Hospice & Hypnotherapy: Personal Case Histories

Hospice & Hypnotherapy: Personal Case Histories

    Hospice & Hypnotherapy: Personal Case Histories

    Imagine a training that provides a way to relieve pain and other symptoms, overcome insomnia, attain relaxation, connect with a deep source of peace and acceptance, and provides ways to support relatives and caregivers. Hypnotherapy is that valuable resource for patients at the end of life and their caregivers.

    Patients suffering from protracted illness can benefit, often greatly, from hypnosis. It provides an important resource for the physical, spiritual, and emotional distress that is so well known to those dealing with chronic and terminal illness.

    Two Case Histories

    1. A Surprising Success

    Some years ago, I visited a hospice patient- M.C.- in her home. She had bone cancer and was in a great deal of pain. She was agitated and restless, looking for anything to focus on besides herself and her condition. She insisted that the television be left on during the session! In that challenging situation, I wasn’t optimistic that hypnosis would be effective, but she eventually became quiet and still, and seemed to be absorbing the suggestions, including suggestions that she could recall the experience any time. As soon as the session ended, she returned to her agitation and restlessness. I assumed that the hypnosis wasn’t helpful.

    Then, a week later, I received a call from the hospice nurse who was attending her. She reported that the last few days of M.C.’s life had been difficult. She was no longer able to move around and distract herself from her physical or emotional pain, and was having a very hard time. After hours of this, she had suddenly stopped her agitated movements, and became still and quiet. Her breathing became slow and steady, and she reported feeling much better. The nurse asked her what had happened, and her response was that she was practicing what she had learned from ‘the lady’. She died peacefully.

    1. A Grieving Family

    The S. family had recently lost their mother and wife, L., to cancer. It was Christmas time, and, when they opened the box of Christmas tree ornaments, they found a note that L. had left for them, saying she loved them and asking them to enjoy the holiday and each other. The note, while deeply appreciated, brought on new waves of grief, and they had called hospice asking for support.

    Our session was done in their living room, in front of the lighted Christmas tree, laden with the many ornaments that L. had collected through her life. Group hypnosis helped them to settle in and become quiet and peaceful. In that state, they were able to recall L.’s presence at other Christmases, and their deep joy in celebrating with her. They were able to visualize her now as peaceful, her suffering over, and to say good-bye to her as a physical presence, knowing that she would continue to live on in their hearts. While they understood that the grief would continue to come in waves, they now also had a deep sense of how they could rest in peace and loving memories.

    In Conclusion

    Hypnotherapy is a profoundly multi-faceted and useful resource in working with the issues surrounding the end of life. It can be used to address physical, emotional and spiritual concerns. It’s helpful for the patient, caregivers, and family. Hypnotherapy continues to gain recognition and acceptance and it will soon become a standard in care for the dying.





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