What Is Hypnotherapy? Benefits, How It Works, Side Effects

Table of Contents

What is hypntherapy?

Hypnotherapy is the treatment of several health conditions by hypnotism or by causing prolonged sleep.

Hypnotherapy involves attaining a psychological state of awareness that’s different from the normal state of consciousness. While in a hypnotic state, a range of phenomena can occur. These include heightened susceptibility to suggestion, alterations in memory, paralysis, perspiration, and blushing. All these changes could be produced or eliminated in the hypnotic state. Some studies have shown that approximately 90 percent of the populace is capable of being hypnotized. This state of consciousness can be achieved by relaxing the entire body, focusing on one’s breathing, and shifting attention away from the outside environment. In this condition, the individual has a heightened receptivity to suggestion. The typical process of inducing a hypnotic trance in another man or woman is by a direct control replicated in a soothing, monotonous tone of voice.

Origins of hypnotherapy


Hypnotherapy is believed to have originated in the recovery practices of ancient Greece and Egypt. Many religions like Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and many others have attributed trance-like behavior to religious or divine possession. Franz Mesmer (1734-1815), an Austrian physician, is credited with being the first person to scientifically investigate the notion of hypnotherapy in 1779 to deal with many different health conditions. Mesmer is thought to have been the first physician to know the relationship of psychological injury to illness. He triggered a trance-like state, which became famous as mesmerization, in his patients to successfully treat nervous disorders. These techniques became the basis for modern-day hypnotherapy.  He became interested in the effects of magnetism and discovered that magnets could have enormous healing effects on the human body. 

Hypnotherapy benefits

Hypnotherapy is used in several disciplines, such as psychotherapy, surgery, dentistry, research, and medicine. Hypnotherapy is usually used as a complementary treatment for a broad assortment of health ailments, including weight management, pain control, and smoking cessation. Additionally, it is utilized to control pain in many different such circumstances as headache, facial neuralgia, arthritis, burns, musculoskeletal disorders, childbirth, and a lot more. Hypnotherapy is used in place of anesthesia, especially in patients who prove to be allergic to anesthetic drugs, for many surgeries. Dentists use hypnotherapy with success on individuals that are allergic to all kinds of dental anesthetics. Hypnotherapy is also beneficial in aiding patients to overcome their phobias.

Hypnotherapy is also used for nonmedical reasons as well as those who would like to change bad habits. In academic programs, it has also been proven to assist with learning, engaging in the classroom, focusing, analyzing, extending attention span, improving memory, and helping remove mental blocks about specific subjects. In more general regions, hypnosis has been proven to be beneficial for these issues as motivation, procrastination, decision-making, personal achievement and advancement, job performance, buried or repressed memories, comfort, and stress control.

Is hypnosis & hypnotherapy different?

Differentiating between hypnosis and hypnotherapy is confusing and also creates many points of contradiction. As the terminologies sound to be very identical, most of the people think that they work in the same way. To differentiate between hypnosis and hypnotherapy, one needs to understand both of the terms differently.

Hypnosis is the state of trance. The practitioners and scientists can define the trance state of hypnosis differently. But the common terms that the definitions may include are concentration, hyper-focus, deep state of relaxation, and increased suggestibility. Going through the trance state is a regular affair for most of us. If one has ever been completely immersed in a book or maybe a movie, he/she has been into the trance state already. [2]

In hypnotherapy, hypnosis is commonly used as a tool in the therapy.  A health practitioner using hypnosis to help their patients overcome any mental condition is practicing hypnotherapy. The state of trance is operative and advantageous while solving certain health conditions.

When is hypnotherapy used?

Since hypnotherapy is an adjunct type of treatment, used as well as other kinds of psychological or medical therapy, there are lots of applications. Hypnotherapy can be used to deal with stress, phobias, substance abuse like tobacco, sexual dysfunction, undesirable spontaneous behaviors, and poor habits. It may be used to help improve sleep, learning disorders, communication, and relationship difficulties. Hypnotherapy can assist in pain control and help solve medical conditions such as digestive disorders, skin problems, and gastrointestinal side effects of pregnancy and chemotherapy. It may also be used by dentists to help patients control their anxieties to treat teeth grinding and other oral problems.

Hypnotherapy is a complementary therapy that helps the patients to deal with many psychological and mental health patterns. Thus, therapy can cover a wide array of treatments. Whereas hypnotherapy can treat anxiety, phobias, undesirable behaviors, and bad habits, it can also help people to quit smoking and use of tobacco. [3]

In many cases, hypnotherapy is helpful for patients who are having a hard time sleeping, have communication and learning disorders, and want to get rid of overeating. Studies have found that hypnotherapy is a potent tool to resolve many relationship issues too. 

Hypnotherapy is also beneficial in pain management and also to resolve other medical conditions like digestive disorders and skin related problems. Dentists also use hypnotherapy to help their patients to deal with fear while teeth are grinding or treating oral problems.

