Hypnotherapy vs spiritual treatment

After a dinner party last year, chatting to friends my job as a clinical hypnotherapist was mentioned and misinterpreted as a spiritual practice. With this in mind, I thought it prudent to write an article to explain the difference between both.


Clinical hypnotherapy is a therapeutic technique that has gained attention for its potential to reframe thought processes and bring about positive changes in an individual's life. Often misunderstood as a form of spiritual treatment, clinical hypnotherapy operates on rational principles rooted in psychology and neuroscience. In this article, I delve into the science behind clinical hypnotherapy and shed light on its fundamental differences from spiritual treatments.

Understanding clinical hypnotherapy

Clinical hypnotherapy involves inducing a state of deep relaxation and focused attention, commonly known as a trance state. Contrary to misconceptions, this trance state is not akin to a mystical or supernatural experience; instead, it is a naturally occurring state of heightened suggestibility. During this state, the individual remains fully aware and retains control over their thoughts and actions. As a trained therapist I use this state to guide my clients through a process of mental exploration and reprogramming.

Reframing thought processes

One of the key aims of clinical hypnotherapy is to reframe thought processes and beliefs that may be hindering personal growth or well-being. Through the power of suggestion, hypnotherapists help individuals challenge negative thought patterns and replace them with more positive and constructive ones. This process is grounded in principles of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), a well-established psychological approach that emphasises changing thought patterns to alter emotional and behavioural responses.

The scientific basis of clinical hypnotherapy

Clinical hypnotherapy operates within the realm of science and psychology. Numerous studies have explored the efficacy of hypnotherapy in various contexts, including pain management, anxiety reduction, and habit cessation. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans have revealed distinct neurological changes during hypnosis, indicating altered brain activity in regions related to perception, attention, and self-awareness. These findings reinforce the notion that clinical hypnotherapy affects the brain through physiological processes, not spiritual interventions.

Contrasting spiritual treatments

Spiritual treatments often involve beliefs in supernatural forces, energies, or entities that guide the healing process. Unlike clinical hypnotherapy, spiritual treatments are rooted in faith and spirituality rather than empirical evidence. While some individuals experience positive outcomes (which may occur due to the placebo effect or enhanced psychological well-being due to spiritual beliefs) these outcomes are distinct from the evidence-based approach of clinical hypnotherapy.

Empowerment through rational techniques

Clinical hypnotherapy empowers individuals by teaching them how to harness the power of their own minds. By identifying and reframing limiting beliefs, individuals can take control of their thought processes and, consequently, their emotions and behaviour. This sense of agency aligns with the principles of modern psychology and self-empowerment, focusing on individual strengths and rational approaches to personal growth.

Ethical considerations

Clinical hypnotherapy places great importance on the well-being and autonomy of individuals. As a therapist, I follow ethical guidelines that ensure the process is collaborative, respectful, and aligned with the client's goals. There is no coercion, manipulation, or imposition of beliefs during hypnotherapy sessions, distinguishing it from some spiritual practices that may involve indoctrination or submission to external authorities.

Note from Hypnotherapy Directory:

Whether you are seeking support from a hypnotherapist or a spiritual healer, working with someone who is a member of a professional body can help to ensure that they adhere to a code of ethics. Learn more about professional bodies within hypnotherapy and professional bodies within alternative and complementary therapies.

Clinical hypnotherapy is a scientifically grounded approach to reframing thought processes, emphasising rational techniques and evidence-based principles. It operates within the realm of psychology and neuroscience, leveraging the power of suggestion to bring about positive changes in an individual's life.

Clinical hypnotherapy empowers individuals by teaching them to reshape their thoughts and beliefs, ultimately leading to enhanced well-being and personal growth. As we continue to explore the potential of the human mind, clinical hypnotherapy stands as a testament to the capacity of science to create positive transformations.

After helping so many people, it would be fantastic if the NHS recognised clinical hypnotherapy as an alternative route to helping mental well-being, thus helping patients seek help in a more timely manner. 

We cannot solve the problem with the same thinking we used when we created them.

- Albert Einstein

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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Solihull, B91
Written by Angela Cain, D.M.H, D.Hyp, CPNLP - Clinical Hypnotherapist
Solihull, B91

Angela Cain Clinical Hypnotherapist
D.M.H, D.Hyp, CPNLP,

I specialise in stress and anxiety, especially in teenagers and young adults. I use a unique combination of treatments and therapies including E.M.D.R, NLP, Meridian Tapping, and Hypnotherapy. I have a clinic in The Midlands and I am an Associate within a Harley Street practice.

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