18 Jul 2023

Hypnotherapy for menopause: Can it help symptoms?

What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘hypnotherapy’? 

Relaxation? A deep sleep? Or perhaps you’re imagining being taken into a trance-like state by a psychiatrist swinging a coin in front of your face.

Katie was joined on the podcast by Sally Garozzo, an experienced Clinical Hypnotherapist, to explore the practice of hypnotherapy for menopause AND hear about how it could ease menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, anxiety and sleep disturbances.

Listen to the full conversation in The Latte Lounge podcast episode above.

Sally explained exactly what hypnotherapy is and how it works. She also helped us to bust some myths, understand the benefits and learn specifically how it can help during the perimenopause and menopause years.

Some of the key information from this episode:

What is hypnotherapy, and how does it differ from other therapies?

You're not swinging a pendulum, but you do a countdown process to enable people to relax a little bit more.

That's all hypnotherapy is. It's a massive misconception that it is this sort of woo thing, but really, we are in and out of hypnosis all day. It's like a daydreaming state. When we are in the zone, when time passes by really quickly, we are in that hypnotic state.

When we are making a cup of tea, driving our car or immersed in a book or a TV show, we are in a form of hypnosis, and you are very suggestible. When you are in that brainwave state, the waves are slower than in a normal waking state. 

The method that I am trained in is called rapid transformational therapy, and it's a two to three-hour process. You're on the couch for a long time. And it's fascinating. It's a little bit like watching a movie of your life in your mind, and you put a happy ending to the story.

You look at all the traumatic stuff that's happened to you, which obviously is difficult for people; I'm there to help facilitate a space for them to heal. We are like surgeons. We open you up, clear out all the stuff that you don't want and then put you back together again using really powerful language.

The subconscious mind loves a good metaphor. If I say to you that your mind is like a beautiful still lake, you can really feel that; you know what it feels like to be around a still lake, and it's got that sense of peace and calm. And if we can link a still lake with the state of our mind, then it has a powerful effect on the way that we view life because the mind is always looking for clues as to how to respond.

Essentially it's slightly different from talk therapy because you get to wire in the solution.

I create a recording for my clients, and that recording contains all the stuff that you need to hear all the positive stuff, and you play that on repeat every day. And you learn it like you would learn a song.

When you learn a song, you don't necessarily study the lyrics; you just pop it on repeat, you listen to it a lot, and before you know it, you know all the words. And it's similar to the hypnosis recording. You are really wiring in that change that you want to see.

RELATED: Struggling to get your menopause symptoms taken seriously?

hypnotherapy for menopause

What actually happens within the body and mind during a hypnotherapy session?

Beta brain waves are what you and I are in now. We're engaged in conversation, and the brain waves are quite fast. A Formula One driver, he's in gamma. He's super focused, and his brain waves are super fast.

When the brain waves are slower, all the processing power that is needed for normal daily life gets put to one side, and we can actually start to focus on the deep work.

The parasympathetic nervous system is more activated, so we are more relaxed. We feel safer.

We're in that rest and digest mode, so there's a lot of potential to really access the rules of the mind.

Your mind always believes what you tell it. Your mind automatically rejects the unfamiliar and accepts the familiar.

Your mind always moves you away from pain and towards pleasure, and your mind cannot hold on to conflicting thoughts. They cancel each other out. These are the rules of the mind.

Under hypnosis, because we're so relaxed and because all that other processing power is put to one side, we can really go in and essentially play with those rules.

RELATED: How does menopause affect the brain?

What are the benefits of hypnotherapy for menopause?

The idea that hypnotherapy can help with menopause is very new.

People who are going through menopause and are looking for a solution wouldn't normally think about hypnotherapy.

They're thinking about HRT, they're thinking about diet, lifestyle, exercise and things like that.

This is where it really gets interesting because I help people with anxiety, depression, with low self-confidence with reclaiming their authenticity, reclaiming their identity, and also things like insomnia.

We know that comes up at menopause. Fear of driving comes up at menopause. I work with burnout, stress, and all of these things. 

A group of scientists from the Mayo Clinic got together to examine the association between adverse childhood experiences and menopause symptom severity. And they concluded that there was indeed a correlation. They saw a correlation between adverse childhood experiences and menopause symptom severity. 

Hidden stress from the past can really have an impact on our nervous system, our biology, our mental health, and our mental state of mind.

We can take a leap in logic and extrapolate that to what's happening in menopause.

When I feel safe, when I feel seen, when I feel validated, when my work-life balance is good, when I've got money in the bank, when my friendship circle's going really well, my menopausal symptoms are pretty much non-existent.

As opposed to when I'm feeling taken advantage of, when I'm feeling stressed, when I'm feeling worried, when I'm worried about the state of the world or when there's pressure on me, I can't sleep, my hot flushes in the middle of the night are a nightmare.

I start to feel those menopausal symptoms a lot more. 

Part of the work that I do with hypnotherapy for menopause is to go really deep.

We look at those messages that you received about yourself and about the world around you.

How did you act out those messages? I'm not good enough. I need to be better. I need to help everyone.

And how are you compensating or how are you overcompensating for those needs not being met as a child?

And how has that affected your nervous system? How has that potentially affected your hormone balance?

And then, more importantly, how can you free yourself from that past narrative and then put a new ending to that story?

