Hypnosis for Chronic Pain

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You are not your pain. You can make that statement a reality by utilizing the powerful tool of hypnotherapy for pain relief. Hypnotherapy can harness your ability to retrain neural pathways and develop new patterns in the brain and body, to help you reclaim control and ‘put pain in the back seat’.

Clinical trial evidence over the past 10 years, confirms that hypnotherapy for chronic pain management is effective at reducing daily pain intensity levels.

My own experience of living with chronic pain means that I have a real understanding of the impact it has on all areas of life. I have used hypnosis for my own pain relief and from this perspective I can assist you to discover for yourself the ability to change the way you experience your body and your life.

When pain persists, your role in managing it becomes really important. What you think, feel and do on a day-to-day basis, has an affect on your pain. In order to change your pain state it is necessary to change your thoughts and emotional responses.

Hypnosis for pain management

Hypnosis is a powerful tool that helps you take back control over your pain and your life by enabling you to change your thoughts and emotional responses to both your pain and to external factors. This will assist you to retrain neural pathways and calm down the over sensitized state of your central nervous system, helping you lay down new templates of response in the areas of the brain responsible for determining the pain experience.

With hypnotherapy you will be able to promote and experience the healthy effects of positive energy in your life, empowering you to get back in the driver’s seat of your life once again.

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What exactly is chronic pain?

Pain is considered chronic when it occurs for most days of the week and persists for longer than three months. It includes persistent pain that no longer has an identifiable cause where an original injury has healed, as well as pain from a diagnosed cause such as arthritis, cancer, diabetic neuropathy, shingles, multiple sclerosis, lower back injury, fibromyalgia, TMJ dysfunction etc. It also includes persistent pain that has no identifiable cause at all.

It is now estimated that 1 in 5 Australians suffer from chronic pain. The cause and treatment of persistent pain is complex, added to which is the enormous impact chronic pain has on a person’s ability to function effectively in the wider areas of family, social and work life.

Chronic pain and illness is debilitating, isolating and extremely stressful. There is no single approach or ‘magic bullet’ solution to treating and living with chronic pain. Rather, it’s a multidiscipline approach and the realisation that you are in charge of your health team and management, choosing the right combination of treatment strategies and health care professionals to help you optimise your outcomes and the quality of your life. Hypnosis is widely recognised by pain management experts as a valid and effective tool for chronic pain management.

…When I arrived for my first hypnotherapy session for pain with Sarah I was physically and emotionally exhausted from several years of living with chronic pain. Sarah was able to talk with me with genuine empathy, and insight into what I was going through. She provided a space that was calming and peaceful and I felt immediately at ease and safe with Sarah.

At the end of my hypnosis sessions I would leave with an overwhelming sense of peace, calm and hope. I found the self-hypnosis techniques that Sarah taught me to be easily applicable throughout my daily life, and they continue to be effective on a regular basis.

Sarah was instrumental in enabling me to change the way I relate to pain and suffering and her techniques have provided me with knowledge and confidence to face the challenges of life…

Kathy, Homebush, Sydney

There is proof that hypnosis for pain relief works

Hypnotherapy is safe, drug free and also works to support other medical and alternative therapeutic approaches you may be using in your multidisciplinary approach to healing. My own experience of utilizing a range of health options to holistically manage my own chronic pain is a valuable resource that I bring to the sessions. I can help you navigate options to find what’s right for you, so that you gain real improvements in wellbeing and quality of life.

Science has discovered that thoughts, emotions and physical movement create chemical reactions in our body, which either calm down our central nervous system or turn the alarm volume up. By changing your response to pain and the way you think about pain, you can in fact change your pain state.
How we focus our attention can have a significant impact on our experience of pain. Research has shown that being able to focus attention on a task, activity, or experience – or to distract yourself – reduces pain and distress for people in chronic pain. The more we can divert our attention from pain, the less signal we create in our pain pathways.

When engaged in or focused on enjoyable experiences, we increase our production of ‘good’ chemicals (neurotransmitters) such as endorphins, which calm the over sensitized pain pathways. Because hypnotherapy is a state of focused concentration it can create and absorb you in a desirable and comfortable state, and your brain can start to pay attention to those feelings instead of pain.

Pain and the brain

Pain is an output of the brain in response to a perceived threat. It is what alerts us to danger and it acts as a protective mechanism to make us stop. Our brain decides if something is painful or not. This is hard to comprehend because when we feel pain in parts of our body we believe the pain comes from those parts, but in fact the level of pain we experience is determined by the brain.
However, when pain is ongoing the body’s danger response to sensory input becomes over sensitized and the alarm system stays on red alert causing a process called ‘Central Nervous System Sensitization’; then fears, thoughts and beliefs become involved and start contributing to the chronic pain state.

Chronic pain sufferers end up feeling as though pain has engulfed their life, feeling helpless and hopeless. The good news is that hypnotherapy can change that. It creates an opening in the prison wall of chronic pain, creating space and the possibility of change and healing.

I have been suffering with the chronic pain of Fibromyalgia for 25 years. I have tried and tested numerous methods of coping with the limitations it has placed on my life, both medical and alternative.

Last year I began hypnotherapy with Sarah Ivens. I approach all treatments with an open mind, willing to give all my energy to anything that will relieve my pain. The first session I met with Sarah at her Hypnotherapy clinic in Sydney, but all sessions since then have been on Skype. This works extremely well, providing the necessary closeness without any detrimental effect.

I am finding extraordinary benefits from hypnotherapy.

