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What is Hypnotherapy?

Hypnosis is an old therapeutic tool with new approaches in the modern era of positive psychology. Hypnosis goes back to the 1700’s when it was introduced by the Franz Mesmer. Yes, that’s where the term mesmerizing comes from. Since then, hypnosis has been in and out of the mainstream but mostly on the fringe of psychological and medical approach to common human dilemmas. Likely due to the misunderstanding from what you see on the stage in Las Vegas (stage hypnosis). Hypnotherapy uses hypnosis as a therapeutic tool to address many ailments. Hypnotherapy is recognized by the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association as a legitimate form of treatment. Currently, certified hypnotherapists are gaining more and more acceptance in modern medical treatment for conditions such as stress, anxiety, weight loss, IBS, and chronic pain. Research has shown that hypnotherapy is effective in helping to alleviate symptoms of PTSD , aid in immune system function , and help individuals overcome addiction and lose weight. Hypnosis works by allowing your mind and body to relax.


How does hypnosis work? Your hypnotherapist will guide you into a deep state of relaxation using simple tools such as your breath or eye movement, this state is sometimes called 'trance'. In this state you will be further guided by imagery, verbal cues or repetition of ideas or actions to increase your motivation to create change. This slows down the activity in the parts of your brain responsible for evaluating and cognitive tasks. And increases activity in the portions of your brain responsible for self-control, pain perception, social stimuli and autonomic control. This helps to foster a healthy brain body connection. Hypnosis can cause change in brain activity and connectivity consistent with decreased self-consciousness, increased control of internal sensations and emotion, and less anxiety.


What hypnosis is not. Hypnosis is not a magic wand that is waved over you while you are lying back in a comfortable chair. There is a treatment plan. A good hypnotherapist will give you tools to take with you. These tools will vary depending on why you are seeking help. Whether you are treating anxiety or depression, losing weight or conquering tired limiting beliefs, you will be motivated to make the changes in your daily life to create the outcomes you are looking for. Actionable steps are a part of your healing. You have to want to change. Your hypnotherapist is trained to help you navigate the patterns and habits in your life.


Finding out about your hypnotherapist. Check your hypnotherapist credentials and make sure they are trained from an accredited school. Also, it’s important you have a sense of trust, just like any other therapist. You want to vibe with them on some level. Your hypnotherapist will talk with you about your issue/condition and ask you what changes you would like to see, perhaps setting goals.


What does that look like in a hypnotherapy session? You may be seated in a reclined chair or couch. There will be a process to bring you into hypnosis, this is called an induction. This may be done with language or with visualization techniques. You will never be out of control and you will not accept or act on any suggestion you do not agree with. Your subconscious mind wants to protect you. This is why you want a hypnotherapist you like and trust. They will then do some deepening techniques and make suggestions for you to make incremental changes in your life to create the changes that lead to better health and well-being. You may or may not remember all of the session. You will be in control, so please turn off your cell phone before your session! Sessions range from 50-75 minutes. And a session can be done in office or virtually, I recommend if you can, to have your first session in office to get a good sense of your hypnotherapist. You want to make the most of this relaxed state. Your mind and your body will benefit greatly from the simple process of going into the present state of hypnosis and mind/body connection. Once your hypnotherapist feels you have gone into hypnosis and accepted the suggestions, you will then be guided back into an awakened state and the session will end.


1. Rotaru T, Rusu A. A meta-analysis for the efficacy of hypnotherapy in alleviating PTSD symptoms. Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2015;64(1):116-136. doi:10.1080/00207144.2015.1099406

3. Kirsch I, Montgomery G, Sapirstein G. Hypnosis as an adjunct to cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy: A meta-analysis. J Consult Clin Psychol. 1995;63(2):214-220. doi:10.1037/0022-006x.63.2.214

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