Prior to becoming a Consulting Hypnotist I was a Registered Nurse and had the good fortune of working at the prestigious Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. My diverse acute care experience included the wide array people and problems on an extremely fast paced general medical floor; an angioplasty unit as well as caring for an international patient population seeking state of the art intervention on their world renowned surgical thoracic unit.

During this valuable learning experience I learned first hand the hardship, stress and grief so many of these patients endured. Then once I became trained as a hypnotist I realized how beneficial hypnosis could be in the acute care setting.

If the rapid assembly line of the mainstream healthcare system has clinicians increasingly overwhelmed how about the physical and emotional state of those being cared for? What expectations do have for recovery? Do they see themselves as temporarily side tracked or powerless? Is there a role for them to play in their own recovery or do they leave their healthy well being in the hands of others?

The authoritarian approach to western medicine assumes that health and wellness comes from others which minimize the importance of our own natural ability to not only enhance the healing process but to avoid illness to begin with.

Hypnosis is a great personal tool of empowerment. It is the gateway to the ever powerful subconscious mind which is the control center for all bodily function and can be used to maximize the physical and emotional response to a speedy recovery.

With extensive experience in acute care facilities as a Registered Nurse and through many years in private practice as a Clinical Hypnotherapist I can clearly see the many positive applications of hypnosis in the hospital setting:

Intensive Care: Clients can block out distractions and increase their level of comfort which improves their ability to get quality rest and speed up recovery time. Hypnosis reduces stress; safely balances blood pressure and heart rate which helps minimize complications. It can also be used to reduce secretions, bleeding, optimize immune response and also make procedures more tolerable.

Oncology: Hypnosis lessens anxiety, pain, nausea, vomiting and reduces respiratory distress. It increases confidence and self-image and also eases the acceptance of physical restrictions and managing end of life transition. A study of women with metastatic breast cancer showed that those receiving hypnosis over a one year period were able to reduce their pain experience by 50% and in a 10 year follow-up the treatment group had a survival rate of 36.6 months compared to 18.9 months for those who did not receive hypnosis. (Speigel and Bloom 1983)

Pediatrics: What better gift to give a frightened child than control during a time of crisis. Children have active imaginations and respond very quickly and positively to hypnosis. It melts away fear; increases relaxation and focus making it easier for them to understand instructions, procedures and treatments.

Mental Health: Hypnosis relieves symptoms of sadness, fear, phobias and addictions. It puts the client in control. They get to play an active role in their own recovery, which adds to an increased sense of involvement and ability to establish positive change. Everyone feels better about themselves after hypnosis.

Surgical: Pre-surgical hypnosis reduces anxiety, pain, stress and bleeding. It promotes rapid healing and improved immune response. These clients can better manage post-op pain and nausea, use less medication and avoid the side effects that go with it. Those who are positive and relaxed going into anesthesia are positive and relaxed coming out of it.

“A more rapid return of post-op intestinal motility: 2.6 days vs. 4.1 days for those who did not receive hypnosis; length of hospital stay: 6.5 days vs. 8.1 days and an average savings of $1,200 per patient. (Disbrow)
“Hypnosis group did better than 89% of those who did not receive hypnosis. The data strongly support the use of hypnosis with surgical patients.” (Montgomery)

“Patients in the hypnosis group had significantly less vomiting, 39% compared to 68% in the control group, less nausea and less need of analgesics postoperatively. Preoperative hypnotic techniques in breast surgery contribute to a reduction of both post operative nausea and vomiting and postoperative analgesic requirements.” (Bjorklund)

“In the mid 1840’s John Elliotson and James Esdaile began using hypnosis in the surgical setting as an anesthetic with great success. Prior to their efforts mortality rate was 40%; with hypnosis it was 5%. In spite of their success hypnosis would soon take a backseat to either, nitrous oxide and chloroform by the late 1840’s.” (Kihlstrom)

By: Paul Gustafson RN CH