WHAT DOES PAIN LOOK LIKE?

There is increasing research to support the theory that pain very often has its roots in emotional rather than physical causes.
Hypnosis has a very good track record of dealing with pain, in a number of ways. When it is used to decrease the intensity of pain, for instance, it not only significantly decreases that pain intensity but also activity in those areas of the brain that deal with the experience of pain. By making suggestions to the client about how unpleasant the pain is (reducing the intensity on the scale), people can experience their pain in a less bad way – and again, this also affects the limbic part of the brain that controls emotional responses. Because hypnosis is a relaxing process reducing pain – and therefore stress – very often allows the body to heal more quickly. When I have worked with clients in the past, I have sometimes asked them to give a colour, shape and size to their pain. Typically, a client might say, “it’s big and blobby and red.” Depending on the situation, I might suggest that instead of being a big red blob, the pain might be a big red balloon – and I will invite the client to let go of the balloon, watching it float away into the sky.  Or a big red blob might become a smaller red blob, then a small red ball, a small pink ball, soft and fluffy, then thrown on a fire. Or perhaps we will use the analogy of a volume control knob, so the client can “turn down” the level of pain. Interestingly, by asking the client to first “increase the volume” and then “turn it down”, they can see – in their deep state of relaxation – that they are in charge. By separating the pain from the person, it is possible to manipulate it and change its characteristics, allowing people to take control of their pain....

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PAIN CONTROL: WHY YOUR BRAIN SAYS “OUCH”

Hypnosis has been used as a form of pain control for centuries. Indeed, it was often the only form of pain killer available, be it on the battle field or even in the maternity ward for mothers-to-be. Even Queen Victoria had one of her children with the help of hypnosis before anaesthetics were truly tried, tested and proven. What is pain? More often than not, you can’t touch it; sometimes you can’t even pinpoint where it comes from – but you feel it, right? It’s real, it’s fact, right? Well, not totally. It is actually a construct of the brain – and as such, can be de-constructed. Let’s just imagine you have bare feet. You tread on grass – the sensory nerves pick up on this, and send a message in the form of chemical reaction, to the brain, via your spinal cord. It will record perhaps cool, soft, wet (if there is dew), pleasant. There is no “ouch” or immediate pulling away. But imagine that you tread instead on a drawing pin or a jagged piece of glass. The sensory nerves send different messages, different chemicals are triggered and the brain responds by sending danger signals – “ouch”, you pull away, you expect to “feel” pain. The key to how we react to pain is actually in the spinal cord, a highly-complex collection of nerves, constantly transmitting signals to and from the brain. But areas of the spinal cord do more – they make decisions too. The dorsal horn, for instance, collects information and processes it so the instruction to pull your foot away from the drawing pin comes from there. But the brain still needs to know what’s going on, so information is sent on to Head Office, as it were, for processing and filing for future reference. After all, your foot has had that experience, and there needs to be some healing. In the brain (Head Office), the details are received by the thalmus, and analysed and  logged in the cortex – was this sharper than that starfish you trod on a few years ago? Was it more of a shock than cutting your foot when you fell over? Have you ever stepped on a drawing pin before? The thalmus also copies in the limbic system, the emotional centre of the brain. It’s the limbic system that makes the key decisions regarding reaction – cold sweat, quickness of breathing, tears . . . how did we react before? Is this more or less serious? What is the appropriate emotional response? And as if that wasn’t confusing enough, the brain also flicks through the files to see how we reacted before, is there any history of this? What was the...

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Written testimonials

Sometimes clients will write me a letter – or, more commonly nowadays, send me an email – to let me know what changes have come about in their lives as a result of their sessions with me. It is always a pleasure to receive such feedback. A handful are reproduced here, to give a flavour of the wide range of issues that have been resolved. Names have been  removed to maintain client confidentiality. First, a selection of “one-liners” and then a few slightly longer explanations. “I’m more present, more awake.” “I left (the session) not knowing up or down …. There was lots of processing, and now I am lighter, happier and more joyful.” “I haven’t felt this good in my life.       I’ve turned the corner.” “The work you’ve done so far has been an enormous help, thank you very much!” “It’s easier for me to accept who I am. I’m happy with who I am, and I’m easier to get on with.”   “I really enjoyed the session, and did indeed feel the benefit of it. With regards my back, it felt very much improved straight away as you know, with a feeling of freeness that I had not experienced for years. ….. Also re the food issue, that seems to be improving too. Initially there didn’t seem to be any difference in the way I felt about food, but maybe a week or so later, it was like a switch had been flicked in my head, and I just felt all of a sudden that I ‘didn’t need to be fat anymore’ ….. It would be lovely for this to be something that I can leave behind in the past. Or perhaps more usefully, something that can be consigned to the mental rubbish bin as it is something that is now no longer required in my life.” “I’m calmer, more relaxed. I’m able to let go, I’m finding it easier to make decisions. My back is feeling much better. I have had problems with my right wrist for years, it is now loosening up and becoming more flexible.”   “Food portion sizes are now smaller, I’m feeling fuller sooner. I’ve definitely got more energy, and I’m doing more. I’m sleeping well at night. I’ve moved on from guilt and anger. “I’m good enough for myself.”     “I just wanted to drop you an email to let you know how successful my sessions were. I don’t think I will ever enjoy flying but at least I am able to fly. It was so nice to visit my son (and new grandchild) and this was made possible because of your help.”   “It’s been several weeks since I...

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PAIN CONTROL: TURNING DOWN THE PAIN

One of the many things I love about working with the unconscious is the enormous range of issues that can be tackled, helping people to move on with their lives. Constant, nagging pain must be one of the most debilitating disorders to have – and hypnosis has a range of ways to help counter that. A lady came to see me recently as a referral from another therapist. Due to a back condition, she has almost constant pain in her lower back. This lovely lady was at least three-scroe-years and ten, and otherwise in very good health. She was skeptical about the effectiveness of hypnosis but open-minded enough to give it a go – good for her! After the first session, she declared she felt incredibly relaxed – which, in turn, eased the pressure on her back and so relieved the pain. In the second session I “turned down the pain” to half the usual setting. I issued new instructions to the control centre in the spine and the one in the brain. At the third session, the lady was positively beaming. She told me that she and her husband had been to one of the large shopping centres the day before, and that she had walked round for more than two hours without any pain. “Even now I can only just feel it” she said. So in that session, I turned off the pain. Clearly in the instructions there were caveats – after all, pain is usually a warning that there is something wrong, so we don’t want to cut it off completely. But for the affected area, in all normal circumstances, let’s turn off the pain. Did it work? Watch this space! related content:  pain...

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VININGS NATURAL HEALTH CENTRE, HAYWARDS HEATH

Vinings Natural Health Centre in Church Road, Haywards Heath, West Sussex, is my “home base” for my hypnotherapy work. Vinings celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, a real milestone for this centre which has been providing complementary and holistic therapies for a quarter of a century. I offer the full range of hypnosis-based treatments, from fears & phobias to stress management; from pain control and depression to giving up smoking. I work with weight management, including hypnotic gastric banding. I also offer past life regression, and use this technique to find the root causes and resolve all types of issues that affect this life. I look forward to seeing you...

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