What is involved in hypnotherapy for IBS

You may be considering hypnotherapy for your IBS but be unsure of what it involves. This article will tell you more. 

The first session is a ‘getting to know you’ session, including a tutorial on IBS giving information on some of the abnormalities of gast rointestinal function that contribute to symptoms, such as hypersensitivity and excessive contraction of the gut muscles. You will be asked about your symptoms, what techniques you have used in the past that have and have not been successful.

At the end of the first session you will be given an MP3 to listen to between sessions. The purpose is to help you to learn to relax, build your confidence in the process and to reinforce the work carried out during sessions. Hypnosis starts at the second session. You will be hypnotised, usually by getting you to progressively relax your muscles in conjunction with calming your mind. We will explore useful visualisations and metaphors for your symptoms, such as viewing bloating as a balloon inflated inside your tummy. These can be used during hypnosis to control symptoms, because the brain can activate the necessary symptoms to bring about change without actually having to know how to make it happen.

For instance, you may be asked to imagine your gut as a river, the flow of which you are able to control by speeding it up or slowing it down depending on what type of bowel habit you have. In addition, you are asked to put your hand on your tummy and feel a pleasant warming feeling that can reach every part of your gut and give you control over it. You are told that in the future every time you put you hand on their tummy you will feel this warmth, which will enable you to get rid of any pain. Eventually you will be able to soothe your pain in day-to-day life by just putting your hand on their tummy, without having to go into a trance.

At each session of treatment the process is repeated and built upon according to the your response. Each session takes approximately one hour and the process is repeated at weekly intervals, if possible, and is usually complete after 6 sessions, though some clients may need more. Hypnotherapy for IBS is not a backward-looking form of treatment; we are only interested in moving forward.

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Written by Linda Mortimer BSc (Hons) MSc, D.Hyp, MNCH (Acc)

I have a degree in psychology, worked for many years in mental health, research and teaching. The main focus of any role has been to help people become all that they can be. Training in hypnotherapy means that I can now help people in a therapeutic setting, to tackle the problems that may be preventing them from living a happy and fulfilled life.… Read more

Written by Linda Mortimer BSc (Hons) MSc, D.Hyp, MNCH (Acc)

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