Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Guest Blog Post! Hypnotherapy For Migraine; Not What You'd Expect.

When I lived in New York my Writing Mentor suggested I tried Hypnotherapy. Not because of my migraines, I must admit, but because she said "Us neurotic people need something to help us unwind."  I rolled my eyes, as obviously I'm totally calm and collected at all times, but went along as I'd heard that it can be useful for pain; specifically for those suffering with migraine. It was not at all what I was expecting. The fabulous Fiona Russell, who can be seen here talking about the impact migraine has had on her life, also decided to give it a go. Below she recounts her experiences.....

The word hypnotherapy tends to conjure up images of people in a trance, suddenly dancing around the stage pretending to be chickens as soon as the hypnotist clicks his all powerful fingers. And for those familiar to this blog, us migraine sufferers are willing to try anything that may ease our pain, even if we are made to look silly. However, the fact that it was the trusted National Migraine Centre offering these hypnotherapy classes and the word ended in ‘therapy’ and not ‘tism’ led me to believe that chickens would hopefully not be involved.

I was having 5 group hypnotherapy sessions with Patrick Browning (www.browning-hypnosis.co.uk) and we were being taught different self-hypnosis techniques. I think the word hypnosis may scare some people but you should think of them as relaxation or de-stress techniques. During the first session, Patrick put us into trance. I sat there, listening to Patrick’s voice, feeling a little skeptical, but the music and his tone of voice were so soothing and calming that I couldn’t help but unwind.  Very soon I was feeling like I was about to fall asleep. My limbs felt very heavy and when Patrick made a suggestion that we lift our arms, I was unable to. This is apparently called ‘limb catalepsy’ and if you’ve reached this state you know you are in trance. I felt extremely relaxed at this point and it was definitely a very pleasant feeling. I had come into the session with a migraine ‘hangover’ and after we’d been brought out of trance (by simply counting backwards from 10) I felt slightly better. Patrick then taught us how to take ourselves into this trance. Fortunately, he gave us CDs to help because listening to his super relaxing voice did make self hypnosis far easier, though I have just about mastered it by myself now. When you are in trance you can imagine yourself in a special place and give yourself positive suggestions. Though to be honest, I’ve just been using it as a helpful way to fall asleep at night after a migraine has wrecked my sleep pattern.

Patrick was also teaching us various other self-help techniques, with the hope that we would find at least one that would benefit us, as everyone has slightly different needs and everyone’s migraines are different. Some of the techniques were focused on how to reduce stress and worry, common migraine triggers. I don’t think I’m a particularly stressful person but I do get excited easily, normally when I have the chance to go out and socialize with people that aren’t my parents, what with being in my 30s and living at home. Unfortunately, I feel over excitement can trigger a migraine but Patrick said that some of the techniques for reducing stress can also work the same for excitement. Bit depressing that I have to lower my excitement levels but hey, if it stops a migraine, I guess it’s worth it.

We learnt the dissociation technique so we could dissociate from our body and the pain we were feeling. Hell, yeah, this would be super useful. Bye, bye migraine. I’ll just float above my head for 24 hours. During the session with Patrick, I didn’t believe anything would actually happen. Suddenly, I then had the strangest feeling where even though I knew I was sitting in a chair, I could not tell if I was upright or horizontal. I kid you not. My ‘awareness’ was floating about 2 foot away from my body but I could not work out where in space my actual body was. It was as if my spatial compass had gone awry and it was a bit scary and weird, so rather than just ‘go with it’ I did try and get back inside my own head. But now I know what it feels like I probably would be more relaxed next time. Unfortunately since then I’ve not managed to dissociate by myself, but all these techniques do need lots of practice.

In our last session we learnt the Symptom Imagery technique. Patrick took us into trance and then asked us to envisage that our migraine symptoms were an actual entity. He told us to just focus on the first thing that popped into our consciousness. I was starting to get a migraine at this point so my head was feeling very heavy. Thus, the first thing that I thought of that illustrated my migraine was the character, Kenny from South Park. Yes, the kid in the huge orange parka that gets killed off every episode. I’m not even a South Park fan, I can’t even remember the last time I saw an episode. I think it was just because his head looks huge, out of proportion and heavy which is what mine felt like at the time. Patrick then said in his lovely dreamy voice, words to the effect of,
‘now you can see your symptom, start a conversation with them and negotiate possible changes to make things better in the future’
Ah, hmmm this could be tricky. Kenny has a parka hood covering his mouth making his speech so muffled that it is incomprehensible. Any dialogue, let alone some sort of beneficial bargaining tête-à-tête, was just not going to work. As I’m writing this, it has come to me plain as day that what I should have imagined, is to have killed off Kenny i.e my migraine and exclaimed loudly
‘oh my God! They killed Kenny…the bastards’ and that would have stopped my migraine in its tracks. Unfortunately, my migraine was clouding my thinking so all I did for the rest of the trance was just look helplessly at Kenny. We had a pleasant time, it was quite relaxing, but it didn’t really help me feel better. Hmmmm I think I need to work on my symptom imagery.

Overall, I would recommend trying hypnotherapy. It may not be to everyone’s taste and obviously, as with all these treatments it is no instant migraine cure. However, with a bit of practice, most members of the group I was in found self hypnosis helped them to relax. This can only be a good thing. The more techniques we have at our disposal to ease our pain or distract us during the bad times, the better, I say.

Fiona is a Research Scientist specialising in Pain. How is that for irony? But her research focuses more on arthritic joint pain than migraines. She's about to start part-time research work in January at King's College London. She has had migraines for 8 years.

For more information about the National Migraine Centre check out their website or even better, give them a call and make an appointment!


