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What is Hypnotherapy?
Many of us have misconceptions based on television or stage performances of hypnosis. Real-life hypnotherapy is very different. It isn't mind control. You are always aware and in control of your behavior. Rather, it's a therapeutic technique that uses the power of positive suggestion to bring about subconscious change to our thoughts, feelings and behavior. It has potential to help both psychological and physiological problems: everything from anxiety to addiction, from irritable bowel syndrome to chronic pain.
Today, we talk about its application to life with autoimmune disease, and how it might be an effective tool to help us manage our stress and even alleviate chronic symptoms. My guest is clinical hypnotherapist, Kerry Jeffery. She has autoimmune disease herself and uses hypnotherapy in her own healing journey. She also works with people professionally worldwide.
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- Intro (0:00)
- Thank You to our Podcast Sponsor – Paleo on the Go (1:41)
- A frozen meal delivery service, they have a large menu of items for the paleo autoimmune protocol (AIP). I take the meals with me on vacation, and keep a stash in the freezer for emergencies.
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- Meet Kerry (3:27)
- She has multiple autoimmune diseases herself, including: celiac, Hashimoto's and antiphospholipid syndrome. At her worst, she had so little energy, she didn't even have the strength to sit up. Talking was exhausting, so she had to stop talking with people on the phone. Her heart was also affected; if she overexerted herself, she risked going into heart failure. It was a terrifying time. Simultaneously, her brain fog was so debilitating that when she tried to talk, she couldn't find words and often had to point to things, to try to communicate. Now, 16 months into her healing journey, her bad days are rare. She has to pace herself, but she has the energy to take care of life's needs, and she's been able to joyfully return to work. She even has some days where her energy feels boundless. The keys to this transformation were the paleo autoimmune protocol, self-hypnosis, and natural desiccated thyroid medication.
- She writes about the emotional challenges of life with autoimmune disease through her blog, Emotional Autoimmunity.
- Based in Australia, she works with people around the world via Skype.
- What is Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy? (14:07)
- Stage performances of hypnosis are designed to entertain. It's very different from clinical hypnotherapy.
- Hypnosis is a natural state where you are more aware of your imagination than your immediate surroundings. For example, when you drive to work, deep in thought, and arrive having no memory of how you got there. You still drove safely, and if danger had presented itself on the road, you would have immediately returned to the present. Hypnosis is similar, but it's intentional instead of accidental. It is focusing your attention to the exclusion of all other things. Hypnotherapy combines this state of being with therapeutic intent and intervention. You decide the goal you want to achieve. It's a state where you are susceptible to the power of suggestion, and you work with your therapist on what those subconscious suggestions will be.
- What are Some Applications of Hypnotherapy? (19:02)
- Remove the feeling of trauma from a memory. The memory remains, but the emotional charge is gone.
- Alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression.
- Reduce physical pain and other physical symptoms.
- How to Find a Skilled Hypnotherapist (22:21)
- Look online for websites that keep directories of certified practitioners. Here are some examples: American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, National Hypnotherapists Register Australia, and ARCH Canada.
- And interview the practitioner themselves – ask about their qualifications, look at the testimonials on their website, and meet them for an introductory session. You need to feel comfortable with your therapist for the sessions to be effective.
- Self-Hypnosis (23:10)
- In addition to working with a trained hypnotherapist, you can also buy self-hypnosis recordings. They aren't as powerful as professional hypnotherapy, but they can be very helpful as a self-care technique. Kerry listened to one multiple times a day when her autoimmune symptoms were at their worst, to alleviate the debilitating anxiety that was one of her Hashimoto's symptoms.
- Resource: Kerry's Relaxed Hypnotherapy Bundle (which includes a self-hypnosis MP3 and a PDF ebook).
- Hypnotherapy Case Study (25:54)
- Kerry has a client with rheumatoid arthritis who also suffered from sciatica. She was taking steroids but it didn't touch the sciatic pain, and she couldn't sit, stand or sleep. Just one hypnotherapy session alleviated the sciatic pain completely and it didn't return.
- Results aren't always that dramatic, but there's a wide range of potential in how hypnosis can help. The body has limited ways to communicate with us, and it's often through pain or discomfort. Hypnosis is a way to communicate more effectively with your body. In addition, strong emotions can contribute to inflammation in the body, and removing those through hypnosis can have powerful physical benefits as well.
