Tag Archives: pain relief

Pain Relief Hypnosis – Keeping The Change

OK so this is the third post in a series on hypnosis and NLP for pain relief. This is another piece, and a very important one. The previous two posts can be read…

Here – A Technique to Relieve Pain
and Here – Pain Relief Hypnosis, Further Thoughts
I also talk about it in this Skype interview here – Pain Relief Video

How To Make Sure Someone Stays Better

This is the story of a delightful man called Arthur who came to see me about fifteen years ago. Arthur was in pain, a lot of pain. He had twisted his back a little playing golf some thirty years earlier. It hadn’t really bothered him at first, and he had finished the round of golf and gone home.

That night though, Arthur hadn’t sleep well, and when he awoke in the morning the pain was much worse so he went to the doctor. He was duly given painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs and told to take some time off work and rest. He did that, but the pain got worse. So he went for X-rays, took stronger meds, spent some time in traction. The pain got worse…

Fast forward 30 years…

There he was, aged about sixty now, sitting in my office and he had been in complete and total agony for thirty years. But the first thing I noticed about him, apart from the fact that his face showed the strain of these three decades of agony, was this sparkle in his eyes, and he told jokes, lots of them, and was genuinely funny. And I thought, ‘there is an amazing spirit inside this person’.

I was, I will admit, a little anxious as to whether I could help him. I had seen people for severe migraines who had reported that they no longer had headaches but I had not seen anyone like Arthur. To be fair, I haven’t since. I had told him I did not know how effective I could be but that I would do my utmost to help and he was OK with that. After all, he had spent thirty years in various therapies, it had become a lifestyle…

He Had Tried Every Therapy And Treatment For Pain Relief Available

At least, that’s the way it seemed. This included hypnosis for pain relief. He had undergone procedure after procedure including nine operations on his back and legs, had had nerves severed in his back, the works. And the doctors still had no idea why he was in pain. He definitely was though. When I saw him, he had a box semi built into the side of his body. This box contained a cocktail of painkillers which were fed, by a tube, directly into the base of his spine… The only pain relief he had experienced over the years was when they had introduced morphine into the mix, and the effects of that had worn off after a couple of weeks, so he had come off the morphine. It was either that or being totally out of it, and he didn’t want that.

Calibrate The Feeling…

‘On a scale of one to one hundred’ I said, ‘if one hundred would represent total agony and one represents total comfort, how is the feeling in your back right now’. (I stop calling it pain and start calling it feeling pretty much straight away)

‘One hundred’ he said.

‘OK’, I continued, ‘what numbers does the feeling vary between day to day, do you think?’

He just gave me a look…

‘It doesn’t really vary,’ he said, and he had stopped smiling.

‘So what number would you like, then?’ I asked, and the look he gave me got blanker. In fact, I had to repeat the question three times before he could get his head around it. He was so used in thinking of the pain, or trying not to think about the pain, or worrying about the pain, or being angry about the pain, and so forth, that it was really hard for him to think of his back in any way which wasn’t related to pain. The idea of having a totally comfortable back was alien to him. Eventually, though, he said he supposed ‘one’ would be nice, so we proceeded.

And for the rest of that one hour session I went through the technique outlined in the link at the very top of the page.

The ‘Feeling’ Had Reduced

‘What number would your back be now, Arthur,’ I asked him, whilst he was still pretty spaced out from the work. He thought about it, and he thought about it and eventually he looked up in vague astonishment and said..

‘I think it is about fifty’. And his wife burst into tears. This was the first time in thirty years he had experienced any reduction in the pain, apart from the brief time he was on morphine. Of course I did my best to look like this was exactly what I had been expecting but to be honest I think I was as surprised as he was. It was a lovely, touching moment and I tried not to feel smug. I smiled at him and said to him…

‘We can do this Arthur, I am sure of that now’. I would have been pleased if he had said ‘ninety-five’…

Anyway, Arthur rang me back the next day with bad news…

‘It’s back to one hundred again’, he said, sadly. I remember not being too bothered about this at the time, apart from feeling sorry for him, as I was now sure I could help him.

The Pain Came Back

When he came back for the next appointment he was sorry to report that, unfortunately his back had stayed at ‘one hundred’ for the whole week. However, there was an important difference now. He knew that it was possible to experience a reduction in the pain, and so did I. This time we went straight into a slight variation on the technique described in the other blog (link at top of page), for pretty much the whole hour. I really went for it. And at the end, he opened his eyes wide and for a few moments couldn’t speak. Eventually he said…

‘I can’t feel my back’, and he started grinning. And his wife burst into tears again.

