What is Hypnotherapy? Image

When many people think of hypnotherapy, they imagine nightclub shows where a “hypnotized” member of the audience is manipulated into doing something comical or embarrassing. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The term “hypnosis” has its origins in the Greek work “hypnos,” which means “sleep.” A hypnotherapist is a trained professional who uses specific techniques to induce a deeply focused, relaxed state—or “hypnosis.”

Under hypnosis, a person is especially responsive to suggested images and ideas. However, this doesn’t mean that a hypnotherapist can control her patient’s will or make him do anything that conflicts with his ethics or beliefs. While under hypnosis a person is fully aware of his self and surroundings. The mind is fully conscious and engaged, but more relaxed and fluid than usual; this experience may resemble daydreaming.

Hypnosis can actually help individuals master their own states of awareness and positively impact their own physical and psychological functions.

Prices for hypnotherapy vary greatly, ranging anywhere from about $75 to $250 per session. Adults may see progress after about four to ten sessions. Children often require fewer sessions, due to their greater suggestibility.

How Hypnotherapy Can Help

Hypnotherapy can effectively treat a number of conditions. Physicians sometimes use hypnosis as a pain-suppression and healing tool during and after surgical procedures. Hypnosis may also help alleviate the symptoms of other conditions, conditions such as:

  • Alopecia areata (or hair loss)
  • Asthma
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Phobias
  • Skin conditions
  • Tension headaches.

Hypnosis can also help guide patients through addiction withdrawal symptoms, focus new mothers during labor and delivery, and help alleviate anxiety and stress. It is also a helpful tool in some weight-loss plans, when patients have trouble controlling their eating habits.

For children, hypnotherapy can help eliminate habits like bedwetting, sleepwalking or thumb-sucking.

How Does Hypnotherapy Work?

During your first session, a hypnotherapist will likely take your medical history, ask what problems led you to seek help, and teach you relaxation techniques. Future sessions will follow a pattern of entering the relaxed state, making you more receptive to the healing process.

During hypnosis, you may pass through several classic stages:

  • Eliciting the underlying root cause of a problem, unwanted emotional state or behavioral pattern
  • Reframing the problem
  • Relaxing and engaging deeply in words or images presented by your hypnotherapist
  • Dislocating (letting go of your critical thoughts)
  • Responding to your hypnotherapist’s suggestions
  • Returning to everyday awareness
  • Reflecting on your experience.

Some common approaches to hypnotherapy include cognitive/behavioral hypnotherapy, Erickson hypnotherapy and hypnoanalysis.

Finding a Qualified Hypnotherapist

In order to achieve your desired results, make sure you choose a qualified hypnotherapist. This often requires checking each candidate’s certifications and professional affiliations.

Look for a hypnotherapist associated with the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH), which requires a doctorate or master’s degree in a health field and at least 20 hours of ASCH-approved hypnotherapy training. Individuals licensed by the American Psychotherapy and Hypnosis Association must complete a six- to eight-week course in hypnotherapy.

For a list of qualified hypnotherapists in your area, you can contact these two organizations or the American Association of Professional Hypnotherapists.


Mason, D. (n.d). Hypnotherapy techniques. Retrieved August 4, 2010, from http://www.hypknowsis.com/index.html

University of Maryland Medical Center. (2008). Hypnotherapy: Overview. Retrieved August 4, 2010, from http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/hypnotherapy-000353.html