How does hypnosis help with the side effects of cancer treatment?

Eve Kelsey, D Hyp PDCHyp MBSCH is a volunteer therapist at the Fountain Centre, St Luke’s Cancer Centre, Guildford.  She attends many clinics across Surrey and has her own practice.  If you’ve never really considered hypnosis in this context or simply want to find out more, why not take a look at her article in the Lounge.  Eve reveals some of the little known benefits of hypnosis for patients coping with cancer treatment.

Hypnotherapy can help cancer patients to improve quality of life during the course of treatment.  Used alongside the conventional cancer treatments, benefits can be gained including sense of control.

Why can hypnotherapy be of benefit?

Using hypnosis is an unusual intervention for minimising the side effects from cancer treatment, but interestingly, it can help in many areas of this.

Reducing or eliminating side effects:  Some of the side effects can be uncomfortable or distressing.  These can include:  sleeping difficulties, nausea, pain, fear, anxiety.  Hypnotherapy can help because it works by communicating with your subconscious mind and using suggestions to help you to respond in a more constructive way.

Relaxation:  It is generally accepted that stress can reduce the effectiveness of the body’s immune system and so reduces the body’s ability to deal with the cancer cells.  Finding out and living with cancer can be stressful.  By changing your responses in how you are going to react to cancer can help improve the immune system. 

Hypnosis is a very effective way to experience relaxation – and having experienced a relaxed mind and body, you can yourself use the techniques to strengthen and control your relaxation and reduce your overall stress levels at your leisure.

When you go for your chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatments hypnotherapy can help you empty your mind of any distracting thoughts or worries by using your self hypnosis to complement that treatment, leaving the doctors and nurses to do what they are trained to do.

Cancer surgery:  There is now medical evidence available that using hypnosis prior to surgery can help reduce pain, nausea, fatigue and discomfort after surgery.  Someone going into an operation relaxed is expected to recover quicker and achieve better progress than a patient who goes in feeling anxious or distressed.

Sense of control:  When someone is told that they have cancer it is not unusual for this to dominate their thoughts and to experience a feeling of loss of control over their lives.  Solution focused therapy and hypnosis can help regain self confidence and empowerment.

Phobias:  Some situations which in the past may not have mattered so much may now become an issue.  A needle phobia is a good case in hand.  Hypnosis can help eliminate any irrational fears.

What are the benefits?

Each person experiences the benefits of hypnotherapy in their own way.  It allows individuals to help deal with situations differently in their everyday life – being able to focus on certain emotions and learning how to manage them – feeling more positive about their ability to cope with stressful situations – and increased confidence.

Is hypnosis safe?

Yes.  Hypnosis is a 100% natural state.  Everyone is in trance many times during the day – day dreaming for instance.  It is not possible to be stuck in trance.  The only thing that can happen is that you may become too comfortable and fall asleep!

Can anyone be hypnotised?

Nobody can be hypnotised against their will, so a person cannot be hypnotised if they choose not to be.  Almost everyone can be hypnotised as long as they are willing to co-operate.

Patients tend to find their first experience of hypnosis to be deeply calming and beneficial, as the technique can be done by themselves at home. It brings a sense of balance to their lives, after what can be a traumatic period of change and reassessment.  Initial sessions tend to last an hour, and then depending on the individual’s treatment plan and concerns, can be planned to support them.

For more information, please contact :  
Eve Kelsey, D Hyp PDCHyp MBSCH
Tel: 01276 65598