Treatment Protocol for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Since IBS symptoms are cyclic in nature, it is necessary to use multiple hypnotherapy sessions spaced over a period of three to four months. Six to ten sessions spaced two weeks apart has proven to be an effective treatment period.

The client must have time to practice the suggestions contained in both the hypnotic state and those given to the conscious mind outside a hypnotic state. It should be stressed to the client from the very beginning that this is a process and therefore, requires multiple sessions to achieve long lasting results. In addition, you should know that both conventional medicine and adjunctive therapy are an art form rather than the science it is thought to be.

Although there are many expensive and sophisticated tests available for the evaluation of IBS symptoms, these are generally not needed for patients with typical symptoms and no features suggestive of organic diseases. An integrated diagnostic and treatment approach first requires an effective physician-patient relationship.

A careful history will also identify the need for diagnostic studies and treatments as determined by the nature and severity of the predominant symptoms, and the degree and extent of influencing psychosocial and other factors. The fact that definite structural or biochemical abnormalities for these disorders cannot be detected with conventional diagnostic techniques does not rule out the possibility that neurobiological alterations will eventually be identified to explain fully the symptoms of most functional disorders.

Since conventional medicine has not been able to provide you with adequate symptom relief, you must take charge and be a fully participating member of your own healing process. You are in charge! A hypnotherapist is a great tour guide but he/she must have your cooperation for this to be successful.

You will not get relief if you think a hypnotherapist or anyone else can do something to “heal” you. Hypnosis is not like taking a pill and symptoms magically going away. It may take as many as four sessions before you start to notice symptom relief. It may take only one session. However, results will not be long lasting unless you listen to the tapes on a daily basis and participate fully in the suggestions. No less than six sessions are necessary to produce long lasting symptom alleviation.

Number of Sessions: Six to twelve

Length of Session: First session lasts 1 to 1 1/2 hours

All subsequent sessions last 50 minutes to one hour Routine appointments must be kept within a couple of days of the two-week period for success. An erratic schedule for therapy sessions produces erratic results in symptom alleviation.

Tapes: First CD is approximately 30 minutes in length.

Subsequent CDs are between 20 – 25 minutes in length. CDs MUST be played daily to be effective. The optimal time to play the CDs is first thing in the morning or at night when going to bed.

Charting Symptoms: Symptoms are to be charted daily. Symptom logs are to be turned in at every session and new ones received from the therapist.

Food Diary: Sometimes asked of the client. This helps determine if food sensitivities are interfering with progress.

Medications: All current medications should be continued until symptoms start to abate. Then, only upon consultation with their physician, they can start to taper medications based on symptom severity.

The hypnotherapy program I use was modified from the research done by gastroenterologist P. J. Whorwell, MD, in Manchester, England, and Dr. Olafur Palsson’s research done at Eastern Virginia Medical Center.

The clients came for six to eight sessions spaced two weeks apart. The hypnosis portion of their session was offered to them at the end of the session on a CD and they were instructed to play the CD for themselves daily until the next session. All suggestions and imagery was “gut specific” and incorporated information on how a normal gastrointestinal system functions.

Suggestions were made about the intestines being coated with a special protective coating to insulate it from irritants, etc. At the last session, subjects were taught self-hypnosis techniques and given instructions on how to formulate their own self-hypnotic suggestions.