HypnoTalks Questions & Answers with Axel Hombach & Dr John Butler – Episode 6

Episode 6: How to work with Tinnitus in Hypnosis?

In this 6th episode, Dr John Butler and Axel Hombach takle a very practical topic: Tinnitus.

Dr John Butler explains with his vast medical background and knowledge of neurology the best approach to help clients with their annoying sounds in their ears.

John Butler helps us with a very practical and hands-on approach with his medical, neurological and 40 years of experience as medical hypnotherapist.

Episode 6: How to work with Tinnitus in Hypnosis?

In der 6. Episode gehen Dr. John Butler und Axel Hombach ein sehr praktisches Thema an: Tinnitus.

Dr. John Butler erklärt mit seinem immensen Wissen aus Medizin und Neurologie die beste Herangehensweise Klienten mit dem nervenden Ton im Ohr zu helfen.

Dr. John Butler hilft uns mit seinem sehr praktischen Ansatz und seiner medizinischen, neurologischen und rund 40 Jahren medizinischer Hypnose-Erfahrung.

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Transcript

Axel Hombach

How do you treat tinnitus with hypnosis welcome to the sixth episode of hypnotoad question and answers with axel home event dr. john batlem this time we are going to deal with this question what you can do when a client approaches you to get rid of his tinnitus this question asked the others before comes from a colleague on a facebook forum and Dr. John Butler and i am now going to tackle that question Dr. John Butler is sitting right now in london with me sitting in cologne and so let’s say hello to dr. tom butler hello john.

John Butler

Hello Axel.

Axel Hombach

So you’ve heard the question you’ve already read the questions because we discussed shortly before our interview about that now i’m going to read you the question and then let’s see where we go from there fine so the question is hello everybody i’ve been asked if you can treat tinnitus with hypnosis i told the person that this was possible but i hadn’t done it yet have you got experience with tinnitus what are the chances of success how did you approach it apparently the person has a beeping in his ear when he comes to rests so nothing that is permanently experienced thank you very much in advance so john this colleague of ours already includes three questions how to go about tinnitus what could be the approaches and what are the chances of success you as a neurologist probably have a completely different background than most of the other hypnotist that we usually work with and you have a medical background you even teach at university let’s start with one of the questions that’s the colleague put them what are the chances of success when you work in hypnosis with tinnitus.

