Overview: What is hypnotherapy? And how does it differ from hypnosis? This guide provides an overview of what hypnotherapy is, how it works, and key differences between hypnosis and traditional therapies.
For centuries, scientists, physicians and researchers have tried to answer a simple question: Does hypnotherapy provide medical benefits?
Today, we have decades worth of research that says it does. Hypnotherapy offers numerous benefits, from helping people quit smoking to reducing anxiety.
So what is hypnotherapy? And how is it different than hypnosis?
In short, hypnotherapy is the use of hypnosis for therapy and behavior modification.
We like to say that hypnotherapy is meditation with a goal. The hypnotic state is very similar to a meditative state. However, in this deeply relaxed state, the subconscious becomes more responsive to suggestions.
In other words, you can provide suggestions directly to the subconscious mind, which holds all of our fears, emotional attachments, triggers, habits, and values. These suggestions help to dislodge negative thinking patterns that hold problematic behaviors in place. Ultimately, through repetition, hypnotherapy is very effective, and the research continues to back this up.
Hypnotherapy vs Hypnosis: Key Differences
The words “hypnosis” and “hypnotherapy” are used interchangeably. But there’s a key distinction between the two. Hypnosis describes the state, while hypnotherapy describes the process.
There are three hypnotherapy terms that help to illustrate this point:
- Hypnosis: This is a relaxed, deeply focused state, that's similar to the meditative state. We reach this after following an induction that might include focused breathing, visualization, or reciting a countdown.
- Hypnotism: This refers to the process of reaching the hypnotic state. You can listen to a hypnosis recording, work with a certified hypnotherapist, or follow a script.
- Hypnotherapy: Hypnotherapy is simply using hypnosis for a specific, therapeutic purpose, e.g. de-stressing, quitting a bad habit, or improving self-esteem.
Ultimately, if you've used hypnosis for a purpose, you've practiced hypnotherapy. For example, if you were to listen to a sleep hypnosis recording, this is hypnotherapy for insomnia or to improve sleep.
Who Can Perform Hypnotherapy?
There are two forms of hypnotherapy: Self-hypnosis and one-on-one hypnotherapy.
Self-hypnosis means practicing hypnotherapy by yourself. You can listen recordings on a hypnotherapy app. These recordings include an induction, as well as self-improvement suggestions.
However, you can also work with a certified hypnotherapist. Hypnotherapists are highly trained and offer a personalized experience. As you look for a hypnotherapist, you should pay particular attention to:
- Training: Hypnotherapists must undergo training prior to practicing, and often spend many more hours earning certification. Hypnotherapy certification often requires classroom and online coursework, and most receive in-person training with real-life patients.
- Competence: Thanks to the added training, hypnotherapists generally have broader knowledge of hypnosis. Therefore, hypnotherapists have a wider range of techniques to draw from, including re-learning, reframing, regression, root-cause and self-identification.
- Effectiveness: The best hypnotherapists tailor treatment plans. Therefore, they can more effectively identify negative behaviors in the subconscious, and they’re more qualified to remove and reframe these behaviors and thought patterns.
Ultimately, many start with self-hypnosis or use both methods in tandem. Generally, hypnotherapy works best through repetition. The more times we can provide our subconscious with new beliefs, the more they stick.
Hypnotherapy vs Traditional Therapies: Key Differences
Increasingly, hypnotherapy is used for medicinal purposes. This is a recent trend. The medical establishment began endorsing the use of clinical hypnosis beginning in the 1950s.
Now, the list of healthcare providers that prescribe hypnosis includes some of the world’s top healthcare facilities, including the Mayo Clinic and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Promising research fuels this trend. In fact, some research suggests hypnotherapy is more effective than traditional therapy.
A classic hypnosis study found that, on average, patients required just six hypnotherapy sessions with a 93-percent recovery rate. Psychoanalysis, on the other hand, required roughly 600 sessions with just a 38-percent recovery rate.
How Does Hypnotherapy Work?
Hypnotherapy – whether performed by a hypnotherapist or yourself – helps you identify problematic thought patterns and behaviors. A hypnotherapist will spend time learning a client’s behaviors, the thoughts and thinking patterns that keep those behaviors in place, and the creation of a strategy for overcoming a negative behavior on an individual basis.
However, you can perform these assessments on your own. In particular, as you start hypnotherapy, you can expect four key steps:
1. Isolating Behaviors
At the subconscious level, many of habits and compulsions form over years. Our brains our hardwired to keep the habit in place, and we’re oblivious to how these subconscious thoughts control our actions.
In hypnotherapy, you spend time learning about your negative behaviors and triggers. You might do this by yourself or with a hypnotherapy coach. Ultimately, the goal is to determine the subconscious thinking that’s keeping the behavior in place.
For example, a procrastinator might be subconsciously motivated by the pleasure/pain principle. They’re avoiding a task like work or study because of the perceived pain. “It will be hard!” A hypnotherapy plan would then seek to reframe how the individual views work, e.g. that completing tasks can be pleasurable.
2. Developing Strategies
Once you've identified the limiting beliefs and negative attachments, you can develop a hypnotherapy plan to make changes. You might include
For overcoming procrastination, both a hypnotherapist and a psychologist might suggest using a kitchen timer. However, for this strategy to be effective, we have to remove the unconscious attachments – the fear of a task being hard – for long-term success.
Ultimately, you might find a hypnosis recording series that includes a program, or your hypnotherapist will develop a plan for sessions.
3. Suggestions Aligned to Your Goals
When you enter a state of hypnosis, your mind is highly suggestible, and because of this, you can begin to reframe the negative thought patterns that are holding behaviors (like procrastination) in place.
For example, let’s say you’re hoping to overcome procrastination. The hypnotherapist will guide you into hypnosis. Once you’ve achieved this hyper-focused, relaxed state, the hypnotherapist will provide tailored suggestions designed to help you overcome and reframe your existing subconscious thoughts.
For procrastination, the suggestion might be: “Working in 30-minute intervals should be a priority in your life. Because you’re working for just a half hour, work will come more easily. And it will feel more manageable than the past.”
Ultimately, because the subconscious is so suggestible, this suggestion is much more likely to “stick.” In other words, you’re reversing the negative thoughts that encourage you procrastination.
4. Reinforcing the Strategy
Hypnotherapy is a process. Many people will begin to see results after a single session, but for those results to stick long-term, the strategy requires maintenance.
During follow-up sessions, the hypnotherapist will guide you through exercises to reinforce the new behavior and make it stronger and stronger. Over time and with the proper technique, you can completely transform old, automatic subconscious thoughts. If you're working by yourself, you'll need to regularly listen to hypnotherapy recordings to make this stick.
Also, a hypnotherapist can help to improve upon results. For example, if the results were subtle following your first session, the hypnotherapist may choose another strategy to help you overcome procrastination.
What Can Hypnotherapy Help With?
Hypnotherapy offers support for numerous conditions, habits, fears, and self-improvements.
Some of the most common uses for hypnotherapy include:
- Compulsive behaviors – Compulsions like overeating or procrastination are rooted in faulty subconscious thinking patterns and associations. Hypnosis can help you identify these negative associations and develop strategies for overcoming them.
- Phobias and Fears – Claustrophobia, fear of flying, or fear of the dentist may be the result of automatic, irrational thinking that has hijacked our conscious thought processes. Hypnosis provides a means for quieting these irrational thoughts.
- Addictions – Addiction transforms the subconscious through repetition. Hypnosis works by attaching new emotions to the habit and reframing these automatic thinking process. For example, using hypnosis to quit smoking, we might attach the negative physical symptoms to the habit.
- Depression and Anxiety – Anxiety becomes a feedback loop of negativity in the mind. Hypnotherapy can help us isolate the root cause of our depression or anxiety and provide strategies to help quiet these negative thinking patterns.
- Stress – Our subconscious thoughts triggers and amplify stress. Therefore, by using hypnosis to relieve stress, we can begin gain a firmer grasp on stress and reduce the number of stressors in our lives.
This is just a short list of the most common uses for hypnosis. There are many more. If you’re curious if hypnotherapy can help you, reach out to a certified hypnotherapist.
What Does the Research Say About Hypnotherapy?
It would be impossible to highlight all of the research that has found hypnosis to be effective in medical treatment. But the short answer is that: When administered by a professional, and when used as a therapeutic device, hypnosis can be extremely effective. Here’s a look at some of the research:
- Surgical Pain Management: A 1998 study found that hypnosis provided improved comfort during surgery, reduced pain and anxiety post-op, as well as faster recovery.
- Smoking Cessation: A 2007 study found that compared to other types of smoking cessation methods (including cold turkey and nicotine replacement) hypnotherapy was much more effective at helping smokers quit. At six months, 50 percent of the hypnotherapy group were non-smokers compared to just 16 percent in the nicotine replacement therapy group.
- Sleep Issues: A 2008 study looked at children and adolescents who were suffering from sleep issues like insomnia and nighttime awakenings. Following treatment with hypnotherapy, 87 percent of patients said their symptoms were significantly or completely resolved.
- Stress: A 2013 Swedish study found that after two weeks of self-guided hypnotherapy, patients experienced a medium-to-strong reduction of stress. Similarly, a 1994 study found that students who received hypnotherapy prior to exams showed less exam anxiety and improved performance.
Getting Started on Your Hypnotherapy Journey
Ultimately, you have three methods for getting started with hypnotherapy: One-on-one sessions, hypnotherapy books, and our hypnotherapy app.
If you're skeptical, we recommend starting with our app. There are recordings and series designed for a variety of conditions, including cellphone addiction, quitting sugar, overcoming social anxiety, and much more.
This is great! I think it’s so important to get the message out there and really explain the difference between hypnosis and hypnotherapy. I want people to understand what I’m being certified in … there is a stigma and articles like this educate folks away from an inaccurate understanding. Thank you for your work…it is truly improving my own life!
The article provides a well balanced view of what hypnosis is and gives evidence of its efficacy. Its many benefits and the conditions it can help have been highlighted by recent research and its use within the healthcare system is rapidly growing. Understanding the need to see a well trained therapist who takes the time to learn your specific behaviours is presented well and it carefully illustrates how hypnotherapy is a skilled modality that is layered over several sessions, which looks at root cause in order to make major transformations. The only question left is when should I start?
This is a great blog for the individual in having a better understanding of the value of benefits of hypnotherapy!! Thank you for guiding us on understanding this long overdue message in receiving the healing of hypnotherapy. The more we know the better we heal.
Thanks for this! Great article to share with others to help them (and me!) understand more about hypnotherapy and its benefits. It really helps to outline what happens in a clinical setting so that people can begin to adopt this practice, instead of relying on their misconceptions and ultimately avoiding it.
I love, love, love this post! So informative, easy to understand, inviting, thorough and encouraging! Especially how again you take the time to point out the research behind hypnotherapy, “For one, hypnotherapy is effective. Based on research, it’s a more effective alternative to traditional psychoanalysis. A classic hypnosis study found that, on average, patients required just six hypnotherapy sessions with a 93-percent recovery rate. Psychoanalysis, on the other hand, required roughly 600 sessions with just a 38-percent recovery rate.”
This is an article I look forward to sharing with my family members, friends and soon to be friends who are interested in learning about hypnosis and what it truly is AND how it has 0% to do with chickens!
Thanks, Grace Space!
Wow! Very very informative. This blog will stay in the back of my head.. For anytime someone has a question on what hypnosis is, exactly. This provides clear and concise definitions. My favorite lines are.. “Hypnosis is all about reframing the subconscious thinking patterns that control our daily lives. With this, the ultimate goal as identify the root cause, provide suggestions for overcoming or reframing that negative behavior, and ultimately, reinforcing the behavior during follow-up sessions.” So to-the-point. I’m thrilled to be a student of hypnotherapy and look forward to helping my clients enter a deeply relaxed state in which subconscious thinking can be reversed or improved using hypnotherapy.
Concise, informative, authoritative, backed by research, blog posts like this help pave the road for making hypnotherapy mainstream! If only hypnosis could be used in mass to get to the root belief of the general public that hypnosis is some sort of stage show trickery! But there is more than one path to the ultimate destination of having hypnotherapy accepted as an everyday therapy that your doctor believes in and your insurance company pays for and the students at Grace Space Hypnotherapy are on it!
