Hypnotherapy Faqs

If you’re considering alternative medical treatments, or exploring ways to relieve stress, you may have some questions about hypnosis. As with any treatment option, educating yourself on the facts about hypnosis will improve your chances of success.

Q: What is hypnosis?

A: Hypnosis is a state of heightened focus and inner attention. While in a hypnotic state, you become more relaxed and open to suggestions, while retaining full control of your mental capacities and behavior.

Q: What is hypnotherapy?

A: Hypnotherapy is the therapeutic application of hypnosis in a clinical setting. A hypnotherapist guides you toward deep relaxation, guides you to discover the root causes of unwanted behavior patterns and emotions, then makes suggestions designed to facilitate your desired goals. During this deep level of calm, you become more focused on the specific suggestion and receptive to its truthfulness and applicability to your own situation.

Q: Is hypnosis a legitimate medical practice?

A: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recognizes hypnosis as a medically sound form of pain management. Reputable medical authorities, such as the Mayo Clinic and Merck Manual, also endorse hypnosis as a viable medical alternative for some conditions. Many patient organizations, such as the American Cancer Society and the Arthritis Foundation, identify hypnosis as an effective pain management and anxiety reduction technique in some patients.

Q: How can hypnosis help me?

A: Individuals choose to undergo hypnotherapy for a variety of reasons. Although not an exhaustive list, using hypnosis may be beneficial for the following medical conditions and lifestyle goals:

  • Addictions
  • Allergies
  • Anxiety associated with surgical procedures or illnesses
  • Asthma
  • Athletic performance enhancement
  • Childbirth
  • Headaches
  • Hypertension
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Insomnia
  • Mental and emotional health conditions
  • Nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy
  • Pain management
  • Phobias
  • Skin conditions
  • Smoking cessation
  • Weight loss.

Q: Will I lose control under hypnosis?

A: Although many people associate hypnosis with nightclub shows where people perform silly tricks at the suggestion of the hypnotist, this is inaccurate. During a clinical session, you retain complete control over your mental functioning and behavior.

Q: Is hypnosis safe?

A: If you work with a qualified practitioner, hypnosis causes no side effects—aside from the positive effects you intended. When used for psychoanalysis, however, hypnosis may trigger strong emotions and false memories. For this reason, the practice of utilizing hypnosis as part of age regression therapy—used to invoke past events—remains controversial.

Q: How can I choose a qualified hypnotherapist?

A: Before choosing a hypnotherapist, ask several candidates about their hypnosis experience and professional qualifications. You may want to ask the following questions:

  • Are you a licensed doctor, psychologist, social worker or other medical professional?
  • How long have you been practicing hypnotherapy?
  • How extensive is your hypnotherapy training?
  • To which professional organizations do you belong?
  • What do you charge for your services?
  • What schools did you attend?
  • Which types of insurance do you accept?

Q: What are some professional hypnosis organizations’ minimum standards?

A: Various professional organizations require minimum standards of education, as well as continuing education coursework. Membership in both the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis (SCEH) and the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH) require that a committee review the practitioner’s qualifications and determine that the practitioner meets its professional standards.

Q: Where can I learn more facts about hypnosis?

A: If you’re considering hypnotherapy treatment, your doctor can provide more facts about hypnosis and referrals to qualified hypnotherapists.


Loitman, J. (2000). Pain management: Beyond pharmacology to acupuncture and hypnosis. Retrieved August 31, 2010, from http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/283/1/118#REF-JMS0105-6-1-13

Mayo Clinic. (2009). Hypnosis. Retrieved August 31, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hypnosis/MY01020/DSECTION=risks

Rosenzweig, S. (2009). Mind-body techniques.Retrieved August 31, 2010, from http://www.merck.com/mmhe/sec25/ch302/ch302c.html

Vickers, A., Zollman, C.