Three months before her hip replacement surgery, Marilyn was already anxious. She was also in constant pain which her worrying made worse. Her friend Bob recommended hypnotherapy. He explained that when preparing for surgery hypnosis can help reduce pain and anxiety.
Anxiety and worry are created by the imagination. With the unwitting help of her doctors, Marilyn was anticipating and imagining some rather gruesome possibilities. Her doctors meant well. But they were compelled to describe all the possible unfortunate outcomes that could result from the surgery. Marilyn’s imagination did the rest.
For most of my new clients preparing for surgery hypnosis is a new experience. I begin by explaining the process of hypnosis. I conversationally help them relax into a mild state of hypnosis.
Most clients find it comforting when they realize that hypnosis is not about someone else controlling their mind. Hypnosis is basically a profoundly engaging conversation. It is actually a cooperative process that helps my clients access some of the amazing potentials of their unconscious mind. For example, since hypnosis amplifies the imagination, I guided Marilyn into imagining a successful surgery and speedy recovery. She found herself accepting those hypnotically amplified thoughts fully. That created a lasting sense of comfort and positive anticipation for the upcoming surgery.
One of the most powerful tools of a hypnotherapist is telling the truth. Marilyn liked and trusted her doctors. So it was easy for her to recognize the following truths:
- Her doctors were anticipating a good result.
- The description of possible dangers were required by law so that their patients can make an informed decision. Marilyn’s doctors actually anticipated her having the best possible results.
- Her doctors and nurses were going to do their very best for Marilyn, because their reputations and self-esteem rest on the results they get with their patients.
Recognizing and accepting those truths was powerfully comforting to Marilyn.
Most people feel profoundly relaxed when they’re in a deep hypnotic state. That was true for Marilyn as she was imagined an excellent outcome for her surgery. And because of that relaxation, she created a association between relaxation and her anticipation of the upcoming surgery. That’s one way that hypnosis helped her eliminate her anxiety about the surgery.
On the day of her surgery, Marilyn’s doctors were delighted because she was so relaxed and had such an upbeat attitude. Marilyn surgery went very well, and her doctors told her that her positive expectations had helped quite a bit. Marilyn explained to them that before the surgery hypnosis had helped her calm down and create expectations of an excellent outcome.