Chronically Living and how to make the most of it

Why Should I Try Hypnotherapy for My Chronic Pain? with Sam Visnic

October 11, 2021 Kelsey Harris, Sam Visnic Season 2 Episode 16
Chronically Living and how to make the most of it
Why Should I Try Hypnotherapy for My Chronic Pain? with Sam Visnic
Show Notes Transcript

This week we're exploring what sounds like the weird world of hypnotherapy, but in fact, it is nothing like you think it is.  This week Sam Visnic joins us to tell us he uses hypnotherapy in his practice, and how it helps people with chronic pain.
In this episode we talk about:

  • what hypnotherapy is
  • how hypnotherapy can help chronic pain
  • who makes a good candidate for hypnotherapy

Guest Bio:
Sam Visnic has spent his life studying the fundamental aspects of human health with a focus on movement and clinical massage therapy. In a world of specialists, surgical procedures, drugs and quick fix remedies, he’s committed to finding and developing strategies that help people stuck at the “gap”. 
Sam has studied dozens of systems and methodologies for uncovering the root cause of aches and pains, along with postural and movement issues. Pain science, the art and science of hands-on soft tissue massage techniques, myofascial release, and coaching movement is essential in his practice. 
Integrating different methods but above all deciphering WHEN to use different techniques with different people and situations, along with integration
 of movements that people want to be able to do again is the key to long
 term success with Sam’s incredible track record with his personal clients. Understanding the various elements that contribute to conditions and the power of communication and education makes his Release Muscle Therapy program unique from other hands-on therapy approaches. 
For a free copy of his digital book + other resources found at the bottom of the homepage: https://releasemuscletherapy.com
Follow Sam on Facebook: https://facebook.com/releasemuscletherapy
Follow Sam on Instagram: https://instagram.com/releasemuscletherapy
Check out Sam's YouTube channel: https://youtube.com/samvisnic

Don't forget to follow the show on Instagram @chronically.living_
Support the show on Patreon!

Kelsey Harris:

What the heck is hypnotherapy? Is this like stage hypnosis? Why would I want that? And how could it ever help me with my chronic pain? I don't know if these are questions you've been having, but they're definitely questions I had. And so I decided to invite Sam visnic, who among other things, helps us patients through the use of hypnotherapy, to chat with us on chronically living. I'm Kelsey Harris, chronic illness warrior and psychotherapist on chronically living and how to make the most of it, we're providing tangible ways to improve the well being of spoonies. So get ready to make the most out of your life, even with that pesky chronic illness.

Sam Visnic:

My name is Sam Visnic. And by trade, I am a massage therapist. But I focus on the clinical side of things as my expertise is working with people with chronic pain. And I also design corrective exercise programs for people as well who are in this state, and do a kind of smattering of other different types of types of techniques and therapeutic things that will help people along their journey to be able to get back to living their lives after they're currently struggling with or is trying to move past chronic pain. I think I pretty much just started off. I mean, I was always the skinny kid, teenager who needed to get into the gym and lifting weights just kind of became something I was really into. But very quickly. I mean, you know, this is when you could go to the bookstore and read at Barnes and Noble and borders anyway, I would just go down the aisle where all the fitness books were. And I would just start reading. And in particular, I really liked the books that were more on the scientific end of things rather than just kind of loose fitness things. And I started reading about theories about strength training, and all the physiological processes that happened in the body. And I got really interested in that, once I graduated from high school, you know, parents kicked me out said you have to get a job. So I thought, you know what, I love fitness, I'm going to become a personal trainer. So this kind of led me into a direction, I ended up getting a job at a big box gym. And as a trainer there, you know, you start realizing very quickly, that virtually everybody there has some kind of problem, you know, they have back problems, or they have knee issues. And you know, in interviewing these people I worked with, you know, and that was one of the benefits of working at the size of a gym, I got to talk with hundreds of people. And most of them had already gone to the doctor into physical therapy, etc. And in or they're just kind of left up to their own devices to do stuff. But they were very apprehensive, there were what I call stuck in the gap now, which is you know, they're outside the medical system, they're not really a surgical candidate, they've been through therapy, but then they go to the gym, and they keep having setbacks, they couldn't do a lot of exercises, having pain. And I got really good at just modifying exercise programs. And throughout the course of this not only could I get people exercising without having pain, but I started realizing a lot of their issues were getting dramatically better. And they were overcoming these issues. And so of course that led me into like, what am I doing here, that's actually making a difference that these people weren't getting improvement elsewhere. And you know, this is right at the time where the whole kind of fitness field was changing into this whole, what we call functional movement, kind of, you know, direction, people exercising on Swiss balls, and all this kind of stuff and looking at posture. So that started me off in that process. And it you know, for me, I I always skip to the back of the books that I was reading and look at all the references and find out who was putting out this information. And that led me to a few mentors in the fitness field that were way ahead of their time, I would say and focusing on dealing with people who had orthopedic problems, whether that was athletes, or just everyday people. And they taught me a lot. And they were at the time. And this was 20 years ago, they were talking about what we now know and called the biopsychosocial model for pain is all of these different factors that contribute to why somebody might be having pain. And you know, it wasn't just a mechanical structural phenomenon. It wasn't just Hey, fix your posture and do some core exercises. There's nutrition, there's lifestyle, there's all these things. So when I started off in this work, I was doing fitness, designing exercise programs with people and of course, doing hands on therapy with massage. And I learned a lot of techniques within that for pain. But then slowly, kind of sequentially, I branched out into these different fields in these different arenas with the intention of basically taking those tools and kind of integrating them back into my basic practice. So I can help people overcome these sticking points that they were dealing with. Yeah, so that's kind of how it happened.

Kelsey Harris:

The biopsychosocial model for pain and disease. So that's biology, psychology, and then environmental or social influences, is generally been vigorously studied and is the accepted model of illness at this point, both for physical and mental illness. So I appreciate that Sam brought it up today. Sam is actually here to talk to us about hypnotherapy. Now, before I lose you, I will admit that I have in the past been skeptical about hypnotherapy as well. But I think that's because of a lack of understanding of what Is and of course the media's portrayal of hypnosis. So let's get right into the meat potatoes of today's episode.

Sam Visnic:

This is one of my favorite topics. And it's funny, I feel like I don't get a chance to talk about it so much because there is such just an enormous stigma associated with hypnotherapy. And I'm really interested in helping people overcome this. So I've been involved in around hypnotherapy fields, you know, in personal development, and so forth. But as long as I've been doing this, and I would say that hypnotherapy is put simply something you know, that really people can latch on to, it's really about helping you to have an experiential experience, I should say, of being able to access different aspects of your mind or resources that you normally have in different contexts, which you don't have another's. Alright, so we oftentimes experience this a lot. It's a very natural phenomenon, is it somebody who seems to be somehow very resourceful in a certain context, but they're not resourceful at all in another context. And what's the difference between these two things, a lot of it is kind of like a meta, or an above state of consciousness that they're in. So when you're in a different state of consciousness, you have access to certain internal resources, when you're in another state, you don't. So a lot of times, if people don't know how to do this, we do it just kind of like naturally, and we don't even realize that we are shifting states of consciousness all the time. And we don't really know how to command that in a deliberate fashion. Okay? So when we talk about hypnosis, we're really talking about the deliberate shifting of those conscious internal resources and conscious states with a process. And so we're doing it all the time. The difference is, is that we're now going to learn or be facilitated by an external party, a hypnotherapist or a counselor to be able to help them move within those states on purpose. And that's really what it's all about.

Kelsey Harris:

Okay, I can get behind the states of consciousness thing. But how exactly does this work? So if

Sam Visnic:

we think about kind of how a natural hypnosis state, and there's so many of them that we could just pick one, I mean, have you ever gotten your car after work? And then you just started to thinking and you just kind of, you know, started to zone out and you get home and you realize, whoa, I got home, and I made all the turns, and I did everything that I stopped at all the lights, you are almost completely checked out when you did this? And were you really checked out of reality, not really, what was happening is your focus was on something. And some of these automatic processes were just kind of taking place. You know how to get home, you knew all of the stops, your body was responding to things. So this is a hypnotic state. So how do we induce a hypnotic state? I mean, how did you get into it to begin with, whenever you were probably just going inside and starting to focus on something and you were fixated with your focus on something in an internal way that pulled in a lot of your resources. So we can become hypnotized by actually taking advantage of that process is to become highly engaged in something. And a lot of times it can be through an internal experience, we can think about something, a time and a place, for example, that we felt really relaxed or something like that, and really engage in that experience. Or we could do something simple, like when we go through self hypnosis processes, which is to kind of externalize our focus to things that we weren't normally paying attention to. And when we bring all of those things into our awareness, it can kind of absorb our attention a little bit and shift our internal state. So that's the job of the hypnotherapist is to actually help you with that what we call induction process to help to shift your internal focus in a way where it does alter your consciousness. And you'll get a physiological shift as a result of that. So your biochemistry changes as a result to

Kelsey Harris:

there definitely seems to be some overlap with other psychological phenomenon. For example, being really engaged in an experience, especially when you're passionate about is often called flow. We can also be mindfully engaged in really any experience whether or not we like it. There are some differences with intent here though. Now, I would assume that hypnotherapy requires some training and it's not just some random dude on the stage hypnotizing people like we see in the TV and movies.

Sam Visnic:

There's so many different things within the field of hypnotherapy, and that is the kind of the standard thing that we tend to associate with hypnotherapy as watching the stage hypnotist bringing people up onto the stage and then making them do wonky things but that also starts to come with a lot of presuppositions, you know, with that, in terms of like that people can somehow be controlled or manipulated or to be made to do things against their willingness to do so. And that is all people your listeners should know is all false. You know, there's, there's nothing you can force somebody to do via hypnotherapy that they don't want to do. And when we look at those kinds of things on stage hypnosis and so forth, we have to remember that those hypnotherapist or I shouldn't call them therapists hypnotist are actually looking for people that are more likely to respond and participate in the show, and they're very much willing to go along for the ride. And that is not how hypnosis works in a I would say a more clinic. Or practical setting. So when you talk about hypnosis, we do have to differentiate between those kind of entertainment hypnosis kinds of trainings. And we're talking about the self development or the clinical version of hypnosis. So most often, this requires training. And when you go into that training realm, there's a little bit of a rabbit hole that we go down with this, because when we talk about hypnosis, hypnosis is not an actual field. What it is, is you can think about it more as a technique. And it's a very deep technique. There's lots to it. But it's usually connected to specific disciplines. So for example, you as a clinician would might use hypnosis for a much different reason in different applications than somebody who might be using hypnosis for more self development reasons, right. So we do make sure that there is a distinction between those things and hypnosis can be used to treat mental health disorders, it can be used in lots of different things like that in the clinical setting. And that is clearly within the domain of a clinical psychologist, psychotherapist, and so forth. mental health professional. And then we have other rounds, where it's more about self development and a lot of things like for example, somebody may want to stop smoking, or somebody who might want to help with reducing cravings so they can lose weight. These are the things that are usually associated with hypnotherapy. And in my case, in particular, I don't really focus much on those other things. I focus on utilizing hypnosis and techniques for hypnosis, to assist people with kind of shifting their awareness and their focus around in their body creating sense of calm and relaxation, so they can have less pain. So these different contexts determine how you learn hypnotherapy. So in particular, as a non clinical mental health professional, I did my training and I went out and I ever had a certification, I think of hypnotherapy for almost 20 years. And these things are a dime a dozen, you can find them out all over the place where you go in and they teach you rapid techniques for hypnosis and kind of give you the overall view of how it works. And you leave with their certificate and they say, Hey, have fun with this. So it's not really that great. I mean, obviously, hypnosis, in my opinion, is not so much about the training, I think the training is very, very important. But it is a discipline that takes a tremendous amount of time to learn and practice to become really, really good with it. So to me, first of all, I wanted to have good trainings. And I have read tons and tons of books and hypnosis, I learned a lot from the books because again, it's a lot of application. But when I wanted my credential I went to and I said who's got the most hours in a program that's accredited, and I actually found there's there's very few, but one of them is out here in California Tarzana, The Hypnosis Motivation Institute, which I decided to go with them, it's about a 350 hour program. And plus, you do a lot of additional time with hypnotherapist that have been practicing for a long time to refine your skills. And on the clinical side, I believe that there are a number of associations that do that. But again, when I look at those there, they're very limited on the hours, I think a lot of them are 70 to 100 hours. So as you can see there, there's it's that's a very short amount of time with the kind of breadth of information that's involved within hypnotherapy. So as you can tell, it's very quickly treated like kind of like a skill base set that somebody might have. And if they really want to pursue it, they've really got to put in the hours in order to master it. We always want to check the credentials of people and see where they've had their training done, professionalism and so forth. Very important before you kind of embark on that journey.

Kelsey Harris:

hypnotherapy is a technique that can be used for many purposes. I have heard about it being used in the mental health field before though, as I mentioned earlier, I didn't actually know much about it. And as Sam mentioned, I actually have heard about it being used for cravings for nicotine, food, etc. Okay, so how does hypnotherapy work for chronic pain?

Sam Visnic:

