55: Using Hypnotic Interventions in Nursing- Christy Cowgill, BCH, RN, CRNA, MBA, CHBE, NC-BC

About Christy Cowgill

Christy Cowgill, BCH, RN, CRNA, MBA, CHBE, NC-BC
Christy Cowgill is a Board Certified Hypnotist, Nurse Coach, Anesthetist, and Trainer of Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), Time Line Therapy®, and Hypnosis. With decades of experience in the healthcare industry, Christy has spent much of her career using hypnotic tools to help people when they need them most.

In 2020, Christy founded Enter Into Calm, a company that serves patients who want more control over their own healing journey. Her mission is to inspire others who find themselves stressed out, overwhelmed, and exhausted, as she once did. She teaches the techniques that she used to recover from provider burnout, deal with a disabling chronic back injury, help with the stress of infertility and subsequent childbirth, and build better interpersonal communication skills.

Christy is a sought-after speaker who shares her expertise on topics related to language and practical tools for improving focus, creating change, and supporting the mind-body in healing. She is a returning speaker at the National Guild of Hypnotists and presents workshops for the American Holistic Nurse Association. Teaching is a true passion of hers, and she loves leading group processes, facilitating powerful workshops, and training others in the art and science of Hypnosis and NLP. Her trainings meet all standards and requirements held forth by the appropriate Boards.

Christy is also the creator of the Hypnosis for Nurses Course offered by the Integrative Nurse Coach Academy. She is dedicated to helping others achieve a sense of calm and control in their lives, and her clients rave about the positive impact her work has had on them. Whether you are dealing with stress, chronic pain, or looking to improve your communication skills, Christy has the tools to help you achieve your goals.

Contact

christy@enterintocalm.com

Choosing Hypnotic Interventions in Nursing- Christy Cowgill, BCH, RN, CRNA, MBA, CHBE, NC-BC Highlights

“We see this a lot in oncology too, where we’re seeing a lot of use of hypnosis in even outpatient oncology, Nurses learning hypnotic language and using it there. Patients starting to feel more supported. Like, I knew you supported me before, but when we add that extra layer of using our communication styles with more conscious effort, our patients feel it, they draw more meaning from those experiences.” ~Christy Cowgill BCH, RN, CRNA, MBA, CHBE, NC-BC

Ah-Ha Moments

  • Placebo and beliefs are powerful and can have reduced negative symptomology
  • Nocebo is a negative suggestion, like side effects, headaches, nausea, weight gain etc.
  • Elimination of or creating positive flips in language and words will support our patients more effectively
  • Hypnosis is a state of being conscious and focused and taking in suggestions as if they are true
  • Adding in positivity to neutralize the negatives helps support full healing
  • Words are important for the meaning you understand for your healing
  • Neuro-linguistic programming in offering feedback in the workplace with a “Feedback Sandwich”  1. Share the positive, 2. Growing need (negative), 3. End with a positive
  • Check out our resources for more and listen!!

Links and Resources

YouTube What every nurse should know

A pilot study of trained ICU doulas providing early psychological support to critically ill patients

Dr David Spiegel and Hypnosis Research at Stanford

Dr Milton Erickson and His contributions to Hypnosis

Helen Erickson and Margaret Erickson (related to Milton) in Nursing Space 

Techniques still used in modern hypnosis and Hypnobirthing®

National Guild of Hypnotists

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Choosing Hypnotic Interventions in Nursing- Christy Cowgill, BCH, RN, CRNA, MBA, CHBE, NC-BC Transcript

Nicole Vienneau  00:00

Welcome, everyone, to Integrative Nurse Coaches in ACTION! podcast. My name is Nicole Vienneau. I am your host and I’m also a Board Certified Nurse Coach and today, get ready everyone. We have a returning guest on our podcast today.

Christy Cowgill was on our podcast in Episode 22, which is a few years ago now by this time, and she has said yes to come on our podcast again because she’s got some exciting news to share with us. And it’s all about hypnosis.

And I’m super excited because I will tell you I honestly don’t know much about hypnosis and I am really, really intrigued in learning and understanding more from the perspective of Christy Cowgill, Board Certified Nurse Coach, Board Certified hypnotist, and trainer of hypnosis, trainer of neuro-linguistic programming, and a trainer of timeline therapy, who also is a CRNA.

She has tons of experience to share with us. And I’m just going to stop talking because I just want to welcome Christy. Welcome, Christy!

Christy Cowgill  01:16

Oh, thank you, Nicole. It’s so good to be back and good to speak with you again and have this great conversation. So thank you for welcoming me back. And yes, Episode 22 was so long ago, so many great podcasts since. So yes, thank you for having me back.

Nicole Vienneau  01:33

Yes. Thank you. Yes, I remember, we talked about hypnosis back then. And the title of the podcast was Hypnosis and the Power of Words.

Christy Cowgill  01:43

Yes, yes. I’m still driving home that message. Our words are so impactful. And yeah, I’m glad to just be able to share some more insights that I’ve learned over the past year and a half with you and the audience, of course.

Nicole Vienneau  01:58

Oh, fantastic. I do want to let our listeners know that Christy has a wide array of blogs and information on her website all about hypnosis. And so let’s turn the time back a little bit to understand more about what even intrigued you about hypnosis, what called you to this field?

Christy Cowgill  02:23

Yeah, I think that’s a great question. And one that I’ve thought about and considered multiple times, because the first time that I heard hypnosis was as a brand new Nurse anesthetist, in 2003, sitting at my very first conference, newly certified CRNA. And I was listening to a very experienced Nurse anesthetist at the front of the room, who was also a hypnotist.

And he was talking about the use of our words, particularly the use of words in and around surgery, and how our words themselves are hypnotic. And I’m gonna give you a couple of examples here to kind of set the stage because here we were all in the field of anesthesiology, right, where we’re helping people ameliorate their pain and ameliorate their suffering.

