Relaxation, hypnosis and cognitive therapies

What are they?

There are many forms of psychological therapies. They can be divided into those which focus on relaxation and those which focus on patterns of thinking and feeling (cognitive therapies).

The purpose of relaxation is to cancel out the effects of stress and fatigue. Relaxation can help control pain caused by inflammatory arthritis. Learning how to relax your muscles and get the tension out of your body can be very helpful for painful conditions such as inflammatory arthritis.

Hypnosis is a deeply relaxed state, induced by a practitioner, in which you’re given therapeutic suggestions to encourage changes in your behaviour or relief of your symptoms. Hypnosis for someone with arthritis might include a suggestion that the pain can be turned down like the volume of a radio. There are several methods that involve progressive relaxation of the muscles:

  • visualisation, which involves achieving a relaxed state through picturing healing images
  • autogenic training, which concentrates on experiencing physical sensations, such as warmth and heaviness, in different parts of your body in a learnt sequence.

Cognitive therapies

Cognitive therapies involve talking and aim to change negative patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving.

The most widely used cognitive therapy is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). It cannot resolve your problems, but can help you manage them in a more positive way by breaking them down into smaller parts. It encourages you to examine how your actions affect he way you think and feel. CBT is often helpful in long-term health conditions including arthritis. CBT may be done on a one-to-one basis, in a group or with a computer program.

Are they safe?

There’s quite good evidence that these techniques can help with pain and associated symptoms such as anxiety.