Hypnotherapy – can it help you?

Therapist working with a clipboard and pen in her hand with a patient who is laying on a cream sofa

Written by Emma Evans

August 2, 2023

Hypnosis and hypnotherapy, what are they and is there a difference? 

Hypnosis and hypnotherapy are often used interchangeably, but there is a subtle difference between the two.

Hypnosis is a state of heightened suggestibility, while hypnotherapy (which is made up of two words; hypnosis and psychotherapy) is the application of hypnosis in a therapeutic way to help people address specific issues.

Can a hypnotherapist make you do or say things you wouldn’t usually?

You might have seen things on the television that have led you to believe in all kinds of different things to do with hypnosis, but stage hypnosis is not the same as clinical hypnosis which is what you’ll experience if you visit a hypnotherapist.
Stage hypnotists quite often aren’t therapists, they are simply entertainers, and so when you go to see a therapist, they won’t be making you bark like a dog or make you forget the number 7.

In hypnotherapy, the hypnotherapist uses techniques such as relaxation, visualisation, and various modes of psychotherapy to help the client.
When you are more relaxed you are more open to suggestion and may be able to access memories or emotions that you might not be able to access in a normal waking state.

What can a hypnotherapist help with?

Hypnotherapy can help clients to address specific issues. For example, a hypnotherapist might use hypnosis to help someone quit smoking, lose weight, manage anxiety, improve their confidence or overcome a phobia or fear.

There is also some evidence that hypnosis can be very helpful in treating a variety of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, pain management and conditions such as PTSD or compulsive behaviours.

Can hypnosis help medical conditions too?

There has been research done over time that hypnosis can be effective in treating many medical conditions, some of the research is outlined below.

  • Pain management: Hypnosis has been shown to be effective in reducing pain perception and increasing pain tolerance. This is especially helpful for people with chronic pain, such as pain from arthritis or cancer.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): Hypnosis can be used to help people with IBS manage their symptoms, such as abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhoea.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Hypnosis can be used to help people with PTSD manage their symptoms, such as flashbacks, nightmares, and anxiety.
  • Weight loss: Hypnosis can be used to help people lose weight by changing their eating habits and increasing their motivation to lose weight.
  • Smoking cessation: Hypnosis can be used to help people quit smoking by reducing their cravings and increasing their motivation to quit.

The research on hypnosis for medical conditions is still ongoing, but the results so far are promising. A 2015 review of 27 studies found that hypnosis was effective in reducing pain in people with chronic pain. The review also found that hypnosis was effective in reducing anxiety and improving quality of life in people with IBS.

Another review, published in 2017, found that hypnosis was effective in reducing symptoms of PTSD in people who had experienced trauma. The review also found that hypnosis was effective in reducing smoking cravings and increasing motivation to quit smoking.

If you are considering hypnosis for a medical condition, it is important to talk to your doctor first. Your doctor can help you assess whether hypnosis is right for you and can recommend a qualified hypnotherapist.

Here are some of the research studies that have been done on hypnosis for medical conditions:

  • Jensen, M. P., & Patterson, D. R. (2006). Hypnosis for chronic pain. Clinical Psychology Review, 26(4), 475-496.
  • Montgomery, G. H., DuHamel, K., & Redd, W. H. (2000). A meta-analysis of hypnosis for pain and anxiety control. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 48(2), 214-244.
  • Patterson, D. R., & Jensen, M. P. (2003). Efficacy of hypnosis for chronic pain: An update of meta-analytic results. Clinical Psychology Review, 23(4), 669-693.
  • Spiegel, D. (2010). Hypnosis in the treatment of PTSD. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 52(4), 313-327.
  • Yapko, M. D. (2003). Hypnosis and the treatment of obesity. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 45(4), 267-279.

These are just a few of the many research studies that have been done on hypnosis for medical conditions. The research is still ongoing, but the results so far are promising. If you are considering hypnosis for a medical condition, it is important to talk to your doctor first. Your doctor can help you by assessing the condition first, which is extremely important to do before seeking help from a hypnotherapist.

If you are considering hypnosis for a life issue, a mental health issue or a medical condition, it is important to talk to a qualified hypnotherapist. A good hypnotherapist will be able to assess your needs and develop a treatment plan that is right for you.

If you’d like to find a verified and qualified hypnotherapist then please use a site such as www.aphp.co.uk

You can also contact me, Emma Evans at www.kenttherapyclinic.co.uk to ask advice or book an appointment.

Emma Evans – Director APHP & NRPC

Published : Aug 2, 2023