Sometimes acute pain, sometimes, you know, the worst moments of their life. They’re facing surgery, we’re helping them with epidurals. And we’re using the word pain all the time. Pain, pain, pain. And he’s like, you know, what we really want as Nurses, as Nurse anesthetists, is for people to be comfortable, to feel safe, to find peace in their body again.

But yet we’re continuing to use those words pain, what’s your pain score? I’m going to hold up this pain scale, you know, are you really sad? Are you crying? Is it a 1 or a 10? We’re always asking about pain. He said what if we were to just come at the same answer by asking a different question?

And he went on to say, you know, we do the same thing. People are waking up from surgery, and we’re asking if they’re nauseated. Well, they have to go inside their body and do a quick assessment. Am I nauseated? Is that feeling that I’m feeling in my stomach, is it nausea, or is it something else?

And so if we change our language, we actually give less pain medications, we actually give less anti emetics because we’re asking questions that are helping our clients focus on what they want, instead of what they don’t want. And it made so much sense at the time. And this was, you know, 20 years back.

And so that’s where I first understood the power of our words. But I really never connected it to hypnosis. I was still a skeptic, you know, it was like hypnosis just seems something that was a 20 or 30 minute relaxation session that you… you know, there was a recording that was created and yeah, people were using it for weight loss and to stop smoking.

But I didn’t realize that we could use that, and our language could make such a difference, you know? So that was the first time I was exposed to it, but I will say my eyes weren’t completely open for many years later. And they were opened a little bit more brightly as other disciplines started to point out, hey, Christy, what is happening that’s different between you and your CRNA colleagues?

Because you’re giving less medications in the operating room, less medications are needed upon hitting the recovery room. Your patients aren’t as nauseated, they’re waking up happy. Some of them are waking up and they’re talking about the golf course that they were on, you know, three months ago.

And I realized that our intentions and our words are powerful, it carries our patients through some of the most challenging times, where we can use our words and our language and helping them to achieve what they wanted. And until that was pointed out, I didn’t even realize that I was doing something called hypnosis, that I was offering that.

And it made such a huge difference. So I’ve continued to do that. I’ve continued to encourage Nurses that I work with to change our language. And it’s been a hard battle, because we know in our flow sheets, or in our EMRs, we have to answer the question, what is their pain score?

You know, and do these assessments, but we can change our language and how we get to the same answer. And I think that’s where I got my… kind of cut my teeth into, like, how powerful words were. And then it was my own experience with hypnosis that really set the stage for like, okay, something within me changed. And so we can maybe get to that story in a moment or two. But yeah, that’s where I first was introduced to hypnosis.

Nicole Vienneau  06:37

I think of all of the ways that our charting systems and our interactions with each other are set up to really talk about pain, the negative sides of things, potentially, and not that that’s bad or good. It just is. And so when you say, okay, changing the language, what could be a way that we could instead of saying, okay, what is your pain level? How could we rearrange the words there?

Christy Cowgill  07:08

Yeah, I think that’s a great question. So you know, you can always just say, “Are you comfortable?” You know, people can say no, right? And then you can dig deeper, right? But are you comfortable now? Are you hungry? That’s the exact opposite of being nauseated because those two things don’t exist in the same space. Right?

So if somebody were to start to wake up from surgery, and you just say, “Are you hungry?” And they can say no, not yet, right, but you’re not sending them to a negative suggestion. We always have to disclose to our patients those side effects to the medications, right?

And so adding a quick way to neutralize something that’s negative. So, “Here, I’m going to give you this medication to help with the comfort, help make you more comfortable.” And obviously, we want to offer the side effects there. We could also say, “You know, some people might experience a headache, but if you were to get that we could treat that.”

Instead of listing out this list of negative experiences they can experience. So in healthcare, we are well aware of the phenomenon of placebo. We’re well aware of that, we’ve studied it, we’ve researched it. As a matter of fact, there’s been recent studies that have shown how powerful beliefs are, that we’ve actually enrolled people for IBS in a study and said you’re either going to get the IBS medications, or you’re going to get the placebo medication, which is just a sugar pill.

So they’re well informed that they could get the placebo. And they’re randomly selected for the placebo group. And they joined that placebo, and lo and behold, at the end of the study, we were finding that the placebo group, who knew they were taking sugar pills, still had great results reducing their symptomology of IBS, even greater than some of the members who were getting the most beneficial medications that we know that treat IBS.

So the power of our belief is important. Nocebos are the opposite of a placebo. A nocebo is a negative suggestion, those side effects, you know, you might develop a headache or fatigue or sweating, you know. And when we suggest that to somebody, lo and behold, they can start to experience that just at that offer of a suggestion.

And when you think of the great hypnotists and people who have been hypnotized, they have people under hypnosis, formal hypnosis where they’re nice and relaxed, and made the suggestion that a pen touching their skin was really a hot poker. And they would touch the person’s skin with a pencil or a pen, so the patient had that tactile stimulation, but they told them it was a hot poker.

And when the patient came out of this hypnotic state, they looked at their skin, and there’s actually blister formation at just the suggestion that there’s a hot poker there, right? When in reality, it’s just a pencil. So we know that our minds are powerful, and as Nurses, gosh, you know, we know that mind body connection.

That’s instilled in us in Nursing school. What we’re not equating that to, though, is also the power of the mind body connection. And that’s where hypnosis, a state of being very conscious, and focused, and taking in suggestions as if they’re true, can really be that placebo effect that we know works.

So eliminating nocebos, eliminating the negative suggestions. And sometimes we can’t necessarily eliminate them, but offering a positive spin to it. If you get a headache, we can treat it. If you experience this, I’m here to support you through that. That just offers that little layer of comfort.

In the operating room, when we have to secure somebody’s arms, our patients don’t know that that’s common, that once they get nice and sleepy and relaxed, their arms might drift off the rails, so we’re securing them. But we’ll just say we’re going to put these straps on now, and in that person’s mind, they’re like I’m being strapped down, you know, and we’ll hear this later from our patients.

Well, last time I was strapped down, I felt like I was being crucified, you know, I felt really stuck. But if we just say I’m putting on these straps for your safety, you know, it all of a sudden changes their meaning, the patient’s meaning of that experience.

And that’s where we can do many things with our language, either adding in a little more positivity to neutralize, or eliminating the negative altogether, if we can. Asking questions like are you comfortable? Or are you hungry? Those are very positive things, but we’re able to get to the same answer.

Nicole Vienneau  12:08

Thank you for that very clear explanation. Yeah. We want to get to an end result, to find out an answer or find out how the patient is. And there are many ways in which to do that.

If we can learn and reframe some of the ways in which we speak with our patients, and you shared quite a few examples there, then it offers the patients more understanding, and more ways to really assess themselves in different capacity instead of always looking for the negative things, or the side effects of, or the long list of this could happen to you that’s on the TV commercials that we listen to, on the news, you know, all of that.

Christy Cowgill  12:58

Yeah, and this happens from the patient side of things very unconsciously. You know, Mother Teresa says, “It’s not what you do, it’s how you made them feel.” And I think Maya Angelou has the same concept. It’s not the things that we do, but it’s how we make them feel.

When somebody walks away from our… their experience in healthcare, from our care as Nurses, they look back, and was that a positive experience or a negative one? In the moment, they’re just in the moment, but it’s how do we make them feel after? Did we make them feel safe and secure?

Like, those are very unconscious things. So consciously, the person is just taking the meaning of the words, but it’s how do they feel about it later. And we know that rates of medicalized trauma are increasing. 2013, 2015, we really started to hear patients, who had near death experiences, come back from that side of things and tell us more about where we were doing things right in healthcare and where we were doing things wrong.

And one of the stories that resonates with me is the 2015—  and you can YouTube this—  it’s called What Every ICU Nurse and Doctor Needs to Know, and it’s a YouTube video from a patient named Kathy Thorpe.

She has since then become a speaker and an author and a patient advocate, just getting the message out that during her—  I think it was a 30 day ICU stay after a major accident—  there was one Nurse whose words impacted her, gave her hope and courage to keep thriving, keep surviving.

She was sedated, she was intubated in the ICU, and I know you have an ICU background too. You know that scene. You know where that is. And as Nurses, we also can recognize that if that woman was in the ICU for 30 days, there was far more than one Nurse who interacted with her.

But her recollection is only one Nurse made a difference in how he talked to her, what he discussed about her, and how he did more than just the task of silencing the buttons on the ventilator. He would silence it and then add in something like “You’re safe and calm, I got that for you. Look at that, you’re breathing on your own.

That’s why the monitor is going off.” Just adding that little neutralization of that experience for her, stuck with her. And once she came through and could say, hey, healthcare, we need to do just a little bit more, because I know your hearts are in the right place, but those words are important.

The words that I hear when I’m sedated, the words that I hear at those critical times in the emergency room, or when my eyes can’t open because of the trauma, are really important. The words that somebody hears as their provider is telling them that they have found cancer, right, the words that you hear after that are vitally important in the meaning that you draw in your own healing journey.

So flipping that as a patient, those words that you hear can make or break your experience. And that’s what we’re learning from stories such as Kathy’s story, and her putting that on YouTube and writing a book. But I have to ask the question, okay, that was in 2015, are we doing a better job?

And what I do know is, as for myself, I didn’t ever have a class in hypnotic language. I never have a class in, well, here’s how you need to kind of soften that approach. And I do know that intuitively, many of us go there, right? So when I’m teaching hypnosis to Nurses, they’re like, oh, some of these things I already do, some of them I used to do.

And now, once I know that that can make a difference, I’m going to do it more often. Right? So it’s just kind of up leveling our communication skills and realizing that our words have a lot of power to either hinder somebody’s healing or help their healing journey. And we know how to connect that mind body connection.

So if our entry into the mind is a thought, our words create a thought and meaning within the person. So it’s super powerful for our patient’s journey, as well as for our own. You know, we can be our own harsh critics, we can use words that we don’t like, you know, we look in the mirror like, Oh, my God, I’m fat and ugly.

Well, what if those weren’t the words that we heard? What if like, wow, I’m pretty amazing. And I’m pretty darn beautiful, right? Different meaning, you start your day differently, right? So hypnosis is also how you use communication with ourselves. It’s that conscious mind connecting with the unconscious mind.

Nicole Vienneau  17:40

Yes. And I just want to go back to the YouTube video, What Every ICU Nurse and Doctor Needs to Know. I’ll definitely share the link to this in our show notes. And I was thinking to myself, oh, I would want to be that Nurse that she remembered.

Christy Cowgill  17:59

Right.

Nicole Vienneau  18:00

Right. And we all would. I know all our listeners would want to be that Nurse. We want to speak from our hearts. We want to speak in the way that will make a difference for our patients.

Christy Cowgill  18:12

And we get busy and there’s time constraints. And we forget, you know, we forget that we’re pumping them full of inotropes, you know, to keep their heart beating. What do inotropes do on an emotional level? They make people more emotional, right? We give people sedatives like Propofol, a hypnotic anesthetic to sedate them, also tapping into that unconscious.

That’s why it’s called a hypnotic experience, right? So they’re more emotional, they’re more in tune with things that have more subjective experiences with them. And as Nurses, we forget that we’re really busy. And I’d want to be that Nurse too.

And I take pause, like how many times have I not done that, not taken that extra moment, because I was busy or thinking about things that I had to do after work or all the tasks that I had to do. And the interesting thing, Nicole, is, you know, at the Mayo Clinic in 2021, in the ICU, they took birth doulas. So this particular researcher, you know, she’s like, we can’t… I don’t want to train Nurses to do it.

I can’t train any more psychotherapists or psych students to do this. I’m gonna bring birth doulas in because birth doulas are phenomenal at holding space. So she got them at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester. She gave them a one day lecture lesson on hypnotic suggestible language, and then put these doulas in the ICU alongside the patients. I think it was like maybe one or two hours a day.

