Hypnotherapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Hypnotherapy is considered one of the most successful treatment approaches for chronic irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Between 70% and 80% of patients who receive hypnotherapy for IBS show significant improvement in symptoms when compared with those who do not receive this intervention. Hypnotherapy uses the healing power of the person's own mind, and is generally free of negative side effects. During hypnotherapy, patients learn how to influence and control their digestive functions, and then appear able to change the way the brain modulates their gut activity. Even other issues are improved, such as headaches, and the benefits can last for years.
What to Expect During Hypnosis for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
People have a variety of experiences while hypnotized. Many report a subjective sense of things happening without attempting to make them happen. They become highly receptive to acceptable positive suggestions. When treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), it is unnecessary to address any possible deep unconscious issues that might arise, and this should be discussed ahead of time with the clinical hypnotherapist. Most patients are aware of everything that occurs during a session—hypnosis is a state of being completely relaxed and awake with the mind focused and alert. Patients maintain control and know what is happening, and can decide whether or not to go along with suggestions made by the hypnotherapist. The hypnotherapist acts as a coach to guide the patient toward better health. If there is any question about the integrity of the hypnotherapist, the session can be ended. About 10% of the population cannot be hypnotized.
When first starting a session, the patient is asked to sit comfortably in a chair and to either close his or her eyes or stare at an object. The office should be softly lit. The hypnotherapist will talk the patient through a relaxation process using a calm voice. The patient’s mind turns inward, and the body feels as if it might be floating. Some people feel great heaviness, while others feel light, numb, or even disembodied. Sensations of tingling, floating, spinning, and sinking also are reported during hypnosis.
The hypnotherapist’s voice will seem more distant and eventually the patient effortlessly allows the voice to act upon him or her while enjoying a profound state of deep relaxation and calm. For Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), the hypnotherapist will use soothing images for the intestines. For example, if one of the symptoms is diarrhea, the hypnotherapist might use an image of a fast-flowing river within the gut that slows down so that the symptoms will cease. The hypnotherapist may suggest placing one's warm hands on the abdomen to enhance the imagery. Suggestions also are made to reduce fear of pain and discomfort and to decrease the patient’s preoccupation with sensation in the intestines. The hypnotherapist can use imagery and suggestion to increase the patient’s sense of control over Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms. Hypnotic analgesia, which involves blocking pain with the aid of hypnosis, depends on the mind’s ability to alter body perception in response to suggestion, helping manage the pain associated with IBS. Finally, while the patient is still under hypnosis, the hypnotherapist will offer posthypnotic suggestions, which are instructions that affect the patient after returning to normal waking consciousness. The effectiveness of these suggestions depends on the patient’s receptivity to the suggestions in the hypnotic state. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) typically takes seven to 12 one-hour sessions for the positive effects to be fully realized.
What Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a group of symptoms occurring in the intestines, including bloating, gas, cramping, diarrhea, and/or constipation. IBS affects the large intestine, which is the last location of food’s journey through the digestive tract. IBS might be caused by extra sensitivity in the bowels. It is possible that the muscles contract too much, causing cramping and diarrhea during or shortly after a meal. A person is diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) if discomfort or pain occurs three days per month during a three-month period and if the start of the pain or discomfort was associated with altered stool frequency and/or appearance, or the pain or discomfort was relieved by defecation. Because other disorders might have the same symptoms, it is important to have some testing done. It is estimated that 10-15% of adults in the United States have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Women represent more than 70% of IBS patients.
How to Find a Qualified Hypnotherapist
Hypnosis is generally safe and leaves the patient free from complications. It probably is just as safe as going into ordinary sleep, unless the patient has a mental illness. The only aftereffects might be some drowsiness and disorientation for the first few minutes after coming out of hypnosis. A person, especially those with health issues, should only choose a clinical hypnotherapist who offers specialized knowledge, training, and professional skill, as hypnosis is not restricted or regulated by law in many states. It is vital that the hypnotherapist have a formal education in psychotherapy or mental health. This does not include the title C. Ht. (certified hypnotherapist) as this offers no true indication of ability or qualifications to treat health issues. The hypnotherapist should have clinical degrees with specialties in the area relevant to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). The hypnotherapist should also be licensed by the state as a health professional. In the United States, this person should be a member of one of the two reputable national organizations of professionals in clinical hypnosis: the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis and the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis (ASCH). Only properly licensed and qualified professionals can become members and both organizations provide training and require members to adhere to ethics codes.
International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse