Hypnotherapy is helping patients overcome their fears so they can undergo complex cancer treatment at The James Cook University Hospital.
The new hypnotherapy service, which has been launched by the Trinity Holistic Centre, is helping patients overcome everything from anxiety and panic attacks to fear of needles and claustrophobia.
Jean Brady, who has been a hypnotherapist for more than 20 years, said: “Some patients are risking their lives by not having treatment, but they want to have treatment and all they need is someone to give them the ability to do it, someone to help change their mind set.
“Hypnotherapy helps people to reach a part of their mind that has the resources they need to overcome the issues they are struggling with. I use suggestions that help people feel relaxed because they are in a safe place in their mind. It’s so beneficial, so powerful.”
Hypnotherapy is essentially a state of deep mental and physical relaxation during which the mind, particularly the subconscious mind, becomes very open to positive behaviour changing suggestions made by the hypnotherapist.
The treatment is proving particularly popular with head and neck cancer patients who feel anxious about wearing restrictive masks while undergoing radiotherapy treatments. It has also helped people to feel more confident about MRI scans and injections.
“It’s not like stage hypnosis,” reassures Jean, who describes the process as more like a day dream and says most people can be hypnotised if they want to be. “All hypnosis is self-hypnosis – the hypnotherapist is not controlling you.
“When you day dream you are in a form of hypnosis, but you always know where you are and you always come out of it if somebody shouts your name.”
Mike Kipling, 76, of Guisborough, is among those to have benefitted from Jean’s hypnotherapy sessions. Mike admits he was quite cynical at first until he tried a group relaxation session and came round to discover he had been snoring! Mike also had hypnotherapy to help him cope after losing his wife to breast cancer.
“I never felt I was out of control during the hypnotherapy sessions, but I felt more relaxed and able to cope,” he said.
“Jean goes through a process of taking you to nice places in your mind and I used to take myself back to Santorini.”
And he says this is a coping mechanism he now uses in other walks of life, such as when he has to undergo a painful procedure at the dentist!
Alison Comett, Macmillan head and neck specialist nurse added: “Since having access to hypnotherapy for our head and neck cancer patients we have seen significant changes to the coping mechanisms of our patients. It also helps us to reassure new patients.”
The Trinity Holistic Centre is a charitable organisation supporting patients, carers and staff at James Cook and at the Friarage Hospital.
Holistic services are provided from the Trinity Holistic Centre in Middlesbrough, the Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre in Northallerton and across hospital wards at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.