Family Forum: Managing Pain

Hypnotherapy or pain killers?


Is it possible to use hypnotherapy instead of pain killers? I would like to dull the aches and pains of ageing by natural means, rather than dosing up on drugs all the time. Last year I had an awful time with a sore hip that wouldn’t go away for months. I was also wondering, is it true that people can be hypnotised to such an extent that they can have surgery without feeling anything, eliminating the need for anaesthetic? Who administers hypnotherapy and how do you go about finding a reputable practitioner?


Hypnotherapy is a form of psychotherapy in which the subconscious mind is accessed and reprogrammed to solve problems.

It can be used as a treatment for stress, anxiety, depression, bad habits, weight control and chronic pain, among other things. Not everybody can be hypnotised, and this can be for many different reasons.

It has been reported that hypnotherapy has been used since the 1840s when the Scottish surgeon James Braid used it for anaesthesia. Anaesthetics can vary depending on the operation to be performed. If the operation to be performed is on a hand, for example, often this can be done under a local anaesthetic or an arm block where the whole limb is anesthetised. Hypnotherapy would be useful in this case to relax the person before surgery.

In major surgery, an anaesthetic often involves pain control, muscle relaxation and having the person in an unconscious state. This is so the anaesthetist can have control over the body’s function, especially if there are problems. Certainly, hypnotherapy could be used before anaesthetic to help calm the person. It is also possible to use it to control pain, but again only if the person is susceptible to hypnotherapy.

Useful sites for further information include the Australian Hypnotherapists Association website (, the SA Society of Hypnosis ( and the Australian Society of Hypnosis (

It is important to locate a therapist who has undergone formal preparation through training and examination. Your doctor may be able to recommend someone.

Alternatively, the SA Society of Hypnosis website includes a referral list of members. These tertiary-qualified health care professionals have undertaken additional studies in the area of hypnosis and have passed the requirements for full membership of the Australian Society of Hypnosis.

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