What is Hypnotherapy? – Complete Guide

Hypnotherapy is a therapy that is undertaken with a subject in a hypnotic state.

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What is the difference between Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy?

Hypnosis is defined as a state of hyper-suggestibility where a person is more receptive and open to accept suggestions. 

Hypnotherapy is the therapeutic application of hypnosis. Which means when a trained therapist uses any therapeutic technique or tool in combination with hypnosis to help a client or patient overcome mental, emotional or physical challenges, it is called hypnotherapy. And the therapist is called a Hypnotherapist.

Hypnotherapy is a therapeutic modality that is based on the premise that the mind and body do not work in isolation.

In a hypnotic state, a client is hyper-suggestible. The hypnotherapist is able to suggest ideas, concepts and lifestyle adaptations, the seeds of which become firmly planted in the subconscious mind of the client.

Hypnosis NLP Mindfulness CBT Eclectic Therapy 310x207 - What is Hypnotherapy? - Complete GuideHypnosis is all about helping a person’s mind become more receptive to suggestions and Therapy is all about helping people create a change in their thoughts, emotions, behaviours, beliefs and perceptions.

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What is the difference between Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy?

Hypnotherapy is a kind of psychotherapy. Hypnotherapy aims to re-program patterns of behaviour within the mind, enabling, irrational fears, phobias, negative thoughts and suppressed emotions to be overcome.

While hypnotherapy as a field has its own set of techniques and processes, it can also be used in conjunction with any other field of psychotherapy.

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Can Hypnosis be combined with other fields of Psychotherapy and Counselling?

The subconscious mind controls all automatic processes of the mind: be it thoughts, emotions or behaviours and it is also the storehouse of all our past experiences, suppressed emotions and beliefs. Any process that can help the psychotherapist access and influence these thoughts, emotions, behaviours, beliefs and past experiences is priceless from the point of view of therapy or counselling.

Since Hypnosis is a state where the subconscious is very receptive to suggestions, it becomes the most natural state to create therapeutic change.

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In-fact there are already many therapeutic techniques and change processes that extensively use hypnosis.

Although their advocates will argue otherwise but when they get a deeper understanding of what is Hypnosis, they also begin to realise the same. Here are a few of these practices that are basically hypnotic:

  • Creative Visualization
  • Guided Imagery
  • Guided Meditations
  • Flooding
  • Systematic Desensitization
  • Emotional Freedom Techniques [EFT]
  • Eye Movement and Desensitization and Re-Processing [EMDR]

Hypnotherapy and Eclectic Psychotherapy

Most psychologists begin their practice by following theories and techniques from one school of psychotherapy. Some therapists only practice Psychoanalysis while others practice cognitive therapy and some others may practice behavioural therapy to name a few.

Each school of psychotherapy has its own advantages and its own limitations. Over a period of time the psychotherapist starts understanding these limitations and hence starts looking at ways to incorporate theories and techniques from other schools of psychotherapy into their current practice.

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The biggest challenge that most psychologists and counsellors face when trying to integrate the different schools of psychotherapy is that at times the theories and presuppositions of each school may come across as very different from other schools. In the absence of a model that can act as a thread between these apparently different theories, most of the so-called eclectic psychotherapists are only able to combines parts of these different schools of psychotherapies.

When it comes to techniques, the counsellors or psychotherapists are not really integrating the techniques but choosing technique from one school of thought or the other depending upon what they perceive as the need of the case. In its true sense this is not really what integration means.

This is where hypnosis can play an extremely important role. Once you start understanding what hypnosis really is, it can literally act as a thread that can help integrate these different schools of psychotherapies into a comprehensive eclectic approach.

Our Cognitive Hypnotic Psychotherapy™ course is an extremely good example of how all the major approaches to psychotherapies can be integrated into a comprehensive approach to psychotherapy.

Does Hypnotherapy really work? Is Hypnotherapy Scientific?

Science Says Hypnotherapy is Real…

Hypnosis has been successfully utilized in a wide range of applications across a number of fields. Unfortunately, the term ‘Hypnosis’ still evokes mixed emotions and many people wonder whether hypnosis is real or just some abracadabra stuff!

However, medical research continues to show how and when hypnosis can be used as a therapy tool.

Hypnotherapy is a highly effective change tool that is also used to treat various conditions. To do this, a certified hypnotist or hypnotherapist guides you into a deep state of relaxation. While you’re in this state, they can make suggestions to help you become more open to change or therapeutic improvement.

