Interesting Read About IBS and Hypnosis

How Gut-Directed Hypnosis Helps IBS, IBD and Other GI Disorders

Margarita Bauzá

June 01, 2018 6:00 AM

Close your eyes, relax and imagine your intestines free of pain and discomfort. With hypnotherapy treatment from a specialized psychologist, it can be a reality.

Megan Riehl, PsyD, creates a relaxing environment for her patients.

During a recent appointment, she dimmed her office lights. Her patient sat comfortably and closed her eyes, and Riehl began to speak softly.

She invited her patient to relax and feel her body become comfortably heavy and warm. Riehl then counted from 1 to 20 to facilitate a deepening of the relaxation. She introduced peaceful nature imagery to encourage deeper relaxation.

She then invited her patient to imagine regularly functioning bowels, free of pain and discomfort. She suggested the patient will no longer pay attention to uncomfortable sensations in the intestines and that the bowels are functioning with ease. Riehl continued with this imagery for about 30 minutes until she counted her patient back to awareness.

Her patient opened her eyes feeling relaxed and refreshed.

This is a glimpse of a treatment that is achieving overwhelmingly positive results with patients with gastrointestinal problems such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and refractory gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Riehl, a gastrointestinal health psychologist, is one of a handful of academic clinicians in the country specializing in the behavioral management of these conditions, which are driven by faulty connections in the brain and the gut, causing GI distress.

“Yesterday I had a patient who has been suffering with abdominal pain for years,” Riehl says. “She had to quit her job, her family was affected, she was feeling completely hopeless. At the end of her first gut-directed hypnosis session, she was in tears, saying she had experienced relief from abdominal pain which she hadn’t felt in 2½ years. She was feeling hopeful about this intervention.”

Riehl answers questions about her practice.

How does gut-directed hypnotherapy work?