Yes, so let's talk about chronic pain in general. So there's a lot of different disciplines that work with chronic pain. And in my discipline, in particular, I start with a movement focus, but chronic pain as we know now, as we've and I've written a book on this to talk a lot more about it. But we now know so much more about chronic pain than we did 10 years ago, 20 years ago. I mean, the research is exploding. And in particular, what we're starting to see now is a movement toward more of the brain being the primary focus when it comes to pain. And there's a discipline or a field in particular, that's called pain neuroscience education, which I've been utilizing for about a decade or so but been extraordinarily helpful. And what we're starting to realize is that, you know, pain in particular, we understand acute pain, right? So we look down and we see an ankle, if we roll an ankle and it's swollen, our brains easily make sense of this. And you know that tissue heals and then the pain goes away, but about 20% of the time people will do develop chronic pain after the tissue has healed, right. And that's really the differentiating point. So when the tissue is healed, and in particular, I would say that I think most experts agree that at six months, every tissue in the body has healed. So if you have pain after six months after some kind of injury, or even if you don't have an injury, and you're developing pain, but six months, and you're now in the chronic realm, and what we say is that with chronic pain, that what we're not dealing with the tissue issue, what we're dealing with is a pain issue. And we're dealing with pain, we're talking about nerves that have become sensitized throughout the pain process that have not returned back to their normal status, or normal homeostasis. So this problem is, is that these nerves and the brain are communicating in a way which is keeping that nervous system threatened, or under guard. And when that happens, there's a lot of processing that's going on in the brain, in different quadrants of the brain to determine what's to the extents that areas threatening, and that is making the decision on how much pain you will experience, right? So when we're talking about this, there's multiple things that we have to do. educating people on pain is first and foremost, the most important things that I have ever done with clients, and I found it to be the most valuable. So the more you understand about what's happening, when chronic pain exists, the more for most people crave wanting to know that right? So why am I hurting? Why is this problem not going away? So that's very important. So once we do that, then goes, the process of determining how much of chronic pain is a bottom up thing that we need to do or a top down? bottom up is? How do we change the information that's going from the nerves to the brain? Well, massage therapy, we use movement, we use all sorts of techniques. But then we have this whole other element, which is top down, how is the brain taking that information and processing. Now pain education is the number one way we can change that because we can consciously learn more about pain. And that frames the pain differently, we start to think about it differently when we understand it. But there's also another element of this as well. So we have a lot of other what we call bio psychosocial elements regarding pain, that are non conscious, you know, we have things that the longer you've had pain, the more you react much differently and you change your behavior much differently in your environment, our relationships with our spouses have have now usually become a part of our pain experience, the way that we behave, or we are engaged or disengaged from social environments may change. So while these behavioral things, and what can happen is that we can also start to become in a greater state of what we call vigilance. As a result of these things, our nervous systems become more sensitized to things that could trigger our pain. And those are, there's a lot of subconscious ones that we don't know. So when somebody is stuck in this cycle of chronic pain, once we've gone through the basics of doing the movement work, and then we've done pain education, and so forth, we still have this task. And this is really the challenging thing, especially with more complex chronic pain is that how do we address this increased state of vigilance in that person's nervous system. And this is where the hypnotherapy work comes in, where we can start to train the brain on how to decrease its vigilance through using these types of techniques.

Kelsey Harris:

From a clinical standpoint, this makes a lot of sense. One thing Sam mentioned was pain related or illness related behaviors, which actually make pain worse, even though we're doing them to try and make our pain better. top down approaches, which is what I use as a psychotherapist, or what target these, I think we need an example of a technique within the broader technique of type of therapy to really understand this concept.

Sam Visnic:

So you could start with very broad things. And this kind of goes into a topic where we talk about, you know, General relaxation, and I think that's really, really important. So if somebody is just in a constant state of vigilance, generally in all areas of their life, we might start off with, you know, a general relaxation approach with hypnotherapy where, you know, we hear this a lot, and that's the one thing that's probably my pet peeve from health practitioners to tell people that their problem is they're just stressed, and they need to reduce their stress. Okay, well, that's not particularly helpful. You know, if we understand, we all know that stress contributes to things. But the problem is, we don't know what to do about it, right? So we either have two options when it comes to stress, we change those factors externally, you know, when some people that's not possible, they don't just quit their job or get a divorce or whatever. That's not what we do. But we also we can change our internal response to that, right. So, but a lot of times, it's challenging in those contexts to do that. So we have to do is kind of remove ourselves from the situation and try to get ourselves in a space where we could learn how to relax. And a lot of people start doing things like meditation and so forth, another version of that, but self hypnotherapy might be a good way to do that, where we're kind of in a vigilant state and we're amped and we're wired. How do we get ourselves out of that? state. And one of the ways that we could do that is a very easy self hypnosis technique, and it would be called the three to one. So one of the aspects of our consciousness is we use our representational systems, our sensory systems in order to create our experience. So we have touch, we have taste, we have smell, etc, right, we use our senses. But in particular, there are three more potent ones that we can use. Number one is your vision. Number two is your hearing. And number three is your kinesthetics is what you feel in your body. And these are separate distinct systems that are sending different information to our brain. So a self hypnosis technique that would be very easy to change your state of consciousness, it also works very well for sleep induction and all sorts of things, is to just sit and comfortable, relaxed position. And what you would do is you would just kind of look at something that's out in front of you slightly higher than eye level, and you would just kind of open up into your peripheral vision, right? So first of all, opening up peripheral vision reduces focus. and reducing focus means reducing tension, right, so we're oftentimes staring at screens all the time, right? So we just open up into our peripheral vision, it's called our ambient vision, it's a very primitive component of how our brain uses our vision. And what we would do is I would ask somebody to notice something that was often to their peripheral vision. That's interesting that they hadn't noticed before. And I would have somebody do that personally. But obviously, I would walk them through that as well, the first couple of times, like, for example, you know, I have that match, or that massage bolster off in my corner here. So I say, did you notice that massage bolster over there, and that will go, they'll bring their attention to something they probably didn't care about, it wasn't paying attention to it. And then I would define something about it, like notice that it's blue. And you don't have to think anything else, just notice it. And now I want you to pick something else in your awareness or in your visual field that you didn't notice before. And then pick a quality about it, maybe the shade of that brown door over there. And then I want you to pick a third thing. So we would repeat that process again. Now after three visual items, I would go to three auditory things, I would say I want you to notice the speed of my voice as I talk, and it changes, I want you to notice the tone of my voice, maybe the depth, you know, voice inflection going up and down a very specific what we would call quality. And then I would go to three physical things that they would feel, I want you to notice which hip your shifted more toward when you're sitting, or your more weight on the left or more weight on the right. And notice perhaps the feeling of your left heel against the floor. If it is on the floor, I can't see you right now, the slight feeling of the air conditioning baby as you feel it on the skin. And then to taking a deep breath, I bet you might have been holding your breath as we were talking. So we would go through 30 things and then I would recycle back through to to visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. And then I would do one of each. As we've cycled through those things will oftentimes get a shifting of conscious awareness, because we're occupying all of our sensory resources to pay attention to something and will oftentimes be in a different state than we were prior to doing it. And a lot of people feel more relaxed, especially if they're in a more wound up state, because their senses are being occupied in a cluster of, I would say, a state of mind that had a cluster of sensory experiences, what were facilitating that state and keeping them in it. Okay, so that's how I might use something like that and start with a general state to try to get them to relax first. So they have an experience of it. And once they do that, they now have a tool, I helped taught them do it, where they can repeat it on their own. And then as sessions would go by, you know, maybe even depending on the first session, how much we did, we would continue to build upon that skill set to be able to train their nervous system, how to access a specific state, like for example, relaxation. And then we would progress it into more specific contexts in which they need additional resources that might be related to times where their back hurts more, or whatever.

