Anna* was sceptical when she came to see me. “You’ve been recommended by a few people” she told me, “but I don’t really think you can help me. Can you provide hypnotherapy for sweating problems?”
I’m the first to admit that there are limits to what hypnotherapy can do, but those limits are often not where people expect them to be. Anna was no exception to this. What she thought was outside the limits of what we could do was actually quite firmly inside them.
“The thing is they don’t know what’s causing my excessive sweating”, Anna told me. “They’ve told me it’s called hyperhidrosis but say it’s one of those things where they don’t know the cause. I’ve turned down the tablets, and I don’t want the electric current treatment, so a friend suggested you or botox, but I didn’t fancy botox either.”
Truth be told that was why Anna was in front of me. She had a problem that she was desperate to solve but didn’t find any of the standard treatments attractive. That’s why despite her scepticism she had come to see me.
I did have good news for Anna though. Sweating is controlled by the parasympathetic nervous system, which also controls our bladder and our gut. Bladder problems, and IBS, both respond well to hypnotherapy, and so there was no reason why her hyperhidrosis wouldn’t.
“I really hope so”, she told me, “because it’s really affecting my life. It’s making me very self-conscious. I’ve stopped going to the gym because I look unfit, stopped putting myself forward for things at work because I look nervous, and stopped going out because I look unhealthy and unattractive.”
With an impact like that it was no wonder that Anna was willing to try hypnotherapy for sweating, despite her initial reservations. Our first session was spent teaching her to manage her mental state, and to become more comfortable in different situations.
That helped to control her reaction to the sweating, and to get past those feelings of looking unfit, nervous, and unattractive. Whilst that stopped Anna getting caught up in a vicious circle of feelings about her sweating, we still needed to address the sweating itself.
In the second session Anna had decided that she wanted to use her imagination to get in touch with the part of herself that wasn’t regulating her sweating – the same idea that we might use for bladder or IBS problems.
“I know what it’s going to be like”, she told me “I’m going to be in a microscopic submarine and travel round my body to find the problem, and then use the tools on the front of the submarine to fix it. Like the things they use to look at shipwrecks.”
I’m careful not to direct people too much when we do imaginative work, so I kept my suggestions quite loose and vague. That’s because what we consciously imagine can be very different to what our subconscious conjures up for us. Anna was no exception to that.
“It was nothing like that. Instead of being in a submarine it was like being in a water slide, with different colours flashing past. It was only when they started to change to a particular colour that I knew I was in the right place. And I can’t describe what I did – I just sort of did it.”
Was it enjoyable though? “Oh yes – I want to do it again!”. Enjoyable, successful, and more fun than an electric current – what better recommendation from an initial sceptic?
*Anna is happy to share their story, and their identity has been protected
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