7 things you didn’t know about hypnotherapy

Whether you’re learning about something completely new, or are hoping to expand your knowledge about a topic you’re already familiar with, it can be a daunting process. The same is true when it comes to discovering more about hypnosis and hypnotherapy.

Thanks to film, TV, and even national newspaper coverage, many of us have developed preconceived notions about what hypnotherapy involves. Yet what we think we know, and what hypnotherapy can actually help us with can be two very different things. To help you get started, we’ve put together a quick list of seven things you (probably) didn’t know about hypnotherapy, and explain more about how it can help you.


1. It’s nothing like you see on TV

As hypnotherapist and Hypnotherapy Directory member Lorraine McReight explains to Happiful, hypnotherapists can’t ‘make’ us do things we don’t want to – and hypnosis certainly isn’t a form of mind control.

“People have this fear because they’ve seen stage or TV hypnosis, but this certainly isn’t the case. Stage hypnotists set the scene for these amusing antics and invite volunteers to get up on stage. When someone does this, they’re accepting their role.

“In hypnotherapy, a person will be more open to suggestion and therefore able to change patterns of behaviour that are unhelpful, but no one can make you do anything you don’t want to. A key part of the success of hypnotherapy is a willing client.”

But what can you expect from a hypnotherapy session? Typically, your hypnotherapist will chat with you about what you’re struggling with, any behaviours you hope to change, and what your overall goal or aim is that you hope you achieve. They can then go through in more detail about what methods they plan to use, so you can have a rough idea of what to expect.

Most hypnotherapy sessions involve leading you into a state of deep relaxation, before making suggestions for different ways you can handle a particular issue, behaviour or situation. You are then gradually brought out of the trance.

Some people see a benefit right away, whilst others may need to reinforce ideas with recordings, self-hypnosis techniques, or further sessions – it varies depending on the type of hypnotherapy, issues being addressed, and even your individual circumstances and needs.

2. There’s more than one type of hypnotherapy 

Hypnotherapy is an incredibly versatile tool that can help people in many different ways. Just as there are many different types of therapy which can be more effective for certain kinds of problems or obstacles, so too are there different kinds of hypnotherapy to fit your individual needs. Common types of hypnotherapy can include:

  • Cognitive hypnotherapy – a form that uses hypnosis to ‘update’ your subconscious to become more in line with your conscious mind and how it understands reality.
  • Ericksonian hypnotherapy – using indirect suggestion and storytelling to help change unhealthy behaviours and habits, this kind of hypnotherapy can be particularly helpful for those who have tried and disliked more traditional options.
  • Hypnoanalysis – using concepts from analytical psychotherapy combined with hypnotherapy, this method tries to help individuals identify trigger events that may have led to current problems, helping them to reduce any negative associations that may have formed.
  • Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT) – a solution-focused approach that hones in on the root causes, rather than symptoms of an issue, RTT can be particularly helpful with increasing confidence, sports performance, and career progression.
  • Solution-focused hypnotherapy – looking at your current situation and how you would like your future to look, this type of hypnotherapy allows you to take the lead whilst your hypnotherapist guides you.

3. Hypnotherapy can help with many different issues

We all struggle with different things. From hoping to change problematic behaviours to improving your well-being, boosting your confidence, or even helping to reduce stress, pain, or specific symptoms of another issue, hypnotherapy is a tool that can help us to make significant changes and uncover areas we may not even realise are bothering us.

While it can help with a wide variety of different areas, hypnosis can be particularly helpful when it comes to changing habits (recognising or changing habits that may be negatively impacting you, or reinforcing new, healthy habits), addressing stress-related issues, and even helping with some long-term conditions.

Currently, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends hypnotherapy as a treatment option for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), while individual NHS trusts and hospitals often offer hypnobirthing information and even support for expectant mothers who are looking for a natural way of decreasing their stress levels and anxiety around the pain of labour.

Some charities also recommend clinical hypnotherapy as a way of managing and reducing stress and anxiety levels. To find out more about some of the different areas hypnotherapy can help with, check out our what’s worrying you page.

4. According to research…

Anecdotal stories about hypnotherapy are all well and good, but what about the research behind it? Can hypnosis really help? Well, according to some recent studies – yes! Hypnotherapy can be used to help relieve symptoms of anxiety, aid with sleep, increase confidence, assist with reducing bedwetting and eating problems, and may even be able to help with how much we perceive pain. Studies have suggested that combining hypnotherapy with other commonly accepted forms of therapy such as CBT can lead to improved ongoing results in areas such as weight loss, while further studies into pain perception in both children following surgery, and women following labour have shown significant benefits.

5. Hypnotherapy and hypnosis aren’t the same thing

While the terms may be used interchangeably, hypnotherapy and hypnosis actually refer to two slightly different things. Generally speaking, when someone talks about hypnotherapy, they are talking about the therapeutic use of hypnosis to help with a specific problem or issue – for example, to help stop smoking, reduce feelings of stress, or to boost their confidence. Hypnosis refers to the process of inducing a trance to help promote communication between the conscious and subconscious mind. Or, to put it simply: hypnotherapy is the process of using hypnosis to achieve a specific goal or outcome.

 6. It can help change habits in just one session

Some types of hypnotherapy can help to create lasting changes after just one session. Whilst it does vary depending on the type of hypnotherapy you try, what goals you are trying to achieve, and your individual circumstances, some forms of hypnotherapy, such as Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT) are designed to help you make significant changes in just one to three sessions. However, it is important to note that there is no set number of sessions you will need.

As with all forms of therapy, how many sessions, along with additional help and support that might be needed can vary greatly depending on what you are seeking help with. Some issues, such as stopping smoking, can be successful after just one or two sessions, whilst other issues may require a more long-term approach with additional reinforcement using techniques such as self-hypnosis. If you are looking to start sessions with a hypnotherapist, it’s worth discussing your expectations, goals, and treatment plan with them before you begin. This can help you to get a better idea of what to expect.

7. You can try it from anywhere

Face-to-face hypnotherapy may be one of the best-known ways to access hypnotherapy, but it’s also possible to undergo sessions online, via telephone, or to even see the benefits thanks to self-hypnosis.

Remote hypnotherapy sessions offered through video chat, email, or telephone, can work in the same way as in-person sessions. As explained by cognitive hypnotherapist Brenda Cox,

“Nearly every single hypnosis technique can be used online via Skype or Facetime. Many can also be used via a normal phone line. There may be some specific hypnosis techniques or problems your therapist may not want to work with online; they may recommend working face to face, or perhaps combining online sessions.”

Offering a more convenient option for many, online sessions can also be more accessible if you have mobility issues, rely on public transport, or live in a remote area. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that you will need a strong internet connection and a quiet place where you are unlikely to be interrupted.


What did you think? Were there any areas that surprised you, or are there any other areas you think people may be unfamiliar with when it comes to hypnotherapy? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Bonnie Gifford

Written by Bonnie Gifford

Bonnie Evie Gifford is a Senior Writer at Happiful.

Written by Bonnie Gifford

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