Kelsey Harris:

In some ways. This is similar to grounding techniques that I use with clients. It also seems to have some overlap with mindfulness and meditation. But it is different,

Sam Visnic:

let's say and the research shows that mindfulness and meditation and hypnosis, from a brain perspective are achieving the same outcomes, right? They're doing the same thing. The process is different. And if I were asked that question like now, I would say the best thing that comes to mind is like and fitness. Let's say that strength training Pilates and calisthenics, like what's the difference between these things? Well, I mean, they're all fitness and they're going to increase fitness. They're different processes, and they might work on specific things, but so far as I can tell, and my experience with hypnotherapy is that hypnotherapy tends to be a little bit more on the planned therapeutic side of things. So when somebody comes in, like if you look at the average book on hypnosis or hypnotherapy in the clinical realm, and the book is like this, there's so many techniques There's a lot more to, I would say how you go about hypnotherapy which techniques use the circumstances you use it in. And it's really a vast, vast skill set. And I have not seen the same thing from more meditation and mindfulness based practices, although I'm sure that there is growing an amount, but it probably because hypnosis has been around, you know, in that realm for a lot longer. But the process I would say is more specific, you know, session one has a particular outcome sufficient to more documentation, more notes, you know, those sorts of things. So, in that regard, I would say that the skill set is probably more vast and probably more specific.

Kelsey Harris:

Now, you might be wondering, at this point, am I a good candidate for Hippotherapy? Like every technique, there are some people who fit better for it than others?

Sam Visnic:

