“Your eyelids are getting heavy, your arms are going limp and you feel like you’re floating through space. The power of hypnosis to alter your mind and body like this is all thanks to changes in a few specific areas of the brain, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have discovered.”


Imagine you are among the 53% of adults over the age of 65 who experience chronic pain.  Perhaps it began reasonably enough; a traumatic injury, or an illness that required surgery; or possibly the pain started ex novo (from scratch), as in the case of fibromyalgia, or daily migraines  However it began, the pain has lasted.  Months have passed, the healing time predicted by your physician has come and gone, and still, discomfort lingers, bringing with it a whole new batch of life-altering symptoms and ailments, ranging from high blood pressure to depression.  Initially, your doctor prescribed opioids, which provide some relief, even if it means you haven’t had a proper bm in weeks and the time between refills seems to be getting shorter and shorter.  As you sit in his office, detailing your aches and pains for the umpteenth time, a shadow of concern flits across his face.

He tells you that long term opioid use can be dangerous, and explains that patients build tolerance and require higher doses (which is why you’ve been refilling more and more frequently), which eventually leads to dependence.  Long term opioid use is also linked to an array of other health concerns, including gastrointestinal (hence your constipation, which, he assures you, will only worsen if you continue with this medication) and cardiovascular issues, depression, and hormone problems.

For a moment, you aren't concerned with the potential risks, you want the pain G-O-N-E.  Then you are reminded of a close friend, who also battled chronic pain late in life.  Suddenly, you see the struggle of this person more clearly, and understand how much of his suffering was from pain pills, rather than the pain itself.

The good news here is that while in recent past many  doctors and patients felt like there were two options, pain pills or nothing, with neither option very appealing.

Now as we study and understand more about the complexities of pain we are looking outside the box and seeing excellent results through various alternative methods.  One of the most successful has been hypnosis.

Hypnosis, although it has been widely used for pain for centuries, has recently found itself at the forefront of alternative options for pain management as it has been well documented to be one of the safest and most effective methods of pain management.

For many of  those that have not yet personally experienced the remarkable of ability of hypnosis first hand, going to the doctors and expecting a prescription but instead being given a referral to see a hypnotist, can be a bit off putting.  As images from stage shows with people clucking like a chicken or scenes in movies where the watch swings from the hand of  the sinister hypnosis jump to their mind. Rest assured hypnotherapy conducted by a professional hypnotist couldn’t be any farther from that.  In fact, his suggestion is at the forefront of pain management treatments, owing to its well-documented safety and effectiveness.  True, it wasn’t very long ago that hypnosis was associated with superstition and bad Hollywood films, but today, it’s supported by a large body of scientific research.

“Hypnosis is most effective in treating problems that require stronger control over the body’s responses” says Dr. Max Shapiro, Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. “Insomnia and pain are primary examples. It is now known that the brain has greater ability to influence the body than previously acknowledged.”

Along with pain management most hypnotists and hypnotherapist deal with a wide range of issues from the most common smoking, weight loss, stress and anxiety, releasing fears and phobias, to recalling past experiences, natural pain free birth and performance enhancement, hypnosis can help with literally any change in actions, beliefs and behaviors that you truly want to change. The key being that you truly want to change, as unlike the sinister hypnotist in the movies, no one can be hypnotized to do anything they don’t want to.

The first visit to a hypnotherapist office will include an intake questionnaire, (if the visit is for pain management you should have a statement from your doctor explaining the reason for the pain) and a pretalk where the hypnotist will answer any questions you may have about hypnosis, explain more about hypnosis and discuss your goals and objectives.  Mostly likely when you are comfortable that all of your questions have been answered and your hypnotist has all the information they need you will move to a more comfortable seat.

Once settled in, the hypnotist will begin with the induction, often through guided imagery you are led into that very relaxed state, a feeling much like when you are reading a book or watching a movie and become so absorbed that when someone walks into the room or calls your name you are startled.

The entire time  you are in that very relaxed state you may hear everything and be aware of everything that is taking place. At all time you are completely safe and always in control.

It is in this  extremely relaxing and pleasurable state where your subconscious is open to new suggestions and the transformation begins to take place. It is during this time that the hypnotherapist will create and share a “script”  with you, in the case of pain, giving your mind and body a way of altering how your body actually experiences pain.

After a session, most people report a reduction or elimination of body pains. They share feelings of happiness, calm, and relaxation. Reaching your goal is within your power, and this understanding of your ability comes into greater clarity after your first session.

The amount of sessions needed depends largely on the client and the issue which they are choosing to address, typically with pain between and four and ten session have proven most effective. The cost per session in New England can also vary but tend to be between $75- $250 and although a session typically will be an hour that too can vary.

When choosing a Hypnotist, like choosing any professional, it is important to do a bit of research. Referrals ( both personal ones and ones online)  are always the first step, then you want  look to see if they are a certified member of The National Guild of Hypnotist or another national organization requiring members to have obtained proper and ongoing training.  When pain is the issue it is also helpful to find someone who has advanced training in Pain Management.

Along with the added benefit of not carrying the risk of side effects as do most drugs, knowing that you have the ability to control your discomfort can make using hypnosis for pain a very empowering experience.  If you do try hypnosis for pain, keep it’s important to know when to report any new or increasing pain to your doctor.

Suzi Conklin Nance,  Certified Hypnotherapist and Instructor with The National Guild of Hypnotist,  holds Advanced Certification in Pain Management and Regression  Therapy. She is also the founder of Newport Center for Hypnotherapy. Along with her private practice she brings wellness programs to hospitals, corporations and business, some of her most rewarding work comes from traveling the country working with groups of wounded veteran and their caregivers.

Senior Digest​ 

Hypnosis as a Successful Tool in Pain Management

Volume 14 #2, February 2018

Senior Digest​ 

Hypnosis as a Successful Tool in Pain Management

Volume 14 #2, February 2018

Newport Center for Hypnotherapy and Hypnosis Training