What is hypnotherapy?

Written by Emily Whitton
Emily Whitton
Hypnotherapy Directory Content Team

Hypnotherapy generally refers to the therapeutic use of hypnosis to help you try to change habits, lessen symptoms, or treat a variety of conditions.

On this page, we'll explore what hypnotherapy is in more detail, including what it can help with and how to find a qualified professional. 

What is hypnotherapy used for?

Hypnotherapy is a mind-body approach to healing in which a trained hypnotherapist uses hypnosis to guide you into deep relaxation and focused concentration, known as the 'hypnotic state.' The hypnotic state is something that can occur naturally for us, such as daydreaming. In hypnotherapy, however, a practitioner will induce you into this state, which allows you to become more open to suggestions. These suggestions can help you make changes to your health – whether you want to break a habit, overcome a phobia or reduce symptoms as a result of other health conditions. 

What's the difference between hypnotherapy and hypnosis?

Hypnotherapy is the therapeutic use of hypnosis to help with a variety of concerns. While hypnosis may refer to the process of inducing a trance to help promote communication between the conscious and subconscious mind, hypnotherapy refers to the process of using hypnosis to achieve a specific goal or outcome.

Hypnotherapy vs stage hypnosis 

Hypnotherapy and stage hypnosis are often categorised together as 'hypnosis,' however, there is a difference between the two. Hypnotherapy is a therapeutic process which helps the client achieve a personal goal and lasting change. Stage hypnosis, on the other hand, is used for entertainment purposes. 

What are the benefits of hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy can not only help with a wide range of problems but can also support you in achieving goals and making positive changes that can truly have a positive impact on your life. From scientifically backed health benefits to personal experiences, hypnotherapy can help bring about positive change by focusing on the here and now.

Hypnotherapy helps you to find a state of deep relaxation and offers an alternative or complementary option to many other forms of support, such as talking therapies or medication. Focusing on what is working – or not working – for you, hypnotherapy can help facilitate change for the better.

What can hypnotherapy help with? 

Studies have shown that hypnotherapy can be an effective way of reducing symptoms and easing side effects of a number of issues, including pain management, stress, PTSD, anxiety and more. Some common conditions that hypnotherapy is thought to help with include:

  • quitting smoking/vaping
  • giving up alcohol
  • learning to manage anxiety or stress
  • low-self esteem/confidence 
  • relaxation 
  • sports performance 
  • public speaking

For more information about what hypnotherapy can help with, visit our A-Z guide

While hypnotherapy doesn’t have any side effects, it is worth noting that it is not recommended if you have certain types of personality disorders or psychosis.

What should I expect from a hypnotherapy session?

Whether you're talking in person or virtually, you will most likely have an initial chat to go over what problem you are struggling with, what behaviours you hope to change, and what you hope to achieve through hypnotherapy. 

Once you have established what you hope to achieve, your hypnotherapist will go through what method(s) they plan to use, and give you a rough idea of what to expect. Typically, a hypnotherapy session will include leading you into a deep state of relaxation, making suggestions for different ways of handling a particular issue, behaviour or situation you have been struggling with, and gradually helping bring you out of the trance. 

Following your initial session, you may begin to see a positive impact straight away, as the new suggestions made to your subconscious start to take effect. For others, further sessions to help reinforce these new ideas may be needed. Your hypnotherapist may also teach you self-hypnosis techniques to help you continue to positively reinforce these new ideas of behaviours between sessions.

In this video, hypnotherapist Anne Gregory discusses what to expect from a hypnotherapy session.

How do I find a qualified hypnotherapist?

You can find a professional on Hypnotherapy Directory using our advanced search tool. Simply select your preference for online or in-person hypnotherapy and filter by concern, if there's something in particular you'd like help with. We recommend browsing a few profiles to find a hypnotherapist who best resonates with you. 

Remember, it's always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new therapy, including hypnotherapy.

Frequently asked questions

Does hypnotherapy work?

In hypnotherapy, you – the client – are in full control. You cannot be forced into hypnosis and it's not mind control. The ability to respond to suggestions varies from person to person – this is known as 'hypnotic susceptibility.' Generally, though, hypnotherapy is thought to be more effective if you can enter into it with an open mind and want to make a change. Find out more about how hypnotherapy works and the studies into hypnosis.

Are there different types of hypnotherapy?

As with many forms of therapy, there are different types of hypnotherapy available, as well as different ways of using hypnotherapy – be that one-on-one with a qualified hypnotherapist, through online or telephone sessions, or through self-hypnosis. Your therapist may have trained in a specific type of hypnotherapy, or they may have studied a number of different approaches. It’s possible that they may have also crossed over into other disciplines, such as counselling, or complementary therapies.

How many sessions will I need?

The duration of therapy depends on your specific situation and reasons for seeking treatment. For example, smoking cessation might be addressed in a single session lasting up to two hours, while other issues may need regular weekly sessions over a longer period. Your hypnotherapist will advise on the number of sessions needed and adjust as necessary based on your progress.

How long will hypnotherapy sessions last?

Again this is dependent on both your hypnotherapist and your circumstances. One-off services such as smoking cessation or gastric band hypnotherapy can last around two hours, while a general hypnotherapy session will usually take 50 to 60 minutes.

How much does hypnotherapy cost?

Fees vary based on different factors, including the hypnotherapist’s experience, the session type, and your location in the UK. Typically, sessions cost between £50 and £100 per hour. Some hypnotherapists will offer a free short phone consultation and provide packages for ongoing treatment, allowing you to pay upfront for multiple sessions at a discounted rate. It’s a good idea to ask about fees for clarity. For specific cost inquiries, contact your chosen hypnotherapist, who will be happy to explain the details.

Can I get hypnotherapy on the NHS?

Access to hypnotherapy on the NHS is incredibly limited and while you can discuss the option with your healthcare provider, it’s not widely available and the majority of practitioners work privately. Hypnotherapy on the NHS is often limited to certain conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), where clinical guidelines suggest it may be beneficial. It's important to consult with healthcare professionals to explore all available options for accessing hypnotherapy, they can provide insights into the suitability of hypnotherapy for your particular condition.

Is hypnotherapy for children safe?

Hypnotherapy for children and young people is considered both effective and safe. Children tend to respond very well to hypnosis as they are naturally quite imaginative and use their subconscious minds a great deal more than adults do. Hypnotherapy can help to address a number of issues commonly experienced in childhood, including exam stress, sleep problems, bed-wetting, phobias and low self-esteem.

What training should hypnotherapists have?

In the UK, there are no legal requirements specifying the level of training needed to become a hypnotherapist. However, industry standards recommend that individuals should have an appropriate diploma or have completed a course with a minimum of 450 learning hours, of which 120 must have been face-to-face.

Here at Hypnotherapy Directory, all members are checked to ensure they meet our proof policy so you can be assured they have appropriate training. However, we still recommend conducting your own research and inquiring about qualifications and insurance before beginning hypnotherapy sessions.

How can I train to become a hypnotherapist?

Making the decision to become a hypnotherapist can quickly turn from exciting to overwhelming when you discover the number of training courses available. To help you shift back to the excitement, we’ve put together a training page with a few pointers on what to look for in a course and professional organisation.

We’ve also listed some training affiliate organisations that run courses that will enable you to join Hypnotherapy Directory once completed to help get your business off to a flying start.

Further reading

Search for a therapist

Find the right hypnotherapist for you

All therapists are verified professionals

All therapists are verified professionals