I'd say first and foremost, it's the people who are willing to participate. I mean, this is probably the thing that is the most amazing to me is that, you know, somebody calls me and says, Well, I would give it a shot. I don't think you can hypnotize me. And I'm like, Well, why? You know, I get that. I mean, I think that everybody can in my response to that out here in a second. But why would you go and entertain going into a therapeutic process, they almost kind of right away, you're feeling resistant toward, you know, if you're willing to give it a shot, and say, Hey, you know, I'm willing to play ball, then yes, but it's almost going into that saying, I'm walking in here with resistance. I'm intentionally going to try to not let you hypnotize me, well, I don't want to play that game. I want people who actually want to participate and get the results from it. It's almost like saying, you know, somebody comes in, and I'm into massage, and I'm like, I bet you can't relax me, I'm just gonna stay there tense. And you're like, Well, why would you do that? You know, so, first and foremost, let's, let's get away with that. And too, we always run into these things, which is something you'll inevitably run across is this factor of being hypnotizable. Right? And I find this very entertaining that they run these studies that I mean, to some degree, there are people that are clearly more suggestible in terms of being able to relax. You know, some people, they love it so much, you say you relax, and then they just relax. I mean, okay, that's simple. In other people, that takes more work, but everybody is to some degree, I think, because this word hypnotize is so it's so weird. And again, the stigma stigma associated to it to say that somebody can't be hypnotized is almost like saying that person can't focus. And that's just not the case. You know, if you've ever been to a movie, and you forget about what's happening all around you, and you're engaged in the movie, you're hypnotized. So I don't, I don't see why somebody would not be hypnotized. It's just the process that you use. Some people might need a different sort of induction in the hypnotic process than others. But everybody certainly is capable of getting results from hypnosis. So the other thing that I would say when it comes to hypnotherapy, particularly when we're talking about chronic pain, is that we have to put it into a proper context. And the proper context is is making sure that that work is being done in an appropriate person. Now hypnotherapy when you look at the research on this, I mean, at first, when I started looking at all of this, I was like, I bet you there's not much going on here. And there is a vast amount of research on hypnotherapy, especially in medicine, there in particular, I think one of the areas where it seems to be most useful is in when people have allergies to anesthesia, and they can't be put under no image. Imagine how horrible that is. So they start with things like for example, people having teeth polled or having root canals done with hypnotherapy. And people can do this. I mean, to me, that's a hard sell. For me, I would love to see that happen. But it is amazing how when the mind is actually distracted, that, you know, you can do these types of small procedures and do them successfully. So I think in context, I am not somebody who does that kind of hypnotherapy. So definitely have to have the right professional. But in context, where, for example, people need to see their doctor, I still see people call me every day that say, you know, I have sciatic pain shooting down my leg, and I can barely walk. And I'm like, well, this is probably not an appropriate application for you to come in and get massages or for me to do hypnotherapy, you need to see your doctor. So people need to make sure that they're medically cleared for underlying pathology, and so forth. And too, I do believe that most people need to be part of a more integrated program when it comes to doing things. For example, there's a reason why it's not something that I would start with necessarily on day one with my clients. I do it because I know that it fits within what they're doing. We've done movement work, we've done massage work, but then there's some factors over here that need to be addressed. So I will address those things. On occasion. There are people where are being handled by physical therapists and healthcare providers, and they have all of those things covered. And then what we're going to do is we're going to add the hypnotherapy and on top of that, and that can be very, very successful. But I think it needs to be part of a more holistic program or an integrative program rather than being the only thing that somebody is doing. And I think that that is not necessarily something I would say I wouldn't work with somebody with but I would highly recommend And that they do that and make sure that they're working with those different elements to cover all the bio psychosocial aspects, and that we're not hanging our hat and setting in proper expectations on what that hypnotherapy process is going to do. Because again, those other areas need to be covered. So I think that those are the key things. And the other thing that I would say is, there are some exclusions and making sure that in particular, hypnosis, depending on the practitioner that you're working with, needs to be evaluated with what that person has going on. In particular, if there's a mental health disorder, somebody is dealing with complex issues have been diagnosed with things like anxiety disorders, depression, and so forth, they really need to be only doing these things under the guidance of a proper health care professional, who's licensed to treat and work with those issues. And it's not something that you would work with over here. Although certainly in the past, I have worked with mental health care professionals that don't do hypnosis, and they say, absolutely go ahead and help them with the chronic pain stuff. And you know, I give you the Go ahead, I think this person is fine with that and just kind of keep it in the container over here to what you're working on, which is completely fine.

Kelsey Harris:

I am personally a big fan of integrative health programs. I've been to entire clinics where I can see my physio, therapist, chiropractor, massage therapists, naturopath and go to psychotherapy. And I could also give them all permission to work together to make sure I was getting the best care. I think it makes sense that this could be one of the techniques used in that sort of program that focuses on the whole bio psychosocial aspects of our health. I always like healthcare professionals to give us a technique we can try at home so that we can at least start on the self help part of things while we explore actually seeing a professional. Here's what Sam has for us.

Sam Visnic:

I think self hypnosis is probably one of the best things that people can start with. I mean, I had mentioned one of the techniques, if you start with the self hypnosis, the three to one technique, it's probably the most widely known technique, because it's so easy to do. But I do think that working with somebody is very helpful on this as well, because there is some confusion a lot of times over setting expectations. So what am I supposed to feel? Am I doing this right? You know, we got all those questions Am I supposed to like do this three to one technique, and then I just pass out or zoned out? No, that's not what happens. But you know, as you get better at doing self hypnosis techniques, or working with somebody and being hypnotized, which I think is a great experience for a lot of people to have, if they feel apprehensive about it, or nervous or weird about it, then I would say start with self hypnosis. Because once you start doing that, you'll feel comfortable with it. And then when you go and see a hypnotherapist, you'll already kind of know what to expect. Again, you're not put out you're not in La La Land when you doing these things, you're definitely paying attention. But it's very much like a guided meditation or mindfulness series, where you're actually just going through the motions, you're being led in a nice little journey. And it's being planned with the intention of what it is that you're trying to get. But start with simple things like the three to one technique. There's probably some other techniques that are available on YouTube and so forth. And pretty soon I had just started putting up pages on my website for this, I'm starting to offer more hypnotherapy out there for people who are coming in the door with the intention of wanting to have that service.