How does hypnotherapy work?

Hypnosis isn’t a psychotherapeutic treatment or a kind of psychotherapy, but instead a tool or procedure which helps facilitate various kinds of therapies and medical or psychological treatments. Only trained medical care providers certified in clinical hypnosis may decide, with their individual, if hypnosis should be used together with other treatments. Just like psychotherapy, the period of hypnosis therapy varies, depending on the complexity of the issue.

Hypnotherapy helps to connect the conscious mind with the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is like the file of a computer where the data and information remain stored and which can be accessed whenever needed. The subconscious mind can store the emotions, thoughts, and experiences from our past events. 

When the patient is in a relaxed and hyper-focused state, he becomes capable of bringing out the stifled memories and concealed emotions- commonly thought as the root causes of mental challenges.

An unhealthy choice or habit as a consequence of a bad event or memory is stored in the subconscious mind. The experiences people have in childhood are the root causes behind the behavior developed later in adulthood. Hypnotherapy is a psychotherapeutic treatment and can help many other health conditions. [4,5]

Through hypnotherapy, the practitioners help the patient about their past experiences. For example, imagine a person who has developed a smoking habit after certain life experience. The practitioner tries to find out how the person chose smoking as a solution. The practitioner then helps the patient to create new conclusions about that experience. [6]

When the root cause of the problem is accessible, one can expect a better solution. 


Ideally, the following requirements should be present to successfully attain a state of hypnosis:

• openness to being hypnotized

• the connection between the client or patient and the hypnotherapist

• a comfortable environment conducive to comfort

What conditions can hynotherapy heal?

Hypnotherapy itself is capable of treating many health conditions. It also aids in how to deal with various health challenges. Hypnotherapy is generally related to the mind and psychology, and it focuses on the psychological cure of many health challenges. [7]

When the patients go back to the time of the trauma occurred and which is the reason behind developing certain behavioral problems, they can also find out the events for the past, which are probably evocating them and probably making them relive those moments continually.  Hypnotherapy helps the patients in unleashing the old and false conclusions which are locked in the subconscious minds of the patients. Here are the health conditions that hypnotherapy can treat. [8,9]

– Anxiety and Depressions

– Sleeplessness or insomnia


– Migraine pain and problems

– Weight gain 

– Addictions 

– Stress

– Grief

– Childbirth

Research of Hypnotherapy for health conditions

Research on the effectiveness of hypnotherapy on many different health conditions is extensive. In one study, using hypnotherapy did not appear to change the core symptoms in treating attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, it did appear useful in handling the related symptoms, such as sleep disturbances. Hypnotherapy has been studied in children who have common chronic issues and to assist in relieving pain. Children are especially good candidates for hypnotherapy since their lack of worldly experience allows them to move easily between the logical world and their creativity. Studies with children have shown responses to acupuncture ranging from diminished pain and stress in numerous medical procedures. There is a 50% reduction of symptoms or a comprehensive resolution of a health condition, and a decrease in usage of antinausea drugs and vomiting during chemotherapy for childhood cancers. In 2002, a report published a few study results on hypnosis. One study assessed how self-hypnosis relieved anxiety and pain in patients undergoing angioplasty with local anesthesia. Those patients had less sedation and less procedure time. Another study found that pregnant teens counseled in hypnosis needed less anesthesia during delivery and less pain medication afterward. They also left the hospital earlier. Using hypnotherapy with cancer patients is another area being researched. A meta-analysis of 116 studies demonstrated positive results of using hypnotherapy.

With cancer patients:

Ninety-two percent showed a favorable impact on depression; 93% showed a positive impact on physical well-being, 92% showed a positive effect on pain, and 81% showed a positive effect on nausea. In 2002, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Association reported that it recognizes hypnosis treatment as one powerful tool to assist terminally ill patients in dealing with their fears, feelings, and emotions; and to encourage comfort.

Precautions & side effects


Hypnotherapy can have adverse outcomes. When used as entertainment, people are hypnotized to say or do things that would usually embarrass them. The World Hypnosis Organization (WHO) warns research being done on patients suffering from psychosis, organic psychiatric conditions, or antisocial personality disorders. As there are no standard licensing requirements, there’s a risk that the hypnotist will have difficulty in restraining or ending a hypnotic state that’s been induced in the patient. There’s a commonly held belief that an individual can’t be coerced into doing things he or she wouldn’t normally do while under hypnosis. The hypnotherapist should take care, but not to provide suggestions during hypnosis, which are contrary to the individual’s moral code. Many religions don’t condone the practice of hypnotherapy. 

Side effects

Experiments have been conducted to ascertain any unwanted effects of hypnotherapy. Some areas have reported side effects like headache, stiff neck, nausea, cognitive stimulation or confusion, dizziness, and nervousness. Many of these effects are cleared up within a few hours of the hypnotherapy session.


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