John Butler

Okay i so well i think it is something that we can work effectively with in most cases now i have had experience with it over the years not the most common problem people come with although it’s becoming more well-known that hypnosis can help these people now tinnitus according to different studies devera there’s a variation how many people have it less than one percent some people in their studies have reported one to two percent i think it depends a lot on the severity of the problem and that’s quite subjective as well to an extent now i’m talking here not on the neurological basis of it of course when we’re discussing hypnosis we are affecting we’re hoping to affect not only the subjective experience of it but in a way the way the brain is neurologically creating this problem where what it means as tinnitus the symptoms are you’re hearing a sound that doesn’t exist externally and it’s usually a ringing or a buzzing in one or both ears now it can be mild or very severe and a lot depends on there and how the individual emotionally responds to that people don’t like to think often that their symptoms have a strong emotional component because it’s so unpleasant and even horrible for them in some cases with the tinnitus the symptoms often are made worse when they’re stressed depressed anxious and perhaps these are contributory factors in the origin of the problem but of course once the person is depressed and anxious about it because it can interfere with their life and their lifestyle greatly well then of course it makes the problem worse and that’s not understood really what the factors are the exact circuitry in the brain by which the emotions are adding to the problem or even in some cases being a major part of the cause of the problem but it becomes a vicious cycle and the more stress and depressed you are about it the more you fear it which tends to increase the anticipation of it happening so the expectation really adds to the problem itself and the underlying problems in may effect cause affects it within their lives because they find they can’t sleep they wake up and it’s ringing in their ears and then it’s difficult to get back to sleep often in their daily life it’s not such a big problem and that’s one of the things we have to look at the issue of how much attention the person gives it now people can’t look for a magic wand here often i mean i know there are certainly dubious people in our field and it’s common practice for people to put up on websites things like 70% success in 1 2 3 sessions you know that sometimes we can have great results often in that short batch of sessions 1 to 4 sessions but some people may need longer and they certainly aren’t guarantees and the person would need to work with you in understanding the nature of the problem the kind of complex factors emotionally that are interacting with anything neurological here so that they learn to help themselves that’s very critical now the auditory areas of the brain receive input from not only the ears of course but from many other areas of the brain and certainly importantly here from the frontal cortex area and so people can through emotional effects affecting the cortex and affecting the auditory centers in very complex ways can really generate on sounds that are not actually out there in the real world of course the person must get it medically checked to make sure there’s nothing wrong with the nerve the auditory nerve and as far as anybody can tell that there’s no underlying physiological problem now of course there may well be physiological problems that medicine is not able to detect and again as i said we’re not going to go into that i was here but the person will have that medical assessment and then they come to the therapist and in the case of the hypnotherapist or a counselor they’re really working with psychological effects of the illness and how to use the mind perhaps even to help with long-term improvements in healing but certainly in the short term to give the person that sense of control and not being overwhelmed and tortured by this interestingly enough the data are very unsure about this i mean the 70% figure is something that’s been i think derived from a study of where they quoted a figure of 68 percent it wasn’t a very well-designed study and there are complexities about designing the studies in this field i’ve seen reports of over 90 percent for ericksonian hypnosis again there was certainly a lack of good controls in that study others have reported high eighties success high 60s as i said low forties and some studies show little about placebo effect for hypnosis or other psychological therapies now i think a good hypnotist will find a lot of benefit in if with a client who works with this there’s all the benefits that will occur for the client over the sessions in terms of learning how to control the center loudness of the sound which is often very subjective and affected by lots of things now for example when they’re on their own it seems much worse but that same level of activity when they’re very busy active doing other things perhaps talking with people very often it’s much less for them and it’s very unclear as to again what subjective and objective here it’s very unclear about how emotions affected as well but if we get down now to the nitty-gritty of dealing with it we want person to learn the principles of relaxation of deep levels to use the control panel method this is a standard tool i use for them in the session so they learn to have a sense of control turning up and down the intensity of the sound when they’re there with you in the session and that’s hopeful if it’s going through a very bad phase at that time now sometimes as i say it’s not inconsequential here that when they’re with you they’re saying well it’s not so bad now but well i’m on my own and there’s nobody around it’s very bad and late at night that’s particularly bad so then maybe use masking sounds or there are things that they may use tools that they be learned even from other therapies to help themselves and many therapies are used in complementary therapy to help this condition where the cases have been found to have no real medical cause or solution that’s known what i find with people is yes depression loneliness very often feed into this problem and people can feel very alone with the problem because they feel trapped with this sound so the mild cases are much less problematic but the severe cases can be really really terrible and we want clients to know ethically that we can’t guarantee cures but we can certainly do everything that’s helpful that we know of and in the majority of cases i find people get benefits ranging from the very least some beneficial effects very often it’s mild to very useful effects i wouldn’t like to put a figure in because i don’t have a figure on it but certainly the majority of people get benefits and with those who find difficult to get benefits i believe there are some often underlying emotional factors that play into this and i’m not denying there’s a physical effect going on here in some of these cases that medicine is not able to determine and deal with but being able to reduce the sensations the sound the volume and the way the nature of the sound even that’s possible for the mind and if the person is not getting progress with that one would have to look into things like the secondary gains readiness for change again and our job is about diminishing often rather than eliminating the problem so not a magic wand but something they work with with us in helping reduce the symptoms i’d a by the way with the symptoms you can give suggestions of course to diminish them suggestions have been used in the past to ignore them which i use a lot of that suggestion as well suggestions to suppress the symptoms to suggest they’re not there at all they’re largely unsuccessful for most people it’s as if they couldn’t possibly in their minds believe that that was possible and so you may have to work up over a period of time with them to get them that feeling of greater control overcoming the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness and that alone is a major help for them.

Axel Hombach

Okay if i were to summarize that john for one thing often it’s not really clear what the physiological basis of the tinnitus is and that major point when we work with a client is that we help him to deal with it on an emotional level in a better way than he has been able to before so that he has this sense of control not only about the tinnitus probably about his life and then help him work out his life conditions regain control over his life and with that the tinnitus often subsides or even disappears would that be in a nutshell the idea.

John Butler

That would be very much a good summary of it axel yeah it’s very interesting that if you take the majority of people and put them in the quiet room and ask them after a while to listen to their hearing they’ll say oh yes i can detect a very distant ringing or hissing.

Axel Hombach

Yeah.

Dr John Butler

In other words our hearing is not totally silent ever now i’m not saying that all tinnitus is just people being paying anjou attention to their ordinary background sounds of within our hearing but they do become very focused on it and it’s it’s an attentive problem at that stage they become too attentive and when they’re very occupied often they can switch off as you know when ericsson he went into a place where terrible noise was going on and after a while he adjusted to to it just like people living near the airport after a while don’t hear the planes or we don’t hear the ticking clock in the room now a little bit different with tinnitus in some ways but in other ways it’s similar to that you can learn to switch off from it to ignore it and at least not giving as much attention that’s easier of course for demarre of cases severe cases that’s much more difficult but i’ve never found a person for example that couldn’t reduce it to some degree with the control panel other than where there was a very big emotional factor involved in maintaining and exacerbating the problem.

