I have had many requests over recent months about how to best employ hypnosis, hypnotherapy and self-hypnosis to successfully help deal with the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
When I first start researching specific issues and ailments using hypnosis and hypnotherapy, it is always wonderful when firstly, the subject matter has some supporting evidence, and secondly, that supporting evidence is positive!
With a review of the literature, I have actually been reading in the past couple of weeks, some main studies stand out:
Whorwell, P.J., Prior, A. and Farragher, E.B. (1984)
Controlled trial of hypnotherapy in the treatment of severe refractory irritable bowel syndrome. Lancet, 2:1232-1234 (although I mainly referred to this study via a review of the study conducted and published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis)
Palsson, O. S., Turner, M. J., Johnson, D. A., Burnett, C. K. and Whitehead, W. E. (2002) Hypnosis treatment for severe irritable bowel syndrome. Digestive Diseases and Sciences, 47: 2605-2614.
Harvey, R. F., Hinton, R. A., Gunary, R. M. and Barry, R. E. (1989) Individual and group hypnotherapy in treatment of refractory irritable bowel syndrome. Lancet, 1: 424-425.
And another great related study:
Talley, N., Owen, B. K., Boyce, P. and Paterson, K. (1996) Psychological treatments for irritable bowel syndrome: a critique of controlled treatment trials. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 91: 277-286.
This is all well and good, and shows that there is a strong evidence base to suggest that hypnosis is more effective than the placebo and other control group interventions within the studies, although we’d like to see more studies completed on more people of course.
I could go on and on and offer up my own thoughts and review on the literature, however, that would not make for very entertaining blog reading and may actually make it onto a CPD seminar I intend to run in coming months for hypnotherapists.
The reason that I mention the studies is that I have been and read them and found a number of consistent applications that were used that I have used in therapeutic practice before now, and also that I have adapted as a number of self-hypnosis processes I plan to share here in the coming days.
The first one requires a lot of repetition; in fact the vast majority of the processes that I shall be sharing here do require repetition to be the most efficacious.
With the repetition, you’ll start to develop control and more of a notable response to the technique.
This particular process is designed to help soothe the symptoms of IBS, but also to heighten control of gut function.
Speaking of which, anyone wishing to derive the most benefit from these types of processes will enhance the effectiveness of the process with a good understanding of the physiology of the gut. I’d recommend going and giving it a google or looking it up in an anatomy manual of some kind.
Get a good idea of whereabouts your colon, stomach, small intestine and large bowel is located, for example. It’ll demonstrate that the pain of IBS is not always deep in the pits of our lower abdomen, but can reach up to our ribs where our large bowel extends towards.
Sometimes, the pain, spasms and oversensitivity associated with IBS can seem out of our control, so repeated use of processes such as todays, are designed to give you a coping skill and a sense of control.
Prior to starting, have a good think about your own ongoing symptoms with IBS (i.e. noting differences between diarrhea and constipation) and with the symptoms in mind, then we can get set up and ready to start.
Get yourself into a place where you’ll be undisturbed for the period of time taken to run through this process. Ideally, be sat upright, with your feet flat on the floor and hands uncrossed, not touching each other, the follow this step-by-step guide.
Steps For Easing IBS Symptoms With Self-Hypnosis
Step One: Induce Hypnosis.
If you know a progressive relaxation process to enter hypnosis, that would work well with this session, as IBS sufferers do benefit from the added physical relaxation.
Otherwise, you can do so by any means you desire or know of. You can use the process in my Science of self-hypnosis book, use the free audio we give away on this website to practice or have a look at the following articles as and when you need them; they are basic processes to help you simply open the door of your mind:
Heavy Arm Self-Hypnosis Induction Method
Using Eye Fixation for Self-Hypnosis
The Chiasson Self-Hypnosis Method
Hand to Face Self-Hypnosis Induction
Using Magnetic Hands for Self-Hypnosis
The Coin Drop Self-Hypnosis Induction
However, with this process, an induction is potentially too much activity, so I teach my clients how to adopt a hypnotic mindset and simply have a mindset that is positive and expectant. Again, to really understand the cognitive set of the hypnotic mindset, go grab a copy of my Science of self-hypnosis book where it is explained in simple but comprehensive terms.
