by Donna Hamilton
Anodyne Imagery is finally here! It offers what has been missing in medicine for a long time, heart. Anodyne Imagery, the heart of medicine, brings us a conscious approach to communication, stress management, and pain relief for medical professionals, patients, family members, and anyone who may be involved in a medical situation. Since our severe pendulum swing toward technology, medicine has suffered greatly from a lack of compassion. Medicine has been treating the body as though there were not a thinking, feeling person inside. Medicine has become a mechanistic business for “fixing” something in the body after it’s broken, instead of focusing on prevention and promoting wellness. Times are changing and people are becoming more conscious of their bodies, overall health, and of their choices for maintaining balance.
Medicine has a history of serving the positive intention of caring for people and helping them heal. The Hippocratic Oath states that intention clearly: “First, do no harm…” Hippocrates applied a lot of the natural medicines. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica; “Hippocrates stated; ‘Our natures are the physicians of our diseases.’ He advocated that this tendency to natural cure should be fostered. He laid much stress on diet and the use of few drugs. His oath has been a code or ideal, an appeal for right conduct. It has guided the practice of medicine for over 2000 years.” It is time to bring REAL meaning back to the term Health Care by focusing on Care and on Health as we approach the new medical millennium. Anodyne provides the tools and techniques for doing just that by serving to bridge the mind/body gap using simple effective communication skills. It also bridges the gap between medical professionals and patients, inviting the common outcome of a more pleasant and efficient experience for everyone concerned. Anodyne promotes wellness for care-givers and gives them simple, practical tools to support patients throughout any medical experience.
Anodyne works because it is natural. In many ways, it just reminds us how to be in balance using simple tools and ideas that make sense. It helps make what was unconscious conscious, giving way to the vast wellspring of inner resources. Many times during the training, practitioners have said, “This should be taught in kindergarten. It will make life a lot easier.”
So, what is this program called Anodyne Imagery? Anodyne is a word derived from the Greek language, meaning, “without pain, soothing and comforting the feelings.” It is a concise set of rapport, language, and imagery techniques used by physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals. It allows them to relate with the “person” inside the patient instead of simply treating the body. It is extremely useful in establishing relaxation, relieving pain and anxiety, and promoting wellness. Conscious care-givers relating from the heart evokes a supportive healing environment for everyone involved.
It began in 1990 when developer of Anodyne Imagery, Donna Hamilton, a radiology technologist and hypnotherapist, worked with her father who was undergoing surgery for cancer. He was having a lobe of his lung and three ribs removed, and had such severe pain that no drug, including morphine, had any effect. Together, Donna and her father, Jesse Hamilton, were instantly able to relieve his pain and anxiety, decrease bleeding during and after surgery, and promote relaxation and rapid healing on many levels while enhancing the entire experience for her father, her self, and all of the medical professionals involved.
Subsequently, Donna’s success with patients piqued the interest of Dr. Lang, an Interventional Radiologist at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Palo Alto, CA. She wanted Donna to Anodyne all of the patients, do a research study, and write an article (American Journal of Roentgenology, May 1994) demonstrating the effectiveness of this simple powerful process. Her enthusiasm encouraged Dr. Lang to take the training and have the other technologists and nurses become practitioners as well.
Anodyne gives us the tools to live authentically from our heart and to relate with each other in a real and caring manner, bringing compassion into our work, into our relationships, and into our lives. Practitioners can not only Anodyne themselves and their patients, they can also easily transfer the tools with the use of simple suggestion. This allows patients to Anodyne themselves during current and future procedures, and gives them a way to be more resourceful and self-reliant throughout life.
Anodyne techniques cause the brain waves to lower in frequency, creating a very beneficial state of mind where the patient is more comfortable and has more control over their experience, similar to the state achieved during meditation and prayer. A person in the “Anodyne State” is more relaxed and cooperative, therefore open to suggestion, and can easily relieve pain and anxiety, as well as control physiological processes such as heart rate, blood pressure and bleeding. A state of acute pain and anxiety very quickly changes to a relaxed state of inner focus with attention away from the procedure.
The process involves the use of simple yet powerful verbal and non-verbal communication skills to facilitate rapid establishment of rapport. This important foundation represents the basis for the successful implementation of the other aspects of the program. A basic sense of trust and empathy can be achieved by subtly matching the patient’s behaviors, and by applying conscious attention to specific language patterns, postures and gestures that communicate a message of acceptance and respect.
