On-line hypnotherapy for IBS works

A recently published article by the Manchester IBS research group has found that on-line hypnotherapy for IBS works (Hasan et al 2019). By this they mean that hypnotherapy, the use of suggestions and metaphors in the hypnotic state can be done over Skype or Face time and help people with IBS.

On-line hypnotherapy for IBS – what is it

Hypnotherapy has for many years been used to treat IBS and has a good track record of success. (Ford et al 2014) It appears to be most effective for people with IBS which is considered refractory to treatment. This is defined by 3 things (Dalrymple & Bullock, 2008).

1. Having had IBS for over a year.
2. Not having responded sufficiently to standard medical treatment.
3. Having developed an ongoing profile of symptoms.

A specific approach called Gut-Directed Hypnotherapy (GDH) (Gonsalkorale 2006) has been developed for the treatment of IBS (it is also used for functional dyspepsia). This consist of
• Visualisations of healthy gut operations, usually metaphorical. These will often be personalised to fit the person with IBS’s own mental imagery.
• Pain control imagery and suggestions. These are to help when pain and discomfort occur by both reducing and blocking the sensation.
• Suggestions for stronger and healthier gut functioning.
All delivered in a light hypnotic state. Treatment is usually 6-12 sessions of 45-60 minutes with the use of a 10-15-minute recorded session each day.

On-line hypnotherapy for IBS – Is it as good as in-person therapy?

In short, no. The research showed that although on-line hypnotherapy was effective it was not as effective as in-person therapy. This may be due to factors with on-line therapy such as dropped calls and disturbance or disruption to the sound quality*. It may also be due to more esoteric factors of rapport induced by the mode of communication.

On-line hypnotherapy for IBS – Why would I use on-line Hypnotherapy?

There are a couple of major reasons why someone might opt for on-line hypnotherapy for IBS over in-person therapy.
1. Because of the nature of the problem some people with IBS are effectively house bound. The chance to have a hypnotherapist come into their home via the internet may be their only opportunity to receive therapy.
2. Not all hypnotherapists are the same, some will have different training to others and this may not include GDH training. On-line hypnotherapy may be the only way a person can access specialist services.

*On-line hypnotherapists include suggestion to ensure the patient safely wakens in the event of a broken call.

The author – Matt Krouwel is a post graduate researcher into hypnotherapy for IBS at the University of Birmingham (UK)

On-line hypnotherapy for IBS – references

Dalrymple, J., & Bullock, I. (2008). Diagnosis and management of irritable bowel syndrome in adults in primary care: summary of NICE guidance. Bmj, 336(7643), 556-558.
Ford, A. C., Quigley, E. M., Lacy, B. E., Lembo, A. J., Saito, Y. A., Schiller, L. R., … & Moayyedi, P. (2014). Effect of antidepressants and psychological therapies, including hypnotherapy, in irritable bowel syndrome: systematic review and meta-analysis. The American journal of gastroenterology, 109(9), 1350.
Gonsalkorale, W. M. (2006). Gut-directed hypnotherapy: the Manchester approach for treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 54(1), 27-50.
Hasan, S. S., Pearson, J. S., & Whorwell, P. J. (2019). SKYPE HYPNOTHERAPY FOR IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME: Effectiveness and Comparison with Face-to-Face Treatment. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis.