How can a hypnotherapist assist somebody who has cancer? The hypnotherapist will want to make it clear that he or she is not expecting to "cure" a person of cancer simply by taking them into a hypnotic trance. That said, there is plenty of evidence that hypnotherapy can help people with cancer, even if it is only to improve their quality of life for the time being.
The reason why hypnotherapy can be relevant is because mind, body and spirit are interconnected and any treatment needs to take this into account. The extraordinary advances in medical science have been due to a greater understanding of how the body works and this has led to an emphasis on physical treatment (radiotherapy, chemotherapy etc), but the mind has its part to play as well.
Hypnotherapy can therefore be used alongside the conventional medical treatments for cancer, and for a number of different purposes, as this list shows:
It is generally accepted that stress can reduce the effectiveness of the human immune system
Relaxation versus stress.
It is generally accepted that stress can reduce the effectiveness of the human immune system, so changing the body´s ability to deal with cancer cells. Finding out that you have cancer is certainly stressful and, if you were not stressed before, you probably will be when you receive the diagnosis. Stress is an attitude of mind; you cannot control the entire external world but you can decide how you are going to react to it.
There are a number of ways of improving relaxation, and hypnotherapy is a very effective one. When you have your first hypnotherapy session you will be taken through a progressive relaxation, relaxing first the body and then the mind. Then while in a hypnotic state of mind positive suggestions and visualizations through guided imagery and metaphors will be given by the hypnotherapist allowing the mind to create new positive path ways and thinking. After a little practice the client will find that they can reduce their feelings of stress and feel much better as a result.
The relatively new study of psychoneuroimmunology has shown that there is a relationship between the mind and the human immune system. Encouraging the client to think about their immune system, and focus on what it can do for them, does have a beneficial effect.
The hypnotherapist will start with guided visualisation of the immune system and will ask the client to give themselves affirmations about their immune system while they are in self hypnosis, which they will be asked to do at least once a day. The client may also be asked to do drawings showing themselves, the cancer, their immune system and their treatment. They will be encouraged to think about their immune system, together with their treatment, as being strong and powerful in comparison with the cancer cells.