Once you have induced hypnosis, move on to step two.
Step Two: Tune in to your gut. Firstly, just move your awareness to the general area of your gut.
How does it feel? Is there movement? Is there sound? Really tune in for a few moments and focus your attention and awareness on the area of your gut. As you focus in on it, let your breathing relax and notice how your gut responds to your gentle breathing.
Just focus in on the gut area while breathing, allow each breath to keep you focused and aware of your gut region and once you have begun to relax and feel that you are tuned in to your gut, then move on to the next step.
Step Three: Start to imagine your gut as a flowing body of water. It can be a flow from a tap, a flowing river or a waterfall of some kind, just choose whatever suits you best. Ideally use whatever you prefer or whatever you think suits you the best at the time.
Start to imagine that flow of water is warm and soothing. Spend a little while on this step. Just create the ideal flow of water and imagine your gut as this flowing body of water.
Tell yourself that the flowing water is taking you deeper into hypnosis and deeper inside of your mind, then move on to step four.
Step Four: Alter the speed of the water flow to suit your personal requirements. If you have been constipated, then make the water flow be fast and strong, as much as is appropriate.
If you have had diarrhea, then let the flow of water slow.
Just be in control of the flow of the soothing water. Once you have set the correct and most useful speed for the flow of water, then spend some time just observing it and enjoying it flowing at that pace.
Then, when you have really tuned in a enjoyed being in control of the pace of the water, move on to the next step.
Step Five: Engage deeply again with your breathing and with the entire area of the gut. Focus in on it and now let the adjusted flow of water start to heal and soothe.
Let the water start to relax and warm through the entire area of the stomach, colon, intestine and bowels, spreading warmth and soothing senses throughout the abdomen.
Perhaps imagine the water has a colour. Perhaps imagine the water has a sound. Notice how the feelings are experienced within y our gut area as you imagine the warming, soothing, gentle sense of healing water flowing at the right pace, but relaxing with your breathing and spreading throughout you.
Sped as much time on this step as you would like. Enjoy it, enjoy the control you have and when you have really spent enough time enjoying the soothing, warming sense of the water, then move on to the next step.
Step Six: Now accompany those great feelings with a positive and reinforcing cognition. Repeat a progressive cognition to your self to enhance the warming effect, just use your internal dialogue and repeat to yourself something along the lines of; “I feel soothed” or “my stomach relaxes more and more” or “each breath I breathe soothes me and eases my stomach area”
Also suggest that the comfort, relief and sense of control is something that stays with you after this session has finished, and also tell yourself with some conviction that each time you use this technique it is working cumulatively better and more powerfully for you, and you derive more benefit as you practice it.
Really engage your cognitions, use your internal dialogue in a firm and convincing manner, then move on to the next step.
Step Seven: You can spend some more time relaxing the area with the warm flowing water and then when you are ready, bring yourself out of hypnosis.
Simply count from 1-5 whilst taking a couple of energising breaths, wiggle your fingers and toes and gently go about your day.
There you have it, the first in our series of self-hypnosis skills and tools for helping deal with IBS – remember that repetition is King with these processes and the more you practice this, the better the results are going to be.
Have some of themes here resonated with you? Then have a read of these pages:
1. Do you need help or support in a particular area of your life?
Coaching with Adam Eason Or Hypnotherapy with Adam Eason
2. Would you like a satisfying and meaningful career as a hypnotherapist helping others? Are you a hypnotherapist looking for stimulating and career enhancing continued professional development and advanced studies?
Adam Eason’s Anglo European training college.
3. Are you a hypnotherapist looking to fulfil your ambitions or advance your career?
Hypnotherapist Mentoring with Adam Eason.
Likewise, if you’d like to learn more about self-hypnosis, understand the evidence based principles of it from a scientific perspective and learn how to apply it to many areas of your life while having fun and in a safe environment and have the opportunity to test everything you learn, then come and join me for my one day seminar which does all that and more, have a read here: The Science of Self-Hypnosis Seminar.