5 Simple Gut Directed Hypnotherapy Techniques

rows of a purple lavender field as a metaphor for a smooth running gut with gut directed hypnotherapy techniques

Steph McGee

I’m a Trauma Informed Clinical Hypnotherapist on a mission to help. Hypnosis feels like a magic wand. But in truth? The real magic is you.

You don’t need to be suffering with Irritable Bowel Syndrome to know there’s a connection between the brain and the gut.

Most of the time the gut just gets on with it’s work, but the brain always has the ability to take over. So you may have noticed;

  • butterflies you when you feel excited
  • nervous loosening of the bowels before a terrifying job interview
  • convenient constipation when you’re on a long hall flight

And for most people these are just normal signs that your brain and gut are communicating well and helping to speed things up or slow things down.

But put VERY simply, Irritable Bowel Syndrome is when this gut-brain communication becomes unhelpful.


Symptoms include cramping, wind, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, constipation or both.

But because the symptoms of IBS can be the same as the symptoms for other conditions like food poisoning, Crohn’s disease, bowel cancer and more… you need to see your doctor and get the right diagnosis.

Important to know:

Gut-directed hypnotherapy is a complementary therapy. So whether you want to know how to do gut directed hypnotherapy techniques at home, or work with a gut-directed hypnotherapist (like me) please keep seeing your doctor/gastroenterologist as normal and get a diagnosis first. Always speak to your doctor before starting a new complementary therapy, or if you have a condition that makes you unsuitable for hypnosis, visualisations, relaxation or mindfulness.

Main Menu

Use these handy links to navigate straight to your favourite techniques.

  1. Rectangular Breathing
  2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
  3. Colour Anchors
  4. Self Hypnosis Gut Visualisation
  5. Parts Therapy for Guts

What is Gut Directed Hypnosis?

Gut Directed Hypnosis (or lessStomach Hypnosis’ is one of the fastest growing areas of hypnotherapy and is quickly becoming the MUST HAVE thing for managing Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

And as the name suggests, Gut Directed Hypnotherapy (GDH) uses direct hypnosis to focus directly on the gut.

How we use GDH depends on your symptoms.  But in a nut shell – GDH helps to mentally create a soothing of the intensity of symptoms, improve your subconscious ‘part’ communications including messages between brain and gut and help calm your brain’s central nervous system as well as your gut’s enteric nervous system.

And hypnotherapy is a combination of talking therapy and deeply relaxing hypnosis that can act rather like a rocket pack for positive change!

Is Gut Directed Hypnotherapy hypnosis?

Yes. Hypnotherapy is a combination of talking therapy and hypnosis and the hypnosis can is rather like a rocket pack for positive change!

And Hypnosis is gorgeous. It’s a deeply relaxing, natural state of awareness in which your mind becomes gently and positively focused, helping your normal negative, ‘critical’ faculties become quieter as body and mind becomes more open to positive suggestion and the changes you want.

Most people are a little wary of hypnosis at first, but its astonishingly restful with most of my clients saying that hypnosis is their favourite part of the week!

Worth knowing about Hypnosis for IBS

Irritable Bowel Syndrome affects as much as 25% of the population in their lifetime and its a common symptom of menopause as well…I hear your sighs ladies!

Also known as stomach hypnosis or gut hypnosis, in the first series of studies by Professor Whorwell, researchers found that after a course of hypnotherapy, subjects who had hypnotherapy showed:

  • around 70% of participants responded to the therapy (80% women, 60% men) reporting a 50% or more reduction in symptoms
  • significant improvement in rectal sensitivity in those with diarrhoea-predominant IBS
  • improved abnormal sensory perception
  • reduced psychological distress, improved cognition of pain and reduced bowel performance anxiety

One of the biggest benefits of hypnotherapy is that it can help irritable bowel syndrome naturally, holistically and can be used alongside mainstream medical care. But it’s also important to know hypnotherapy doesn’t promise a full cure.

So if you are just starting to think about working with a hypnotherapist like me, or you want to try a little gut directed hypnotherapy yourself, I’m listing a few simple techniques you can try yourself.

How to do Gut Directed Hypnotherapy at home

I am going to share 5 simple techniques that you can use to introduce yourself to the world of GDH and practice is key! While most people want to learn gut directed hypnotherapy for IBS and gut related anxiety, you can also use these techniques alongside other specific gut related conditions but please do always consult your doctor first.

The steps below are relaxations, so use this as a helpful introduction into the techniques of Gut Hypnosis and when you are ready to move onto the real deal –  check out my booking page here.

Rectangular Breathing

Mind and Body are one and they are in constant communication, so how you breath determines how you feel, and how you feel determines how you breath.

So adjusting your breath to create a positive state of wellbeing is one of this easiest things you can learn, and it’s a skill you’ll have for life!

But most of us breath far too rapidly and from the upper portion of our chest. It’s a bad habit because it’s how we breath when we are anxious or in danger so it actually tells body and mind that there is a problem – even where there isn’t!

Rectangular breathing is the answer.

Rectangular breathing, like 7-11 breathing, golden thread breathing or bubble breathing, is just one of the ways to guide your breath (and your body) into a restful state. When your breathing is long and relaxed, and from your stomach rather than your chest your whole system naturally settles, entering the state of ‘rest and digest’.

