Q. Isn’t hypnotism just woo-woo mumbo-jumbo?
A. Definitely not! Hypnotism + Psychotherapy = Hypnotherapy. Claims for the therapeutic benefits of hypnotism are well supported by solid scientific evidence.
Q. How much does hypnotherapy cost?
A. A one-hour session costs £50.
Q. Could hypnosis really relieve my IBS symptoms?
A. Hypnotherapy is not a cure for IBS; it offers IBS patients the tools to manage their symptoms.
Hypnosis in the form of focused hypnotherapy treatments such as the North Carolina Protocol or the Manchester Approach regularly brings relief to IBS patients.
The National Institute for Health Care and Excellence (NICE), the body that advises the NHS, says hypnotherapy “should be considered” for patients whose symptoms have not improved after a year of drug treatment.
Despite this, hypnotherapy is still viewed with scepticism and the evidence for its effectiveness in treating IBS only partially accepted.
Dr Olafur Palsson, the author of the North Carolina Protocol, the hypnotic intervention that we offer our IBS clients, agrees with those seeking deeper and wider testing of the benefits of hypnotherapy, conceding that the clinical effects of his protocol could usefully be “further confirmed in larger studies”.
Prof Peter Whorwell, a gastroenterologist who has been using hypnotherapy to treat IBS patients in Manchester since 1984, says that “hypnotherapy is still not widely advocated for the treatment of IBS…probably because of a number of factors including continuing prejudice…and the fact that it is impossible to perform a truly double-blind controlled trial of this modality”.
When Prof Whorwell and colleagues conducted an audit of 1,000 IBS patients who had experienced the Manchester Approach, 67 per cent of patients had a 30 per cent or more reduction in their pain scores.
“These results provide further evidence that gut-focused hypnotherapy is an effective intervention for refractory IBS,” said Prof Whorwell.
American research shows that about four out of every five North Carolina Protocol clients experience a noticeable improvement in their IBS symptoms.
Despite the reluctance of many to fully accept the evidence for the efficacy of hypnotherapy, Dr Palsson, Professor of Medicine at the University of North Carolina, takes a pragmatic view of it as a treatment for IBS: “The protocol offers advantages that make it an excellent therapy option for patients who do not experience adequate relief of symptoms from standard medical interventions. It provides a brief and fixed course of therapy…it is well received by practically all patients, and the experience to date shows that it can be expected to reliably improve the bowel symptoms of the great majority of IBS patients who have been unresponsive to other treatments.”