Hypnotherapy, also known as hypnosis or hypnotic suggestion, is defined as a trance-like state in which you experience a heightened sense of focus and self-awareness. You may feel peaceful and relaxed during hypnotherapy. You may also experience a change in your concentration level. During hypnotherapy, you are able to block out distractions and focus solely on past experiences and memories.

Hypnotherapy may cause you to be susceptible to suggestions, which can be used to change your actions, feelings, beliefs and/or moods. The goal of hypnotherapy is to help you recover lost memories, confront past traumas and/or improve your mental and emotional health. It is important to remember that while you are more receptive to suggestion during hypnotherapy, you remain in control of your own actions.

Why Is Hypnosis Performed?

The purpose of hypnotherapy is to help you effectively cope with conflicting emotions and/or adverse behaviors. Hypnotherapy helps you remember, confront and change destructive thought processes and behaviors. In some cases, hypnotherapy is used to help treat diseases that affect memory.

Hypnotherapy may be used to:

  • Control Pain
  • Stop Smoking
  • Reduce Stress
  • Ease Psychological Distress
  • Eliminate Aversions
  • Reduce Asthma Symptoms
  • Alleviate Anxiety Before Surgery
  • Relieve Stress During Childbirth
  • Improve Weight Loss
  • Enhance Athletic Performance
  • Lessen the Effects of Chemotherapy
  • Soothe Inflammatory Skin Conditions
  • Relieve Gastrointestinal Problems

How Can I Find a Qualified Hypnotherapist?

The best way to find a qualified hypnotherapist is to ask a close friend, acquaintance or family member for a recommendation. If the hypnotherapist promises you that he/she can “cure” you then find another therapist. It is important to remember that hypnotherapy, like other forms of psychotherapy, does not work for everyone.

Important Questions You Should Ask Before Choosing a Hypnotherapist:

  • Do you have a degree in psychology, social work or medicine? If so do you have a Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorate or all three?
  • Do have a valid state license in social work, psychology and/or medicine?
  • Did you receive academic and/or post-graduate training in hypnotherapy? If so where did you receive this training?
  • How much training have you had in hypnotherapy and from what schools?
  • How long have you been practicing hypnotherapy?
  • What is your success rate with hypnotherapy?
  • Do you belong to any recognized organizations? If so what are they and what do they specialize in?
  •  What do you charge for hypnotherapy and will my insurance cover these charges?

Safety Risks and Precautions:

Hypnotherapy should only be performed by an experienced psychologist, psychiatrist, hypnotherapists or physician. When conducted by a qualified health care professional hypnotherapy is considered a safe, alternative to traditional counseling techniques.

Adverse reactions are rare but may include:

  • Migraines
  • Lightheadedness
  • Vomiting & Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Misleading Memories

How Does Hypnotherapy Approach Psychological Issues?

Hypnotherapy approaches psychological issues by focusing on what you want to accomplish and your personal preferences. During your first hypnotherapy session, your hypnotherapist gently and calmly explains to you the purpose of hypnotherapy so that you feel comfortable, relaxed and safe during the session.

During a hypnotherapy session, your therapist puts you into a deep trance-like state (hypnosis). Once you are susceptible to suggestions, he/she recommends ways for you to accomplish certain goals such as reducing psychological and/or physical distress, stopping smoking, coping with trauma, etc.

While under hypnosis, your hypnotherapist makes suggestions that create mental images of you successfully achieving your goals such as graduating from college, getting married or having a baby. Once the session is over, your hypnotherapist brings you out of the trance and you remember what you discussed or heard while you were under hypnosis.

Please note that hypnosis is a voluntarily psychological technique. If you begin to feel uncomfortable during a hypnotherapy session, it is important to alert your hypnotherapist using a pre-determined “safe word.”

A hypnotherapy session generally lasts between 45 and 90 minutes. The number of sessions you need depends on the issues you need resolved or the goals that you would like to accomplish. You may need only one session or you may require multiple sessions to achieve your goals. Following a hypnotherapy session, you are able to resume your normal daily activities without problem.

Will Hypnotherapy Work For Me?

Hypnotherapy has shown some effectiveness when treating a variety of psychological and physical ailments. This type of therapy may help you cope with painful psychological and/or medical illnesses, reduce undesirable habits and/or eliminate stress. In many cases, hypnotherapy can reduce your symptoms and improve the quality of your life.

Hypnotherapy is not “right” for everyone. Some people are unable to allow themselves to relax long enough to slip into a trance-like state, while others have certain characteristics that make the prime candidates for hypnotherapy.

You are more likely to resolve issues and/or accomplish your goals with hypnotherapy if:

  • You get so engrossed in a song, movie or book that you have no idea what is happening around you.
  • Graphic memories are triggered by certain scents.
  • You experience a rush of emotions when you remember certain things.


Hunter, C. R. (2010). The art of hypnotherapy. Bethel, CT: Crown House Publishing.

LaBay, M. L. (2003). Hypnotherapy: A client-centered approach. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing Company.


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