As little as 15 minutes of hypnotherapy can reduce pain, fatigue, anxiety, discomfort and depression.
After surgery, you may be left in pain and possibly worried about additional surgeries or procedures.
Such was the case of Joni Holland of Tarzana California, until a friend introduced her to Janet Montgomery, a certified hypnotherapist in Woodland Hills, California.
Holland attended a single 30-minute session with Montgomery, and returned home with a 30-minute CD of their interaction. Leading up to her second surgery, she listened to the CD and went back to the same comfortable place in her mind during the session. She went into her second surgery much calmer and experienced no pain afterward. “I really believe a better attitude helped”, Holland concluded.
Benefits of Hypnotherapy
Hypnotherapy gained credibility in 1995, when both the American Medical Association and the National Institute of Health recommended it for chronic pain relief.
Since then, dozens of studies, including several published in The Lancet and Journal of the National Cancer Institute, have suggested medical hypnosis has countless benefits. These studies suggest hypnosis may decrease:
- Cancer-related anxiety
- Pain levels
- Depression and increase more positive moods
- Radiation-induced skin redness or itching
- Amount of anesthesia necessary when undergoing surgery
- Post-surgery discomfort
How Hypnosis Works
Psychiatrist David Spiegel, MD, medical director of Stanford University's Center for Integrative Medicine, describes hypnosis as a level of concentration, rather than a treatment. “Under hypnosis, the brain can learn to alter what it sees and feels."
Spiegel says hypnosis works because, "Pain hijacks our attention.” By teaching the brain to transform or change its awareness, hypnosis treatment frequently reduces even drug-resistant pain.
Hypnotic intervention begins with the therapist and patient agreeing to participate in "talking therapy," a psychotherapeutic technique, explains psychologist Guy Montgomery, PhD, director of the Integrative Behavioral Medicine in the Department of Oncological Sciences at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. The hypnotist makes suggestions for changes in perception, sensation, cognition, affect, mood or behavior; the patient's willingness allows acceptance of these suggestions.
Find the Right Hypnotherapist
Make sure your hypnotherapist is a licensed, trained health professional, who has 40 or 50 hours of additional hypnotherapy training and has worked specifically with cancer patients. A successful session requires a skilled practitioner, plus the patient's trust and willingness. First, check to see if your insurance covers hypnotherapy.
Then, find a hypnotherapist. A few tips of places to contact:
- Your cancer clinic, as they may be able to refer you to a qualified hypnotherapist.
Often, patients can benefit from a single session. "As little as 15 minutes pre-surgery can be effective," says Montgomery.