Is Hypnosis Effective With Gastrointestinal Problems?

Last Saturday evening, after attending a one day workshop, I was reviewing messages left during the day. One of the messages was from a man who had scheduled an appointment to see me in two weeks, after I arrived back in the states after my current trip. He asked if we could meet the following day, Sunday, instead of in two weeks. He commented he was experiencing abdominal pain. He had been to the Emergency Room multiple times in the last month and had followed up with his doctor but nothing was being found.

I did meet with him the next day.  I used my skills learned as a nurse and completed a head to toe assessment for signs and symptoms of any irregularities.  From the information he provided, it appeared to be symptoms similar to Irritable Bowel Syndrome but this was for his doctor to diagnose from the complaints he reported.

Using my skills as a hypnotherapist, we together initiated a subtle relaxation process allowing this young man to bypass the censor called the brain. We began to access his feelings searching for any hidden issues or a distorted belief system.

We began with Therapeutic Imagery a subtle relaxation process enabling the subconscious mind to overcome conflicts; imagery can assist in healing the physical body by using hidden healing abilities leading to recovery.

During the process of hypnosis this young man began to cry softly. I soon learned as a child of eight years old, he was sexually assaulted by a babysitter multiple times over several years. Years later, he only told one person about these events, a middle school counselor. The counselor assured him that boys do not get assaulted especially by girls and she believed his story was confabulated. This young man had held this in for years. Because some seriously believe that males cannot by assaulted by a woman or cannot be victims of sexual abuse, they often face a culture that has told them their abuse results from either weakness or homosexuality. Some are reluctant to label their assault as rape or abuse or even mention it at all. However, a reluctance to disclose may be a barrier to treatment, when treatment can often be of significant help in resolving the feelings of guilt, shame, fear, anger, and depression that might follow a sexual attack.

Through research and my own career experiences, I have found individuals may express psychological symptoms via somatic complaints. I have seen prior patients who were admitted into medical facilities or were being treated outpatient for abdominal pain and/or nausea and vomiting without a clear medical workup. Treatment many times was medications or nothing at all. In many of these cases, a clear psychosocial stressor was evident. It is possible that somatic symptoms without clear medical causes may reflect psychosocial stress, but it is difficult to discern whether the psychosocial issues preceded the somatic complaints or were a result of them. Making an accurate diagnosis is difficult, and introducing my beliefs with a patient’s or significant others’ is a delicate matter. I think research is needed to determine appropriate screening tools for identifying cases where psychosocial stress may play a relevant role in symptom presentation, as well as potential treatment tools in these circumstances. What was interesting was we were not able to determine specifically what triggered the recent symptoms of abdominal distress.

From my training and experiences, imagination and a patient’s belief system are critical to healing. Thought is creative therefore imagery helps a patient to direct their physical and emotional energy toward creating health rather than feeling disease or illness.

I asked the young man what in his childhood made him happy. It turned out to be playing baseball and going to the movies.  He was asked what some of his favorite movies were. He arrived at a small list but one “Rocky” seemed to be an appropriate one to use in our session.

I utilized “Rocky” in our hypnosis session. My patient was taken through a journey seeing himself as if he was “Rocky” being pushed back and knocked down.  But like “Rocky”, I had him getting back up. In the background I played in the low volume theme from Rocky through YouTube. I spoke to him about general situations where he thought he had been taken advantage and self-esteem issues. We did not go to his specific situation as this could bring about untoward effects that needed another professional to address.

We followed this up with addressing his gastrointestinal problem. Using a stop sign in the patients mind, we began a self-hypnosis program that the patient could use to slow the intestinal tract down asking the gastrointestinal tract to take a break and gradually readjust. He was able to experience less dicomfort in his abdomen but this is only a beginning for a difficulty that was initiated years ago

He is following -up with a therapist who specializes in child abuse issues and will continue hypnotherapy sessions with me to complement those sessions.


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