Clinical Hypnosis for IBS

You know when you talk to someone and have a solid feeling you are on the same page…this is how I feel about Teresa Sienkiewicz.  I have actually never met Teresa in person yet.  But she and I have been working together to help manage our mutual clients who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome.

I learned about Teresa and her practice from one of my clients.  She felt that we should know each other.  She thought that we could benefit from understanding what we independently do for our clients with disruptive digestive problems.

So I placed the call and introduced myself.

Teresa provides clinical hypnosis.  She is passionate about her work.  She is compassionate and truly wants her clients to feel inner peace.  I  knew many of my clients needed her and I was so happy to find her.

Meet Teresa!teresa garden

Teresa and I know that working together for the better good of our clients is the way to go.  Two heads are always better than one, right?

I asked Teresa to tell me a little about her hypnosis sessions.  Teresa starts by telling me that the client needs to understand that they are in control and should ‘choose’ their feeling.  The notion of having control over how your body responds may not come naturally for patients with IBS that often have a sense of lack of control.   In some cases, it might feel like everything is failing them and for some, they feel not in control of anything.

Teresa has her clients focus on this simple phrase, “I choose peace.”  You CAN choose how you want to feel.

When she told me that, I felt goose bumps pop up all over my arms.  An ‘ah ha’ moment if you will. peace

After our call, I kept reiterating that message.  Yes, I do choose peace.  I want peace.  I strive for peace.  And you know what, I felt peace.  I allowed myself to feel more peaceful.  And, I liked it.

I asked Teresa to tell me a little about her hypnosis sessions. I mean, when I first thought about hypnosis, I thought about being in a trance with someone controlling my mind and perhaps a little watch going back in forth in front of my face! 🙂 HA!

But clinical hypnotherapy is not like that at all.  In fact, during clinical hypnosis you are a conscious, focused, alert, and active participant. Teresa said that “all hypnosis is self-hypnosis” because the hypnotist only offers guidance. Th client creates images in their mind in reponse to instructions given by the hypnotist, so in hypnosis the client is in total control. Teresa told me that hypnosis process is very empowering for the clients because not only the client is in control during hypnosis session, but most importantly: through hypnosis clients learn how to control their emotions and their physical body on their own in “real life”. So IBS clients who engage in hypnosis learn to control stress, anxiety, and physical symptoms of IBS by using simple visualizations. That sense of control is so important to IBS sufferers who feel that they have lost control over their bodies and often have an overwhelming feeling that everything is falling apart.

As a result of hypnosis clients realize that they are in the driver seat and they learn that they can decide how they want to feel in a given situation.

For example, if you have 10 people facing the same situation, each one of them feels different emotion in response to that situation, so it is not the situation but the thoughts or pictures in the brain that cause the emotions we feel. So if something stressful happens, we have a choice to either choose “peace” inside us or to choose “stress” – the stressful situation is like a fork on the road and we take either a “peace” path or “stress” path. The thing is that we choose these paths automatically, habitually, without thinking. But we can learn new habits ad new automatic responses and that’s what we learn in hypnosis

Hypnosis does not require any specific skills – the only skill needed is the ability to follow verbal for simple mental tasks (and, of course, a willingness to actively participate).

Hypnosis is an active brain exercise which allows clients to develop new patterns of thinking (just like physical exercise develops new patterns of movement). It is the client who decides what patterns he/she wants to develop and what outcome he/she is looking for. The hypnotherapist uses her/his knowledge to choose specific techniques and formulate suggestions that will produce the results the client is looking for. The best thing is that with practice these new patterns become automatic, so the mind and body naturally respond to everyday events in a new, desirable way.

Why can’t we do that without hypnosis? Patterns of thinking are stored in the subconscious part of the brain, so to change them you need to use techniques that work on the subconscious level – and that’s what hypnosis does.

An interesting thing about hypnotic trance is that the “doubting” part of the brain is turned off, so you readily accept any suggestions and thoughts that you want to accept – you believe what you want to believe and you are not looking for reasons why this or that is not possible.

That allows you to “reprogram” your brain and establish new patterns of thinking. And because the way you think (consciously or subconsciously) affects how you feel emotionally, you feel different emotions. And because the way you think (consciously or subconsciously) affects how your body behaves and feels to you, you also fee different body sensations.

Teresa explained how important it was to expect positive results.  When my patients feel like they have tried everything to get better sometimes they arrive at my door feeling like the have very little reason to feel optimistic.   But you mold you brain into ‘owning’ your thoughts.  You are what you think your are…and expecting that positive life changes are possible certainly provides hope.  So believe your light can shine!


Feeling lack of control is something all humans experience in life because we cannot control anything other than ourselves.  Teresa talks about the importance of learning to control what we can control (ourselves) and “going with the flow” / letting go all the rest. Unfortunately, when people don’t feel in control of themselves, they try to control their external environment (and others) in an attempt to take control. But that never works!

And so in time it leads to stress, frustration, feelings of insecurity,.. which affects emotional and physical health.

Clinical hypnotherapy and IBS is an emerging science and more and more research confirms its benefits.  For more on clinical hypnosis  click here!

Suffer with IBS and want to meet with Teresa click here for her website.

Another local Boston hypnosis practitioner, Chris Hartford will also work with IBS patients, check out Chris’ site here

A quick update!  Last night May 30 (May 31 in Australia) the Monash Uni researchers held a FODMAP seminar.  Some of the topic of discussion was hypnosis!!

Here’s a quick picture of the twitter feed straight from the conference.  I was glued to my phone for a couple hours! twitter




6 replies on “Clinical Hypnosis for IBS

  • Lora

    Thank you for this Kate. I have been wondering for some time if hypnosis would be something helpful for my IBS and that was a very thorough explanation and a good reminder of how much of our own experience we create in our bodies. I wish I lived close enough to work with Teresa!

  • Stephanie

    Great post! I have been seeing a clinical hypnotherpist for IBS, which I found through the website mentioned, since last summer. She has been a huge help in the healing process and look forward to our visits each week. One thing she has me repeating to myself daily has become my mantra…”I give myself permission to relax.” Highly recommend this to anyone with digestive issues and thanks for getting it out there 🙂

    • katescarlata

      So glad to hear that Liz. I find working with other practitioners to help clients get better is the way to go. There are so many different aspects to living with a chronic health disorder and IBS impacts so many areas of a person’s life. Teresa has helped my clients in so many ways and the research for the use of hypnosis with IBS is well documented. Very interesting how our gut interacts with our mind and visa versa.

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