The different styles of hypnotherapy: Which is best for you?

Have you been considering hypnotherapy but are unsure as to what it may entail? Well, just like other areas of therapy, there are a variety of styles that can be applied to different situations. But, with so much jargon out there, knowing what might be right for you can be confusing and let’s face it, that’s not what you need when you’re looking for someone to help you make a positive change. So, if you’re searching for a therapist and aren’t too sure about what they are actually offering, these brief summaries will give you a little more insight as to what may benefit you and your needs. 

Most hypnotherapists will offer the first couple of approaches as standard, but further training will have been undertaken before a hypnotherapist would practise some of the other approaches. This is because all styles of therapy have the power to make significant change and hypnotherapy is no different. As a result, specific, detailed training is needed, just like any other profession.

Conventional hypnosis

This style of therapy is one of the most commonly used as it forms the basis for other approaches too. It uses suggestions and commands to make amendments to your subconscious thinking when you’re in a hypnotic state. By making direct suggestions, it can be very effective and it may be that you do not need many sessions to tackle the issue you have. This form of therapy can be very versatile and is often used for self-improvement.

Ericksonian approach

Milton Erickson is often hailed as the ‘father of modern hypnotherapy’. His style of hypnosis uses lots of metaphors, storytelling and discreet suggestions. Ericksonian hypnotherapy works well for people who are creative and like using their imagination. If you’re someone who does not like to be told what to do, this may be the form of therapy for you as it is indirect in its style; taking the subconscious on a creative journey, rather than giving it direct commands.

Like conventional hypnosis, it’s very flexible and can be used to assist many situations. However, there may be an alternative form of therapy that is used specifically for your goal, so do your research before committing to an approach!

Cognitive hypnotherapy

Cognitive hypnotherapy is different from traditional schools of hypnotherapy, as it draws its influence from a range of theories, combining them so that they fall in line with the client’s personal goals, values and needs.

“What cognitive hypnotherapy does is design every session in a bespoke way for the particular client,” says Natalie Swanson. “It is solution-focused and views behaviours as consequences of emotions. So, we need to resolve the underlying emotion in order to change the behaviour.”

“It takes whatever works from all different types of therapies. It uses timeline therapy, NLP, perhaps EMI/EMDR, EFT, perhaps suggestion therapy… Whatever the client needs.”

Hypnoanalysis or regression hypnotherapy

With a focus on your past, these styles of therapy aim to take you back to a point in your life that may have been a trigger for current issues. The hope is to tackle the root cause of a presenting situation rather than focus on the current behaviours that may have stemmed from it.

Advocates of hypnoanalysis would liken it to not just putting a plaster on the problem, but dealing with the situation fully so that long-lasting healing can take place. However, revisiting triggers that were often traumatic can be difficult for some, and so it is essential that you ensure your therapist is trained and well-practised in this area. If so, you are in safe hands and being given the opportunity to overcome something from your past can be incredibly liberating. 

Time Line Therapy™

Similarly to hypnoanalysis and regression hypnotherapy, Time Line Therapy™ (TLT) is rooted in your past and dealing with events that still impact you now. Our ‘timelines’ are believed to be a linear way of our memories being stored. However, they may also project onto our aspirations for the future. Through hypnotherapy, we are able to revisit some of these events or triggers and find ways of processing them afresh. This is a gentler form of regression therapy as you take small steps along your timeline and to making links between then and now.

Solution-focused hypnotherapy

Unlike other forms of hypnotherapy, the client often takes the lead in this style of therapy. The therapist is more the facilitator, enabling the client to find their own solutions. Solution-focused hypnotherapy focuses on the present and is very much driven by the client’s aims and goals. It can be an empowering form of therapy as you, the client, have greater control over how you resolve your own situation.


Your therapist will have trained in an area of psychotherapy in order to offer this style of hypnotherapy. This may include humanist, gestalt or psychodynamic, as well as being a trained hypnotherapist. Complex issues suit hypno-psychotherapy as it gives plenty of time to unpack and deal with anything that may be holding you back or causing you concern. The level of depth you go into is client-led, and if you know you have more than one area of need, then this branch of hypnotherapy could be ideal for you. 

Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT)

As the name would suggest, this is a rapid approach. Marissa Peer, the creator of this style of therapy, claims that you should not need more than three sessions with your RTT therapist. Rapid Transformational Hypnotherapy is solution-focused and encourages the client to develop skills at communicating and influencing their subconscious more directly. Your therapist will have undergone specific RTT training in order to offer this. 

Past life regression

Practitioners of past life regression believe that we all have experienced past lives and that the events of these can influence who we grow to be. Therapists will take you back to points in your previous lives, guiding you as you revisit events that may have shaped the path you have undergone to get to where you are today. 

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)

While not a direct form of hypnotherapy, NLP is heavily influential in most styles of hypnosis. It is well known in the worlds of business and sport as its primary focus is on the way we think and how that can lead to success. If we believe we are capable of something, we are more likely to achieve it, and so NLP is often used to motivate individuals and give them greater confidence in their skill set and ability. 

If all these options of hypnotherapy are a little overwhelming, then the best thing to do is get in touch with a therapist and talk about your situation. 

No matter what style of therapy you think you may need, its success is heavily influenced by the rapport you have with your therapist, so avoid getting bogged down in the jargon and reach out to someone. They will be only too happy to talk through your options and assist with clarifying what may be most suited to you.

This article was updated on 9th June 2023.

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Written by Jessica Chapman
Jessica Chapman is a therapist and teacher with a passion for the outdoors and being creative. She enjoys assisting others in making positive changes to their lives alongside working on her own aspirations.
Written by Jessica Chapman
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