And that person would just be there in that space to talk with the doctors, the Nurses, the family members, and the patient while the patient was sedated and intubated. Just using these hypnotic language skills. And those that made it out of the ICU and could then recollect the words that were used, found a great value to that.

But in the pilot study was a patient whose family had asked their mom to be removed from the study, citing that, you know what, I don’t like how that doula is talking to my mom, it’s not the language that my mom would want to hear. So that patient was pulled out. But later, as she recovered, and people pieced it together, she was talking about there was this voice early on in my ICU stay, there was this message that I got from this person.

And it really gave me a lot of encouragement to pull through. It was new understanding that helped me feel really encouraged. And somebody put it together that that was the doula. They brought the doula in and this patient just burst into tears.

She’s like, that’s the voice. That’s the person who helped me through this. And it was phenomenal for the researcher to put this into words, because this was a client that fell out of the study, out of the research, but remembered that impact.

And so the lessons that I learned from reading that is that the words that we use may sound silly, may sound redundant, may be how we wouldn’t talk to a friend who was sitting across from us at coffee, but the words that we need to use when people are hurt or injured or in, you know, ICU and sedated, are different.

They’re different. That experience, and then meaning that they take from the words that we use, are different. So I found that fascinating about the story. And I also found that study fascinating because some of the Nurses were like, of course, cheering it on. They’re like, yes, we need more people doing this at the bedside.

But other Nurses said, I’m not so sure about this. That’s my job. Right? Again, it’s like, okay, well, if Nurses were using this language with volition, then there wouldn’t have been a need to have the study done in the first place. But the fact that our patients, who are telling us we could do more… they know we care.

We see this a lot in oncology too, where we’re seeing a lot of use of hypnosis in even outpatient oncology, Nurses learning hypnotic language and using it there. Patients starting to feel more supported. Like, I knew you supported me before, but when we add that extra layer of using our communication styles with more conscious effort, our patients feel it, they draw more meaning from those experiences.

Nicole Vienneau  22:28

I can’t help but think of just our day to day conversation. So, I think of teams in hospital. You know, we’re working side by side with so many different people. And the language in which we use to communicate when people are not sedated.

Or yeah, and how much learning about this and how we shift our words and how we shift the meaning of them potentially, and how they come across, could positively affect how we work with one another.

Christy Cowgill  23:03

Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think that’s where I started to explore hypnosis as an art form, because it’s ancient. Hypnosis has been around since the start of time. We see it even in Greek mythology, right?

As we come into the 1980s, where we really started to discover how the mind works, and we started to look at great hypnotists such as Dr. Milton Erickson, and great family psychotherapists, and great family counselors such as Virginia Satir, and look at how they use language with their clients and got results quickly, there was this whole fascinating segment that’s called neuro-linguistic programming.

Neuro meaning our neurology, how we take meaning, how we feel about something. Linguistics— the words that we use. And programming—  maybe not the word that I would choose to describe this phenomenon, but the person who… you know, the two who kind of discovered this one was a computer scientist, right? So programming made sense to him.

But I like to think, you know, our unconscious mind—  kind of that operating system. What’s going on in our unconscious mind, where we’re creating meanings and outputs for things, is kind of programming. So in the 1980s, we started to look at language in that way. And we started to say, okay, so how are we getting the results that are proven, that are sustainable, that are actionable?

And it was around the use of words and language. And Dr. Milton Erickson really championed a lot of that with his use of using metaphors, of using hypnotic language to help shift people’s perceptions. He wasn’t just doing that… now, he was a psychiatrist, so he was using that with patients, yes, but what he also noted as he was using it with his other relationships, with leadership, was, you know, like, how can management talk to the people that they’re leading?

How can teams talk? How can we extrapolate more from our words? And so, NLP has gone in a lot of different directions, including in the business sector and in politics and policy and media transformation. And where we don’t see it as much yet is in healthcare, where we could really benefit from that.

But let me give you an example in healthcare. If somebody is in management, we coach them on how to give feedback, right? How to give feedback to your direct reports, right? That’s probably… if it’s not, it should be, in everyone who’s in Nursing leadership, once they start to lead other people, how to give feedback. And it’s called the feedback sandwich.

First, you tell them something that they’re doing positive, right, then you’re gonna get into where there’s growing edge or what’s negative, and then you’re going to end on a positive, you know. You’re giving them the two buns, and the meat in the middle is where they need to work on. But you’re doing positive, negative, positive.

The feedback sandwich. And I could see you smiling, because it’s like, we use that all the time in management leadership. And that’s the use of minding our words and minding our language so the person hearing that can get the meaning that we really want them to. We’re not trying to knock them down and say, “You dummy, you did this wrong.”

We’re really, like, you’re doing a lot of things right. And here’s what I noticed where you can change, and I know that you can do that. Right? Being very supportive. But do we often do that with our patients? We think about that. We think about just an interaction with primary care, you come in for your 15 min appointment.

“Well, what’s the problem? How long have you had the problem? Call me back when you have more problems.” We’re not even assessing, well, what are they doing great, you know? And I think that is an area of healthcare that really needs to be explored.

Like, if we’re doing this in other areas, if real estate agents are learning the use of hypnotic language to help you find the house of your dreams, why aren’t we using it for our patients and for ourselves to find our future of our dreams, our healing journey of our dreams? So that’s a little bit about that background of NLP, it’s a newer methodology of taking all that’s good in psychology, and being able to apply that to our language skills.

Nicole Vienneau  27:20

Beautiful. So good. So good. Like I said at the beginning, I don’t know much about this world. I do recall, though, when I was, I think it was in third grade or fourth grade, we had to do a speech. And I did do my speech because I was interested in hypnosis at the time. And I started my speech with something like, “Look deeply into my eyes.”

