For many people getting a medical procedure done can be stressful and even physically uncomfortable. A great method for reducing and even eliminating the stress is hypnosis. To help understand how hypnosis can reduce medical procedure stress and what a hypnosis experience would be like for someone having a medical procedure, I have interviewed psychotherapist Eleanor Laser, PhD.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I’ve been a psychotherapist for 35 years and have been treating patients using medical hypnosis for most of those years. Another part of my practice is training mothers for hypnosis-assisted childbirth. In addition, I’ve trained staff in medical centers to provide effective support to patients using medical hypnosis; and I’ve trained patients to use hypnosis to alleviate their anxiety and pain during medical tests and procedures and even for surgery.
As an educator, I’ve taught hypnosis techniques to psychologists and medical professionals around the world. My book Patient Sedation Without Medication ‘” I’m the co-author with Elvira Lang, MD ‘” is a resource guide for doctors, nurses, and technologists. We train medical department personnel in non-pharmacological analgesia.”
What type of stress do people commonly experience before a medical procedure?
“Most people approach medical tests, procedures such as a biopsy, and surgery with emotions ranging from mild fear and uneasiness to anxiety verging on panic. Think about the difficulty of having an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) test. The patient is confined in a tube, asked not to move, and is subjected to loud clanking sounds. It’s disconcerting to even the bravest patients; for those suffering pain, panic, or claustrophobia, the procedure is unbearable. It is not unusual for a patient to ‘bolt’ and not be able to complete the procedure. Through staff in MRI centers applying the training we have given them, patients become calm and comfortable during the scan.
Medical hypnosis has eased anxiety for these patients as well as for frightened patients in emergency rooms. It is remarkably effective for colonoscopies, interventional radiology, dentistry, and surgery.”
How can hypnosis help reduce medical procedure stress?
“Medical hypnosis can greatly improve patients’ medical encounters. It can reduce their stress and help them to relax and turn away from fear. Among the additional benefits of medical hypnosis are that it saves time, speeds recovery, eliminates the risks associated with anesthesia, and cuts medical costs.
Medical hypnosis can help allay fears and combat anxiety, which helps patients undergo medical procedures with ease and comfort. Hypnosis is a valuable intervention; when a patient is in a trancelike state, that patient will readily accept suggestions to relax and let go of negative feelings ‘” from apprehension to panic. It’s useful in emergency medicine as well as in most other medical specialties. For years now, as a clinical psychologist, I’ve been helping even the most terrified patients not only to relax but also to create an altered reality of the experience.”
What would the experience of hypnosis be like for someone that wants to reduce medical procedure stress?
“All the patients have to do is sit quietly and close their eyes, go inside themselves, and mentally go to a place where they feel safe and comfortable. Staying in this place, having a good time, will keep the patient out of the medical anguish. A guide, generally someone trained in hypnosis, can easily help the patient to see and feel the ambience of the place, while the guide recites comforting words that apply to the patient’s place. For example, a man undergoing an interventional radiologic procedure was scared and shaking before the test. I asked him what he did for a living. He replied he was a yachtsman and took passengers on tours on his boat. I induced a hypnotic state in three minutes and took him on the boat. I told him to look down at the water and drop a stone into the water and watch it go down deep, sinking into the calm clear lake. Out he went with no anesthetic. He was calm and safe and the procedure went smoothly. A calm patient produces a calm doctor. Recovery is speeded, and costs are saved.
Another example is absolutely stunning. A Chicago auto dealer was facing a nine-hour operation with two teams of surgeons. He came to me for seven sessions before the surgery. In these sessions I taught him hypnosis to prepare him for surgery, and I made audiotapes of the sessions for him. During the operation the anesthesiologist played the tapes; he took himself to his safe, peaceful place and underwent the surgery composed and happy. He did great during the surgery and is still doing well.
Stanley, a 78-year old man with two hearing aids, was on the operating table crying. He required a three-hour intricate procedure involving a shunt to bypass his liver. He could not have an anesthetic due to the liver problem. Hypnosis was his only chance. I put him in a trance in which he was going to see the Statue of Liberty. He was perfectly happy there for the three hours, and he came out laughing and said he had the best time of his life.”
Where can someone find out more information about hypnosis and the impact on medical procedure stress?
My website laserhypnosis.com has a great deal of information, and our book Patient Sedation Without Medication can further a patient’s understanding. It’s extremely accessible for the lay person. It will help patients learn how to help themselves before and during all medical procedures. The book is available on Amazon as a book or an e-book for the Kindle and the iPad.”
Thank you Dr. Laser for doing the interview on how hypnosis can reduce medical procedure stress.
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