Claire Bramham is a Clinical Hypnotherapist and Neuro Linguistic Programming (N.L.P) Master with an Honours Degree in Psychology. Her passion in life has been to find out how the mind works, so she can empower her clients to heal their body with their minds. She helps her clients overcome self-limiting beliefs, subconscious fears or blocks, and in the process build up their self-esteem and self-worth.
Trained in the UK, Claire has spent the last 17 years in private practice in Calgary at Mind and Body Therapy. She uses cutting edge and innovative tools in therapy, which help her clients overcome their issues in the fastest way possible. Using a combination of Clinical Hypnotherapy, NLP and Family Constellation therapy, within 6 hours or less, Claire can help clients quickly identify the underlying cause of the issue, address it and then help them subconsciously re-learn healthier ways of thinking, feeling and behaving.
Claire has helped thousands of clients with their mind/body healing concerns from all over the world, as she also does virtual and online sessions. She is a keynote speaker and teaches workshops locally. If you would like to know more, contact Claire at Mind and Body Therapy or call +1 403 397 0011.
Claire sat down with us to discuss the role of hypnotherapy in the treatment of symptoms in functional gastrointestinal disorders. Here is what she had to say.
Hypnotherapy has been receiving a lot of buzz lately. What exactly is it, and how do you carry out hypnotherapy in your clinic?
Hypnotherapy is a form of therapy that uses the powerful tool of Hypnosis (a normal, natural brain state), so that we can work with the subconscious mind. In this focused, heightened state of awareness and learning, we can find out what the origin is of the issue quickly and then do something about it.
Our subconscious mind is the seat of our emotions, automatic processes, habit patterns and learned behaviour. Clients in hypnosis are more open to suggestions for self-improvement or behavior modification. The objective is to clear any emotional cause and to have the subconscious and conscious mind in harmony, which helps you have greater control over your behaviours and emotion. With Hypnosis, we can find the root cause of a limiting belief, feeling or behaviour and then make changes at that level of mind so that results are fast and lasting.
I work one to one with my clients for an hour at a time. When they are here with me, they are relaxing, comfortable in a chair and listening to my voice. For the IBS treatment, I ask for a commitment to a process of 6-10 sessions spaced over a few months. This way we can identify what the cause is and then re-learn better ways of thinking, feeling and responding. I also add in new coping strategies, so that they are not internalising their emotions or holding on the past issues out of habit. Furthermore, I am teaching my clients to use their mind to control their gut and this is supported by a 30-minute audio they listen to at home.
What is the evidence that hypnotherapy works in functional gastrointestinal disorders? Would you recommend that patients with IBS do hypnosis along with other activities such as dietary change and meditation?
There is a lot of evidence that Hypnotherapy works, especially coming from the research in the UK and the USA. A study at Eastern Virginia Medical School on the effects of Hypnotherapy on IBS found that ‘’21 of the 24 patients (87.5%) treated in the study improved substantially and maintained their improvement at 10-month follow-up’’. They concluded that “changes in the mind’s interpretation of, or attention to, signals from the body play some role in the improvement”.
Dr Peter Whorwell in Manchester, England, uses Hypnotherapy to help IBS sufferers on the National Health Service. His first studies were done back in 1984 and published in the Lancet. Dr. Whorwell and his group saw remarkable success, all 15 patients treated with seven sessions of Hypnotherapy improved, with dramatic improvement seen in all symptoms of IBS. The researchers found this “therapeutic impact was not merely due to belief or expectancy of improvement” (because a comparison group were treated with the same number of Psychotherapy sessions and received placebos, but they showed only slight improvement). Today, there are many other researched reports that have confirmed that Hypnosis treatment is effective in treating IBS.
I would recommend that patients with IBS address all aspects of their health such as diet, dealing with any food allergies, treating yeast and bacteria overgrowth. A functional medicine doctor can help them look at all avenues of healing this way. Meditation can help to deal with stress and there is no doubt that stress increases the symptoms of many who have the disorder. Therefore, if the mind has a powerful negative influence on the intestines, used positively it also has a calming influence. Know that the way your subconscious mind knows how to think about things is with pictures, so positive imagery is key.
More specifically, have you seen hypnotherapy work in people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) in your clinic? Does it work better in people with diarrhea instead of constipation or IBS type does not matter?
Yes, I have seen clients improve all the time. It doesn’t seem to work better with diarrhea than with constipation. Some clients with constipation are those who are often ‘’holding on’’ to their feelings and are not good at “letting go”. Clients who have diarrhea are often anxious and emotions are running high. As these clients tend to be more fearful, it can sometimes take a little longer to address. Either way, because of the way that I work, there is some inner work to identify and clear any emotional triggers, and, as long as my clients continue the process, they see and feel results.
Is this kind of therapy a one-off or does it involve follow-up sessions? How many sessions are generally required in order to see results?
Hypnotherapy is Brief therapy, I do ask for a commitment of at least 6 sessions to begin with and to use the IBS audio everyday for 30 days. Most protocols ask for a commitment of 10-12 sessions, so I like my clients to know it can take more than 6 hours together but not less. We space these over a few months so that we can monitor the changes.
Do you offer hypnotherapy sessions online?
Yes, I have done these sessions virtually with clients from all over the world from England, Africa, Canada and the USA. If you have a good internet connection we can Facetime, Skype, WhatsApp or use whatever platform the client is the most comfortable with all from the safety and comfort of their own home.
Do you find people who visit you are hesitant to believe it will work? Or are they persons who’ve read the data and are optimistic it will help them? Could a more positive attitude towards hypnotherapy yield better results?
I find that today people are just starting to understand Hypnotherapy but unfortunately most don’t really know what it is. People have been influenced by Hollywood or stage hypnotism and feel like someone will be controlling their mind. It’s not like that at all. The average person spends 2-3 hours in hypnosis every day. So, most clients are often re-learning what it is and isn’t. Most IBS sufferers are hoping it will work and that’s helpful to have an open mind. We say that for Hypnosis to work you must be “open to it, allow it to happen and want it to happen”. I’m simply teaching clients to use their mind and imagination to work for them rather than against them.
Do sessions with you teach people skills that they can do on their own afterwards?
Yes, as I want my clients to feel and be more empowered about their health and healing. They are learning self-hypnosis through the process, plus they also get support with the audio, which they do in the comfort of their home. Once they do this inner work, they know how to do hypnosis for themselves and it helps them in many other areas of their life, including stress reduction.