You know, as a young girl. And you know, some people probably still have this perception of what hypnosis could be like and what a session would be like. And is this something that you… you know, can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Christy Cowgill  28:04

Sure, I can. So I’ve talked a lot about hypnotic derived language, right? Because I think that’s the most practical, instant, like, how can we make a difference right here and now, right? So we can change the way we use our words.

Now, if we’re using hypnosis, if we’re doing hypnosis and looking deeply into somebody’s eyes, which is probably not how it started, but it is true how we see it on movies, how we imagine it. And then we have stage hypnosis, which we’ve seen too, like people coming up on stage and going into this trance like state.

Nicole Vienneau  28:37

I do have to interrupt for a minute, because I do have a recollection of something like that in my early 20s, somewhere along the lines, being on stage.

Christy Cowgill  28:47

Yeah, yeah. It’s very common, you know, like, college kids, you know, it was… you know, stage hypnotists go on the college circuit, and it’s a great way to entertain people. Why? Because we are all suggestible. Right? We are all suggestible. And we’ve all been hypnotized at many times in our life.

So if you’ve ever been absorbed in a really good book, right, and you’re just like, it’s a page turner, and you’re just feeling all the impacts of those characters, and somebody comes home in your house and says, “Hey, Nicole, are you going to cook dinner tonight?” And you answer, you may say yes, and you’re still absorbed in the book.

That person has heard, oh, you’re making dinner tonight. You forgot that you said yes. Right? You’re just entranced in that moment, just being part of the book. Or if you’ve been addicted to a Netflix series and just been hooked on that, and something happens to that main character, and you find that there’s tears welling up in your eyes.

Well, that’s also hypnosis. That experience is not happening to you, but you’ve connected with it. Right? And it’s causing a feeling in you, an emotion in you. Just like being absorbed in a really good book is causing you to answer questions that you may not remember answering. Because you were just there in that moment. You’re still conscious, you’re fully awake.

You’re focusing your attention and you’re becoming more suggestible. Now, if you’re like me, sometimes, you know, you’ve turned on the TV, and it used to be that we had a lot of commercials, now I realize we can stream them out, but I’ve fallen prey to that, like, hey, for three payments of $30 or whatever, you too can have this great back scratcher.

And the next time you get an itch on your back, you buy a back scratcher. Have you ever like, just hit buy, when it was something you really didn’t need? What was going on there? They were using hypnotic language in their marketing to like, get under your skin, to be like, unconsciously you’re like, oh, man, I really need that because I do… my back does itch every once in awhile.

What if I did have this back scratcher, right? And $90 later you too have this, right? So hypnosis is all around us. And it causes us to be absorbed in something, maybe forget that we answered a question. It causes us to feel emotion of things that aren’t really happening to us necessarily, right? It could cause us to make purchases. So hypnosis is there, and it’s a very subjective phenomenon.

We’re all going to experience that differently. We could all be reading the same book, and not have the same moment where we’re just all into it. And our hypnosis experience can go up and down too. Sometimes we can get really into the book, sometimes we’re not. Sometimes we’re driving down the road, because driving is something that we unconsciously do, and we miss our exit because we’re thinking about something else.

So our mind can go in those different directions. And that is all a hypnotic experience. So when you’re bringing somebody up on stage, they’re coming in happily like, yeah, I want to see if this guy can really make me look like I’m going fishing or see if I can really see the bird. So they’re just cluing into that creative, emotional, that very unconscious part of us.

And I say unconscious, some people would use subconscious, but the unconscious part of us that we’re not aware of in the moment, we’re not aware of right then and there. They’re doing that for purposes of entertainment.

When we’re doing it for purposes of therapy, or changing somebody, helping them heal, helping them reconnect to their resources, helping them reconnect to their selves, we’re using the same type of experience.

We’re allowing them to be in a state of hyper focus, and we’re offering them suggestions to do something differently, right? Experience something, find resources, or connect to something. So I like to teach hypnosis from the fact that we can learn a lot from watching a stage hypnotist. Watch their use of words.

How are they able to help people get comfortable enough to just let their hair down? Because at the end of the day, if they can do that when somebody is on stage, could they not do that with somebody who’s just wanting to lose weight, or stop smoking, or become less stressed?

And where we see hypnosis working… and we know now more because we have FMRIs, we have PET scans, we have EEGs, we have great people like Dr. David Spergel in San Francisco studying this in labs, you know, in medical and academic centers. We know that hypnosis can help with pain, with chronic pain, with acute pain, with childbirth.

In the 1960s, we started to see hypnosis for childbirth. We can see it helping with GI disorders such as IBS, IBD. Lots of research being done with hypnosis use with cancer and their cancer journey. Helping with pre surgical, post surgical recovery, bone healing, wound healing, decreased infection, increased happiness and resilience, decreased side effects to medications, hair growth.

Because the power of our mind connects to our body, and our body can therefore produce those results. We see hypnosis being used by our first responders out in the field—  battlefield hypnosis—  coming to the aid of another human and just being able to say you can control that bleeding, just make it stop, you’re safe.

We can actually see the blood vessels start to clamp down and pump out less blood. And before we had this rich use of all the drugs that we have now in surgery, surgeons were using that type of language too. Some of the surgeons were even going to study with Dr. Milton Erickson in the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s. We see Dr. Esdaille in India using hypnosis.

So we see them using it because they could see, front and center, the impact of the words and the language they used on the outcome of their patients. Reducing pain, reducing fear, and decreasing blood loss, improving healing. And we’ve continued to see that.

And so even in the past five years, I’ve found well over 100 articles that are showing and demonstrating that hypnosis is working. And again, to your point, and we’ll bring it back full circle to stage hypnosis, to what we experienced in college, why isn’t hypnosis more out there? Why aren’t we seeing it more robustly in medicine?

In part, it’s because every person who steps up on stage is going to have a little bit different experience. Sometimes, if you have 20 people up there, 10 are going to be asked to sit back down, right? So hypnosis becomes an art and a science of the hypnotist and the client, being able to respond back and forth one to another, to get that person in the right state of being hypnotized, to that right state of having the benefit.