Kelsey Harris:

I'm curious about client outcomes. What are some successes that Sam has seen come out of using hypnotherapy,

Sam Visnic:

in particular is the integration between pain neuroscience education, and hypnotherapy is one of the things I'm most excited about. Because there's a lot of knowledge there that goes into. And I'll give you a quick example. So that most people are not aware that things like diagnostic imaging is something that was a real problem. Right now in the field of structural based, we're what we think is structural pain. So if somebody actually goes to the doctor, and they say, you know, my back hurts or whatever, oftentimes, rather than just being reassured and clearing out red flags, and so forth, and telling the person Hey, you're okay, just take it easy for a few days. Oftentimes, it's jumping right ahead to doing a visual diagnostic, like an MRI, or an X ray, which oftentimes leads to findings that are not really related to the pain that the person has. So for example, if you take 100 people off of the street, and you run an MRI on them, about 60% of people, they're going to show some kind of abnormality on a scan. So they have some arthritis, or they have a minor disc bulge. And these are actually very normal findings. But most people don't know this. So that when somebody is told this, and say, yeah, you have a disc bulge and you go Okay, Doc, well, what do I do? And they go, well, it's not nothing. Don't worry about it. What are you supposed to do with this information? Now you leave here, and you were just told that there's something wrong with your spine and there's nothing you can do about it. So now you have an education gap. And some people will just dismiss it and say, oh, Doctor says I'm fine. Other people will start to develop fear apprehension, so they may not Forward Bend. They might be afraid because they look up online and say this disc is going to explode if I do a forward bending activity. So for example, in these cases and some more extreme versions of what we call centralized pain, some people will develop So much that they'll actually the thought of forward bending stimulates the pain in their lower back. So we haven't even done the movement. And they're starting to actually feel pain. This is called central sensitization. And when this occurs, this is a fantastic opportunity to insert some hypnotherapy. And what we would do is some light induction. And what I would have them do is to create a safe space where they feel good and confident. And they realize they're vividly imagining something, and it's not really happening. And what I would have them do is to progressively see themselves doing forward bending in their mind, in a safe way. And what this would do is to start to reduce that vigilance in the nervous system to that repetitive for rebending. And then, you know, when we take them out of that state of consciousness, and then we stand up and test, what do we see, we see more range of motion, and we see less pain. So that is times where I've seen fantastic, fantastic results. And these scenarios, even though that might sound like a rare occurrence is far more common than you can imagine. Especially when people end up in my office where they've ended up seeing 10, 15 practitioners already. And everybody's doing the same thing, do some planks, do some core work, and that's why your problems will go away. If you just strengthen your core, it's a little bit more complicated than that. But in those types of situations, you can imagine, if somebody has that much fear and apprehension about foreign bending, they're not going to make it very far in the physical therapist office, if they're just forcing them to try to bend through it without dealing with that internal state.

Kelsey Harris:

It's a little unnerving to think that we're being told that there are things wrong with us that aren't actually causing us problems. And especially for people who already have a chronic pain or a chronic illness. Tear that Oh, yeah, there's this other abnormality, but you know, don't worry about it. Well, let's be honest, it's easy to have health anxiety when you have a legitimate health issues. I asked Sam about the similarity between this technique and some other psychotherapeutic techniques, but you'll have to subscribe to the show's Patreon page to get that part of the interview. Are you ready for our lightning round questions?

Sam Visnic:

Oh, boy. Here we go. All right. So

Kelsey Harris:

what are the top five songs that describe your life?

Sam Visnic:

It's top five songs. Wow. Okay, I'll tell you the first one that comes to mind. And maybe there's just this thing Welcome to the Jungle. You know, I always remember Guns and Roses favorite, favorite band, and I just remembered that that song just had some internal personal meaning to me that was more along the lines of graduating high school. Here you go. Have at it, do whatever and you're like, Oh, this is going to be easy. And you start to realize how complicated the world is. Right? And you know, but if you work hard enough, and you push it, you know, you get what you want. And that's kind of has some personal meaning to me. Let me think, Bob Seger Against the Wind. You're starting to see a theme here.

Kelsey Harris:

I can see the theme. Yes.

Sam Visnic:

What else comes to mind? Kenny Chesney? the good stuff. You know that song?

Kelsey Harris:

Yeah. Nice.

Sam Visnic:

I'll take that one. Give me a second here. Tears for Fears. Everybody Wants to Rule the World.

Kelsey Harris:

Nice. Good song.

Unknown:

I'm gonna have to do something on this realm. So I'm going to say The Fray. You Found Me. How about that?

Kelsey Harris:

Yeah. Nice song.

Unknown:

There you go. So we'll give you an interesting little mix of those things.

Kelsey Harris:

Very nice. What's one thing you can't go a day without doing?

Sam Visnic:

Drinking espresso. That's a must. It's like, I think my you know, if you want to talk about putting in a state you know, it's auto-. It's it's hypnosis in a cup for me. There you go.

Kelsey Harris:

All right. What's one thing you plan on doing your life that you haven't yet?

