Uses of Hypnotherapy - Pain Management
One issue that continues to face medicine is the lack of trust in innovative procedures, even those which have proven effective in practice. Without application of these procedures, though, there is little opportunity for the advancement and evolution of medicine. According to clinical and experimental research, hypnosis is very effective at pain management.
The two most common applications of hypnosis to pain reduction are hypnoanalgesia (the use of hypnosis to decrease sensitivity to pain) and hypnoanesthesia(the use of hypnosis to numb sensation of pain). For both conditions, the most important factor is the patient's ability to focus attention. Research into psychological and physiological mechanisms supports the idea that the use of attention is what gives the mind power over the body.
The acceptance of hypnosis into mainstream treatment could have profound effects on the practice of medicine. It will permit the patient to get involved in the healing process and to take control of his or her own health.
Within the realm of medicine, the method of hypnoanalgesia can be adapted for various situations. In most cases, the intervention consists of four main stages (Chaves, 1994).
The first stage involves preparation of the patient. As can be expected, most patients come into hypnosis with various expectations. In order to obtain the maximum gain, the therapist works to direct the patient toward the most realistic goals.
The second stage involves the hypnotic induction. As studies have not shown that differences exist between indirect and direct suggestions, most therapists make use of a mixture of the two. In this stage, the therapist needs to help the patient enter into a focused and relaxed state.
The third stage involves therapeutic suggestions. This is the most important stage in which the therapist focuses the attention of the patient. In the context of pain reduction, the therapist helps the patient develop imaginary situations (regardless of feasibility) which will achieve the goal of less pain.
An example is dissociation, in which the patient imagines the hand separate from the body or made of a different material. The fourth stage involves posthypnotic suggestions and termination. The posthypnotic suggestions allow the patient to retain achievements (i.e. pain reduction abilities) outside of the hypnotic state
(e.g. with a tap on the shoulder).