And so if we simply just read the same thing, to 50 different people, we’re going to have probably 50 different responses. People respond differently to what you say, as a word, than somebody else would. Just say the word love, everyone can probably get some meaning to that.

The word love and what does love mean to you is going to mean something different to somebody else and to somebody else. So that was pretty long winded, but…

Nicole Vienneau  36:49

Well, there’s a lot to it, is really what you’re saying. Yeah. Yeah.

Christy Cowgill  36:53

There’s a lot to it. And I mentioned before that I was a skeptic, you know, and my journey with experience in hypnosis as that therapy, as that tool, really, that helped me, was when I was experiencing grief from a miscarriage. And in that grief, I just couldn’t get out of it. I was just so flippin sad, and angry, and all the things that grief is.

And a year went by, and I couldn’t find myself pregnant again. And so then I was starting to face infertility. And it was a midwife who said, you know, I don’t know what else to do for you, but girl, you are still sad. And you shouldn’t be this darn sad anymore. Go see a hypnotist. And I was like, I don’t think that’s gonna help. Right?

So me the person who totally believed in hypnotic language and was using that and had like, seen, like, demonstrated side by side, like using it and not using it. Less medications, more medications, right? I was like, I don’t know if that’s going to work for me. Like, I can’t be hypnotized.

Like, I’m not that person who go up on stage and pretend I’m fishing, right? So lo and behold, I go to this person, one session, and I don’t even remember what he said, because it honestly didn’t make a lot of sense at the time. But I walked out of that door, and I felt different. The world around me was still the same, but I felt different.

I listened to the recording twice. That’s it. I listened to that recording twice. And I was supposed to see the fertility doctor in six weeks. I never went to that appointment. And also, I reconciled the grief that I had, it just became something that was more… there was a purpose to it. A reason.

It wasn’t that I still wasn’t sad over those little footprints that were on my heart, but it changed into something else that felt more aligned with where I wanted to go in life. So that’s my story about hypnosis, right? I got to cancel that infertility appointment, right?

I was pregnant, I brought our rainbow baby earthside, and I also was making my living doing epidurals at the time as coincidence would have it. Paying my mortgage by working in labor and delivery, doing a lot of labor and delivery epidurals for moms, and I chose hypnobirthing. I was like, well, if it worked to get me pregnant, maybe it can help with that pain too.

And it was amazing. It was a very empowering experience to be able to be like wow, I can just turn down my pain a little bit. I can turn it down a little bit more. I can actually have comfort.

That was pretty cool and really helped me realize that if I, as a very analytical, type A, control freak Nurse, could use hypnosis in that way and get those type of results, I was like, what would it look like if I started to use a whole session to help others understand the power of their thoughts and that mind body connection?

And what would that look like? Instead of just using words and saying, “Are you comfortable? And are you hungry?” What if I started to be like, “And what else do you want?” Because we… you know, I’d get clients in Nurse Coaching, like, I just want more happiness, like, what does that mean? Right? More happiness. I just want to feel better. What does feel better mean?

I just want to get over this grief. Right? Those are really complex areas of life that we all struggle in. And the truth is, when I started to apply the hypnotic experience to them, their answers would bubble up faster than if I was just to be asking them those motivational interviewing type questions where they had to think consciously about their answer.

And where people consciously sometimes will not tell the whole truth or not discover their own truth. But when they were doing it hypnotically, and incorporating all of their experiences, known or unknown to them, and all of their feelings, all the emotions, which is what hypnosis helps to pull together, to build that bridge between our unconscious and our conscious mind, they were getting results faster.

They were more focused on exactly what they wanted instead of this push pull. Like, well, if I don’t get that, well, you know, then I’ll just reset the goal, right? Got rid of some of that self doubt, those limiting beliefs, those negative emotions that they couldn’t pull through to verbalize to me.

And that’s where I realized, oh, thinking back on my own experience, that’s how I uncurled that grief for myself, that’s how I allowed my body to not be so stressed. So it could do its thing that it needed to do, which was what I wanted it to do, to get pregnant, right? So that’s where learning hypnosis as a skill or as a tool to help others, to help yourself with hypnosis, is powerful, because it becomes that tool, that resource that kind of up levels your well being.

Nicole Vienneau  42:24

So it’s like you could become 2.0 as coaches. Version 2.0.

Christy Cowgill  42:33

I feel like yeah, I feel like that’s what happened to me. Because I mean, I think INCA prepared me to be a fabulous Nurse Coach, and there was fabulous feeling that I had through that.

And when I layered on a deeper understanding of our words, and of communication and how our unconscious mind communicates with our conscious mind, I was like, wow, that’s even more exciting. And it marries so well to Nursing practice, or to coaching practice, right? Or, there we go, Nurse Coaching practice.

Nicole Vienneau  43:08

Yes. Okay, so I wanted to switch gears a smidgen. Because you were just at the American Holistic Nurses Association’s conference, and you presented there. And so tell us a little bit about that. I specifically would love to know how many Nurses were really interested in hypnosis.

Christy Cowgill  43:26

Yeah. So I will say I did a pre conference course on using hypnosis for goal setting. And there was some great enthusiasm there. And I thought that was really great, because I use kind of some more coaching techniques and teach them how to coach themselves into better goal setting.

But I also presented a one hour talk similar to this, but on the use of words, the use of placebos and nocebos in healthcare, and our use of hypnotic derived language, and the room was packed. As a matter of fact, there were people in the hallways. So there was about 95 Nurses who attended that one hour presentation.

And the feedback afterwards was like, you know, it makes so much sense. Because it does. And I have the pleasure of being able to see you on the opposite side of the screen, but there’s these things we say and we’re like, yes, that’s so true. And then there’s this and why aren’t we doing that more in practice, right? Where did it go? How did we forget about it?

