Hypnotism a hit at Public Education Day - Latest news • Breast Cancer Foundation NZ

Hypnotism a hit at Public Education Day

At the end of last year, Breast Cancer Foundation NZ hosted a free public education day themed ‘From Research to Reality’.

Leading breast cancer researchers from around the world gave short talks on the latest research and what difference it could make for Kiwis with breast cancer.

Topics ranged from genetic testing to intraoperative radiotherapy but one that caught a particular amount of attention was a talk given by American Dr Holly Forester-Miller entitled “Enhancing quality of life for breast cancer patients with self-hypnosis” which highlighted a study of the same name published by Forester-Miller in July last year.

The study involved taking 23 breast cancer patients through 1.5 hour long self-hypnotism classes once a week for four weeks, plus a one-off 45-minute individual session with Forester-Miller. At the end of the four weeks, participants reported significant changes in physical, emotional and functional wellbeing, including feeling less swelling or tenderness in arms and more empowered as women.

Forester-Miller describes hypnotic trance as a naturally occurring phenomenon like daydreaming or mindfulness meditation and hypnotism as a tool to consciously tap into this altered mental state, but emphasised the importance of using it as a complementary rather than an alternative therapy, and to discuss incorporation with your doctor first.

She went on to explain how there are three compartments of the mind - the conscious, subconscious and the unconscious - and that human behaviour is dictated predominantly by the unconscious brain which acts like an organic hard drive.

Logically then, she says, if you can ‘quiet’ the conscious mind – the noise and distractions of ad hoc thinking – and directly access the unconscious mind, suggestions can be made to alter the individual’s behaviour, enhancing how patients deal with the lasting impacts of breast cancer.

Forester-Miller dedicated a substantial part of her talk to the importance of finding a credible hypnotist (with a healthcare provider status as well as reputable training). Forester-Miller herself is a licensed professional counsellor and uses hypnosis as one of many tools to holistically help her clients.

Watch her presentation here.