- What Helps Hypnosis to be Successful? (30:06)
- Being open to the technique rather than resistant.
- Finding a therapist you trust.
- Being able to relax within the session.
- Doctors and the Power of Suggestion (31:33)
- If you are in a state of shock, you are much more open to the power of suggestion, both positive and negative. This is why after receiving a devastating diagnosis, what your doctor says next can powerfully affect your healing process. If your doctor planted negative suggestions at that point, hypnotherapy is a way to remove those and replace them with positive healing suggestions instead.
- Guided Self-Hypnosis (34:01)
- Here, Kerry guides us through a short self-hypnosis session, which focuses on relaxation, comfort and safety.
- Hypnosis Tip: Temporarily Disassociating from Your Body (38:40)
- You don't say “my body” or “my shoulder”, you say “the body” or “the shoulder.” This allows you to go into an altered state of awareness more easily. Focusing on your body can keep you “in the room” instead of allowing you to immerse yourself in the visualization.
- The one exception to this is when Kerry is working with people who have body shame or body hatred. There, she wants to help them reconnect with their body.
- Also, this disassociation isn't permanent. It's just a therapeutic technique. We want to be connected to our bodies in our daily life.
- Can Hypnotherapy Cure? (43:10)
- Hypnotherapy isn't a cure for autoimmune disease, but it has the potential to permanently address specific issues, whether that is removing traumatic emotions, changing our attitude toward ourselves and our illness, or alleviating physical symptoms like the sciatica mentioned in Kerry's case study.
- Self-hypnosis is more similar to meditation. It's a home-care technique that can support our healing process on an ongoing basis.
- Learning Self-Love (47:16)
- When Kerry received her autoimmune diagnoses, she pulled over on the way home from her doctor's appointment and cried tears of gratitude for all her body had endured over the years. She didn't feel that her body had betrayed her. Instead, she was in awe at her body's ability to survive.
- This wasn't always her attitude. She bitterly hated her body for years and it's a been a journey toward self-love. She feels this is important because you cannot hate or bully yourself into any sort of positive change. Lasting change only comes from love. You have to want the best for this person (you).
- I wrote an article about this as well: My Body Is NOT My Enemy.
- The Healing Power of Personal Boundaries (52:51)
- If you can't say “No”, if you can't put yourself first sometimes, you are going to end up anxious, resentful, angry, depressed and exhausted. This is true for anyone, but especially someone with chronic illness who has limited energy. We teach people how to treat us, by what we are willing to accept and tolerate.
- When you develop good boundaries, people respect, value and listen to you more. Relationships become healthier, and you personally become healthier.
- Update 2019: Kerry's boundary ebook is no longer available. But I recorded a podcast on this topic: Ep. 118 – Boundaries and the Art of Saying No.
- “Negative” Feelings Have Their Place, Too (57:57)
- Many people are afraid to express their grief and anger, because it's so large that they're afraid it will consume them if they let it out. Here's Kerry's belief: the fear is always worse than the emotion. Emotions need to be released. And if we try to suppress them instead, they'll come out in physical illness or a poorly timed explosion. There is no such thing as a “negative” emotion. Every emotion is valid and has a right to be expressed.
- No only is hypnotherapy a positive way to release these emotions, Kerry has a blog called Emotional Autoimmunity, which is dedicated to these honest conversations, and she has a series of video interviews with people living with chronic illness. Here's a link to her interview with me from February 2016: Eileen Laird of Phoenix Helix.
- Outro (1:04:50)
- Kerry works with people around the world via Skype and offers a free 20 minute Discovery Session to meet and answer your questions. She also has a blog called Emotional Autoimmunity.
- Eileen (your podcast host) has written 4 books: A Simple Guide to the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol (paperback, kindle and audio versions), Reintroducing Foods on the AIP (PDF ebook), The Paleo AIP Instant Pot Cookbook (PDF ebook), and 85 Amazing AIP Breakfasts (PDF ebook).
- If you purchased A Simple Guide to the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol , you are eligible for some free PDFs – The AIP Food Pyramid, the AIP Foods to Avoid, and an AIP Grocery List. Send your receipt through my contact form. And if you loved the book, please write a review on Amazon.
- Check out the entire archive of podcast episodes.
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