Research shows that “(Hypnosis) is a very powerful means of changing the way we use our minds to control perception and our bodies,” says the study’s senior author, David Spiegel, MD, professor and associate chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

Hypnotherapy sessions have been shown to be effective in –

  • Lessening chronic pain and the pain of childbirth and other medical procedures
  • Treating smoking addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Easing anxiety or phobias
  1. Post-Surgical Pain

    A comprehensive review of studies of the effectiveness of hypnosis for reducing procedure-related pain in children and adolescents shows that hypnosis was consistently found to be more effective than control conditions in alleviating discomfort associated with bone marrow aspirations, lumbar punctures, voiding cystourethograms, the Nuss procedure, and post-surgical pain.

    A randomized trial on the use of hypnotic analgesia for invasive medical procedures showed hypnosis to have pronounced effects on pain and anxiety reduction, and in improving hemodynamic stability.

  2. Chronic Pain

    Hypnosis is regarded as an effective treatment for psychological and physical ailments. A study to conduct a meta-analysis to assess the efficacy of hypnosis for managing chronic pain suggests that hypnosis is efficacious for managing chronic pain.

    The reviews of controlled prospective trials of hypnosis for the treatment of chronic pain indicate that hypnosis consistently and significantly lessened pain in a variety of chronic-pain problems. It is important to note that hypnosis was generally found to be more effective than non-hypnotic interventions such as attention, physical therapy, and education!

  3. Stress and Anxiety-Related Disorders

    In a review of the literature on the use of self-hypnosis in the treatment of anxiety and stress-related disorders, self-hypnosis was shown to be a rapid, cost-effective, non-addictive, safe alternative to medication for the treatment of anxiety-related conditions, such as:

    • Tension headaches
    • Migraines
    • Irritable bowel syndrome
    • Anxiety associated with cancer, surgery, burns and medical/dental procedures
    • Disorders such as headaches and irritable bowel syndrome
    • PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
  4. Immunity and Mood

    A review of the impact of hypnosis on immune and mood showed that hypnosis shielded immune functions from the effects of stress, reduced recurrence of winter viral infections, improved mood and reduced levels of clinical depression and anxiety. Immune functions were up-regulated, notably functional natural killer cell activity to HSV-1.

  5. Inflammatory Bowel Disease

    Another study on the effects of guided imagery with relaxation training (which creates a hypnotic state) on anxiety and quality of life among patients with inflammatory bowel disease showed significant improvement in anxiety levels, mood and levels of pain and stress.

  6. Obesity and Weight Management

    A study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology showed that the addition of hypnosis to cognitive–behavioral therapy substantially enhanced outcomes in treatment of obesity, especially at long-term follow-up. Clients, to whom hypnotic inductions had been administered, continued to lose weight even after treatment ended!

  7. Smoking Cessation

    A randomized trial showed that not only did hypnosis help people quit smoking but the participants also remained abstinent in the long-term follow-up.

While more evidence continues to accumulate about the benefits and positive effects of hypnotherapy in ever-increasing areas of its application, there can be no doubt to the fact that HYPNOTHERAPY IS NOT JUST REAL BUT ALSO VERY EFFECTIVE!

Is Hypnotherapy Safe?

Hypnotherapy is safe, natural & universal human trait. 100% of the population experience it in some form or another on a daily basis.  It may even be that we live most, if not all, of our lives in various trance states, an idea suggested by the psychotherapist Stephen Wolinsky in his book Trances People Live.

Wolinsky observed that the so-called Deep Trance Phenomena (DTP), generally believed to be exclusively part of formal hypnotherapy sessions, are actually present throughout much of our daily lives.  “Normal” consciousness, he argued, is made up of these phenomena, which we switch into and out of all day long.

What are these Deep Trance Phenomena?

The following is a list, together with examples of how they might be encountered in everyday life.
Different Natural Deep Trance Phenomena used in Hypnotherapy