How to do it:

Use a rectangle as a visual aid to guide your breath:

  • Look at a rectangle, a window, door, phone or book will do but you can be as creative as you like
  • Breath in and cast your eye along the short side of the rectangle
  • Breath out and cast you eye along the long side of the rectangle
  • Repeat

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) is a classic part of gut-directed hypnotherapy that can easily be practised at home to help manage symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

When we experience anxiety, worry or physical pain the natural response is to tense your body, and PMR helps by doing the opposite! PMR helps release physical and emotional tension by systematically relaxing the different muscle groups of the body or if preferred, systematically tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups in the body; both of which help to reduce stress and subconsciously held tension…and it can be a game changer for pain as as well.

How to do it:

  •  Imagine that your whole body is going to relax from the top, all the way down
  • Start at the top of your head and face and work down to your toes
  • Relax down through your head, relaxing your neck, shoulders dropping, relaxing arms, down your back, chest, stomach and keep going until you reach the tips of your toes
  • Relax nice and slowly
  • If struggling to relax, and if comfortable to do so, tense each muscle group first by focusing on how your muscles feel as you tense them, and noticing the differences between tense and relaxed. This can help the sense of ‘release’ feel more noticeable, but you may want avoid tensing the abdominal area.
  • With practice PMR can become easier, more effective and can be achieved with as little as a single thought.


Colour Visualisation

Once you know how to breath, and relax with PMR, you can start to introduce a colour.

Colour anchoring is most widely used to help alleviate physical or emotion pain and discomfort and this visualisation one of the easiest ways to bring it into your daily practice.

In terms of the gut and abdominal region, colour techniques can help you more fully relax any stubborn areas as you reframe they way you feel, visualising a healthy functioning digestive system, reducing tension and improving your overall health.

How to do it:

  • Breath using the lovely relaxed breaths of rectangular breathing
  • Focus inward to a while
  • Decide what your colour will bring you e.g. calm, comfort, peace or warmth etc
  • Let your mind give you a colour – whatever feels right
  • Relax using PMR but this time, bring your colour down through your body with you
  • Feel the colour bring that positive emotion or sensation
  • Focus the colour where you need it most – e.g. like a bright healing light, or a warm soothing colour
  • Take the colour through your abdomen, your gut or problem areas

Self hypnosis gut visualisation techniques

If you’ve read this far, Hypnotherapy for gut issues should be starting to feel like a no brainer (a gut brainer) because the chances are – you’re already in a state of hypnosis. By the time most of my clients find me they can already visualise their gut issues and their descriptions are VIVID. But if you are stuck in a loop of negative imagery – what message is your brain sending your gut?

It’s not your fault. The mechanisms of the human brain and body are not equipped to deal with the stresses and strains and hierarchical TREADMILL of modern day life. And positive visualisation can be a game changer.

I’ve had clients crushing jewels in Jimmy Choos, releasing their own body weight in unwanted baggage and lifting their fears into the clouds.

Visualisation is a powerful technique and within gut-directed hypnotherapy there are several ways to do it ranging from the traditional ‘safe place’ to indirect gut visualisation, metaphor and direct gut visualisation in which you literally travel through your gut.

But be patient, it takes time to perfect and I’m giving you instructions for a specific technique within hypnosis, rather than hypnosis itself. Real self hypnosis is deep and does need to be learnt with a therapist.

So let’s start with the simplest technique involves tuning into the sensations you feel in your body and imaging how your digestive system is working properly.


How to do it:

  • For the purposes of this, we shall use the metaphor of a river. Once confident with this you can use any metaphor you like, you are only limited by your imagination!
  • Consider your digestive system as if it were a river
  • But rather than thinking of it as how you don’t want it to be, think of it as you would like it to be.
  • If suffering constipation, you may want a river that flows effortlessly along
  • If suffering diarrhoea, you may want one thats steady
  • Finding a suitable image or film might help you at first
  • Visualise your river, strong, steady, confident, flowing as it needs, with ease, never stopped or obstructed, just stable and steady.
  • Mentally journey with your river
  • Then imagine your river as it were your gut (the techniques you learnt in the colour visualisation above will help)

Parts therapy for guts

When you think about your gut issues or your IBS do you find you’re quite descriptive? Do you visualise your gut problems as something quite specific?

Maybe you think of a steamroller, an over inflated balloon, carpenters vice or a bag thats about to burst?

Or does it feel like ‘part’ of you is not in full alignment or ‘part’ of you has got something wrong?

Parts therapy could be a game changer

Parts therapy is a type of hypnosis in which we communicate directly with the part (or parts) of the subconscious mind that are linked to your problem.

So rather like the A Team…If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire”… a parts hypnotherapist…like me.

 This is definitely one I can’t teach you to do yourself but the following is lovely introduction to this style of work.

“Everything is about something else” – Brian Roet, Parts Therapist


How to do it:

  • Use any or all of the techniques you have learnt so far to switch off and relax nicely down.
  • Give yourself time to focus on that unwanted sensation, fear or metaphor (like the balloon or carpenters vice)
  • Watch it, listen to it, observe it and learn from it
  • Ask yourself what you would like instead
  • Be curious and open minded, allowing your natural creativity to flow
  • If your thoughts feel analytical, its a sign you are using your conscious mind not your subconscious mind, so you’ll need to take time to relax deeper.
  • And then facilitate the change.
  • Check everything feels happy and comfortable.
  • Remind yourself of the changes your have made daily.
  • Show gratitude. 

Share the love

I hope the techniques I have shared have been helpful, that with practice you achieve positive results, and that you have been inspired to dig deeper into Gut Directed Hypnotherapy and want to learn more!

If you know anyone who could benefit from this page, be a friend and share it with them and I would love it if you could share this page on Pinterest!

5 ways to do gut directed  hypnotherapy and an image of hands on a bare tummy


The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article. I disclaim all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article.