Hypnotherapy, neuroscience and pain management

Hypnotherapy is a tangible method of creating a mind-link, via which we can tap into powerful resources within the subconscious mind, helping to regulate pain.

Hypnotherapy for pain managementDr. Sarno, a well-known and respected back specialist and a pioneer in clinical observations of origins of chronic back pain.

He claimed that a large percentage of chronic back pain stemmed from unresolved and deferred emotional pain.

He had successfully treated many of his patients not with the scalpel, but with teaching them how to release emotional trauma.

As a Clinical Hypnotherapist I couldn’t agree more. I have also worked with many people who have learned to manage pain with Hypnosis, in particular in childbirth.

Just recently neuroscientists have identified some key mechanisms that are activated at a non-conscious level which are responsible for the placebo effect in pain perception.

These findings demonstrate that the subconscious mind plays a key role in the pain response. This is yet another reason why I believe hypnotherapy is found very effective for pain management.

There are a number of published articles that have reviewed controlled research trials of hypnosis for the treatment of chronic pain.

Thirteen such studies were identified, which compared outcomes of hypnosis for the treatment of chronic pain to either baseline data or a control condition. The findings reviewed by NCBI (National Centre for Biotechnology Information) indicate that hypnosis interventions consistently produce significant decreases in pain associated with a variety of chronic-pain problems.

Neuroscience studies and neuroimaging experiments published in Science Daily found that the placebo effect in managing pain can be activated outside of conscious awareness. This provided an explanation for how patients can show clinical improvement even when they receive treatments devoid of active ingredients or of known therapeutic efficacy.

Another research study co-authored by Prof. Ted Kaptchuk, a Professor of Medicine and of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School notes: “It’s not what patients think will happen (that influences outcomes) it’s what the non-conscious mind anticipates despite any conscious thoughts. This mechanism is automatic, fast and powerful, and does not depend on deliberation and judgment. These findings open an entirely new door towards understanding placebos and the ritual of medicine.”

“Neuro-imaging studies of the human brain have suggested that certain structures, such as the striatum and the amygdala, can process incoming stimuli before they reach conscious awareness, and, as a result, may mediate non-conscious effects on human cognition and behaviour.”

Personally, I have observed that during hypnotherapy sessions the subconscious mind can help regulate pain and generate appropriate responses and desired outcomes for future pain management.

Written by: Katherine Ferris