The onset of Tourette’s Syndrome typically occurs between the ages of two and fifteen, with the average onset around six years old. It affects boys three to four times more than girls, and it can last a lifetime, although symptoms typically lessen during adulthood. Hypnotherapy, either as an alternative to or as a complement with chemically-based treatments, has become well recognized as an effective and rapid way to help Tourette’s sufferers deal with their symptoms.
Tourette’s Syndrome is characterized by repetitive movements, repetitive sounds, or a combination of both. These tics happen intermittently throughout the day, even occurring during sleep. The condition can be mild or severe, simple or complex. Simple cases involve a single movement or sound, whereas a complex disorder involves more than one muscle group. The exact cause of Tourette’s is unknown, but there is speculation that it has a genetic component as well as an environmental factor. Diagnosis of Tourette’s is made strictly by observations and the reported family history.
The repetitive movements come in a wide variety of forms, from eye blinking, to head jerking, to shoulder shrugging, to mouth movements, and beyond. For those who make repetitive sounds, the variety of sounds is extensive: coughing, grunting, throat cleaning, barking, repeating phrases, repeating words that others speak, cursing obscenities.
Often Tourette’s does not appear in a child as a lone condition. It has been associated with ADHD (see earlier sections), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, sleep disorders, depression, anxiety, related physical pain and headaches, and anger management issues. Because of the proven success of hypnosis-based therapy with these associated conditions, it is easy to see why hypnotherapy would be successful with Tourette’s Syndrome.
Medical doctors will try to control the symptoms of Tourette’s using a wide variety of drugs. They may try ADHD stimulants, antidepressants, epilepsy seizure medications, and many others. However, there is no single medical approach that seems to have gained prominence in treating the symptoms of this disorder.
During hypnotherapy, the therapist will address the symptoms by having the child learn to relax. Using suggestions during hypnosis, the child’s Middle Mind or subconscious is provided the information it needs to automatically (a) identify when a behavioral tic is imminent, (b) suppress or control the movement, and (c) finally to stop the behavior altogether. Ultimately, the child will recognize the triggers leading to the behavior, whether external or subconscious, and will be able to avoid them instinctively. Sometimes, the child/client will be given an alternative, much more subtle, action to replace the more obvious and distracting tic.
Additionally, the hypnotherapist will work with the client to rebuild confidence and self-belief. The therapist will also address those associated conditions, such as anxiety or ADHD or any of the others listed above. Depending upon the age of the child, some elementary training in self-hypnosis may be included in order to strengthen the results.
Generally, parents are surprised by how quickly a child can experience results with hypnotherapy. Sometimes the goals are reached within one or two sessions per tic. The therapist, however, will evaluate the exact nature of the tic(s) and the associated challenges in order to determine a solid outline of services. Blessedly, though, the future for children with Tourette’s can be more hopeful through the use of hypnotherapy.