Sam Visnic:

Hmm. I'm gonna say and this is the, you know, I'll go with something short term here. I'll be starting my own podcast. I've been told probably number of times, I have a radio voice. I don't know if that's true. But also I like to ask good questions, you know, much like you. So you know, I'd like to take a stab at that and see if I, because I like it. I like to talk and I like to ask people lots of questions, and find out more about, you know, what they do and what they're all about. And that's just been something I don't know might have had a little bit of apprehension about it. But you know, I've really just kind of held back from it now. I think I should just go for it.

Kelsey Harris:

Yeah you definite y should do it. Super, super fun. And that's great. Highly r commend.

Sam Visnic:

Yep. Yep.

Kelsey Harris:

Describe your perfect day

Sam Visnic:

sleeping in not you know oversleeping and maybe till about eight o'clock getting up and you know, spending drinking espresso. Let's not forget that part. hanging out with my kids watching cartoons. You know, I gotta hopefully it's some cartoons from the 80s not you know, cartoons of what today you know, something I can kind of get them into, but hang out with them for a few because they're always so fun in the morning, taking them off to school. And to me spending time and my day doing the projects I love. I absolutely love seeing people and it seems weird but working with people with chronic pain is just immense in terms of like what I love to do. Helping people kind of navigate that terrain, getting them out of pain, or at least helping them cope with their issues much better. So that, you know, they can get on with their life and enjoy things. And spending extra time pursuing some of these extra projects. I love researching, I love reading and learning a lot more about all of the things that I did not know about that throughout the years and, you know, thinking about all those clients that I think I could have gotten better outcomes with and still kind of chasing the solutions to what I could have done to help them better. And the next time I see this case, and learning more about hypnotherapy, and just becoming better and better at it, and also chasing against some of those projects like podcasting and so forth, I think and to me, I could spend I'm I'm absolutely a workaholic, when in that side of things my wife is as well, she's a clinical nutritionist, so for her, it's like just all day, every day, we would love to do this, and then but we do have to cut out and then go home and spend more time with my kids, doing sports and so forth, and just having family time at night. And then at the end of the night, you gotta have a big show, you know, whatever that show is, you know, at least put an hour in on it. And there's been some great ones now I think are great. And and heading off to bed, you know, keeping things super simple. And I think I'm fairly close to that lifestyle now.

Kelsey Harris:

Oh, that's great. And how do you inspire your clients to make the most of their lives?

Sam Visnic:

Whoo, I would have to say the probably the most important thing is to teaching people about the fact that they can not only be aware of their own thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and so forth, but how much they can change those things, regardless of how they think that they're so those things are so resistant, and they have a life of their own. That's to say you're never stuck in any state of consciousness, if you are just step outside of it. And then you're already in another one. And I remind people that that's the case, and your states of mind are the way that you access resources. So if you don't feel motivated, then you can change that if you feel like you're associated or stuck in the feeling and the experience of your pain, you can dissociate from that. And you could always associate into something else, that's a better state. And that leads to different behaviors and outcomes and how you experience your life. I think if you could get that down, and really focused on that every day, in a lot of different ways and context, your life is going to be far better off.

Kelsey Harris:

That's grea . Sam this has been awesome. Wh re can we find you and follow y

Sam Visnic:

website and easiest way releasemuscletherapy.com. A d as you probably can tell a l t more than just muscle stuff. B t I have a lot of stuff on t ere too about that. I'm pretty a tive on Instagram. So the h ndle is release muscle th rapy as well. And YouTube and Yo Tube, you'll find me at two Sa Visnic, you know, so yo tube.com/samvisnic, you'll ee a lot of content on there, ou'll be seeing a lot more ab ut this topic in particu ar, see me moving into hypnosi very carefully as to avoid a l of that excess stigma and, an hopefully be able to collabo ate with professionals like yo rself to get more great content on this topic out there.

Kelsey Harris:

Fantastic. All right, and I'll make sure that's all linked in the show notes as well. So thank you again, so much for coming on. This has been really, really informative. I really appreciate it.

Sam Visnic:

Thank you. I loved it.

Kelsey Harris:

hypnotherapy sounds like a really interesting option. actually thinking about it because it affects the brain in the same way that mindfulness and meditation do. It might be a nice alternative for someone who doesn't like or for whatever reason is opposed to mindfulness or meditation. Obviously, there are advantages to doing this with the trained professional. But I also think I'm going to try the three to one technique on my own this week and see how it goes. If you also happen to try it out, make sure that you take myself and Sam on Instagram so that you can let us know how it goes for you as well. So let's take a moment for our self reflection. What did you notice about your thoughts and feelings during this episode? Let's try a little perspective taking did they change at all from before you listen to the episode to now? What are you noticing as you take another step back and think about your noticing everyone thank you as always for listening. And please don't forget you can support the show on Patreon you get a number of perks including shout outs extra content from the episodes such as this one and two ebooks to help you improve your well being and there's just one tier right now it's $5 per month and all the money just gets reinvested back into this show so I can make it even better for you. Alright, have a great week and keep on making the most of it. Special thanks to Nicole Skura or the original music and to harity Williams for their riginal artwork.