Well he could feel his back, but the number he now gave it was ‘one’, that is, total comfort. It was lovely. I was ever so pleased with him, and ever so pleased with myself.

That is, until he rang me back the next day, close to tears, and informed me that it was ‘one hundred’ again. Now if you experienced in this field you will know why his pain came back….

He Was ‘Used’ To The Pain

For years and years his daily life had been filled with the feelings of pain and the thinking about the pain. I realised what he had been doing in between sessions. He had been asking himself questions like, ‘is this going to last or is the pain going to come back,’. He would have been worrying about it, talking to himself about it, thinking about his back, looking to see how bad his back was feeling. And there is a fair chance others would have been saying things, unwittingly, that would have taken him back into the habit of pain. A simple question from a caring wife such as ‘how bad is your back today’, well meant, would not have been helpful;

So how was I going to get him to stop thinking about the pain?

Seven days later Arthur came back for his next session wearing a look of hope mixed with anxiety. I told him ‘we are going to do something new today,’ something to make the comfort more and more natural through time. We did a quick 20 minute version of the disassociation technique to begin with, and he reported that the ‘feeling’ was now about ‘ten’. He was pleased with that. And then I said this…

‘I know you are going to worry about the pain coming back’, I told him (in an incongruent way), and he relaxed a bit. After all, he had been worrying about the fact that he was worrying the pain would come back. I carried on, ‘I could tell you that if you start talking to yourself about the problem then I want you to learn to use a soft and gentle voice, or a voice with really silly tonality, or a cartoon voice.’ And I got him to practice this a bit. He didn’t realise he could learn to change the way he talked to himself. But mainly, I did the following. Because it’s fundamentally hypnotic, the grammar may look a little unusual in places, this kind of thing is best heard…

‘Whenever you begin to find that you are starting to think about the old ‘feeling’, I began, ‘I want you to look for comfort. Because whatever posture you are in, some parts of you, where the muscles are naturally more relaxed because of your posture, and this is only natural.’

I ignored his vaguely puzzled look and continued. I asked him if his left arm was completely comfortable and he said that it was, as far as he could tell…

‘Listen,’ I said, ‘in your mind, I want you to go to a little patch of skin, the surface of your skin, on your arm, in a place that’s soooo comfortable you aren’t even aware of it, now go to this little patch of skin, and imagine it to be the size of a small coin, and then, really, really, slowly, imagine that from this place, the comfort is beginning to spread, in time, and this will get easier.’

Arthur looked up uncertainly and told me he didn’t think he could do it properly, he couldn’t feel his arm relaxing, I was expecting that…

‘Oh you don’t actually have to feel your arm beginning to relax,’ I said, ‘just pretend to begin with. Now imagine what it would be like if a pretend feeling of comfort begins to spread very slowly into your arm, and along the surface of your skin, and around and inside, all the way, gently pretending to spread the comfort down into your wrist, do this slowly, and also ease the imaginary lovely feeling up into your elbow, and give it a colour if you like, a nice colour, a colour you like, now allowing your imagination to imagine, inside your mind, spreading the comfort slowly over the back or your hand, and into the palm of your hand, slowly up inside your fingers, and ease it into your thumb, into each knuckle, one knuckle at a time, up to the very tips, and also smoothly up into your shoulder, just pretending, and slowly imagining the relaxation easing inside the side of your neck, and now into your face, slowly into your chin, and easing inside your lips and into teeth and all around your tongue…’

Now you, the reader, will begin to get the idea. This is done slowly. very slowly, with very detailed descriptions of the areas and body parts that the imaginary comfort is spreading into. After a few minutes of this, I got him to begin to spread comfort from another place, this time, as his head felt neutral, from deep inside the mind, a little globe of comfort, gently expanding through the brain, and into and over the scalp, and gently into the eyebrows etc etc.

Pain Relief Hypnosis And Future Pacing

That’s the NLP jargon for when you do your very best to ensure that the useful, positive, ecologically sound changes, are lasting changes. I told him that EVERY time he had a thought about the old ‘feeling’ in his back, he was to STOP, pause, be glad he had noticed his thought, and immediately start the process of looking for comfort, being patient with himself, and being gently relentless. I told him it was quite ok to think it wasn’t making any difference, and to do it anyway. Arthur expressed doubt that he could do it well enough so asked him to stop and tell me what number his back was right now. He paused…

‘One’, he smiled.

