As Targeted Hypnotherapy's Principle Clinician I'll be delighted to personally discuss your situation as a pain sufferer. I offer a range of creative and effective approaches to dealing with pain, its causes, effects and the experience and sensations of pain.

Please, take the time to read and absorb the following, as it will equip you to understand your problem and our approach to your problem from the hypnotherapy perspective. Please also, read my cautionary note on Pain Management a little further down.

Please call me on 0431 949766 if you'd like to discuss your specific situation.

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My approach to treating pain varies from case to case, as pain and the pain experience and effects are so widely variable. As with all our treatments, we'll design an approach that best aligns with what you are experiencing and what you seek to achieve.

Applying hypnotherapy to the treatment of pain involves learning how to use your mind to manage its unpleasant physical symptoms, associated anxiety and other disruptive associated patterns. It is a highly useful tool that can be used to help patients manage both the sensations and the effects of pain.

I utilise hypnotic chronic pain management methods developed and advocated by Dr. Mark P. Jensen and David R. Patterson (Ref Hypnotic Approaches to Chronic Pain Management) of the University of Washington; considering the world’s preeminent practitioners in this field.  Accordingly, I divide and treat pain across three broad categories:

1) Catastrophising;
2) Pain beliefs and
3) Pain coping responses.

The clinical and research evidence base supporting hypnotherapy as a treatment for chronic pain management has flourished over the past two decades. Clinical trials show that hypnosis is effective for reducing chronic pain, although outcomes vary between individuals. The findings from these clinical trials also show that hypnotic treatments have a number of positive effects beyond pain control. Neurophysiological studies reveal that hypnotic analgesia has clear effects on brain and spinal-cord functioning that differ as a function of the specific hypnotic suggestions made, providing further evidence for the specific effects of hypnosis. The research results have provided important guidance to clinicians on how we manage the pain treatment process for our clients, ensuring you will realise the best benefits possible from hypnosis and treatments that include hypnotic components.

My ongoing professional development includes specific focus on awareness and understanding of best practices in this field.

Some examples of compelling evidence regarding hypnotic pain management. The American Psychological Association states that among the benefits associated with hypnosis is the ability to alter the psychological components of the experience of pain that may then have an effect on even severe pain. Theirs is one of many highly credible studies supporting the use of hypnotherapy in the treatment of pain.

In 1996, a panel of the National Institutes of Health found hypnosis to be effective in easing cancer pain. More recent studies have demonstrated its effectiveness for pain related to burns, cancer and rheumatoid arthritis and reduction of anxiety associated with surgery.

In 2000, a meta-analysis study of 18 studies of hypnosis showed that 75% of clinical and experimental participants with varying types of pain obtained substantial pain relief – supporting the claims of the effectiveness of hypnosis for pain management.

There is growing evidence and established research to supporting the position that hypnotherapy:

  • Has a greater influence on the effects of pain rather than the sensation of pain;
  • May be more effective or at least equivalent to other treatments for acute and chronic pain;
  • Has the potential to save both money and time for patients and clinicians, if the patient responds to hypnosis;
  • May be able to provide analgesia, reduce stress, relieve anxiety, improve sleep, improve mood and reduce the need for opioids; and
  • Can enhance the efficacy of other well-established treatments for pain.

Cautionary Words On Pain Management

Pain is a complex area. It's an inter-related web of causes, effects and sensations.

If one had to boil it down, pain in its simplest form is a nervous sensation created by the mind. That's not to suggest that the experience and sensations of pain are not incredibly real to the sufferer. It's just important to this discussion that you understand that. There are a large number of psychological and physiological factors that influence the experience of pain. Pain in turn goes on to effect the sufferer in a range of ways, potentially including anxiety and depression and their day-to-day functioning including activity level and social functioning.

Think of pain for the purposes of this discussion as a messenger alert created in the mind to indicate to the body and mind that it needs to do something about the source. IE, you put your hand on a burner and the pain response screams "move your hand". In many cases, pain triggers our fight or flight responses.

Now, here's the important thing to understand. It's not in many cases a healthy thing to completely block out pain.

Here's a personal example of a sobering lesson on pain management. Early in my hypnotherapy career, I injured my ankle on a motorcycle. Not recognising that it was fractured, I successfully applied self-hypnosis to "deaden the pain". I then got on with life for about 5 days, until it had swollen to twice its size and gone a ghastly shade of purple. Eventually presenting for an X-Ray at the local ER, I realised I'd actually endangered myself by completely blocking out an important bodily warning signal.

Lesson: Pain serves an important purpose. Blocking it out is akin to taking the batteries out of your smoke alarm. Yes it keeps things quiet, but it's a bummer when the house burns down. Imagine blocking out a migraine headache to later discover the underlying cause was a tumor.

Thus, the pain management rules in my practice, for very good reason, are:

1) Undertake an immediate medical investigation in collaboration with your GP to determine the root cause of the pain.
2) Follow your doctor's orders once diagnosis is complete to deal with that root cause, and THEN
3) Come and see me so I can work in parallel to assist you with management of and coping with the pain and the possible emotional and psychological side effects.
4) We'll look at strategies including "pain attenuation", ie dialing it down. In other words, if its at a 9/10, we might take it down to 2/10 during waking hours to allow you to get on with life. In some cases we might even allow you 0/10 specifically while asleep to support proper rest and recovery, automatically returning to 2/10 when you awaken. The range of approaches available to us are very wide and mine are very creative.


Having said that, let me say this. There are many, many documented cases where traditional medicine has failed to address chronic pain, and where hypnotherapy has significantly or completely helped. If you're at that point, I'd be delighted to do everything within my power to make you comfortable.

Some more reading for the pain sufferer.

American Psychological Association research shows that hypnosis works as part of a treatment program for a number or psychological and medical conditions, with pain relief being one of the most researched areas, as shown in a 2000 study by psychologist Steven Lynn, mPhD, irving Kirsch, PhD, Arreed Barabasz, PhD, Etzel Cardena, PhD, and David Patterson, PhD. Among the benefits associated with hypnosis is the ability to alter the psychological components of the experience of pain that may then have an effect on even severe pain.

Dr Patterson and fellow psychologist Mark Hensen, PhD (earlier mentioned), found that hypo-analgesia is associated with significant reductions in: ratings of pain, need for analgesics or sedation, nausea and vomiting, and length of stay in hospitals. Hypnosis has also been associated with better overall outcome after medical treatment and greater physiological stability. Surgeons and other health providers have reported significantly higher degrees of satisfaction with the patients treated with hypnosis than with their other patients.

Dr. Patterson and Jensen’s review concluded that hypnotic techniques for the relief of acute pain (an outcome of tissue damage) are superior to standard care, and often better then other recognised treatments for pain.

Hypno-anagesia is likely to decrease acute and chronic pain in most individuals. It has been used successfully in a number of interventions in many clinics, hospitals, and burn care centers, and dental offices. For acute pain, it has proven effective in interventional radiology, various surgical procedures i.e. appendectomies, child-birth labour pain, bone marrow aspiration pain, dental work, headache, backache, fibromyalgia, and mixed chronic pain.

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I've used a lot of Hypno-terminology in this article that's probably got you either puzzled or curious. In either case, click here to Understand Clinical Hypnotherapy a little better.

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