Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) with the use of hypnotherapy and psychotherapy

Posted by

Octavio Ocampo, The Absence of the Mermaid

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is often a debilitating, anxiety provoking, stressful and depressing reality that many sufferers feel that they will not escape.  Often people feel alone and battle with the question of which came first, the anxieties of the symptoms?  Certainly until this is worked through with the patient or client, negative and debilitating beliefs about losing control are magnified.  This is why hypnotherapy and psychotherapy are a great option for IBS sufferers.

There has been much research into how effective hypnotherapy is with improving irritable bowel syndrome especially in terms of anxiety related and stress-related symptoms.  However this is not widely known and there are critics of the NHS especially in times of recession and difficult funding of how patients can access hypnotherapy or be made aware of the effective use of this treatment.  Often only acute sufferers access this treatment, which begs the question should it develop this far in people who could be gaining their own empowerment and control? 

One of the greatest pioneers of the hypnotherapy approach for gastroenteritis concerns is Professor Whorwell who works within Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester and has been a worldwide inspiration for the effectiveness of gut directed hypnotherapy. An important review is given by Gonsalkorale  & Whorwell (2005) who conclude that hypnotherapy is a main preferential choice for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome and the anxiety of stress-related conditions that often come alongside with the symptoms.

A long-term study has found that 49% of 203 patients had responded in the long term to hypnotherapy and 73% of those had improved up to 2 to 7 years after hypnotherapy.  In learning their own gut directed use of hypnotherapy these patients had significantly greater symptom reduction and also a reduction in concerns such as anxiety (Perjohan et al 2012). 

 As a counselor, psychotherapist and hypnotherapy is in Manchester city centre, I utilize a CBT model alongside traditional counseling techniques with hypnotherapy to help improve not only the physical aspects of the symptoms but also the cognitive and emotional aspects of the symptoms.  Golden (2007) suggest this is a superior approach in that in the mind and body continuum, healing can occur on both levels.

 I have studied a specific course in psychotherapy and hypnotherapy in the management of irritable bowel syndrome by East Lancashire integrated healthcare, a pioneering organization who are trying to increase hypnotherapy in the use of IBS by advocating the wealth of clinical evidence that is available out there. 

 In this sense I enjoy working with clients and helping not only their anxieties improve but also the physical symptoms of their IBS.  It is also a privilege to be to teach people the use of self-hypnosis and I hope to be able to work closer with sufferers in the future.  You do not need to be alone.

 Best wishes for now and keep on keeping on.


 Golden, W.L.  2007. Cognitive behavioural therapy in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome induced agoraphobia. International Journal of clinical and experimental hypnosis. April, 55(2): 131-46.

Gonsalkorale WM, Whorwell PJ. 2005.  Hypnotherapy in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. Jan; 17(1):15-20.

Lindfors P, Unge P, Nyhlin H, Ljótsson B, Björnsson ES, Abrahamsson H, Simrén M. 2012. Long-term effects of hypnotherapy in patients with refractory irritable bowel syndrome. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, April 2012, Vol. 47, No. 4 : Pages 414-421

Adam Prince | Counselling | Psychotherapy | Hypnotherapy | Manchester | 0161 2355187 | 07722405823 |

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s