet. The suggestion, imagery, and relaxation usher you into a positive physical and mental state.
I will ask you to begin to pay as much attention to your troublesome symptoms (stomach pain, loose stools, anxiety, loneliness) as you do to the birds chirping in the background. You notice them, you know they are there, but that is about all. There isn’t any discomfort.
What we are doing together is training your brain through brain-gut interactions to ease its response to any strong emotions. I will teach you that your stomach is strong and calm, just like you feel as you are on this walk.
Hypnotherapy works on your central nervous system to lower the sensitivity of the nerves in your gut so that your symptoms and pain lessen. I will tailor our sessions to you and what you need to feel better. We will look at your greatest symptoms (constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, abdominal pain, etc) and deal directly with these symptoms during the hypnotherapy.
People try to take care of symptoms on their own. Many eventually realize that the symptoms are diminishing their quality of life and not getting much better. The unpredictability of flare-ups and pain cause tremendous fear and anxiety. The fear then makes the symptoms worse.
Please reach out, and let’s chat to see if hypnotherapy might be right for you. It may just be what helps you to get your life back.
The caring therapists at Evanston Counseling provide Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Hypnotherapy for individuals suffering with GI distress in Evanston and Chicago IL. We help our clients manage the anxiety and think differently about chronic pain, fibromyalgia, IBS, and other forms of GI distress.