Efficacy of Hypnotherapy for Chronic Pain Management

Hypnotherapy for Chronic Pain Management
Table of Contents

Hypnotherapy as a non-pharmacological approach  has been used as part of chronic pain management over many years. In this article we will discuss the use of hypnotherapy for chronic pain management.

Chronic Pain: Aspects of Life and Wellbeing it Compromises.

Chronic pain can have a profound impact on various aspects of life and wellbeing. The following are some key areas that can be compromised by chronic pain:

 Physical Health:

  • Limited Mobility: Chronic pain can restrict movement and physical activity, leading to a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Fatigue: Persistent pain can contribute to fatigue and decreased energy levels.
  • Sleep Disturbances: Pain often disrupts sleep patterns, leading to insomnia or poor-quality sleep.

Emotional Wellbeing:

  • Mood Disorders: Chronic pain is associated with an increased risk of mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.
  • Stress: Dealing with ongoing pain can be mentally and emotionally taxing, contributing to stress.

Social Life:

  • Isolation: Individuals with chronic pain may withdraw from social activities due to the challenges and discomfort associated with participating.
  • Relationship Strain: Constant pain can strain relationships as it may affect the ability to engage in activities or fulfill social roles.

Work and Productivity:

  • Reduced Work Performance: Chronic pain can impair concentration, focus, and overall work performance.
  • Work Absenteeism: Some individuals with chronic pain may need to take frequent absences from work due to their condition.

Cognitive Function:

  • Memory and Concentration: Chronic pain can impact cognitive functions, including memory and concentration.
  • Brain Fog: Some individuals report a feeling of “brain fog” or mental cloudiness associated with chronic pain.

Financial Impact:

  • Medical Expenses: Managing chronic pain often involves medical treatments, medications, and therapy, leading to increased healthcare costs.
  • Loss of Income: Reduced work capacity or absenteeism may result in a loss of income.

Quality of Life:

  • Reduced Enjoyment: Chronic pain can limit the ability to participate in enjoyable activities and hobbies.
  • Overall Satisfaction: The persistent nature of pain can contribute to a lower overall quality of life.


  • Body Image: Changes in physical abilities or appearance due to chronic pain may impact body image and self-esteem.
  • Sense of Control: Feeling helpless or unable to control one’s pain can affect self-esteem.

Sleep Quality:

  • Insomnia: Pain can interfere with the ability to fall asleep or stay asleep, leading to chronic insomnia.

Spiritual Wellbeing:

  • Existential Challenges: Chronic pain may raise existential questions about the meaning and purpose of life.

Hypnotherapy for Pain: A Non-Pharmacological Approach for Chronic Pain Management

Hypnotherapy as a non-pharmacological approach  has been used as part of chronic pain management over many years. While individual responses to hypnotherapy can vary, there is evidence to suggest that it can be beneficial in many cases. Below are some ways in which hypnotherapy may help manage chronic pain:

  • Pain Perception Alteration: Hypnotherapy can help individuals alter their perception of pain. By inducing a state of deep relaxation and focus, it may be possible to change the way the brain processes and interprets pain signals.
  • Mind-Body Connection: Hypnotherapy emphasizes the mind-body connection, aiming to promote relaxation and reduce tension. This can contribute to an overall sense of well-being and may help alleviate some of the physical manifestations of pain.
  • Reduced Anxiety and Stress: Chronic pain is often associated with increased anxiety and stress. Hypnotherapy techniques can help individuals manage stress and anxiety, which, in turn, may have a positive impact on their pain experience.
  • Enhanced Coping Strategies: Hypnotherapy can teach individuals coping strategies and mental tools to deal with pain. This may include imagery, visualization, and other techniques that promote a sense of control over the pain.
  • Improved Sleep: Many people with chronic pain experience sleep disturbances. Hypnotherapy may help individuals achieve a state of relaxation conducive to better sleep, contributing to overall well-being.
  • Mindfulness and Distraction: Hypnotherapy often incorporates mindfulness techniques, helping individuals focus their attention away from pain and toward positive, calming thoughts or images. This distraction can be a powerful tool in managing pain.
  • Enhanced Pain Tolerance: Some studies suggest that hypnotherapy can increase pain tolerance by influencing the way the brain processes pain signals. This may contribute to a person’s ability to endure or cope with pain more effectively.
  • Individualised Approach: Hypnotherapy is often tailored to the individual’s specific needs and experiences. This personalised approach allows for targeted interventions that address the unique aspects of a person’s pain and its impact on their life.
  • Non-Invasive Nature: Unlike pharmacological approaches, hypnotherapy is non-invasive and typically has minimal side effects. This makes it a potentially attractive option for those seeking alternatives to medication.

