Clinical hypnotherapy is a combination of hypnosis and a psychological treatment. It involves getting you into a relaxed state where the therapist can communicate with the subconscious part of your mind and make suggestions relevant to your symptoms, says clinical hypnotherapist Simone Peters. Perhaps the clearest evidence for a benefit from hypnotherapy is for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition that affects as many as one in five Australians.
People with IBS experience some pretty unpleasant digestive symptoms — abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation — that can have a significant impact on their quality of life.
Several studies, including one from Australia, now point to hypnotherapy as a way to bring significant and lasting relief from symptoms, especially for those people who haven’t responded to other treatments.
Another Dutch study in children with abdominal pain and irritable bowel syndrome showed that 68 per cent of those treated with six sessions of medical hypnotherapy over three months were still in remission after at least four years, compared to 20 per cent of the group treated with standard medical treatment.
A study at The Alfred hospital in Melbourne has shown similar results.
It’s believed that hypnotherapy could change how people’s minds respond to and process pain, or could even be influencing gut function. It could also help by reducing stress.