Helen Brooks - The Tummy Whisperer
Hello, my name is Helen Brooks. I'm a Senior Clinical Hypnotherapist, with a Degree in Applied Psychology, Diploma in Hypnotherapy and thousands of hours of clinical experience. I specialise in treating IBS by combining gut directed hypnotherapy, applied psychology and wellness coaching.
The majority of my clients are those that have failed to see changes in their IBS symptoms despite implementing dietary changes or taking medication. This is where gut directed hypnotherapy really comes into its own.
So what is gut directed hypnotherapy? It is using hypnosis to change the function of the gut through the subconscious mind and the gut brain connection.
Most people are surprised to find out that gut directed hypnotherapy is a well researched treatment option for IBS. For most people hypnosis has an association with stage shows and entertainment which creates a misunderstanding of the process.
Hypnosis is simply a state of trance, a natural state that we go into a number of times in any one day. Think about day dreaming or ‘dropping off’ to sleep. These are good examples of that state of absorbed attention or the relaxed state you enter before you go to sleep . You are not under someone's control or going to do anything you do not want to and you are still aware of everything going on around you. In fact if you think about listening to a guided meditation it will give you a much more realistic idea of what to expect than anything you may have seen on TV.
The subconscious is the part of the mind that is responsible for all the automatic functions that we don’t consciously think about such as breathing, temperature regulation, blood pressure and digestion. Being in a state of trance enables us to work with the subconscious mind through suggestions, imagery and metaphor. The subconscious uses these to change gut function.
A course of gut directed therapy has been shown to restore more regular bowel movements, reduce bloating, relieve pain and improve other non colonic symptoms such as nausea, headaches and fatigue whilst boosting positive feelings to increase life satisfaction.*
So how does hypnotherapy help IBS? So first of all I must be clear in saying IBS is most definitely in your body and not in your head. Hypnotherapy is all about utilising the brain to make changes within the body it is an effective treatment because it works with the gut brain connection. We are teaching the mind to control the body.
In some people with IBS there is a miscommunication between the gut and the brain, communication becomes hypersensitive or hyperactive creating pain and changes in gut function. Since IBS is a functional disorder IBS is not just about what you’re eating. It’s about you as a whole. Your thoughts and feelings affect the way the gut functions. Every emotion you feel creates a corresponding reaction within the gut. When I work with you I get to understand you and your life in a holistic way and understand the emotional landscape of your life.
As well as changing the communication between the gut and brain hypnotherapy can reduce stress and anxiety that wreak havoc with digestion. Digestive distress then exacerbates stress meaning you’re stuck in a cycle that's hard to break. As well as using hypnotherapy I incorporate wellness coaching and applied psychology to enable you to make significant changes to stress levels and create the optimum state of mind for wellbeing.
I am the creator of ‘Transform your IBS with The Tummy Whisperer’ an 8 week programme designed to reduce bloating, relieve pain, and restore bowel function. I help you relieve constipation, calm diarrhoea and create feelings of control and confidence.
The programme was created to enable you to access effective support in the comfort of your own home. Many of my clients found travel difficult because of urgency issues. This programme was the solution to that, of course now It also means that treatment can be uninterrupted whatever the current Covid regulations are. My methods are evidence based, safe, natural and easy to use.
*Whorwell PJ; Prior A; Faragher EB. Controlled trial of hypnotherapy in the treatment of severe refractory irritable-bowel syndrome.The Lancet 1984, 2: 1232-4.
This was the earliest formal study of hypnosis treatment for IBS and remains to date one of the best studies in this research area, as it was thoroughly placebo-controlled and showed dramatically greater improvement from hypnosis treatment above the placebo. Thirty patients with severe symptoms that had been unresponsive to other treatment were randomly chosen to receive either 7 sessions of hypnotherapy (15 patients) or 7 sessions of psychotherapy plus placebo pills (15 patients).
The psychotherapy group showed a small but significant improvement in abdominal pain and distension, and in general well-being but not bowel activity pattern. The hypnotherapy patients showed a dramatic improvement in all IBS symptoms.
Gut, 1987 Apr, 28:4, 423-5. This report summed up further experience after 35 patients were added to the initial 15 treated with hypnotherapy in their earlier 1984 Lancet study. For the whole combined 50 patient group, success rate was 95% for classic IBS cases, but substantially less for IBS patients with atypical symptom picture or significant psychological problems.
A study by Dr. Simone Peters of Monash University found a course of hypnotherapy equally as effective as the FODMAP diet. So for those unable to follow a FODMAP diet due to disordered eating or other reasons a course of hypnotherapy is a useful alternative.
I offer a free initial consultation to all prospective clients to ensure that working together is likely to create the positive outcomes you desire.
Here I share Dr Shazia Hasan’s story of her IBS journey with me.
“Hand on heart, the Tummy Whisperer course has transformed my life. The results have surpassed all my expectations and I feel as if I am able to live a normal life which is something I didn’t think I would ever be able to do again.”
I found Helen after struggling with bad IBS for over 10 years. I had already worked with a nutritionist for a few years and was taking lots of (expensive) supplements including probiotics and nutritional support products. I had done the FODMAPs diet so had identified food triggers already. The main one for me was onions which appear in the majority of savoury foods and food products. Despite all this work IBS still blighted many aspects of both my professional and personal life.
I was getting IBS symptoms such as pain, wind, bloating and loose stools at least twice a day. Everything I ate or drank had to be tightly controlled at all times. I wouldn’t eat for a few hours before going for a walk or run or any outdoor activities such as on holiday, to reduce the risk of any IBS symptoms appearing. Other triggers were stress and anxiety, which are unavoidable for me as a single mum, working full-time as a doctor.
I started to do my own research around IBS and learned that gut-directed hypnotherapy was effective for some people. However not many hypnotherapists have experience of this disease so it took me a few months of digging around to find Helen!
I am just coming to the end of Helen’s 8-week Tummy Whisperer course. The course is structured so that every week there is a different focus which has given me time to understand the different aspects of IBS for me as an individual such as the impact of breathing, engaging the subconscious mind and using metaphors as well as visualisation.
I was a complete nerd and made sure I completed all the reading in the weekly modules as well as listening to the audios at least once a day! I did lots of additional reading too particularly on the gut-brain-microbiome research which has been fascinating and helped me to understand why I may have developed IBS in the first place.
In the first 4 weeks of the course I noticed a small but significant improvement in my symptoms. This encouraged me to persevere and the regular, bi-weekly check-ins with Helen also kept me motivated. She has been a calm voice of confidence who has had faith in me all along. In the last 3 weeks though I seem to have turned a corner which has been truly incredible. I have had only one bout of IBS symptoms per week and those are milder than before as well as being easily managed with the techniques I have learned from Helen.
I have stacks more energy and can actually go out for runs and walks without a second thought. Due to Covid measures most socialising involves outdoor walking at the moment so it could not have come at a better time.
Hand on heart, the Tummy Whisperer course has transformed my life. The results have surpassed all my expectations and I feel as if I am able to live a normal life which is something I didn’t think I would ever be able to do again. I am enormously grateful to Helen for developing such an effective course. IBS is so widespread yet so poorly understood and traditional medicine is pretty ineffective. If like me IBS permeates many aspects of your life then consider doing this course - it could change your life!
Dr Shazia Hasan.