The Analgesic Potential of Hypnotherapy in Chronic Pain Control

Hypnotherapy’s analgesic potential for chronic pain has been explored in various studies, and there is evidence suggesting that it can be effective for many individuals. The following are some ways in which hypnotherapy may have analgesic (pain-relieving) effects in the context of chronic pain:


Altered Pain Perception: Hypnotherapy aims to alter the perception of pain by influencing the way the brain processes pain signals. Studies have shown changes in brain activity and pain perception during hypnotic states.

Endorphin Release: Hypnosis has been associated with an increase in endorphin levels. Endorphins are natural neurotransmitters that act as the body’s internal painkillers, providing a sense of well-being and potentially reducing the experience of pain.

Cognitive Reframing: Hypnotherapy often involves cognitive reframing, helping individuals change their thoughts and beliefs about pain. By altering the cognitive interpretation of pain, individuals may experience a reduction in its intensity.

Enhanced Coping Strategies: Hypnotherapy teaches individuals coping strategies, including mental imagery and visualization, which can provide a sense of control over pain and enhance their ability to cope with it.

Reduced Anxiety: Anxiety is often associated with heightened pain perception. Hypnotherapy can help manage anxiety, and by doing so, it may indirectly contribute to a reduction in the experience of pain.

Distraction Techniques: Hypnotherapy often incorporates distraction techniques, guiding individuals to focus their attention away from pain and onto positive, calming thoughts or images. This distraction can be analgesic by reducing the individual’s awareness of pain.


Ready, Set, Relax: Preparing for Your First Hypnotherapy Session against Chronic Pain

Preparing for your first hypnotherapy session for chronic pain involves both mental and logistical preparation. Below are some steps to help you get ready:

  • Research Hypnotherapy: Take some time to understand what hypnotherapy is and how it is used in the context of chronic pain. This knowledge can help you feel more comfortable and informed about the process.
  • Choose a Qualified Hypnotherapist: Research and choose a certified and experienced hypnotherapist who specializes in pain management. Look for reviews or testimonials and ensure that the hypnotherapist has relevant credentials.
  • Understand the Process: Have a conversation with your hypnotherapist before the session to understand what the process involves. Discuss your goals, concerns, and any questions you may have.
  • Set Realistic Expectations: Understand that hypnotherapy is not a magical cure, and its effectiveness can vary from person to person. Set realistic expectations and be open to the process.
  • Clarify Goals and Objectives: Clearly communicate your goals for pain management to the hypnotherapist. Whether it’s reducing pain intensity, improving coping mechanisms, or enhancing overall well-being, having clear objectives will guide the sessions.
  • Address Any Concerns: If you have concerns or reservations about hypnotherapy, discuss them with the hypnotherapist beforehand. A good hypnotherapist will address your concerns and ensure you feel comfortable and safe.
  • Dress Comfortably: Wear comfortable clothing to the session. Since hypnotherapy often involves relaxation techniques, being physically comfortable can enhance the experience.
  • Arrive Early: Arrive a little early for your session to allow time for any paperwork or administrative tasks. Being punctual helps set a positive tone for the session.
  • Be Well-Rested: Aim to get a good night’s sleep before your session. Being well-rested can improve your ability to focus and engage in the hypnotherapy process.
  • Bring Relevant Information: If you have medical records or information about your chronic pain condition, bring them to the session. This information can help the hypnotherapist better understand your situation.
  • Be Open-Minded: Approach the session with an open mind. Hypnotherapy involves a state of focused attention and concentration, and being receptive to the process can enhance its effectiveness.
  • Follow Pre-Session Instructions: If the hypnotherapist provides any specific instructions or preparations before the session, make sure to follow them. This may include avoiding caffeine or certain medications.
  • Prepare to Share: During the session, you may be asked to share information about your pain experience, emotions, and coping mechanisms. Be prepared to openly discuss these aspects with the hypnotherapist.


Walking Through a Hypnotherapy Session for Chronic Pain: Sequence and Outcomes

The sequence and outcomes of the first hypnotherapy session for chronic pain can vary based on the hypnotherapist’s approach, the individual’s specific needs, and the nature of the chronic pain. However, a typical first session may involve the following general steps:


  1. Introduction and Discussion: The session usually begins with the hypnotherapist introducing themselves and creating a comfortable and trusting environment. They may discuss the goals of hypnotherapy, explain the process, and answer any questions you might have.
  2. Initial Assessment: The hypnotherapist may conduct an initial assessment to gather information about your chronic pain, including its history, intensity, triggers, and any medical treatments you’ve received. This helps them tailor the session to your specific needs.
  3. Establishing Rapport: Building a rapport is crucial in hypnotherapy. The hypnotherapist will work to establish a connection with you, creating an atmosphere of trust and collaboration.
  4. Goal Setting: You and the hypnotherapist will discuss your goals for pain management. These goals could include reducing pain intensity, improving coping mechanisms, or enhancing overall well-being. Setting clear objectives helps guide the hypnotherapy process.
  5. Explanation of Hypnosis: The hypnotherapist will explain what hypnosis is and dispel any misconceptions. They may describe the hypnotic state as a focused and relaxed state of attention, emphasizing that you are always in control and aware during the process.
  6. Induction and Deepening: The induction phase involves guiding you into a state of focused attention and relaxation. This may include deep-breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, or guided imagery. The hypnotherapist will then deepen the hypnotic state to enhance receptivity to suggestions.
  7. Suggestions and Imagery: During the hypnotic state, the hypnotherapist may provide suggestions related to pain management, such as visualizing a pain-free state, imagining a comfortable and peaceful place, or reframing thoughts about pain. These suggestions aim to influence your perception of pain.
  8. Exploration and Processing: Depending on the hypnotherapist’s approach, they may guide you through an exploration of emotions, memories, or thought patterns related to your pain. This exploration can help identify and address underlying factors contributing to the pain experience.
  9. Return to Full Awareness: Toward the end of the session, the hypnotherapist will guide you back to full awareness. You may discuss your experience during the session and any insights or changes you observed.
  10. Homework or Self-Hypnosis Instruction: – The hypnotherapist may provide suggestions for self-hypnosis techniques or assign homework exercises to reinforce the benefits of the session between appointments.


Possible Outcomes: The outcomes of the first hypnotherapy session can vary. Some individuals may experience immediate relief or a reduction in pain intensity, while others may notice changes gradually over subsequent sessions. Initial outcomes may include increased relaxation, improved mood, and a shift in the perception of pain.

It’s important to note that hypnotherapy is often a cumulative process, and multiple sessions may be needed for sustained benefits. Communication with the hypnotherapist is crucial throughout the process, as it allows for adjustments to the approach based on your responses and progress. If you have specific expectations or concerns, discuss them openly with your hypnotherapist to ensure the sessions are tailored to your needs.


How to Recognise a Competent Hypnotherapist for Chronic Pain?

Finding a competent hypnotherapist in Auckland for chronic pain involves careful consideration and research. Here are some factors to consider when identifying a qualified and effective hypnotherapist:


Credentials and Training: Look for a hypnotherapist who is certified and has received proper training from a reputable institution. Certification from recognised organizations indicates that the therapist has met certain standards and has the necessary skills.

Experience in Pain Management: Seek a hypnotherapist with specific experience in pain management. Not all hypnotherapists specialize in this area, so it’s important to find someone who understands the complexities of chronic pain and has successfully worked with clients facing similar issues.

Specialised Training or Certifications: Some hypnotherapists pursue additional training or certifications in pain management or related areas. Check if the hypnotherapist has any specialised credentials that demonstrate a commitment to ongoing education and expertise in addressing chronic pain.

Communication Style: Effective communication is crucial in the therapeutic relationship. Choose a hypnotherapist with whom you feel comfortable discussing your concerns, goals, and experiences. They should be attentive, empathetic, and respectful.

Collaboration with Other Healthcare Professionals: A good hypnotherapist may collaborate with other healthcare professionals, such as doctors, psychologists, or physical therapists, to ensure a comprehensive approach to pain management. This collaborative approach can enhance the overall effectiveness of the treatment plan.

Transparent about the Process: A suitable hypnotherapist will be transparent about the hypnotherapy process, including what to expect during sessions, the number of sessions typically needed, and the potential outcomes. They should also address any questions or concerns you may have.

Personalised Approach: Chronic pain is a complex and individualized experience. Look for a hypnotherapist who tailors their approach to your specific needs and circumstances. A personalised treatment plan is more likely to be effective in addressing your unique challenges.

Ethical Practices: Ensure that the hypnotherapist adheres to ethical practices, including maintaining confidentiality, respecting your autonomy, and providing a safe and non-judgmental environment.

Availability and Location: Consider the practical aspects, such as the location of the hypnotherapist’s office or online services, their availability for appointments, and whether the logistics work for you.

Initial Consultation: Many hypnotherapists offer an initial consultation, either in person or over the phone, to discuss your concerns and their approach. This can be an opportunity to assess whether you feel comfortable working with the hypnotherapist.

Picture of Annemieke Van Dam
Annemieke Van Dam

Transformational, Life and Wellness Coaching and Hypnotherapy