In less than a minute, the Anodyne “Relaxation Breath” is taught to patients as a resource to be used whenever needed. Depending on the type and/or length of the procedure, the Anodyne practitioner then guides the patient to their “Preferred Place”, refocusing their Imagery from the procedure to a place that they would prefer to be. This generates a much more relaxed and cooperative patient, often decreasing or eliminating the need for sedation, thus increasing the safety of the procedure and decreasing the recovery time. It is not the intention of Anodyne to replace medication, but simply to work as an adjunct. However, often patients experiencing Anodyne do not feel the need for as much, if any, medication. When they do have medication, such as conscious sedation or general anesthesia, Anodyne can dramatically effect the rapid metabolism of the chemical and speed up all levels of recovery.
The Anodyne practitioner easily associates the patient into their Preferred Place by incorporating all of the senses to enrich and deepen the inner experience. The more senses involved in the inner experience, the more associated the patient becomes and the easier it is for the patient to stay in the experience, and to reenter it whenever they want. This empowers patients and provides them with a sense of control. When associated into their preferred place patients are fully cooperative and are able to tolerate, and even enjoy, procedures without the difficulty and discomfort that would ordinarily require conscious sedation. The end result is a more pleasant experience for care-givers and more satisfied patients who shows no side effects from Anodyne except feeling empowered and cared for.
If there is specific anxiety or pain that is limiting the ability of the patient to cooperate with the procedure, a suggestion can be made by the practitioner to allow an image to form which represents the particular feeling that they are experiencing. The practitioner suggests they change certain qualities of the image, i.e., location, distance, color/black and white, to decrease the intensity, usually resulting in a significant change in the patient’s subjective experience. It is a surprise to most people to discover an inner image associated with a feeling. Internal images move very quickly, thus resulting in the rapid shift toward relief. It is the intention of Anodyne Imagery to honor the innate healing ability of the individual which is the purpose of a special process called “part’s integration.” It is simple and effects many layers of healing.
Anodyne Imagery is being taught across the United States as well as internationally. In the United States, hospitals using Anodyne Imagery include the VA hospital in Palo Alto, California, the VA hospital in Durham, North Carolina, Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital in Elkin, North Carolina, the University of Iowa Medical Centers in Iowa City, Iowa, outpatient facilities in Northern California, and Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Rockingham Memorial Hospital is the first medical facility to support an in-house trainer and become an Anodyne Imagery franchise training center, training their entire hospital staff from reception to recovery, housekeeping to administration. They have also been granted privileges to provide training outside of their facility. They are committed to research demonstrating the effectiveness and cost-savings of Anodyne Imagery.
People often ask if Anodyne takes longer since we are apparently doing something extra for the patient. In practice, it works out to be quicker because of its conversational nature. It is not a modality, but simply a new and different way of being and relating. Anodyne Imagery has been studied and proven to save time and money for the patient, hospital, and the insurance company, especially when the need for medication and the related services like recovery room are decreased or eliminated. However, even if medication would not have been used, the procedure usually goes more quickly and smoothly with a relaxed and cooperative patient, and a more pleasant working environment.
Importantly, Anodyne Imagery can be used throughout the hospital and have its effects felt well beyond financial savings. It is not possible to place monetary value on such intangibles as reducing patient stress levels, reducing patients fears of the procedures, increasing the confidence of the health care team to keep the patient comfortable, or the emotional impact of decreased recovery times, not to mention the increased morale and reduced stress of the medical professional. It makes medicine more fun for the medical professional and more pleasant for the patient and their friends and family.
Trainings for medical professionals are available on-site and in a weekend seminar format. Practitioners are competent in the basics of Anodyne, and certified as Anodyne Imagery practitioners, after just four days of interactive classroom training. The on-site trainings are tailored to each institution. Support for CEU’s are available.
Anodyne is certain to make an impact at medical centers throughout the country, and the world because Anodyne is a state of being, a state of compassion. It is the core of mind-body-spirit medicine, leading all of us toward self-healing, prevention and wholeness. It is about directing our energy toward wholeness, and achieving specific outcomes by setting conscious intentions.
Anodyne training simply reminds us how to be our self, our real self, and does so in a fast, effective and fun way. “What a great opportunity we have in medicine to do something important, something as valuable as using our Imagery to relate with everyone we encounter in a way that empowers ourselves and others. The time is now. We can make the difference that makes medicine different. Anodyne Imagery will serve us well as the new medical model for compassionate health care,” says Donna Hamilton, Director of Anodyne Training Center.
© 2000 Donna Hamilton, Creator of Anodyne Imagery