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Using hypnotherapy to deal with pain

Pain is a really interesting concept isn’t it? Many individuals seek hypnotherapy to assist with pain issues, so I thought I would note down some concepts about pain to help Hypno-CBT® clients understand how we may work at Arrive Therapy®:

1. Pain is experienced differently by each of us, and even by ourselves on different, days, with different factors like stress, tiredness, low mood and even the weather influencing how we experience chronic pain.

2. Acute pain is usually considered to occur for less than around six months, and chronic, for over six months. Acute more usually relates to tissues that need to repair, while chronic pain is often more complex. (Sometimes it seems as if the nervous system’s ‘alarm system’ described below forgets to turn off!)

3. You can think of pain as an alarm system. Your nervous system and brain are telling you something is ‘dangerous’ or concerning. The signals come from the brain, after the nervous system’s assessment, not from the area (for example, a stubbed toe), itself.

4. There’s no single pain centre in the brain! A neurotag or pattern in the brain sends the signal or alarm to the body, and emotions, imagination, memory as well as cells all play a part in pain’s expression.

5. We can gain a degree control of our pain – our brains have plasticity, and can change with new habits. That’s not to say hypnotherapy can alleviate pain, rather that it helps us understand the process more, accept the pain to varying degrees, and try to adapt how we experience it. We ideally view pain through a curious lens, rather than one of fear.

6. When describing pain, it sometimes helps to use quite logical words – hot, cold, moving, still – without adding a ‘story’ or narrative to them. Some people may experience pain as a colour. Get curious about your pain, try to accept it rather than fear it, and thank your body for alerting you to this ‘danger’ or concern.

7. Rate the pain from 1-10 so you can keep track of it – the Wong-Baker Faces scale may help.

I like to help clients work holistically and look at other areas that may affect their pain – such as anxiety, forward-projection and worry, as well as other health concerns like sleep and tension - to try to find a way to manage the symptoms. Contact me if you’d like to know more –

Kathy Carter


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