  1. Age Progression – or projecting yourself into an imagined future. In hypnosis, the subject might be guided by the hypnotist to vividly experience a future when they have lost weight or stopped smoking. On an average day, you age progress every time you sit in a doctor’s waiting room, imagining what will be said when you go in for your appointment, or when you see a pair of shoes in a shop window and picture yourself wearing them to a party at the weekend.
  2. Age Regression – reliving an event from the past. Hypnotists often do this to remove or change the emotion around painful memories. You age regress in your daily life every time you relive an argument that you had with someone twenty years ago.
  3. Disassociation – a feeling of being separate from all or part of your body, or a distancing from emotions. Hypnotic subjects often say that they can’t feel their arms or legs, and this can be a useful tool for pain control. At other times, you’re emotionally disassociated if you ever find yourself thinking “I really don’t like you” as you have an outwardly  pleasant conversation with a colleague, and you’re physically disassociated if you’ve ever paused with a forkful of food halfway to your mouth because something on TV has caught your attention.
  4. Post-Hypnotic Suggestion – issuing specific instructions or commands to be acted on later. This is a mainstay of hypnosis and hypnotherapy, of course. It also happens when you find yourself thinking “I really must phone my mother”, “don’t forget to fill up with petrol on the way home”, “remember to buy cat food” and so on.
  5. Amnesia – forgetting an experience. Hypnotic subjects frequently forget the details of the hypnosis session, and sometimes this is actively encouraged to avoid over-analyzing what has been said. You experience amnesia every time you can’t remember where you left your car keys, wallet or mobile phone.
  6. Negative Hallucination – failing to perceive something that is actually there. Hypnotists might encourage this if, for instance, somebody is acutely conscious of the sound of their own voice in social situations. An everyday example would be failing to see your car keys, wallet or mobile phone as you frantically search for them, even though they’re in plain view on top of the kitchen counter.
  7. Positive Hallucination – perceiving something that isn’t actually there. Therapists might encourage their clients to imagine a “circle of confidence” that they can step into before getting up to deliver a speech. If you’ve ever had a fantasy or daydream about someone, then you’ve positively hallucinated.  This is quite closely associated with age progression as well, of course.
  8. Confusion – this is often deliberately employed as a trance-inducing technique, and we all experience moments of bewilderment, perhaps at those times when you wander into a different room of the house and wonder what you’re doing there.
  9. Time Distortion – a sense of time slowing down or speeding up. This is a major feature of hypnotic trance, and subjects often feel that more time has passed than is actually the case. You experience time distortion in traffic jams and boring meetings, which seem to last forever, and also on those occasions when you’re really enjoying yourself and time just seems to fly by.
  10. Sensory Distortion – increasing or decreasing sensory awareness. In hypnosis, the hypnotist might draw the client’s attention to various bodily sensations, as a way of inducing and deepening trance. Sensory distortion is also evident at those times when you manage to tune out a persistent noise – people who live near railway lines, for instance, simply don’t notice the passing trains after a while.

Wolinsky became fascinated by the role these phenomena play in keeping problems in place. In a typical case of anxiety, for instance, we might see age progression and positive hallucination, as the sufferer conjures up a terrible future and sees signs of imminent catastrophe. We might also see sensory distortion, as anxiety sufferers are often acutely aware of unpleasant sensations in their body, such as heart palpitations, which further fuel the anxiety.

Identifying the deep trance phenomena behind a problem points the way to a solution, as that trance state can be changed or broken. This raises the interesting possibility that hypnosis works by bringing people out of unhelpful trance states – unhypnotizing them, in effect!

What are the different types of Hypnotherapy?

Different types of Hypnotherapy

  1. Suggestion Hypnotherapy
    Suggestion hypnotherapy involves the hypnotherapist giving an individuals unconscious mind a series of ‘suggestions’. These suggestions can help an individual to find it easier to do something they want to do (e.g. public speaking) or easier to stop doing something they don’t want to do (e.g. smoking).Suggestion Hypnotherapy is often used when there is no root cause that needs to be dealt with, or when there are time constraints (such as an individual wanting to deal with a fear of flying). Suggestion hypnotherapy is often considered short-term therapy.
  2. Analytical Hypnotherapy
    Analytical Hypnotherapy (also called hypnoanalysis) can be effective in dealing with deeper issues and involves psychotherapy using hypnosis. Analytical hypnotherapy seeks to find the root cause of a problem, and deal with the issue. For example, a phobia may be ‘masked’ using suggestion therapy, however, the root cause will still exist. Analytical hypnotherapy seeks to identify the root cause and deal with it.Analytical Hypnotherapy is a very involving process and usually requires much more commitment than Suggestion Hypnotherapy. However, once the root cause has been identified and dealt with, the results can be life-changing. Whereas Suggestion Hypnotherapy manages a problem, Analytical Hypnotherapy aims to resolve it.
  3. Cognitive Hypnotherapy
    Cognitive Hypnotherapy is a modern, scientific approach to therapy that is significantly different from the traditional schools of Hypnotherapy. Cognitive Hypnotherapy draws its influence from a number of other validated theories, such as Positive Psychology, Neuroscience, Evolutionary Psychology, and NLP and combines these in a way that fits the client’s personal goals, values, and personality. Drawing from a range of techniques from different disciplines means that a tailored approach for each client can be created – there’s no “one size fits all” model here.Cognitive Hypnotherapists attempt to get into the mindset of the client to work through any presenting issues, using techniques and language based on the client’s unique model of the world. Cognitive Hypnotherapy also uses an analytical approach to clearing away unwanted thoughts and behaviours from the past, but then uses techniques that retrain the brain in the present to ensure that the changes that clients would like to make are fully realised.
  4. Cognitive Hypnotic Psychotherapy™
    Cognitive Hypnotic Psychotherapy is probably the most comprehensive form of hypnotherapy that is by many considered as the latest cutting edge approach to psychotherapy. It is solution-focused and structured yet person-centric. It incorporates principles from all the other types of hypnotherapy mentioned above along with concepts and techniques from Mindfulness, Psycho-analysis, and Meditation.Application of this type of hypnosis towards coaching (life, business, and relationship) is known as Cognitive Hypnotic Coaching™.