Just like anything, you know, if we’re not going to the gym every day and working on our biceps, we forget that we have biceps, and so we should try to pick up something heavy, right? So yeah, I think there was a lot of interest.

And what I was also fascinated at AHMA, is a lot of Nurses were coming up and saying, you know, I’ve always heard about this thing called neuro-linguistic programming, or I also heard I’d studied it before, and I want to sharpen up my skills again.

Because it is. It’s kind of one of those fantastic workshops that you can take, and then you’re like, oh, I didn’t apply it all the way, because it’s not common in our workplace to do so. So there’s a lot of enthusiasm there, which it excites me because I’m like, this is the way to help our patients feel better, not be traumatized by our medical system, but it’s also a way forward with helping ourselves.

So that was really great. And it was a great time for all of those who were at AHNA’s conference this year. And there were two other hypnotists on the speaking program, too. So hypnosis is out there. And it’s how we choose to embrace this as part of our skill set. That’s the question for us to answer. You know, how do we want to learn it and use it?

Nicole Vienneau  43:44

Right. How do we make those choices?

Christy Cowgill  45:50

Yeah, how do we make those choices? So that’s a great segue to like, well, take a class, right? Read a book.

Nicole Vienneau  45:58

Because you have taken the time to create a brand new course, a specialty course, with the Integrative Nurse Coach Academy, called Hypnosis for Nurses. Yes. So I’d love for you to tell us a little bit about it. I will just start off by saying that there are two parts to it. Part one is called Advanced Communication Made Easy.

And part two is Accelerated Hypnosis Certification. So maybe let’s start with part one—  Advanced Communication Made Easy. And tell us a little bit about that.

Christy Cowgill  46:30

Yeah, so a lot of it is about everything that we just talked about. If you want to learn hypnotic drive language skills, if you want to learn more about language in general, if you are wanting to learn more about neuro-linguistic programming, and what does that look like, what does it look like in a session, right?

What does hypnosis feel like if you’re doing a hypnotic session? All is incorporated into part one. So it’s kind of… hypnosis is a mile wide, and this part one gives you an inch thick insight into all the different categories. And obviously, as a Nurse, first and foremost, in my heart, I’m a Nurse, and so this is hypnosis for Nurses by a Nurse, right?

So we get to talk about and apply hypnosis to Nursing situations, to Nurse Coaching situations, to Nurse leadership communications, to faculty, Nurse faculty. How to use hypnotic language to appeal to your entire audience. Because we know everyone learns differently.

Everyone also hears differently and receives information differently. So the first part of this course is 68 continuing education units, and I’ve designed it to be over a 12 week period. So during those 12 weeks, you get a lot of great videos from me, a lot of great resources to learn more about this vast array of hypnosis and neuro-linguistic programming.

And then once a month, for two hours, we come together and we get to practice; practice our skills, peer to peer practicing, where you’ll not only experience hypnosis, but you’ll be the hypnotist and get real live feedback from master hypnotists. You know, here’s how you can improve your language or create this. So that’s going to be really exciting.

So that’s the first part. So 12 weeks long, I would say two to three hours per week is kind of the time commitment. And like I said, three of those weeks we get together live on a Zoom Room, there’s a couple of different options. So you can tune in in the evening or on a Saturday morning, and I am going to pop up on the screen and we’re going to be practicing, practicing, practicing together.

And those are all going to be skills that you can take right from that part one and apply them immediately. Whether you’re Nurse Coach, a leader, an academic, doesn’t matter. If you choose to go the journey where you want to go deeper into hypnosis, I am offering a fully backed certification as a professional hypnotist, and this is really exciting.

It’s a joint venture with the National Guild of Hypnotists. So from that membership pool, you’ll meet other people who are doing medical hypnosis or clinical hypnosis, stage hypnosis, you know, all of that. So I teach that curriculum. So once you’re done, you’re able to become a certified hypnotist with that organization.

So it’s the oldest and longest running organization for hypnotists. I’m going to talk to you about how you want to maybe use hypnosis if you’re using in the hospital setting or if you’re going to use it in your coaching setting.

And that’s 62 hours that are live on zoom, so that can be done virtually, but there’s no self study component, it’s actually practice, peer to peer presentations, like really brief presentations, and then you just go do it because a lot of hypnosis is just experiencing doing it. So that’s part two.

And you don’t have to take part one and part two together, you could choose to take part one now, and take part two at any time that it’s offered. Or you could just choose to take part one. So that choice is up to the participant. But I think either way, it’s going to be a lot of fun.

And I’m pouring my heart into it, because I know the skills that Nurses would benefit most from learning, you know, and how to do those. So you learn not only what it is, but how to do it, and the science behind it.

Nicole Vienneau  50:46

So good. So in my mind, I’m thinking okay, Christy, now tell us the real reason why you wanted to do this course, like, in your heart. Where’s that coming from? And tell us more about that?

Christy Cowgill  51:04

Well, I’ve told you a little bit about my experience with words, right? And I’ve been a CRNA for 20 years, and the way that we’ve used words in healthcare hasn’t changed much. And yet, we’re continuing to… we’re continuing to see the negative impact of that, right?

As a coach, as a Nurse Coach, I was beginning to attract people who definitely had experienced medical trauma. And the number one reason that people have trauma from being in our healthcare system is because of the words that they heard somebody say, or the lack of words that they heard somebody say.

And I realized that those words would have made all the difference. And again, as a practicing Nurse anesthetist, I would hear this all the time, I would hear somebody tell me, you know what, the patient in room two is completely a wreck, so nervous. And I would think in my mind, well, it must be their first surgery and that’s why.

But I would go in and they’re like, no, I’ve had three surgeries before. And they would start to repeat some of the things that they had experienced before, which was this adding to their anxiety. So it was for that reason, as I was coaching clients one on one, and helping them to re-empower themselves, right?

Really just shake off some of that negative experience and really stand in their own so they could go through what they needed to go through to get that medical help that they needed. And I get feedback: wow, that made all the difference. My surgeon even noticed, my surgeon now wants your phone number.