Next day, when the phone rang, I just knew it was Arthur and when I asked him what the feeling was, he told me he thought it was about ‘eighty’. I was delighted. Obviously I would have been more delighted if he had said it was ‘one’, but on the other hand this was a major difference. In all, I saw Arthur seven or eight times, and gradually over that period the old ‘feeling’ became smaller and smaller until it had pretty much disappeared.

The Use Of Metaphor In Pain Control

So on one level the above can be a useful thing to do if you are suffering from pain. On another level it can be a useful thing to do if you are a therapist or practitioner who sees clients to help them with this kind of issue. But its use can be much wider than that.

I tell versions of this story to many of my clients, not just those seeking hypnotherapy for pain relief, as the entire thing can be viewed a metaphor for helping any client aim for the solution, rather than them trying to move away from the problem, when you think about it. Because many people are going to be out there wondering if their problem is going to come back, and we really don’t want that. What we do want is for them to aim themselves AT solutions, and in fact for this to become automated, and the use of metaphor can be a very powerful tool to help them to do so, in my experience.

And on the level of metaphor, with all the hypnosis herein, and all the presuppositions, and the overall structure of the story itself, the intention is also to help you, the reader…

Footnote

I have learned so much from many people, and hopefully continue to do so. That ‘spreading softness’ I first heard from Richard Bandler. It goes back much further though, it is a core principle, for example, in Chi Gung.

And of all the teachers I have ever learned from so far, my client Arthur was one of the best…

Steven Tromans

Tel: +44 (0)7900 240192
Email: steve@selfhelprecordings.com
1 Harley Street London W1G 9QD

To visit the JustBeWell main page on pain control and hypnosis please click here

Pain Relief Hypnosis – Further Thoughts

Hypnosis For Pain Relief – Further Observations

Following my recent post I thought it would be useful to talk a little more broadly about this subject. Even though I made that last post as brief as I felt I could it was still quite long, and there is so much more that can to be said on this subject.

Read previous post here – Hypnosis For Pain Relief

Firstly, there are many different reasons someone might be in pain. They may have pulled a muscle slightly, they may have had a physical injury to the surface of their body. They may have a serious illness, etc.

So, it is important to use hypnosis/NLP style pain relief techniques in context. It isn’t going to be useful to help someone not feel pain in their sprained calf muscle if they end up using it vigorously and causing more damage, for example. Similarly, I don’t see people for migraines unless they have been thoroughly medically checked out, in case it isn’t a migraine but something else that needs urgent medical attention…

Also, some pain seems to be ‘referred’. For example I’ve met several people who have a pain in their body that, basically, originated elsewhere. Head and neck problems can be caused by physical problems further down the body so it’s good to rule out these sorts of factors where possible.

As an example of this, a few years ago I suffered from tendonitis in my left arm/wrist/hand. The doctor (bless her), winced when she saw the livid red line down the inside of my arm. ‘That must be very painful,’ she said.

It didn’t stop there.

‘I’m going to give you a course of anti-inflammatory drugs,’ she continued, ‘they probably won’t work but it’s worth a try. At the end of the course you will probably need a cortisone injection directly into the tendon.’ She winced at this point, adding, ‘that really really hurts, I had to have it done myself’.

Very encouraging…

So, in my mind I told myself to cancel all the terrible suggestions, and I carried on with life. I wore a brace on my arm and wrist and it didn’t bother me at all. I took the drugs and just lived life as usual. However a few weeks later I was beginning to notice that my arm wasn’t getting any better, and I began to have a larger and larger vision of the big injection, and I said to myself, ‘you had better get this sorted’.

In NLP we call this style of motivation… ‘moving away from’

A friend of mine, John Forster, (now retired) was a specialist in muscle therapy, a little known therapy that never really took off because, as far as I could see, it was too effective. Every single person I referred to him got better, pretty much immediately. I wasn’t sure he could help with tendonitis but I called him anyway.

He was confident.

So the next day I’m sitting in his treatment room with my sleeve rolled up and he is looking at my arm and smiling.

‘Where do you think the problem is,’ he says.

Now as my tendon is inflamed to the point where it looks like someone has made a big heavy line down my arm in red felt pen, this seems a bit of a weird question. So I point at it and raise my eyebrows.