When my pain is so severe that I can’t function I used to go to bed for a few weeks and just lie there hoping the rest will rejuvenate me. I don’t give in easily. I’m a fighter.

Now I am aware when my pain threatens to overtake my mind and my body that a brief check in will result in restoring my energy and vitality. With the help of my sessions with Sarah and the techniques she has taught me I can feel the pain, say hello to it and then get on with something else. The pain’s still there, but my mind is not fixated on it, so I don’t let it become the only thing of which I am aware at that time.

My spiritual journey is teaching me to stay present every moment of the day and this goes so well with the hypnotherapy techniques.

It’s about changing the way my brain deals with pain signals. If my brain is not totally fixated on the pain signals I am able to focus on something else. This is having an amazing effect on my daily life. It feels like the pain is taking a back seat. There is a light at the end of the tunnel!

Sarah is very professional and I have confidence in her methods and respect for her knowledge. I’m truly blessed to have found her…

Jeanette – Northern NSW

A Multidiscipline approach

A multidisciplinary approach is required in order to address the different facets of physical and emotional health involved in the treatment of chronic pain. Once you decide to get involved in your own healing, as captain of your team, you will need to find the team that works best for you.
The evidence indicates that hypnotherapy enhances the outcomes of other treatment therapies that people undergo, for example psychology, physiotherapy, and drug treatments. There is also a broad range of allied health modalities that form part of the holistic treatment of chronic pain, all of which work well in conjunction with medical treatment.

Clinical trial findings and MRI studies support the fact that hypnotherapy for pain relief is a valuable tool that will support your ability to learn new ways of dealing with the impact of pain in your life. You will decide how to incorporate the right treatment tools for your best health outcome, some of which may include:

  • Physical movement and exercise that is designed specifically to retrain your body and gradually increase your levels of activity and endurance;
  • Bodywork therapy from a range of modalities such as Physiotherapy, Osteopathy, Chiropractic, Cranio-Sacral Therapy, Visceral Manipulation, Acupuncture, Bowen Therapy, Trigger Point Massage;
  • Meditation practice and relaxation techniques, to reduce stress hormones, calm the mind and the body, which in turn calms the pain, to gain clarity of thought and awareness, and to connect with your deep inner wisdom;
  • Nutritional and naturopathic support to restore important biochemical balance for the healthy function of your body and its systems.
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What the research tells us

  • We now know that the brain is plastic! The brain’s neuroplasticity means that it is not a fixed and final thing; it can change the way it works and the way your body responds to its messages. “Neruo is for ‘neuron’, the nerve cells in our brains and nervous systems. Plastic is for ‘changeable…modifiable’” (The Brain That Changes Itself, Norman Doidge MD, 2007)
  • The neural pathways that take messages to and from the brain can be altered, and new paths can be created. The latest brain research shows that our brain has the ability to change its function and structure through thought and activity, but only when it is in a state of openness, creativity and freedom from stress. (Neuro Orthopaedic Institute Australasia, August 2011) Because hypnotherapy helps you reduce the significant levels of stress that occur in your body as a result of experiencing ongoing pain, it creates the necessary open and creative space for your brain to begin changing its responses
  • Thoughts are one of the most powerful influences on your mood and emotions. The way you think about yourself, your situation, and your future is extremely important in chronic pain, for a number of reasons. The more you can reduce your own distress with your thinking, the more you reduce your adrenaline levels, which in turn is good for desensitizing your nervous system. The more you can generate helpful thinking patterns that improve your mood, the more helpful neurotransmitters you are likely to produce, such as opiates. These are your body’s natural ‘feel good’ chemicals. When your body produces ‘feel good’ chemicals, they help to reduce the level of signal in your pain pathways. (CPA Australia www.chronicpainaustralia.org.au)
  • Research has shown that being able to focus attention on a task, activity, or experience – or to distract yourself – reduces pain and distress for people in chronic pain. An important point about attention is that we all only have a limited amount of attention to allocate to various aspects of our experience. If much of our attention is taken up by a particular thing, then there is less attention to be allocated to anything else. (CPA Australia www.chronicpainaustralia.org.au)
  • There is growing recognition that hypnosis is helpful for altering the thoughts and beliefs that contribute to the pain state.
  • The findings suggest that self hypnosis training for chronic pain has two primary effects (a) it creates a long lasting (possibly permanent) change in the way the person and brain processes pain information, so that they experience a decrease in ongoing daily average pain, and (b) provides skills that they can use on a regular basis to experience periods of comfort.
  • New sciences such as New Biology, Quantum Physics, and Molecular Science, all recognize that human beings are a dynamic organic process. These scientific perspectives contend that it is not the individual parts, but the whole that provides for in-depth understanding. The human organism is not perceived as isolated or compartmentalized, but rather is studied as a living system. No longer an “it “ – an object – the human being is recognized as a dynamic ever-changing process, embedded in a field of relationships and information. (from Changing the Language of Body: from Object to Process article by Liz Koch). This relational field moves between your thoughts, emotions, and body and is intrinsically linked. Hypnotherapy works with the whole person in a powerful way that harnesses their mind, body spirit self to achieve healing and transformation.

Hypnosis for Pain Relief in Sydney Inner West & Online

My hypnotherapy clinic is located in Sydney’s Inner West (Lilyfield).

I also conduct online hypnosis for pain management via Zoom and Skype. You can be confident that online hypnotherapy sessions are every bit as effective as in-person sessions!

…Sarah is a warm, friendly and very gifted hypnotherapist, and I’m so very grateful for the circumstances that led me to find her…

Julie, Inner West Sydney
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