What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS for short affects between 14 and 25% of the general population (Jones and Lydeard, 1992). The major symptoms of the the condition are abdominal pain, altered and frequent bowel movements – all of which impair quality of life most often to a high degree. Interestingly the causes of IBS are not well understood but it is thought that a combination of stress, anxiety, and past trauma often play a role in its development (Rutter and Rutter, 2002). It has been found medication has limited efficacy in its treatment but study after study indicates hypnosis and hypnotherapy more often than not is a very effective treatment for IBS.
Hypnosis for IBS – The Evidence
A randomized control study in 1984 (Whorwell, Prior, Faragher, Lancet) found that counseling combined with hypnosis produced significantly higher positive outcomes than counseling and a placebo.
In another study (Whorwell, Prior, Colgan, 1987) conducted with the assistance of 50 sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome found that after 10 hypnotherapy sessions, 84% of cases saw significant levels of improvement in symptoms of IBS.
In a 2003 study (Gonsalkorale et al) 204 IBS patients treated with hypnotherapy 72% responded favourably and 82% of these maintained this positive result over a 5 year follow up.
A 2006 study (Palsson) also demonstrated the efficacy of hypnosis in treating the condition with 80% of patients studied showing improvements in IBS and its range of symptoms.
Hypnotherapy for IBS Program
Hypnosis is a day dream state. Most clients in their early sessions do not go into a very deep state but it’s generally deep enough for effective work to be done. You will hear every word most likely and most say after the session/s that they were deeply relaxed, calm and positive throughout. It should be noted that people cannot be made to do anything they do not wish to consciously do in a hypnotic state. Initially I have you focus on various parts of the body which induces the relaxed hypnotic state and then I just tell you a little story (sometimes interactive), and you simply daydream it as best you can. Typically I see clients over 3 -6 sessions
Gonsalkorale WM, Miller V, Afzal A, Whorwell PJ (2003) Long term benefits of hypnotherapy for irritable bowel syndrome. Gut 52: 1623–9
Palsson O (2006) Standardized treatment for irritable bowel syndrome: The North Carolina. Protocol International Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 54(1):51–64.
Whorwell P, Prior A, Faragher EB (1984) Controlled trial of hypnotherapy in the treatment of severe refractory irritable bowel syndrome. Lancet 1232–3.
Whorwell P, Prior A, Colgan S (1987) Hypnotherapy in severe irritable bowel syndrome: further experience. Gut 28: 423–5.
Zimmerman J (2003) Cleaning up the river: a metaphor for functional digestive disorders
American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis 45: 353–9