The cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) isn’t well understood. A diagnosis is often made based on symptoms. Symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. Some people can control their symptoms by managing diet, lifestyle and stress. Others will need medication and a form of Psychotherapy which could be Counselling or Clinical Hypnosis.
Treatment of IBS by conventional means is often unsatisfactory, with symptoms failing to respond to an array of currently available medications. Gut directed hypnotherapy, however, has been shown previously to be extremely effective in the treatment of IBS, with the majority of patients showing improvement in symptoms, associated extra-colonic features and quality of life, findings which have been confirmed by independent studies.
Gut directed hypnotherapy comprises of up to a course of 12 weekly 1 hr sessions. Each session consists of induction of the hypnotic state and deepening procedures, followed by “ego strengthening” suggestions relevant to the individual's needs. These are accompanied by further
suggestions and interventions, such as inducing warmth in the abdomen using the hands and imagery, directed towards controlling and normalising gut function.
This work led to the establishment of the first hypnotherapy unit in the National Health Service in the UK devoted to the treatment of IBS patients. We have recently published an audit on the first 250 patients treated at this unit, 13 confirming the beneficial effects of hypnotherapy in a large number of patients. However, the outcome was measured immediately after patients completed the course of hypnotherapy. The aim of this present study, therefore, was to establish follow up on a large number of patients treated, to determine the longer-term effects of therapy, in terms of symptom improvement, consultation rates, and use of medication.
This research has now been completed worldwide and the findings speak for themselves. Hypnotherapy has proven to assist in relieving the symptoms of IBS and moving toward normalising the gut function.