Pain Management With Rep System Changes

pain managementPain Management: An easy thing to do when someone is experiencing pain, is to do a rep system shift and then alter submodalities. That might sound complex, but it’s really easy. Here’s how…

Representational Systems

The 3 big rep systems (internal thinking types) are feeling, imagery and sound. We all think using visual thoughts (internal pictures and movies), internal dialog and other sounds, and the sounds and images result in feelings (both emotions, and physical sensations).

Shifting Rep Systems

The first step is to shift representational systems. Pain is kinesthetic (a feeling). We want to shift it to auditory (sound) or visual (imagery). I usually just ask people to give me a metaphor for their pain. Often, they’ll say it’s something like a red, hot poker, or a tight black ball, or a harsh buzzing sound. I can work with those.

If they don’t have a ready metaphor, ask what their pain would look, or sound like, if it were imagery, or a sound. If they can’t think of anything, tell them to pretend they can 🙂

Submodalities & Pain Management

Now that we’ve shifted to a different rep system, it’s time to work with the submodalities. Submodalities are simply qualities of the modalities. Color and brightness are submodalities or the visual rep system. Loudness and tone are auditory submodalities.

So, change any submodality that seems like it might change things, and see what happens. For instance, you might have them shift the red-hot poker to cool blue. If it’s a metaphor, you can work with the metaphor. Have them imagine what the tight black ball would look like if it loosened up. Have them mellow the sound of the harsh bussing, and/or turn it down.

How Did That Change Their Level Of Comfort?

Then, you check to see where their level of comfort is. Often, at this point, I move away from the word “pain” and go either with “comfort”, or “sensation”. Often, you’ll find the pain has decreased significantly.

What This Does And Doesn’t Do

This technique is a quick way to get clients a sense of control, and to buy into the idea that their mind can have an effect on a very real, physical symptom. It’s not necessarily the be-all and end-all of pain control. But it’s a nice start 🙂

Enjoy,
Keith

PS: You can use this same, simple technique with other disturbing sensations, including emotional pain.

About The Author:

Keith Livingston is the main instructor for Hypnosis 101. Keith has been studying hypnosis since he was a boy and doing hypnosis & NLP training since 1997.

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  1. Great article with lots of good info. I particularly like the change from using the word pain to comfort or sensation. Dave Dobson would use “yuck”.

    1. Thanks, Scott. I think I got “comfort” from Gerry Kein. I remember reading about “yuck” in a book about Dobson (can’t recall the title, at the moment). Thanks for chipping in!
      Keith

  2. When I have been controlling my pain. I take myself into a trance and imagine I am drawing all the pain out of my body into my minds eye. I normally see bright red. I then relax even more as the pain is leaving my body and replace it with energy which normally comes into my minds eye as bright yellow. I take my time to let all of the yellow take over the red completely and I feel great.
    Reading this helped me believe I was doing it right as this is just what happened naturally the first time I tried it.
    I tried the same thing on a friend and he seen the same colours.
    It works great.
    I love reading all of your strategies.
    Thank you for sharing 🙂

    1. That’s pretty cool, Lashay!
      Thanks for the compliment, too. Different colors might work for different people. I often run into red as a pain color, and cool blue as healing, or comfort, but it varies from person to person.
      Keith

  3. Thank you for explaining how a rep system shift can help those who are experiencing pain. I've been wondering if there are any alternative treatments to help with some chronic back pain. I'll have to look around to see if there's anyone who can use hypnosis to help.

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