Why Consider Hypnosis Treatment for IBS?

  • Hypnosis is an attractive adjunct treatment for many IBS sufferers with chronic and severe symptoms.
  • It is one of the most successful treatment approaches for chronic IBS. The response rate to treatment is 80% and better in most published studies to date.
  • The treatment often helps individuals who have failed to get improvements with other methods (see for example: Whorwell et al., 1984, 1987; Palsson et al., 1997, 2000).
  • It is uniquely pleasurable and relaxing.
  • It’s a natural process using the power of your own mind, without negative side effects.
  • Many experience improvement in other areas such as migraine or tension headaches.
  • The beneficial effects of the treatment last long after the end of the course of treatment.

According to research, individuals who improve from hypnosis treatment for IBS can generally look forward to years of reduced bowel symptoms.

IBS Therapy protocol

On your first visit, we take a thorough clinical interview, discuss your current symptoms, and review past treatments. We establish rapport, answer your questions, and orient you to clinical hypnosis. We discuss realistic expectations of the process and therapeutic gains. (the treatment research indicates that about 4 out of every 5 people benefit.) I provide an assessment tool to evaluate your symptoms.

The second visit is generally scheduled at 2 weeks after the first one (to provide time to log your experiences). The scripted treatment course is initiated in this second visit and is conducted approximately biweekly until the entire seven-session sequence is completed. Only, on rare occasions, particularly if you have unusual symptoms that I believe should also be targeted, I make additions to the standard therapeutic suggestions.

The scripted hypnosis sessions take between 30 and 40 minutes to deliver, so they can easily be accommodated within an hour session with time to spare to address any matters of importance. At the end of this second session, you will receive a hypnosis audio recording for home use. Most engage enthusiastically in the home practice, as the practice is pleasant.

In the sixth treatment visit, we assess the progress in this session. We compare current and pretreatment symptom levels. This is a good way for you to get an objective picture of your gains.

Once the seven-session sequence is completed, the formal therapy is finished, no further treatment for IBS is generally required. However, many patients find a 3-month booster follow-up visit helpful.

Prognosis and follow-up

Research shows that responders remain better for a long time. However, in a few cases, patients have a return of some symptoms years after the end of treatment (often brought on by unusually stressful life circumstances). In such cases, they have found that they can often bring their symptoms back under control if they use their audio exercise again daily for a couple of months.

This is a brief and fixed course of therapy, it is well received by practically all patients, and the experience to date shows that it can be expected to reliably improve the bowel symptoms of the great majority of IBS patients who have been unresponsive to other treatments.