‘No’, he says, ‘it’s not there’. And he takes the weight of my arm in one hand and leans forward, pressing his large thumb just above my left collarbone.

‘It’s here.’

And immediately my whole arm is was filled with a big buzzing feeling. Not uncomfortable, just weird. A couple of minutes later he is pressing another point near the collar bone and the buzzing sensation continues. After about 15 minutes of this he stands back and says, ‘it is done, the healing is complete’.

‘Thanks’ I say, uncertainly. He then spends ten minutes or so rubbing his hand firmly up the muscles in my arm but that is pretty much that and I thank him and go home.

The next morning I wake up and I have absolutely no trace of tendonitis at all. No red line, just a comfortable arm and wrist. And I haven’t suffered in the slightest since.

John’s explanation was as follows…

‘Very often the pain that manifests in one part of the body is referred from somewhere else in the body. So if you see someone with a headache, ask them how their feet, legs, back are. In many cases you will find that something is out of alignment somewhere else. In my case what John did was release the tension at the top of the tendony bits (OK my anatomy knowledge isn’t that great…). I didn’t have any pain there, but the cure came from there.

Strange, huh?

So the point is, some pain can be more rapidly and effectively dealt with physiologically, and really should be.

Now John has retired I typically suggest to people that they do some simple Chi Gung exercises, or learn Alexander technique, or maybe see a chiropractor. Most people can’t be bothered to learn yoga, which is a shame, as it really can help on many levels.

Yes, we can help reduce or even eliminate pain with hypnosis and NLP. Yes, we can give a host of other suggestions to help the person to heal on every level and come more into balance as a whole being. Yes, we can help get them to visualise being fit, vibrant, flexible and radiant super-beings. Yes we can often help them feel more comfortable, more confident and more motivated. And most people in this field will have a number of stories about how they seemingly fixed someone’s chronic pain in a short time…..

However…

If the client’s chronic headaches are actually being caused by a dodgy bed causing tension in their lower back that makes them unconsciously adjust their posture in such a way as causes the headaches…

As practitioners/therapists/coaches/trainers, we owe a duty of care to our clients to be as holistic as possible, to explore every avenue for healing. And as individuals, we owe a duty of care to do the same for ourselves.

And I haven’t even touched on other causal factors, diet, lifestyle, drug abuse etc, but they will have to wait for another post…

Steve Tromans

Tel: +44 (0)7900 240192
Email: steve@selfhelprecordings.com
1 Harley Street London W1G 9QD

Third article here – Keeping The Change
JustBeWell page on Pain Control

Please do feel free to post observations, comments and questions

Hypnosis For Pain Relief

Well it’s a slightly misleading title as you don’t have to be a hypnotherapist to do this with others, or yourself, though the process itself is fairly hypnotic. I first came across a variant of this technique what seems like about three thousand years ago, when I started ‘doing’ NLP. I had joined a friend of mine who had stepped outside from the training room because he had, in his words, ‘a pretty bad migraine’.

It was then that one of the trainers, Michael Breen, happened by. Upon hearing of my friend’s headache Michael proceeded to do a variation of what follows and to my (and my friend’s) amazement, within a few minutes the pain had gone. And it stayed gone. I have used variants of this with severe chronic pain relief, phantom limb pain relief, cluster migraine relief etc etc, to great success through the years. As I say, although I’ve titled this blog ‘hypnosis for pain relief’, anyone can learn the following technique. If you were doing this on yourself, you would obviously have to read it through first as its an eyes closed thing…

Get Medical Advice
Now before I take you through this ‘hypnosis’ pain relief technique I really should point out that if you or someone you know is in pain, especially chronic pain, then for goodness sake do seek medical advice. That’s obvious to you, I expect, but it’s worth mentioning nevertheless…

The Pain Relief Technique
OK, this is basically a visualization disassociation thing. And the first thing to say is to do it slowly, very slowly and gently and patiently. For the purposes of teaching this to you I am going to pretend that you are the one who needs pain relief and that you are indoors. So if you are lucky enough to be reading this whilst sunbathing in the tropics then you will have to use your imagination…

Step One
Sit with your back supported and your feet on the floor. If you are laying down then get into as comfortable position as you can. Calibrate. Decide for yourself, one a scale of 1 to 100, with one being total comfort, and 100 being excruciating agony, what number you would ascribe to the pain, hereafter referred to as the ‘feeling’.