And I would get linked up with gastroenterologists; patients who were getting taken off some of their medications, having better results with their Remicade if they were IBD—  inflammatory bowel disease. Like, it was making a difference.

And I just recognize that if I wanted to be more of the solution, it was really getting to the heart of the matter, really sharing what I’ve discovered with other Nurses, other healthcare professionals, other healers, so that together, we can create a more empowered selves and also empower our patients and our clients.

Because we know that we’re holding a big burden in healthcare. You know, three years ago, we were upheld as the heroes. Healthcare workers were the heroes, right? Start of the pandemic, look at our heroes. And now it’s the hero, and the celebration is gone. And it’s like, do more with less, be faster, be more efficient.

We’re seeing Nurses leave their profession, we’re seeing physicians leave their profession. And the burden is being spread to less people to support an aging population that now also has more mental health and emotional wounds, right? We’ve gone through this pandemic, and we’re all hurting as a community.

So now’s the time to learn how to better talk to ourselves and talk to others. How do you use language to heal, but also learn language to negotiate, to see things differently, to get on the same page with somebody, right? We’re a country that’s divided, but we all have the same overarching values.

We want to get back to feeling good, feeling better, and healing. We can’t do that if we’re arguing over the specifics, right? So there’s beauty in even taking language to our community.

And I really have a strong desire to see more Nurses learn hypnosis so that they can teach it to the first responders in their community, so that they can be alongside the mental health professionals that are helping to serve and fill that void of everyone who’s hurting in our community, in our nation, and our world.

Once people learn that you as a Nurse also know hypnosis, you know… like the American Medical Association, the American Gastroenterology Association, they’re all putting hypnosis as one of the things that they know helps their patients.

So when you add that in… and patients are starting to search for it, there’s more evidence that’s showing that it’s not just for stopping smoking and weight loss and stress management. It can really be used for all of this. And why not add another tool that we know works to everyone’s toolkit?

So that’s why I’m on a personal mission to like, yeah… it’s one thing to like, have a patient ring me and say, I can’t believe how you’ve changed my life, or even I can’t believe how one word changed my life. I love those stories, too, right? But now’s the time to re-message what I learned 20 years ago, sitting in that CRNA conference.

Now is the time, if ever there was a time, to be able to use it more as humans, as Nurses, as people that need to change, to refocus and to heal.

Nicole Vienneau  56:14

Yes, yes, yes.

Christy Cowgill  56:20

Right? So there you go. And yes, now I feel really passionate. And, you know, I’m excited because I know firsthand how  learning this skill will change. Just like Nurse Coaching changes everyone that goes through it, right? You shift and you change, and you’re more aware of the things that you didn’t even notice about yourself before.

This experience is very similar. And you come out of it changed. And whether you actually formally hypnotize somebody ever in your life, which I hope you do, and I hope you take advantage of learning that skill, you will change the way you communicate. And I think that in and of itself is powerful. And I’m excited to see everyone on that journey along with me.

Nicole Vienneau  57:09

Ah, so good. So how can Nurses find you and sign up for the course or learn more about the course?

Christy Cowgill  57:20

Yeah, so I think first and foremost, Integrative Nurse Coach Academy has a very detailed landing page that answers questions. They have a whole team of admission specialists who can… you can get in contact with and ask questions about what kind of discounts might be relevant to you if you’re a Nurse Coach, if you’re a former INCA graduate.

So they’ll know a lot about the course and a lot about the details of when that starts and how to enroll and all of that. So, Integrative Nurse Coach Academy. And of course, I work closely with them, so if they have any questions that they can’t answer, they will get them over to me.

And then people can also find me—  my business name is Enter Into Calm. I’m on the most notorious social media outlets, so Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, so you can find me there. And I’m very open to just conversations just like this. What would it look like to experience hypnosis, learn hypnosis, know more about it.

So I’m kind of an open book as far as like that. If you have more questions specifically about NLP, or anything that we talked about on this podcast, I look forward to also offering some more just kind of free to the public sort of offerings. And some of those will be virtual. So even if you’re a Nurse in a different state, in a different time zone, you know, I welcome you to join those in the future, too.

Nicole Vienneau  58:46

You offer some great education sessions, and just some touch points. And this course here is very thorough, and very detailed, and yet still accessible, right? And in the Nursing language, because it’s created by you, a Nurse, for Nurses, yes.

Christy Cowgill  59:07

Yeah. And it’s a dense class, but I do feel like it’s broken down into parts that are, like I said, each segment, a good takeaway, a good lesson, you know, so I’m really excited to see how it shakes out. I’ve been doing the training for the public for a while, and I’ve taught some Nurses in those courses, some are real estate agents or HR executives.

And so I can see where those have happened in the public space of somebody like learning hypnosis for the first time. So I think that’s really cool. And many of them have gone on to either use coaching and these skill, those tools, in their current profession, or have left it and have their own private practice too.

So I’m really excited though, because I’ve tailored this specifically to Nurses and I’m excited to see what that group… like what we can noodle at and where we can start to take this into our own areas of Nursing niche, and that’s what totally excites me. So watch out, maybe we’ll be doing some more hypnosis research…

Nicole Vienneau  1:00:10

Yeah, oh my gosh, it would be great. So our listeners can go to inursecoach.com/admissions and you could speak to an admissions person to help you decide if this Hypnosis for Nurses course is for you, and or any of our other amazing courses. You could go to inursecoach.com/course/hypnosis-for-nurses-certification and you can find a lot more about this course Hypnosis for Nurses.

So Christy, I just want to thank you so much for sharing your vast knowledge on hypnosis and how it’s positively affected you in your life, and also your patients and all of the people that you’ve met along the way. And now you’re sharing your gifts with us through this course. And we’re so thankful for all of that.

Christy Cowgill  1:01:11

Thank you, Nicole, and I just appreciate you and I appreciate all the work that all Nurses across the world are doing. So, thank you.

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