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How Hypnosis Supports Cancer Patients and their Caregivers

Dr. Steve G. Jones

Me with a peacock in a tree

While hypnosis is by no means a cure for cancer, it is nevertheless a valuable and effective way to supplement conventional treatments used when caring for cancer patients. One study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that different “psychological and cognitive behavioral treatments can reduce pain severity and interference with function,” which include methods such as hypnosis and relaxation with imagery.

Specific applications of hypnosis for helping cancer patients include:

  • Management of cancer pain
  • Helping patients and their caretakers build rapport
  • Regulating of pain perception
  • Helping patients handle cancer symptoms
  • Therapy for fighting depression, anxiety, anger, frustration, and loneliness

All these things point to how cancer, despite being an intense battle for the physical body, can also have an extreme toll on the patient’s mental health and emotions. In fact, for many patients, half the battle with cancer is just staying in good spirits, which is exactly where hypnotherapy can do wonders.

But how exactly does hypnotherapy work?

What to Expect

During your first appointment with a hypnotherapist, you’ll be asked a series of general questions about your health, your medical history, lifestyle, as well as your mental and emotional state. This will include questions about your sleeping patterns and how you’re feeling.

The hypnotherapist will then shift the discussion to the reasons behind your desire to seek hypnotherapy. Is it because you’re feeling anxious or depressed? Do you need an outlet from the stress of the disease? Do you want to be able to manage your pain?

Hypnotherapy is About Deep Relaxation

At its core, hypnotherapy is about putting you in a state of deep relaxation. In most sessions, you’ll be asked to sit in a comfortable chair or lie down on a couch so you can relax. The hypnotherapist will help you regulate your breathing, counting down from 10 to 1 until you fall into a trance-like state.

Once you’re relaxed, the therapist will use positive suggestion to help change your behavior and thoughts, as well as the way you see and manage your symptoms. You’ll begin to realize that your pain is the mind’s way of telling you that something is wrong with your body. Through self-hypnosis, you can condition your mind to relax and handle cancer symptoms more effectively.

Hypnosis often gets a bad rap for being mystical or magical in nature. But contrary to how the media portrays it, it’s actually just another way to enter a meditative state, one that relies on positive suggestion and the concept of mind over matter. More importantly, hypnosis is a gentle yet powerful way to make cancer treatments more effective.

I suggest you seek the advice of your medical doctor before using hypnosis.

Sincerely,
Dr. Steve

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