Axel Hombach

So when when it’s about emotional problems then i would assume that analytical hypnosis would be a very good approach to go for it.

Dr John Butler

Absolutely i think that’s where the real progress then would be made how much are they willing to give it up what are their problems in life does it help them avoid or distract from or create for themselves remember secondary gains are often about giving ourselves problems our desire to punish ourselves the lack of self-love the lack of self-healing there are factors like that which of course we’ve got to deal with sensitively so the person doesn’t feel guilty that we’re making them believes they just bring it on themselves of course these things are more complex but there are emotional factors that will help or hinder the person’s recovery and we can help them with that and getting life back getting a lifestyle back where they get on with things more with a sense of control at least and some a sense that they can reduce the severity of the problem and that alone is often extremely extremely beneficial for them and so the therapy i don’t believe some of the reports that say well in this case hypnosis is really working only a placebo or slightly above the sibo placebo plus paying attention to the client and so on i think there’s much much more we can offer these people but again as i said no guarantees and they’re not coming hopefully with a view the magic wand that we wave over them and they don’t have to do anything and it all just disappears.

Axel Hombach

Then a high-level standard approach could be well when i say high-level it’s just the very very rough steps which would be probably check if there’s organic basis for the tinnitus and if there’s if there’s not it depends on how you would approach but basically then the second part would be work with suggestions to help the people learn that they have some kind of control and then after that if it still required go analytical for it.

Dr John Butler

Absolutely there are scripts on how to give suggestions but again you know you do not have to have a script you can find out the sort of sound is it buzzing is it ringing which ear is it in and you can give suggestions to reduce it to make it less problematic you know and on and on and on and to be able to ignore more effectively.

Axel Hombach

Which should be part of the standards interview at the beginning.

Dr John Butler

Absolutely a good interview you know like you say making sure the medical questions have been answered that they’ve been there and how did assess medically and you then give your suggestions depending on the symptoms as they experienced it and of course we can always give them suggestions for their natural mechanisms the body’s always working to heal itself and we can give good suggestions to assist that process but again you are not in any shape or form giving claims making claims that are not appropriate in this field of physical treatments where a physical condition is being brought at a therapist because are there medical issues here as well and legal issues.

Axel Hombach

You definitely have to know about the legal issues there which vary from country to country of course.

Dr John Butler

Yes!

Axel Hombach

So it’s a different situation in the united kingdom and in germany for example in france or in the various states of the us so because our time is already approaching the end to summarize it start with a very thorough interview put a lot of emphasis on the hypnotist client relationship or the therapeutical relationship give your client the impression that he is very very safe with you that he could trust you and go for the beliefs that the client has built around and building on that beliefs go for the first suggestions help him to get the feeling of control back and then later on work analytically if that still required.

Dr John Butler

Yes the client is willing and still required and of course as always giving them a good recording and some self-hypnosis training with their control panel dimmer switch idea you know that sort of programming suggestion you’ve got a very good little approach there for this problem of tinnitus.

Axel Hombach

So that control panel could be then part of the first or second session.

Dr John Butler

Absolutely.

Axel Hombach

And then go for it if it still required.

Dr John Butler

Yeah.

Axel Hombach

With a mp3 or with Transforming Therapy of course.

Dr John Butler

Absolutely.

Axel Hombach

Okay john because our time is up have you got some last words for our listeners.

Dr John Butler

Only to say if you’ve never done this before you have to start somewhere when you have a client keep your own positive expectation in your mind always see the client being improved and not let fears or any doubts dominate your thinking have positive expectation and then work the very best you can to get the very best result you can this and like many of the more severe medical conditions that sometimes hypnotherapist help we don’t have to stress ourselves out that we can eliminate eradicate the problem completely a diminishing of the problem will often be sufficient.

Axel Hombach

And to add to that something that you mentioned earlier in our interview don’t expect to have everything worked out in the first session.

Dr John Butler

No deal with what emerges as we always that’s the hallmark of an effective therapist.

Axel Hombach

Put the client at the center and not yourself.

Dr John Butler

Correct.

Axel Hombach

Okay john thank you very much for your insight i hope everybody who is working with tinnitus or similar conditions or related conditions will have some ideas from our interview gained more confidence and so we are going to tackle the next question next time with session 7 john thank you very much and goodbye for now.

Dr John Butler

Thank you axel i look forward to speaking again and thanks to everybody who listens in all the best for now.

Axel Hombach
All the best for now

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