  1. Ha, I wonder if being neurotic and migraines go together as I am fairy neurotic too!

    1. Nonsense - we're just artistic, sensitive....and I was doing my Masters' thesis at the time. Though like Fiona I do tend to get a bit over-excited too easily ......

    2. Haha ditto... and I tend to be quite obessive too!

  2. Really very nice and informative post.Thanks for sharing.

    Alistair Horscroft
    Hypnotherapy Training

  3. Great post recounting your experiences.

    I have noticed working with many clients that they suffer from migraine headaches from either one of two reasons. It is either that they have had some traumatic event in their past that is still unresolved (abuse, attacked, death, divorce, etc.) or that their conscious mind and subconscious mind are fighting each other.

    The hypnotherapy process will help them resolve these past issues as well as bringing their minds into harmony with each other. It is a fascinating process to see people heal and be over their headaches in a very short period of time.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with others to inform them of how beneficial this can be!

  4. There are many things that could trigger migraine, and worst thing is, there are some cases we treat migraine as an ordinary headache, that is a big NO, headache is only a part of migraine, migraine has more effects, it can somehow lead to depression and anxiety. I haven't tried yet hypnotherapy though I can hear a lot of it.

  5. apart from the obvious causes such as chocolate or allergies, stress does not help, and here's where hypnosis comes in by relaxing the subject, taking away any anxiety, or negative thoughts, and worry, putting your life in order and becoming more positive.

    paul clinton

  6. A few years ago, only few people were aware of the fact that hypnotherapy really works for treating the patients with some psychological problems that starts affecting their health gradually. However, many hospitals all over the world has started hiring the expert hypnotherapists, as they use scientific method to reach the mind of a patient and free his unconscious mind from some baseless fears and phobias.

  7. Great tips for Reader enjoyment
    Learning to become a practicing hypnotist is usually anything but a simple task. In many cases, people try fruitlessly to learn from books for several days, weeks, months, or even years before they finally come to the conclusion that it simply cannot be done. Books are definitely a good place to start if you want to learn the theories of hypnosis. However, if you truly want to become adept at this somewhat arcane art, you need to seek out other sources of knowledge. Obviously, the best source of knowledge when learning hypnosis is to go to a person who knows the craft, and knows it well. But in many cases, this is not possible. So, who you end up going to when you are incapable of learning hypnotism from books, and learning hypnosis from a master, directly, proves to be too unyielding or too costly? The answer lies in hypnosis videos.
    Learning hypnosis is a hands-on science. Being told to speak in a calm and reassuring voice is one thing; actually seeing somebody speak in this common reassuring voice is another. more for reader at: http://www.howtocoverthypnosis.com


  8. More great tips for reader on Hypnosis Hypnotherapy
    Hypnosis hypnotherapy is a terrific dispute that has actually been around for practically as lengthy as the principle of hypnosis has. Those that select hypnotherapy over routine hypnosis might wind up paying much more for the program, nevertheless, the treatment may last much longer and eventually, the outcomes might be much more meeting. Prior to one leaps to any type of verdicts concerning hypnosis and hypnotherapy, each of the ideas should be completely know.

    The hypnosis hypnotherapy argument need to start someplace and the most rational location to begin would certainly be with the extremely essential elements of comprehending each idea. One have to specify it. Hypnosis is when one is put in a loosened up state that enables the thoughts to open to recommendations much more easily.

    That precisely is providing the ideas depends on whether one is undertaking routine treatment or hypnotherapy. With the routine treatment, a therapist that could or could not have official training is typically providing instructions. For treatment functions, this could come to be a little complicated.

    The dispute heats when one starts to go over the medical hypnotherapy aspect. Hypnotherapy is when treatment is done on a bigger restorative range. Hypnotherapy hypnosis is conducted by somebody that has considerable training and is a certified expert that has actually invested long times finding out and refining their craft.

    Making Your Choice on Hypnosis Hypnotherapy

    Those that come to be hypnotherapists have actually undertaken thorough training and they are generally received in the exact same organization as physicians and registered nurses. They additionally have a code of principles that they need to comply with. This is the primary distinction in the argument; that in fact carries out the this kind of treatment and exactly what education and learning do they have?

    Hypnosis hypnotherapy arguments could have been raving for a very long time, however the selection depends on the person. It is the people option to select a hypnotherapist that is additional informed on the subject or not.

    In the future, a therapist will certainly greater than most likely fee much more for their time compared with one that took a fast course for a few weeks to discover ways to hypnotize individuals. A medical hypnotherapist will certainly a lot more compared to most likely be a much better option in the lengthy run and the outcomes will certainly be a lot more efficient.

  9. It really help a lot for many users after reading your blog because it is related with us i mean with our health.....and It is always interesting to check in and see what you have to share. I always learn a lot!

  10. Thanks for sharing your personal experience on hypnotherapy. I am really thankful to you. Hypnotherapy Cardiff

  11. Hypnosis can help migraine sufferers avoid triggers such as controlling stress and avoiding certain foods.

  12. The migraines I suffer from began after menopause. They are definitely hormonally related. HRT is contra indicated for me. The headaches became so intense my Dr prescribed sumatriptan, which was a lifesaver.

    I also suffer with insomnia. I had begun to use hypnotherapy to try to sleep better when I stumbled upon the hypnotherapy for migraine videos. Both seem to help me relax and unwind and fall asleep. However I am still getting the headaches. I will stick with it a while longer as I would live to stop taking medication. However the meds knock out the headache cycle in 3-4 days and keep them away for 1-3 months. If I do not take the meds, the headaches linger longer and com back with Mir frequency.

    I'll try a bit longer with the hypnotherapy. It certainly doesn't hurt.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...