Our lecturer strode into the room with a bucket of ice-cubes and a box of medical clamps – “Today,” he said, “you are going to learn all about pain!”
No, not the opening to a gothic novel, but part of my in-depth training as a Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist. In order to understand how pain worked, I needed to experience it. In order to understand how hypnotherapy helps to alleviate pain, I also needed to experience it!
The link between hypnotherapy and pain relief has been studied at length. The British Medical Association has approved the use of hypnotherapy for pain as a legitimate treatment. In 2007 Elkins, Jenson and Patterson reviewed 13 controlled studies of the use of hypnotherapy for pain. They published their findings in “Hypnotherapy for the Management of Chronic Pain”.
The studies included in their review were ones in which a control group was standard, allowing for direct comparison of results. They found that “participants experiencing both clinical and experimental pain significantly benefited from hypnotic interventions………For 75% of the population, hypnosis provided substantial pain relief.” It is now used for patients undergoing operations where anaesthesia is not suggested, and also routinely by dentists and dental surgeons as an alternative to anaesthetic for dental operations. In addition, the study concluded “that hypnotic interventions for chronic pain results in significant reductions in perceived pain that, in some cases, may be maintained for several months.
Further, in a few studies, hypnotic treatment was found to be more effective, on average, than some other treatments, such as physical therapy or education, for some types of chronic pain. “ Hypnotherapy for the Management of Chronic Pain Gary Elkins,1Mark P. Jensen, and David R. Patterson Published in final edited form as: Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2007 Jul; 55(3): 275–287.