I personally love hypnotherapy, I few months back I started with self- mediation which I truly believe lead me to hypnotherapy. Hypnosis has empowered me to deal with my fears in life and to rid negative baggaged carried out life. Hypnosis has truly enriched my life to new whole level. There are few and far between days inwhich I don’t practice self-hypnosis.
This is a very comprehensive blog to understand how hypnotherapy is such a versatile tool and shows how hypnosis is really just a natural state of highly focused relaxation. It’s so important to get to the root of the negative behaviors that have become automatic so we can reframe the associations we have that are not serving us. In a world where instant gratification, quick fixes and results are a huge driving force, it’s refreshing to know hypnotherapy is very effective in creating lasting change while not just putting a band aid over symptoms.
Love how this article clarifies so many common question about what hypnotherapy is and how it works. I’m all about root cause healing!
Very information introduction. My daughter-in-law birthed 3 babies with hypnotherapy, no drugs at all, no Caesarean, 1 baby 10 lbs. 7 oz., and one sunny side up. No tearing or episiotomy
either. Now, my daughter is seriously studying hypnotherapy to become trained and licensed. A much more natural and healthy way to deal with our shortcomings. Hopefully, more of the public will be open to this methodology.
This article is great! I did enjoy reading it and I hope more people can be inspired by it. It really explains what Hypnotherapy is and how beneficial it is. A lot of people are not aware how it actually works. Hypnotherapy has a lot of benefits and can help a lot of people. Let’s do this…
This article really helped me understand the impact hypnotherapy can have, the approach and the differences between being a hypnotist vs. a hypnotherapist. As a current student in Grace’s school I am beyond excited to delve deeper into learning how to help others overcome their limiting beliefs and reach their biggest aspirations. As a lover of research-based practices, I pose the question of if there was unlimited funding available, what type of research study would the hypnotherapy community want to see done to help further legitimize this powerful practice?
I thought I knew it all. This article is so informative and helpful. Describing how Hypnotherapy works, makes me feel motivated to learn more about it. Listening to the recordings and reading the scripts have changed my life completely. One on one session is a must. Knowing that any condition driven by subconscious thinking can be reversed or improved using hypnotherapy brings me hope. Thanks again for these valuable information.
Great deep dive into hypnosis vs. hypnotherapy! I’ve been listening to Grace’s recordings for about 18 months now, and I have seen so much transformation in anxiety reduction and stopping procrastination. I think self-love is the next big step for me…I love all of the visualization, NLP and root cause analysis — and that we then skip my conscious brain and deal directly with the subconscious. GSHypnotherapy is a life changer. Thank you, Grace and the rest of the team!!
This article is wonderful, it clearly explains what hypnotherapy is and how it can help. My personal journey with hypnotherapy has been incredibly transformative! After only a few sessions with my Grace Space certified hypnotherapist, I was already beginning to see a profound change in my self-limiting behaviours.
What a great article covering what hypnosis is, how it works and the benefits. It’s incredible how much more effective and quick it works in comparison to psychoanalysis. It is sad that psychoanalysis is still more mainstream an socially acceptable than hypnosis. Hopefully we can change that perception very soon!
This is such an enlightening article. It’s so interesting to find the difference between Hypnotherapy and Hypnosis. The distinction is quite important, considering the well-being of the client, and qualifications of the hypnotherapist. How long it took for allopathic medicine to recognize the value of hypnotherapy? Nearly 70 years; that’s almost a whole lifetime.
Now I can assure you as a witness of how effective hypnotherapy is, that my life has changed completely. I am almost finishing my Hypnotherapy School and the expert training us is this wonderful, compassionate and experienced woman: Grace Smith. If you have the chance to become a hypnotherapist, it won’t only help your life to make effective changes and make better choices, it will help others and you can be part of making this world a better place. Thank you Grace. I am and will always be with you for giving me this opportunity to become a hypnotherapist.
This study says it all, I tell all my clients about it because it sets the stage nicely for their first session. “A classic hypnosis study found that, on average, patients required just six hypnotherapy sessions with a 93-percent recovery rate. Psychoanalysis, on the other hand, required roughly 600 sessions with just a 38-percent recovery rate.”