Does Hypnotherapy Really Work?
Among people who have no experience with hypnotherapy, there are many myths
about how exactly this therapeutic technique works. Unfortunately, there is a widespread
assumption that hypnosis is some kind of pseudoscience that is not to be taken seriously, but
the truth is that modern hypnotherapy has come a long way. In fact, numerous studies and
abundant research have proven that hypnosis really does have tangible therapeutic benefits.
Thus, much of what you’ve heard about hypnosis is probably not true.
Hypnotherapy myths vs. reality
Before we go any further, let’s start by dispelling some of the false rumors surrounding this
• Myth: People under hypnosis lose control of themselves.
• Reality: At no point during a hypnosis session will you black out, lose control of your mind
or body, or come under the power of your hypnotist. In fact, hypnosis qualifies as a
heightened state of consciousness wherein your engagement in the moment is deeper and
more powerful than in normal states of mind.
• Myth: Hypnosis is associated with black magic.
• Reality: The science of hypnosis has been around for at least three thousand years, and at
some points in history it has indeed been associated with spiritual and religious practices. But
today’s hypnosis has left all of that behind. It is based on real research and sound science.
While it is sometimes associated with the more spiritual aspects holistic health, this is merely
an indirect connection.
• Myth: Some people can’t be hypnotized.
• Reality: Many people assume that being hypnotized means that you are easily controlled,
but in fact susceptibility to hypnosis just means that you are capable of intense focus. Sure,
some people take to it more easily than others, but everyone can be helped by a good
• Myth: People black out under hypnosis.
• Reality: When your hypnosis session is over, you will remember everything that occurred
when you were under hypnosis. In fact, you’ll probably remember everything that happened
during your session with a great deal of clarity.
How hypnotherapy works
Hypnotherapy has much in common with psychotherapy and meditation, yet it is a
science unto itself. The main goal of this treatment is to change the patient’s accustomed
patterns of thought on a subconscious level. In other words, hypnotherapy aims to get past the
noise that clutters our brains on a conscious level and to have a deep impact on the difficult-
to-access, foundational portions of the mind.
Real, deep change can only occur through profound experiences. That’s why, for
example, people who have a breakthrough in psychotherapy often feel that they’ve had
almost a religious experience. The same is true of meditation; a particularly good session can
create a feeling that something profound has happened. Hypnotherapy taps into the same
parts of the brain and leads to similar results.
On a more practical level, hypnotherapy usually takes a somewhat formulaic
approach. Before your first session, you and your hypnotherapist will discuss the problem
you seek to treat, and you will talk through any questions or concerns you may have. Then,
your hypnotherapist will help you to relax and bring you into a state of relaxation where your
subconscious mind can be accessed. Sessions last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour.
What can hypnotherapy treat
There are countless reasons why people seek hypnotherapy, but some of the most
common ones include:
• to mitigate phobias such as public speaking anxiety, claustrophobia, or fear of flying;
• to overcome grief or a traumatic experience (including PTSD);
• to help overcome addiction to nicotine, drugs, or alcohol;
• to treat moderate anxiety or depression;
• to improve self-esteem or self-confidence;
• to control diet and exercise with the goal of losing weight;
• to ease symptoms of various physical conditions such as migraine, chronic pain, or
• to relieve stress;
• to cure insomnia.
The effectiveness of hypnotherapy depends upon how it is used. In many cases, it is a
good idea to combine hypnotherapy with other types of treatment. For example, it can be
great for supplementing traditional addiction treatment programs, and it’s useful for treating
symptoms in hospital patients recovering from surgery or other events. But of course, the
biggest factor contributing to the success of a hypnotherapy program is the patient’s
commitment. You have to stick with it, attend your sessions regularly, and believe that
positive effects are possible.