Joseph Tramontana, Ph.D.
As a member of the Board of Directors of the Southern Pain Society, I want to share with the membership a recent workshop I presented to the Canadian Federation of Clinical Hypnosis in Banff, Canada. The workshop was titled “Hypnotically Enhanced Addictions Treatment: Drug Abuse, Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, Gambling Addiction, Smoking Cessation, and Obesity, with a Focus on Drug Dependence during this Opioid Crisis.”
The 2-day workshop was presented by invitation to a group of 19 advanced hypnosis practitioners, including MDs, Psychologists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, and Licensed Counselors.
While the title was lengthy, a number of problem behaviors were addressed. Dealing with pain patients, was a major focus. For example, if a patient came in experiencing pain at a “7,” (on a 10-point scale) and after the first hypnosis session he/she reported it was down to a “3,” the change was not only significant, but interpreted to them as “probably as much relief as you get from a pain pill, but it’s natural.” More importantly, the patient is taught self-hypnotic techniques to use at home as a coping skill. The goal is to use hypnotic relaxation when hurting instead of instinctively reaching for the pill bottle.
Another technique is having the patient, while in trance, imagine the sensation of pain medication, but replicating the relief without the actual medicine.
These techniques fit well with psychoeducation interpretations to patients about the “Mind-body connection.”