Some schools of hypnotherapy have distinguished their approach to applying hypnotherapy in a particular way with a specific label. For example, a hypnotherapist may state that they are a regression hypnotherapist. This simply refers to the guidance of a client back into their personal history with the intention of addressing past possibly disturbing experience. All hypnotherapy, possibly with the exception of Suggestion Hypnotherapy, may include regression and it would often be part of an Analytical Hypnotherapy and Cognitive Hypnotherapy series of sessions.

What precautions must be taken for Hypnotherapy?

When Hypnotherapy is being used with a client that has been diagnosed with a disorder (mental or physical), it must be used in consultation with an appropriate health practitioner (psychiatrist or physician).

In case of severe addictions, hypnotherapy treatment should ideally become a part of their rehabilitation treatment in association with a de-addiction center.

If the client has low blood pressure or has epileptic seizures, deep relaxation should not be used as a method of inducing hypnotic state.

Do we remember what happens in a Hypnotherapy Session?

Yes, You will remember everything you want to remember. Unless:

  • you request a suggestion for amnesia,
  • you choose not to remember, or
  • you spontaneously forget.

What do people spontaneously forget certain parts of hypnotherapy session?

Either because your subconscious considers you are not yet ready to consciously face whatever you were dealing with during the session, or because you are one of the estimated 3% of the population who enjoy such a high talent for hypnosis that amnesia occurs automatically. Even for these fortunate people (sometimes known as “somnambules”) a few verbal hints will suffice to activate recall.

What is the success rate of Hypnotherapy?

Almost every person undergoing a therapeutic treatment using hypnotherapy, gets results to some extent or the other. The actual extent of success depends on a number of factors like:

  • Competencies of the therapist
  • The type of therapy used in combination with Hypnosis
  • The type of problem being worked upon
  • Willingness of the client and
  • Is hypnotherapy being used in combination with medical treatment for physical health issues.

In almost all researches on related to hypnotherapy, it has been seen that the effectiveness of any therapeutic tool when used with hypnosis is far greater then when the therapeutic tool is used without hypnosis.

Are there any side effects of Hypnotherapy?

Therapy in a hypnotic state is completely safe as long as it is practised by a trained therapist who has mastered the art of inducing a hypnotic state.

That said there can be some temporary effects, specially if the client had gone too deep in a relaxed state and has not been able to wake up completely. The experience can be similar to getting up in the morning feeling a bit disoriented.

The adverse reactions may include:

  • Headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness

These reactions are temporary and disappear as the client completely wakes up and gets oriented to the present.

Does Hypnotherapy require gadgets or electronic devices?

Some hypnotherapists like to have their clients listen through headphones to a relaxing induction mix of words and music. Others will use a metronome, pendulum or other device for focusing the clients’ attention. No device is actually essential. Most hypnotherapists simply talk their clients into hypnosis on a one-to-one basis.

What can be cured with Hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy is a very effective tool for resolving almost all kinds of issues/problems. Unlike many other psychological therapies, Clinical Hypnotherapy is generally considered to be a fairly short-term approach in which beneficial change, if it is to occur, should become apparent within a relatively few sessions.

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The National Institute of Health and the American Medical Association have endorsed Clinical hypnotherapy as an effective alternative therapy. Medical uses include addressing problems associated with illnesses, pain management and developing the relaxation response among other things.

