What is Hypnotherapy?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2019
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Hypnotherapy can evoke several definitions. The briefest of these is that it works to induce a hypnotic state in a client in order to heal illnesses. This becomes more complicated when people use hypnosis to achieve regression to earlier points in life. Sometimes hypnotherapy is only to achieve a specific goal like quitting smoking, but in many other scenarios it is an adjunct to other forms of therapy as practiced by a licensed mental health professional that may help promote both body and mind wellness.

There are a few things people might expect from hypnotherapy and the state of being hypnotized. Not all people are equally adapted to this, and most when in a hypnotic state are likely to be aware of what they’re doing and discussing. They will probably remember this when they wake, unless given a suggestion not to, and some may ignore that suggestion. Most people report a feeling of being very relaxed, at ease and certainly not asleep, and an ethical therapist would never abuse his/her position by asking a client to do anything not in keeping with goals of therapy. In this sense, hypnotherapy may be very different from people’s concepts of it, and they should know that they cannot and will not be forced to do anything while hypnotized.


Purposes for hypnotherapy can range. It might be used for the purpose to achieve some type of goal that has previously eluded someone. Alternately, it could be an exploration of the unconscious self, which may or may not yield accurate information about past experience. Some therapists do believe hypnosis may touch on past lives, and others do not feel this true. More and more, there is evidence of many things uncovered in hypnosis being fully untrue, but even fantasies or false memories might be useful in gaining a deeper knowledge of the self.

It’s important to point out that hypnotherapy may not be therapy and isn’t always conducted by licensed psychotherapists. There are a number of people skilled at hypnotizing who may especially focus on goal directed work such as weight loss. The degree to which these people are professional and skilled at their jobs may vary, since there are far fewer tests of their competence.

With this in mind, it’s suggested that people choose very carefully if they plan not to work with a licensed mental health professional. For safety, it is advised that people look to psychotherapists trained in hypnotherapy. They are better able to address concerns that come up during a hypnosis session, and further possess the training to help clients analyze material that occurred during that state.


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