What is it?

Hypnosis is a state of human consciousness involving focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness and an enhanced capacity to respond to suggestion. During hypnosis, the hypnotist helps a patient fall into an altered state, where they are more susceptible to information. Once a person is in this state, the hypnotist introduces suggestions in order to change the individuals behaviour. These suggestions will offer new ways of thinking to the person. The patient is in complete control when they are in the altered state and does not have to take on suggestions if they do not want to.

What is it used for?

It is often used to treat conditions and change habits. These include smoking, IBS, sleep disorders, anxiety and depression. However, it is not recommended for personality disorders as it could make those conditions worse.

How effective is it?

A study examining the effects of hypnotherapy on quitting smoking found that 16/20 people that completed all 7 sessions of hypnosis were able to quit smoking. The authors concluded that quitting smoking through hypnosis can be effective.

Another study found that hypnotherapy was able to reduce anxiety in post menopausal women. Hypnotherapy also leads to positive results among patients who experience insomnia accompanied by rumination.

A number of studies show that hypnosis can reduce the pain experienced during burn-wound debridement, bone marrow aspirations, and childbirth. The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis found that hypnosis relieved the pain of 75% of 933 subjects participating in 27 different experiments

There are also some studies that question the effectiveness of hypnotherapy. One study found that hypnotherapy was no more effectibe then CBT. In 2016, a literature review published in La Presse Medicale found that there is not sufficient evidence to “support the efficacy of hypnosis in chronic anxiety disorders”. Two Cochrane reviews in 2012 concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support its efficacy in managing the pain of childbirth[ or post-natal depression

It doesn’t work if you don’t allow it work

Hypnotherapy often works better with people that are highly suggestible and not so well on people that resist the therapy. Research by Deirdre Barrett has found that there are two distinct types of highly susceptible subjects, which she terms fantasizers and dissociaters. Fantasizers score high on absorption scales, find it easy to block out real-world stimuli without hypnosis, spend much time daydreaming, report imaginary companions as a child, and grew up with parents who encouraged imaginary play. Dissociaters often have a history of childhood abuse or other trauma, learned to escape into numbness, and to forget unpleasant events.

In Conclusion:

Hypnotherapy is used for a wide variety of applications, and studies into its efficacy are often of poor quality which makes it difficult to determine efficacy. Several recent meta-analyses and systematic reviews of the literature on various conditions have concluded that the efficacy of hypnotherapy is “not verified”, that there is no evidene or insufficient evidence for efficacy. Whether hypnotherapy works may be down to the individual. If you believe it will, it may have an effect on you.

If you have had experience with hypnotherapy, let us know how it went below! Have you ever considered hypnotherapy? Do you think it works?

12 thoughts on “Does Hypnotherapy Work?

  1. I love this topic. My Therapist tried several times but I wasn’t able to
    “go under” if you will. I know several people who have been hypnotized for weight loss and lost so much weight. I believe it works. I’ll have to try again, think of all the ailments who could use some relief from pain. Good question. Have a great day. M

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “insomnia accompanied by rumination” sounds like the obsessive thoughts I experience at night due to OCD. It never occurred to me that Hypnosis might offer some relief. Right now I just take a narcotic at bedtime. Hypnosis also seems like it might be useful for Tourettes tics. Definitely something for me to look into. How does one know they are getting a qualified hypnotist?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It will depend on where you’re from. Some countries require hypnotherapists to register with relevant bodies and you should be able to search for local qualified practitioners through those bodies. Other places do not require any certification to practice as a hypnotherapist.

      Liked by 1 person

  3.     Sometime after Franz Anton Mesmer (1775), skepticism towards hypnosis has morphed into hostility both blatant and subtle. Poor Franz had the right results but the wrong theory to explain it. He might have done better sticking to the demonstration of results and not trying to explain it. His rapport with patients would have been the key. I think around the 1890’s hypnosis was popular. But then the establishment did its best to destroy its credibility. I’d say that because of this innate hostility (conscious and subconscious*) that the efficacy of hypnosis will be acknowledged “when pigs fly”, as the expression goes (meaning never). But there’s still hope because I’ve heard that some pigs, if they’re designated as “comfort animals” can be given tickets to ride on planes — so sometimes pigs can fly.
        I’ve noticed that some induction techniques used in hypnosis are nearly identical to procedures used in some forms of meditation. I once went to a lecture involving meditation as part of a broader discussion. Before the exercise began, he said emphatically, “THIS IS NOT HYPNOSIS…”. He didn’t want to scare anyone with the dreaded word. But it definitely was hypnosis — except for the jargon, it was one and the same. I would also say that some forms of prayer are forms of hypnosis.
         In the wrong hands, it can be dangerous. I’ve heard that the intelligence services use “Dissociaters” to train as assassins — they can kill and not remember anything about it afterwards. Sometimes in training they force dissociation… Religious cults also use it. Each group that employs it has a different jargon to disguise what they’re doing and assign a legitimacy to it.
        In the right hands, it can work for good purposes. But by whatever jargon, it is a real effect. And
    * That bring me back to what seems to be a change in jargon. I seem to remember that people always referred to the “subconscious”. Nowadays I’ve noticed that people substitute the term “unconscious”. At least in hypnosis and meditation that makes no sense because in that case the subconscious is brought to the surface and the person is well aware of what fantasies the subconscious is generating. So actually they are “conscious” of its workings — sort of like a lucid dream.

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  4. I’m wondering if that classic image of someone using a watch like a pendulum might have been a precursor to what we now refer to as EMDR (eye movement desensitization & reprocessing). thank you for looking at hypnosis past the casual dismissal it seems to receive.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. In France, they have this huge humanistic hypnotherapy current. It does works well in a wide array of topic; anxiety, stress, self-estime, sleep disorders… I did try some and it works great. I do meditate, and I agree con Doug, it is a work with subsconcious not unconscious. Some kind of meditation is really good as adjunt treatment for SMI. Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m a “qualified hypnotherapist” as it happens. But I’m not convinced exactly, which is why I stopped practicing. I think the thing is hypnosis is a useful tool for relaxing and focusing the attention on one’s goals, but the mistake is made by people who use it as a stand alone therapy – as I was persuaded to do for some time. The more time I spent with hypnotherapists though, the more I found that they were equally, if not more, focused on making money and promoting themselves as they were helping people. Maybe that’s an evil must in a private therapy, but it certainly needs regulating and researching properly.

    I also meditate daily now (and there is plenty of evidence for the benefits of mindfulness and meditation) and I would liken the state of mind in meditation to that of hypnotherapy. The difference really between hypnotherapy and meditation, and meditation and other types of meditation, is probably just the context.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am highly susceptible to hypnosis. Presently I am using it to ‘cement’ my work with my therapist. It is not easy to combat cognitive distortions when the poor thinking patterns were lifetime thought patterns. It is very helpful as I find myself automatically adjusting things without having to consciously think about it. I don’t think it is the proper first step in therapy, but it is good support for change initiated in therapy. Some people don’t have a response to hypnosis, but if it works for you, try it. There are some great scripts online that I have downloaded that are very helpful. It is considered an alternative therapy and requires an open mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great blog! As a Hypnotherapist I’m pleased to see that this modality was given such a positive recommendation as an alternative modality to behavior change. My clients have had successful results in a variety of areas which include smoking cessation, weight loss , stress reduction , age regression and a host of various other requests.

    Brunnie Getchell


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