Step Two
Look at the room you are in, and look as if you are looking for the first time. See the contents of the room, the colours, the shapes, where the light is coming from, where the shadows are. Look at what you are wearing. Look around you and see what is behind you. Now close your eyes and see the room with your eyes closed in your imagination. In other words, remember what you were just looking at. Do this for, say, 10 seconds or so and then open your eyes and look at the room again. Now see what you weren’t seeing just now, add detail so that when you close your eyes again your picture, or memory, will be more complete. I repeat, do this slowly. Now close your eyes again and see the room with the additional detail added in. After 10 seconds (or whetever time seems right) open your eyes and repeat the process. Repeat this a few times until you have a pretty good idea of what the room looks like, sitting there with your eyes gently closed.

Step Three
Keeping your eyes closed float out, in your mind’s eye, so that you are pretending you are looking at the front of your body, from about 10 feet away. There may well be an intervening wall and/or furniture in the way so simply use your imagination and pretend you can see through any intervening objects. See what you would see from this perspective, how your face looks with your eyes closed, what is behind you, what is to the left and what is to the right. Perhaps remember tiny details, such as what is in a picture on the wall, or how the light may be reflecting of objects in the room etc. Remain looking at yourself from this perspective for 30 seconds or so (or whatever feels comfortable).

Step Four
Now float clockwise, gently, until you are looking at yourself from 10 feet away from the right. From this position see the right hand side of your head, the right hand side of your body. Remember what would now be behind the seated image of you, in your mind. Remember, once again, where the light is coming from, where the shadows are. Once again, do this for 30 seconds or so (or whatever seems comfortable).

Steps Four, Five and Six
Repeat the above, seeing yourself in your imagination, from 10 feet behind you, then then 10 feet from the left and then ten feet from the front again.

Steps Seven to Eleven
Now glide further away, so that you are 50 feet away, in your mind, looking at the front of you, sitting there in the chair. Everything is smaller now, all the details are smaller, your face is smaller, your body is smaller. Do this for 30 seconds(ish) again. Then drift away, and repeat the process in your minds eye, and see yourself from 50 feet to the right, then 50 feet behind, then fifty feet from the left, then fifty feet from the front again.

Step Twelve
Now glide, in your imagination, 50 feet straight up above yourself and look down. Look through the ceiling and the roof and/or other floors and see the top of your head, and the furniture, and the light and the shade. Spend 30 seconds or so looking down at the smaller you in the smaller room.

Step Thirteen And now drift up, in your imagination, higher and higher above the building. Imagine what else you may be able to see from up there, the rooftops, the buildings, the plants, the landscape. Keep floating up and up and up, gently. If the sky isn’t cloudless, pretend it is. It doesn’t matter if it’s night or day. Keep drifting up until miles of land becomes visible in all directions, and keep going. The tiny you in the tiny room is still down there, but will become too far away, in your mind, to see. Keep floating smoothly up until you begin to be aware of the curve of the earth. Drift higher and higher seeing more and more of the planet and being aware of more and more space. Then the planet itself, a blue, green and white ball, dwindles into the distance and you are drifting in deep peaceful space, surrounded by thousands and thousands of shining stars….

Pain Relief Hypnosis that works
Slowly open your eyes and ask yourself, ‘what number is the feeling now’. If you have done this really slowly and gently with yourself, or with a friend or a client, you or they will probably be pretty spaced out by now, in more ways than one. I find that the ‘feeling’ well almost invariably have either reduced significantly, or be gone entirely. Sometimes you may need to repeat the process. If you are doing this by yourself it’s going to take a bit of practice. It’s easier to begin with to have someone talk you through it. If you are the person talking someone through it then make sure you are as relaxed as you can be before you begin. Although I’ve described this technique as pain relief hypnosis, like I say, anyone can learn it.

If you have any questions about this then please feel free to ask. If you are a therapist then please do feel free to add your comments, tips, observations etc..

Steve Tromans
Visit the page on JustBeWell here – Pain Control
See a follow up article here – Pain Relief Hypnosis
Read a further article here – Keeping The Change

Tel: +44 (0)7900 240192
Email: steve@selfhelprecordings.com
1 Harley Street London W1G 9QD

 

PS here is a skype interview where I talk through this technique, apolgiies for the scary face….. To watch this directly on Youtube click here – Hypnosis For Pain Relief