Clinical Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy for Cancer

Physical, Emotional, and Behavioral Symptoms of Cancer Treatment in All Ages

Undoubtedly, conventional treatments to fight cancer are getting better and better. Unfortunately these treatments don’t necessarily come coupled with support for resulting symptoms. In fact just a few years ago, it was not necessarily common to include psychological supportive care within the medical interventions for treating cancer. Now, it’s fundamental and patients are using complementary and alternative medicines with mind–body medicines being the most commonly used form.[1] Examples of mind–body interventions include relaxation, hypnosis, imagery, meditation, and cognitive or behavioral techniques. In this research, hypnosis and hypnotherapy has been reviewed as a remedial measure for the psychological and physical health of individuals with cancer.

“In some ways, hypnosis is the multi-purpose tool, or the Swiss army knife, of psychologists,” Guy Montgomery, Ph.D., director of the Integrative Behavioral Medicine Program and an associate professor of oncological sciences and psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York City says. “You can apply it to a lot of different things and adapt it to benefit patients in a way that provides real symptom control and improvement in their quality of life.”

Clinical Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy for Cancer

Clinical Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy with Common Psychological Symptoms of Cancer Treatment

People with cancer often experience significant psychological issues such as anxiety, depression, confusion, and memory problems. Emotional distress after diagnosis of cancer is common. People with cancer (and those close to them) can experience a range of feelings during their cancer journey. These can include:

  • Shock/Disbelief
  • Fear/Uncertainty
  • Coping/Understanding
  • Guilt
  • Grief/Sadness
  • Feeling Out of Control
  • Feeling Hopeless
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Anger/Frustration

Many of these feelings are very common around the time of diagnosis, or when there are changes in the course of cancer treatment. Negative feelings related to cancer often come and go. They usually improve with time as the person gets used to their cancer diagnosis and treatment, and learns to cope with the stress of having cancer.  In the meantime clinical hypnosis and hypnotherapy can help.

The actual literature on the prevalence of psychological distress in cancer patients can sometimes be a little vague. The percentages of depressed and/or anxious patients reported varies widely from 0% to 49%.[2],[3],[4]  Clinical Hypnosis or hypnotherapy, depending on the case, has been shown to be safe and effective in various psychologically rooted cancer symptoms and helps patients play an active role in their treatments and interventions. The effectiveness of clinical hypnosis in the enhancement of quality of life of patients with far-advanced cancer has shown significantly better overall quality of life and lower levels of anxiety and depression.[5] Even in children, patients reported less anxiety and were demonstrating less behavioral distress.[6]

Clinical Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy with Common Physical Symptoms of Cancer Treatment

Cancer treatments can also produce significant physical symptoms as well, such as:

  • Anemia
  • Appetite Loss
  • Bleeding and Bruising (Thrombocytopenia)
  • Constipation
  • Delirium
  • Diarrhea
  • Edema (Swelling)
  • Fatigue
  • Fertility Issues in Boys and Men
  • Fertility Issues in Girls and Women
  • Hair Loss (Alopecia)
  • Infection and Neutropenia
  • Lymphedema
  • Mouth and Throat Problems
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Nerve Problems (Peripheral Neuropathy)
  • Pain
  • Sexual Health Issues in Men
  • Sexual Health Issues in Women
  • Skin and Nail Changes
  • Sleep Problems
  • Urinary and Bladder Problems

Side effects vary from person to person, even among those receiving the same treatment. Pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbance are among the most common symptoms experienced by people with cancer.[7] Hypnosis is most commonly used to manage side effects of treatment — fatigue, nausea, and pain. Hypnosis sessions offer suggestions to reduce or to help relieve symptoms. When the session is over, the patients are given a recording of it that they can use any time. One study published in the Journal of Cancer Integrative Medicine found that four weekly hypnosis sessions significantly decreased overall pain for cancer patients with malignant bone disease.[8] Neurological disruptions also commonly respond well to hypnosis. Researchers have found these treatments to be decisively beneficial.[9]

At Orlando Hypnosis Clinic, our sessions start with a discussion (free consultation) about one’s diagnosis, treatment, as well as the physical, emotional and behavioral hardships. Our hypnotherapists will help you put a plan of action together to reduce as many symptoms as possible in as few sessions necessary. This includes sessions at home, via tele-video conferencing and even pre-recorded sessions to keep your costs down. Payment plans and scheduling flexibility is at your fingertips in our HIPAA compliant patient portal with 24 hour phone support. Call us today at 407-369-8474 to learn more.

[1] Barnes PM, Powell-Griner E,McFann K, Nahin RL. Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults:United States, 2002. Adv Data 2004;343:1-19.
[2] Bulman AS. Results from the HAD psychometric questionnairein 54 breast cancer patients treated with breast conservation. Br J Radiol1992;65:553-4. Back to cited text no.
[3] Omne-Pontén M, Holmberg L, Burns T, Adami HO, Bergström R.Determinants of the psycho-social outcome after operation for breast cancer.Results of a prospective comparative interview study following mastectomy and breast conservation. Eur J Cancer 1992;28A: 1062-7.
[4] Devlen J, Maguire P, Phillips P, Crowther D, Chambers H. Psychological problems associated with diagnosis and treatment of lymphomas. I: Retrospective study. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987;295:953-4.
[5] Liossi C, White P (2001) Efficacy of clinical hypnosis in the enhancement of quality of life of terminally ill cancer patients. Contemporary Hypnosis 18(3): 145–60.
[6] Liossi C, Hatira P (1999) Clinical hypnosis versus cognitive behavioral training for pain management with pediatric cancer patients undergoing bone marrow aspirations. The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis 47(2): 104–16.
[7] Hoffman AJ, Given BA, von Eye A, Gift AG, Given CW. Relationships among pain, fatigue, insomnia, and gender in persons with lung cancer. Oncol Nurs Forum 2007;34:785-92.
[8] Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2007 Jul; 55(3): 275–287;doi: 10.1080/00207140701338621 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2752362/) Hypnotherapy for the Management of Chronic Pain
[9] New directions in hypnosis research: strategies for advancing the cognitive and clinical neuroscience of hypnosis. Published in final edited form as: Neurosci Conscious. 2017; 3(1): nix004. Published online
2017 Apr 12. doi: 10.1093/nc/nix004