The diagnosis and treatment of cancer are often stressful events, and high levels of psychological and psychiatric disorders have been reported consistently over the last 20 years as a result of these conditions. However, there is good evidence that much of this distress is preventable by providing a support service that is fully integrated with other parts of the patient’s cancer services. Relaxation therapy, guided imagery and hypnotherapy can be very beneficial in helping patients cope with their cancer diagnosis and treatment. This helpful intervention can take the form of self-hypnosis or facilitated, Holistic Hypnotherapy.
Self-Hypnosis for Cancer Patients
Self-hypnosis can be taught as a life skill to integrate psychological as well as pharmacological interventions in pain management, anxiety, insomnia, and medication side-effects. Typically, patients are given two to four instructional sessions on how to self-induce a hypnotic trance and effective ways to create and structure self-suggestions. Patients are usually asked to keep a daily record of their hypnosis sessions, and to track the resulting relief from whatever symptoms they are addressing.
Applications for Advanced Hypnotherapy
When a more intensive therapeutic intervention is arranged, patients are typically offered three to six hypnotherapy sessions, together with a follow up several months after the last session. All hypnotherapy sessions must be individually tailored to cover the specific individual needs, however, particular attention should be paid to:
Fortunately, the vast majority of cancer patients (89%) are willing to use hypnosis to control side effects associated with cancer treatment, irrespective of gender, ethnicity, education or age, according to a study at Wake Forest University. The research also concluded that "Evidence suggests that hypnosis is an effective intervention for reducing distress, pain and other side effects associated with cancer and its treatment.” It was published in the October 2010 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis.
Regression Hypnotherapy for Cancer Patients
Along with these types of physical treatments, regression hypnotherapy can provide direct communication with the body to discover the emotional components of the disease or illness. If we only use traditional medicine, the physical disease may go into remission for a while. But without listening to what the illness or the body is telling us, the disease will often reoccur or some other one will appear in its place. Traditional medicine and hypnotherapy can work hand in hand to produce healing, in what is now called Integrative Medicine.
The body is speaking to us; we need to pay attention and teach our clients how to listen. For example, we always listen to the words that the client uses to describe their illness. A person with stomach cancer may say, “My cancer is eating away at me.” In a hypnotic trance state, we may then ask the client to give the cancer a voice and let it speak. The cancer may say, “I’m eating you up inside. You are too stressed and all that anxiety is killing you.” We also want to address where in the body the cancer may be located. Since breast cancer is prevalent among woman, we may say, “Now give your breast a voice, what does it say?” We often hear things like, “I’m your breast and your giving too much to everyone else. I need your attention. Take care of me.”
The subconscious mind is a vast storehouse of personal information, and hypnotherapy is the search engine that will retrieve this information that is vital to each person’s personal growth and healing.
All the clinician needs to do is:
- Learn how to communicate, through hypnotherapy, with the internal search engine – how to perform an effective Google search for data stored in the subconscious
- Be ready to openly listen to the information we receive
- Be willing to use this sacred communication for the healing of ourselves and our clients.
The Cleveland Clinic Center for Integrative Medicine continues to hire clinicians who are trained and well prepared to use hypnotherapy in conjunction with their traditional medical treatments. It has been abundantly demonstrated to them that clinicians with this training are skilled at using hypnotherapy with a wide variety of medical and emotional challenges to benefit patients cost-effectively.