Areas that Clinical Hypnotherapy might help you with (but not limited to):

1.  Abandonment 2.  Abuse 3.  Addictions 4.  Aggression
5.  Age Regression 6.  Agoraphobia 7.  Amnesia 8.  Anesthesia
9.  Anger 10.  Anorexia 11.  Anxiety 12.  Assertiveness
13.  Assist Healing 14.  Attitude Adjustment 15.  Asthama 16.  Back Pain
17.  Bed Wetting 18.  Behavior 19.  Being Late 20.  Biofeedback
21.  Breathing 22.  Bulimia 23.  Burns 24.  Career Success
25.  Change Habits 26.  Child Birth 27.  Chronic Pain 28.  Communication
29.  Concentration 30.  Controlling 31. Cramps 32. Cravings
33. Creativity 34. Death or Loss 35. Depression 36. Discouraged
37. Divorce 38. Double Standard 39. Dreams 40. Dyslexia
41. Exam Anxiety 42. Exercise 43. Fear of Animals 44. Fear of Death
45. Fear of Dentist 46. Fear of Doctor 47. Fear of Failure 48. Fear of Flying
49. Fear of Heights 50. Fear of Loss of Control 51. Fear of School 52. Fear of Success
53. Fear of Surgery 54. Fear of Water 55. Fears 56. Forgiveness
57. Frustration 58. Gagging 59. Gambling 60. Guilt
61. Hair Twisting 62. Headaches 63. Helplessness 64. Hiccups
65. Hopelessness 66. Hostility 67. Hot Flashes 68. Hypertension
69. Hypochondria 70. Immune System 71. Impotency 72. Improve Health
73. Improve Sales 74. Indecision 75. Inferiority 76. Inhibition
77. Insecurity 78. Insomnia 79. Irrational 80. Irrational Thoughts
81. Irritability 82. Jealously 83. Lack of ambition 84. Lack of Direction
85. Lack of Enthusiasm 86. Lack of Initiative 87. Lower Blood Pressure 88. Medication Side Effects
89. Memory 90. Mistrust 91. Moodiness 92. Motivation
93. Nail Biting 94. Nausea 95. Negativism 96. Nightmares
97. Obsessions 98. Obsessive-Compulsive 99. Overeating 100. Overly Critical
101. Pain 102. Panic Attacks 103. Passive-Aggressive 104. Past Life Regression
105. Perfectionism 106. Performance Anxiety 107. Pessimism 108. Phobias
109. Postsurgical 110. Premature Ejaculation 111. Presurgical 112. Problem Solving
113. Procrastination 114. Public Speaking 115. Reach Goals 116. Rejection
117. Relationships 118. Relaxation 119. Repressions 120. Resistance
121. Resistance to Change 122. Responsibility 123. Restlessness 124. Revenge
125. Sadness 126. Self-Awareness 127. Self-Blame 128. Self-Concept
129. Self-Confidence 130. Self-Control 131. Self-Criticism 132. Self-Defeating Attitudes
133. Self-Defeating Behaviors 134. Self-Esteem 135. Self-Expression 136. Self-Forgiveness
137. Self-Hypnosis 138. Self-Image 139. Self-Mastery 140. Sexual Problems
141. Shame 142. Skin Disorders 143. Sleep Disorders 144. Smoking
145. Snoring Phobia 146. Social Phobia 147. Sports 148. Stage Fright
149. Stress 150. Stubborn 151. Study Habits 152. Stuttering
153. Substance Abuse 154. Superiority 155. Surgical Recovery 156. Swallowing
157. Sweating 158. Temptation 159. Thumb Sucking 160. Tics
161. Trauma 162. Ulcers 163. Victimization 164. Warts
165. Weight Loss 166. Withdrawal 167. Worry 168. Writers Block


Who can become a Hypnotherapist?

Hypnotherapy is by itself a non-regulated field. 

So technically anyone can get trained in hypnotherapy and use hypnotherapy with clients to help them achieve success and improve the quality of life. This is generally referred to as Hypnotic Coaching.

But to use hypnotherapy with clients suffering from intense negative emotions or past related traumas, it is recommended that the practitioner has at-least completed a Masters in Psychology. Some training programs that focus on application of hypnotherapy towards intense issues do have this as an eligibility criteria.

How can one become a Hypnotherapist?

One can develop the skills to use Hypnosis for therapeutic purposes by undergoing courses in Hypnotherapy. A minimum of 120 hours of training with hands on experience is recommended for becoming a hypnotic coach. As far as hypnotherapy course is concerned, the duration of the program must be at-least 240 hours.

February 15, 2020

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