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Hypnotherapy is a type of mind-body intervention in which hypnosis is used to create a state of focused attention and increased suggestibility in the treatment of a medical or psychological disorder or concern.

Clinical Hypnotherapist Helen Brooks aka ‘the Tummy Whisperer’ is a clinical hypnotherapist with a Degree in Applied Psychology who focuses her expertise on helping and treating sufferers of IBS. She helps clients where dietary changes and medication have failed to reduce symptoms. 

Helen states that ‘hypnotherapy is the use of hypnosis as a therapeutic technique. It is a form of therapy that utilises the subconscious mind to bring about change. In a relaxed but focused state of awareness, the hypnotherapist can use positive suggestions which are accepted by the subconscious mind to help bring about changes in thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

There are many different therapeutic techniques within the field of hypnotherapy ranging from post-hypnotic suggestion through to more analytical methods, regression or the use of metaphors and visualisations to help solve problems. If you have a deep-seated emotional problem or bad habit you just can’t break it is likely influenced by the subconscious mind. It is therefore important to engage the subconscious mind to bring about change. Hypnotherapy can help you take back control and access your own inner strengths and resources.

Hypnotherapy can help with a wide variety of emotional issues and is really effective in helping to relieve anxiety, fears and phobias. It is helpful for working with habits such as stopping smoking and nail-biting and can help with creating healthier habits like healthy eating. 

Hypnotherapy is often misunderstood because of stage hypnosis and stuff on TV. It’s wrongly associated with power, control and belief.  You are not under someone’s control, powerless or unconscious, you don’t have to believe in it to work and you most certainly won’t be made to cluck like a chicken, in fact, hypnotherapy is used in a variety of medical and professional settings. It can be used in operations instead of anaesthesia, it’s used for dental work to slow the flow of blood from tooth extractions, it can be used to reduce blood pressure, ease the side effects of chemotherapy and speeds the healing of wounds and recovery from surgery. It’s also used by Olympic athletes to improve performance and so much more. 

There are certain physical issues it has been shown to be particularly helpful for. I specialise in a specific type of hypnotherapy called gut-directed hypnotherapy which is a well researched and clinically proven way to make long term changes to Irritable bowel syndrome. Gut directed hypnotherapy is using hypnotherapy

to change the function of the gut. It works by restoring the communication between the gut and brain, reducing the hypersensitivity of the nerve cells and relieving IBS. Hypnotherapy also 

teaches the mind to control the gut, rather than the gut controlling you.

Stress and anxiety exacerbates IBS symptoms and hypnotherapy can counteract this by activating the parasympathetic nervous system which stimulates the body’s rest and digest phase. Hypnosis can also help change subconscious responses to situations such as the fear of needing the toilet when away from home or the fear of eating certain foods. Alleviating these fears helps to keep the mind and body working together in harmony and stops the fight or flight response adding to digestive disturbance.

In gut-directed hypnotherapy, the suggestions are focused on creating physical changes such as; your digestion works smoothly and comfortably, you are free from bloating and discomfort, you are in control of your bowels. They would also be focused on improving emotional wellbeing; you feel more relaxed each day, you are calmer and much more self-confident. 

Imagery is a powerful way to communicate with the subconscious mind and various metaphors and visualisations are used in sessions. You may imagine you are drinking a soothing healing liquid that coats your entire digestive system and soothes discomfort, restores regular bowel movements and eases bloating. Your subconscious then uses these images to create physical changes so you experience relief.’

What Are the Benefits of Hypnosis?

The hypnotic state allows a person to be more open to discussion and suggestion. It can improve the success of other treatments for many conditions, including:

• Phobias fears, and anxiety

• Sleep disorders

• Depression

• Stress

• Post-trauma anxiety 

• Grief and loss

Hypnosis also might be used to help with pain control and to overcome habits, such as smoking or overeating. It also might be helpful for people whose symptoms are severe or who need crisis management.


During a hypnotherapy session, people are guided through a process to induce a trance-like state that helps them focus their minds, respond more readily to suggestions and become deeply relaxed. Hypnotherapy utilizes the heightened awareness of the hypnotic state to help you focus on a problem more deeply.  3 Hypnotherapy utilizes techniques including:

Relaxation: You will be guided by the hypnotherapist to visualize yourself in a state of peacefulness and relaxation, even when confronting a problematic behaviour or the object of your fears.

Suggestion: Your hypnotherapist may make gentle suggestions for behaviour changes that can help you conquer your issue. For example, you may be taught to see yourself as a supportive advisor during a phobic reaction, thus learning to trust yourself and your ability to get through the situation.

Coping skills: You may be taught certain cognitive-behavioral coping skills, such as guided imagery and the STOP! technique that you can use when confronting fears or anxieties.

Caitlin Thorpe is one of Helen’s clients. ‘I had tried different things before working with Helen (e.g. dietary changes, probiotics, lifestyle changes etc), and was despairing wondering if I could ever find something that would help. I am so grateful that I got to work with Helen. I have experienced improvements in my IBS I didn’t previously think were possible. Working with Helen has been a life-changing experience.’

Hypnotherapy is a gentle yet powerful way of working and is suitable for pretty much everyone from children to the elderly. It’s a natural holistic approach that can be used in many ways. 

Helen Brooks website thetummywhisperer.co.uk

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