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.