Many women with menopause symptoms seek non-hormonal therapies which are evidence-based, safe, and cost-effective. Research in the USA and the UK has shown that hypnosis offers all three. (Baylor University, 2010; Elkins et al. 2013; Hickey et al. 2017; NAM Society, 2015).
Randomised controlled trials have shown that for women experiencing vasomotor symptoms (hot flushes and night sweats) hypnosis leads to a marked reduction in the frequency of symptoms (both subjectively and objectively). Moreover, women who pictured cooling imagery during and post hypnotherapy had decreased hot flushes (Baylor University, 2010).
As a registered clinical counsellor specialising in menopause and mental health, I undertook some unique research. Three women –one perimenopausal and two postmenopausal – met weekly for four group sessions with me. Our symptom focus (negotiated at the beginning) was sleep problems, anxiety and mood regulation. The first session was a general theme of “positive menopause”. The narrative incorporated a metaphor for menopause as a changing season to be embraced, establishing a positive mindset for the next three sessions. At the first session the women were given a four-week symptom diary. They rated the severity and disruptiveness of their most problematic symptoms on a scale of 100 each week after the hypnosis sessions. The women were also given scripts related to each weekly symptom to continue self-hypnosis between sessions.
The women’s subjective (qualitative) outcomes and their objective (quantitative symptom diary scores) were analysed at the end of the group experience. Subjectively, all the women reported that hypnosis helped to reduce their menopausal symptoms and that they felt better after the hypnosis sessions. They all felt that their sleep quality and mood had improved. This was verified by their symptom diary scores in terms of reduced symptom interference, although one subject’s vasomotor symptoms (flushes) got worse during the intervention. Another outcome was that the women explored new strategies to assist with their symptoms. These included using sleep apps and podcasts, meditation, mindfulness and bedroom modifications to reduce noise and stay cooler. The group also reported that meeting as a group was valuable; the group gave them a forum to share experiences, support each other and normalise their feelings.
This case study corroborated existing research on the efficacy of clinical hypnosis for menopausal symptoms, especially in terms of the subjective data. It should be noted that hypnosis is a personal experience, a journey in one’s own subconscious. Thus, when subjective and objective data do not correlate the subjective data are considered the most valid. Further research with more subjects over a longer period of time (6-8 sessions) will add further weight of evidence. If you would like the details of this study please feel free to contact me directly.
Barbara Fretz is a registered clinical counsellor who did her clinical hypnosis training at the Australian Society for Hypnosis (WA Branch). She offers clinical hypnosis sessions to menopausal women both individually and in groups. Online sessions are also available and are a powerful way to experience clinical hypnosis. Barbara’s contact details:
Mobile: 0427 071 162
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