During hypnosis, you enter a trance-like state with the goal of relaxing, reducing stress or anxiety, or controlling pain or hot flashes. Sometimes, it is offered to people who become anxious before surgery or other stressful medical procedures.

How hypnosis might help

Research shows that hypnosis can improve your quality of life by reducing anxiety, severe pain, pain after surgery and chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting. It can also be useful during difficult medical procedures such as breast biopsy and MRI.

How hypnosis works

The goal of a hypnosis session is to relax you and help you deeply focus on an image or event until you are open to suggestion. Your hypnotherapist will talk to you in a gentle voice and may guide you through a specific scene meant to help you feel safe and secure. You may lie on a bed or sit in a comfortable chair.

Most people are aware of their surroundings during hypnosis and remember the experience afterward. You don’t need to worry about losing control. The session is not intended to bring up emotional or hurtful feelings, but to focus on making you feel safe and secure.

What hypnosis costs

Some hospitals have trained hypnosis professionals. When you look for a hypnotherapist outside your cancer center, try to find someone with a medical or psychology background. Ideally, you’ll want someone who works with people with cancer.

How many sessions you need depends on how your therapist conducts them and on your goals. Some programs may also train you in self-hypnosis, so you can use hypnotic techniques to calm yourself in the moment, such as when you are going for a MRI.