Because your mind always believes what you tell it. So if you put a new ending to that story, you can change your nervous system.

You can change your biology to a degree. It's extremely powerful, and it really is my sincere hope that women do start to think deeper if they're having really bad menopausal symptoms.

If HRT's not working, diet and lifestyle aren't working; maybe there's something else that they could consider. Maybe there is a deeper aspect that could have a deeper impact on the nervous system. 

You can absolutely use it alongside medication and lifestyle changes.

There are no guarantees that it's going to have an effect. I work with some people, and it really hasn't had the effect that they wanted it to have.

95% of the people I work with have amazing positive effects, but like anything, there are no guarantees. You have surgery; there's no guarantee. There's no guarantee with HRT, so you just have to take a punt at it. 

RELATED: To insomnia and back: how I learned to sleep again

If someone has had something very traumatic happen in their life and break down during a session, how do you put them back together?

It's a good thing, that's what we want. We want that breakdown. We want someone to open up.

There's a saying in therapy; you can't heal it unless you feel it. So, of course, people are very worried about opening Pandora's Box. We have to cope, we have kids, and we have to work, so we keep a tight lid on things.

I facilitate a very safe space for my clients, and often what they find is that you get such clarity seeing past experiences with your adult mind.

And you are also encouraged to feel the feelings, knowing that those feelings are valid because a lot of the problems come from your feelings being invalidated.

So you were a child, you had a feeling, and that feeling was shut down. And that's where the problem is, not the feeling itself.

So you allow that person to feel the feeling. It rises up. It might feel a bit uncomfortable. They might have a cry, they might wanna kick and scream, but then it's done.

In those two to three hours, I pop you into hypnosis. Which takes about 15 minutes or so. Then we do regression. We go back to scenes in your life where you might have picked up limiting beliefs about yourself, unhelpful beliefs that are really not very good for you. 

We look at what that little child felt, what meaning he or she attached to that scene and how you are acting out those meanings today. We look at how you are compensating and get absolute clarity on why you are the way that you are.

We then take a pair of scissors and cut them up. Just because that happened to you in the past, does that mean that's who you have to be today? And then, of course, your logical mind kicks in and says, ‘no, of course not. I'm a different person. I'm no longer that child anymore. 

When I was a child, it was right to push my feelings down. As a child, I needed to attach to my caregivers. Now I'm an adult; I don't have to do that because I have absolute liberty to express myself the way that I want to.

We go through all of that process. We do something called role function and purpose as well, which is fascinating. And that talks to the part of you that has the problematic behaviour.

So, for example, we'll say, ‘I'm the part of Sally that has this anxiety, and my only role in Sally's life is to..’ And then you put an ending on that. I'm there to stop her, and I have to stop her because if she goes out into public, somebody might see that she's a fraud.

It's usually protection or prevention; in some cases, it's punishment or to get attention, and we ask, is it really giving you that now? Of course, the answers are usually no. And so we negotiate with it.

We ask it to leave, and we talk to the problematic part of yourself so that it gets to have a voice. And then, I create an amazing recording for you at the end for you to go away with and listen to, which is personalised for you. 

RELATED: Ways to boost your mental health during menopause

Can you get benefits from hypnotherapy without having a session?

There are loads of free hypnosis resources on YouTube and on Spotify that just take you into that beta brain wave state and slows your brain waves down so your mind and body can get to work on things that it never usually has a chance to fix because it's on high alert all of the time.

Even if you had no suggestions incoming, you would still benefit. I've actually got four recordings for sale on my website, specifically for menopausal symptoms, which have been really beneficial.

And they're just hypnosis recordings. One's called ‘Cool your hot flush’, one is ‘Ignite your libido’, one is ‘Clear your brain fog’, and the other one is ‘Sail through menopause’.

They are based on the idea that what is expected tends to be realized. When you expect something different, you have a different result.

What's one thing that you wish more people knew about hypnotherapy?

I really do wish that people that are going through the menopause would know that this is an available and viable treatment for menopause symptoms. 

I wish that people would understand the amount of power that they have, especially when it comes to their intentions and their expectations.

I'm reading a brilliant book at the moment called The Expectation Effect by David Robson, and it's blowing my mind at how our eyes only see 2% of what is there, and then the brain fills in the rest.

So the brain is responsible for 98% of the perspective that we have, our perspective of menopause, our perspective of our relationships with other people, of who we are, and what we bring. It’s all based on our own filters. 

Only have hypnotherapy if it feels like the right time for you because we do go deep, and you need to be ready for it. But if you are ready for it, it can be absolutely life-changing.

RELATED: How to reduce anxiety during perimenopause, menopause and midlife

Can hypnotherapy help with menopause symptoms? with Sally Garozzo

What comes to mind when you hear the word hypnotherapy? Relaxation, a deep sleep, or perhaps you're more of a sceptic and imagining being taken into a trance-like state? Well, in this episode, I'm joined by experienced Clinical Hypnotherapist Sally Garozzo, and we're going to explore the practice of hypnotherapy and hear about how it could ease menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, anxiety and sleep disturbances.

Watch the video version of the podcast.

Discover more: Listen to more of The Latte Lounge podcast episodes - and don't forget to subscribe / follow to be notified of future episodes!

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