Hypnotherapy for Pain Management: Principles and Practice

Details of Workshop by Bruce Eimer, PhD, ABPP

This course is intended for the experienced mental health clinician and professional hypnotherapist who may or may not be familiar with hypnosis and the application of this treatment method to chronic pain.  Whether you have experience with hypnosis or you are looking to add it to your practice, this course will provide you an overview of using it for chronic pain management. The goal of this course is to provide you with a rewarding experience.

Instruction level: Intermediate and advanced, with 16 hours CE credit for psychologists. The Behavior Therapy Center, P.C. & Bruce Eimer, Ph.D., ABPP, are approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor Continuing Education for psychologists. The Behavior Therapy Center, P.C. & Bruce Eimer, Ph.D., ABPP, maintain responsibility for this program and its content.

This 2-day workshop is designed to help you:

  1. Explain two popular models of pain mechanisms.
  2. Explain four reasons to use hypnosis for pain management
  3. Contrast what hypnosis “Is and Isn’t.”
  4. Explain to a patient how hypnosis can help him or her gain greater control over his/her persistent pain.
  5. Describe the initial evaluation of the pain patient for hypnotherapy.
  6. Explain how to elicit a patient’s “pain images.”
  7. Explain how to help a pain patient create personalized “pain relief images.
  8. List and explain the “Six D’s” of pain coping.
  9. Demonstrate two hypnotic inductions suitable for patients in severe pain.
  10. Describe how to teach a chronic pain patient at least two methods of self-hypnosis for pain management.
  11. Explain at least three principles of hypnotic analgesia.
  12. Explain the difference between “post hypnotic suggestion” and “post hypnotic imprinting.”
  13. Describe how hypnotic regression techniques combined with reframing can uncover psychogenic “causes” and exacerbators of persistent pain.
  14. Demonstrate how to set up ideomotor finger signals.

Day One

Introduction and overview to the course. Role of hypnosis as a tool in pain management. Hypnosis as an evidence-based treatment tool for pain.

Pain terms and definitions. The role of the non-medical provider in pain management.

Professional ethics. Minimizing risks of inadvertent negative consequences of hypnosis.

Conducting a proper initial interview and intake with a pain patient, and using waking state reframing to socialize the patient to the therapy and formulate realistic and attainable goals.

Waking state reframing, obtaining informed consent, and preparing the patient for hypnosis with a hypnosis pre-talk.

Giving a hypnosis pre-talk to a pain patient, explaining the rationale for hypnosis for pain control, and obtaining informed consent.

Principles of hypnotic trance induction. Demonstration of two hypnotic inductions suitable for pain patients either through video or live demonstration.

Day Two

Demonstration of two rapid trance inductions for a pain patient. (video or live demo). Discussion of principles. Introduction to the “Eight D’s” of Pain Management.

  1. Using Direct Suggestions In Hypnosis (DSIH) to develop appropriate “comfort talk” and analgesic imagery.
  2. Teach Distraction techniques.
  3. De-catastrophize and de-escalate anxious and depressive thinking.
  4. Distort pain sensations to “filter the hurt out of pain”.
  5. De-condition “pain behaviors”.
  6. Discard tension through physical and mental relaxation.
  7. Dissociate and Disconnect from pain.
  8. Discover emotional causes of pain through symptom regression and age regression. Reframe and release outdated emotions and restructure self-perceptions.

Demonstration of use of appropriate DSIH based on intake interview.

Practice session. Rapid induction of trance and use of Direct Suggestions In Hypnosis (DSIH) for analgesia, distraction, de-catastrophizing, distortion, de-conditioning, discarding tension, and dissociating from pain sensations.

Teaching self-hypnosis

Introduction to Hypnotic Regression Therapy (HRT) to discover, review, and reframe emotional causes for persistent pain. Introduction to using ideomotor signals for communicating with the unconscious mind.

Demonstration of use of the “affect bridge” method to conduct a symptom regression followed by the use of ideomotor signaling to facilitate the patient’s discovery, review, reframing, and release of the emotional causes.

Additional demonstrations and/or practice sessions as time permits.