Hypnosis, counselling or CBT: What’s the difference?

When trying to address a psychological issue, such as a phobia, there are different methods used for treatment. This can be confusing to some who want the best treatment to help alleviate their fear or put their condition in its proper place.


Understanding which type of treatment is right for you starts with an understanding of what hypnosis, counselling, and CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) do and their differences.

Hypnotherapy, counselling, and CBT: What are the differences?


Hypnosis has been around for many centuries and has been used to address all types of fears, unwanted behaviours, and reactions by going straight into the mind. A person under hypnosis will be trained to react differently to a specific behaviour. For example, if a person suffers from anxiety, hypnosis will plant subconscious suggestions that alter the reaction to the feeling of anxiety which results in a person not suffering from the constant state of fear.


This is a traditional form of therapy that is primarily designed to identify the source of the unwanted feeling or behaviour, so the effect is lessened, and the person can retain control. In addition to identification, counselling provides methods for the patient to address what is unwanted and focus on other areas so that it can be changed in a more positive direction.

Counselling has been a primary means of addressing fears and behaviours in millions of people around the world. Sometimes, it may be combined with CBT or hypnosis to help augment the effects.


Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is one of the most widely used practices in the mental health profession. The essence of CBT is to develop effective coping strategies for those who are afflicted with beliefs, thoughts, or attitudes that need to be changed to lead a healthier lifestyle. For example, a person who suffers from anxiety and uses CBT will be taught methods or behaviours that curb the effect of the anxiety.

Unlike hypnosis which reaches directly into the mind, CBT is built on training the mind to react differently when the fear or symptoms are being felt. CBT is an action-oriented approach that is designed to curb unwanted fear, behaviour, or symptoms so the person can then remain in control.

How are hypnosis, counselling and CBT different?

The differences between hypnosis, counselling and CBT are considerable even though they seemingly use similar methods. Traditional counselling deals with identification while CBT is more along the lines of building up new habits or reactions to successfully deal with the unwanted fear, attitudes, or behaviours.

Hypnosis is like CBT in terms of applying different responses, but the method is far different in that it implants suggestions directly into the mind. This means that the reactions are automatic and can be reinforced when needed. Hypnosis can be performed by a therapist or self-induced using the proper methods.

An example of the difference is quitting smoking. While counselling will find the reason why you smoke, CBT will prescribe training to help you avoid smoking. Hypnosis will implant suggestions that have you turn away from lighting up a cigarette.

Finding the right choice between hypnosis, counselling, or CBT means understanding their strengths and differences, so you can make the best-informed decision. In many cases, a combination of all three processes may be used to solve the problem.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Hypnotherapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Glasgow G2 & London W1H
Written by Biodun Ogunyemi, Certified Master Hypnotherapist ANLP,BNLP,SNLP,C.H,Dip.Hyp
Glasgow G2 & London W1H

Biodun Ogunyemi is the founder of Optimind, one of the leading hypnotherapy practices within the UK. He has practised on Harley Street and is an experienced hypnotherapist, trained to the highest level in advanced hypnotherapy and NLP and is the author of over 180 hypnosis products.

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