Hypnosis is being used more and more in medicine, but when is it actually used? First of all, it doesn’t look like it does on TV. There is no clock swinging left and right after which, at the clap of the hands, you suddenly become hypnotized. This hypnotic state of mind we actually experience in our daily lives. As soon as you start to focus intensely on one thing in particular, you lose perception of everything else around you. Anyone can be hypnotized if they’re willing to listen to the instructions of the therapists.
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For several years now, medical hypnosis has been making its appearance in Switzerland. But how does it work and in what circumstances is it used?
Intensive care units, operating theatres, doctors’, psychologists’ or dentists’ offices… it is more and more common to be offered the support of medical hypnosis in order to better alleviate pain or anxiety or to face a surgical intervention without having to resort to a general anaesthetic. If you are interested in the technique, put out of your mind all the spectacular images you have seen on a TV show. They have nothing in common with the hypnotic state used in medicine. –We all experience this state of mind naturally and spontaneously as we go about our daily lives. It is enough to concentrate on reading, driving a car, playing a game or any other captivating activity to focus our attention and no longer perceive what is happening around us. Anyone can be hypnotised, provided they have the desire to do so and cooperate with the therapist. Without replacing existing treatments, this method reinforces the effect of medication and makes it possible to withstand certain medical procedures or certain interventions that can be carried out under local anesthetic, provided that the surgeon involved is favorable to this approach.
In Switzerland, for interested doctors, only training given by the IRHYS (Institut Romand d’Hypnose Suisse) delivers a certificate of aptitude validated by the FMH while, for the paramedical professions, the same institute in partnership with HES SO Valais offers a CAS (Certificate of Advanced Studies) also recognized, in Art and Hypnotic Techniques in the field of health and social.
A reassuring and effective approach
Contrary to the spectacular demonstrations of cabaret hypnosis, the technique practiced by health professionals is not aggressive but induces a modification of the perception that the patient may have. By entering into a gentle communication with the patient and interfering with his emotions, the practitioner is able to accompany him so that he escapes in a natural way, thus increasing the threshold of tolerance to the pain that he no longer feels as invasive and difficult to bear. The communication technique used is adapted to each case so that everyone can find meaning in it. If the patient’s comfort is not optimal during the operation, the associated anaesthetic techniques can always be reinforced at any time as required, which makes the technique reassuring for both patients and doctors.
While there is a growing demand for medical hypnosis among the public, there are not yet enough trained doctors and nurses to fully meet it. But experts are clear that the technique is likely to become more widespread in the future, and its full potential is far from being fully explored!
“Two years ago I was told that I had to have nodules removed from my thyroid. I have a high level of anxiety and I have always been very afraid of anesthesia. So it was obvious to me that I would refuse to be put completely to sleep. The anesthetist suggested that I use hypnosis and have the operation under a local anesthetic. I didn’t know what it was, so we had a few sessions to get used to it. Following the voice of the anesthetist, I would imagine myself in a place I liked and we would talk about what I saw. On the day of the operation, we did exactly the same thing and everything went very well. I had no fear or pain, and I know today that I could face any other operation of this kind without any fear.”
“I was in an accident in which my body was burned by more than 60%. I was put in an artificial coma for six weeks, during which the doctors performed several skin grafts. The weeks after I woke up were hard. I had to be given a general anesthetic three times a week in order to be able to be cared for and washed. Until one day, when the nurse who took care of me decided to try to do the treatments without putting me to sleep, but with the help of hypnosis. We talked a lot, she was very attentive to me. Thanks to her, I was able to concentrate on a story that I imagined, in which I felt perfectly well. Everything went very well and we continued afterward. I felt that my body was being manipulated, but I did not suffer because I was absorbed elsewhere. I am very grateful to this lady who, thanks to hypnosis, helped me enormously.