Does hypnosis work? Ever since I was hypnotized for the first time, people have asked this same question over and over. In order to answer this question, I will share information from authoritative research as well as my own personal experiences with hypnosis. I will also tell you what types of hypnosis work best, and which may not be as effective.
My personal experience with hypnotherapy
My first time being hypnotized
I was first hypnotized Ohio in the year 2000. I had terrible insomnia, and was desperate enough to try anything to sleep. I found a local psychologist who did hypnosis as a part of her practice. She said she believed that she could help me, so I made my appointment. At this point it was any port in a storm.
When I got to the office, I sat in a comfy recliner and was told to close my eyes and relax. She did what I now know was called a progressive relaxation which she read from a script. This involved having me relax all of my muscles from my head to my feet, one muscle group at a time.
It was effective, and I felt really relaxed. She continued the session giving me post-hypnotic suggestions that I would get to sleep easier and sleep deeper and better. During the session I zoned out and did not remember the exact wording of the session afterwords. She provided me with a recording of the session that I was supposed to listen to every night before bed.
I listened to the session nightly, and it did help me to get to sleep at first. After a while it stopped working. I had memorized the tape and knew what was coming. Instead of relaxing me into sleep, it was doing the reverse and I was just hearing the words.
My second experience with hypnosis
My second experience with hypnosis was at the Hypnosis Motivation Institute (HMI) in Tarzana, California. I lived in Los Angeles for a couple years for my job. While I was out there I saw HMI’s ad for free intro hypnosis classes. Since it was free, and looked fun, I decided to sign up for the month long course.
The first class was amazing. They told us a bit about the history of hypnosis, then the instructor asked for volunteers to go up in front of the class and be hypnotized as a demonstration. I volunteered.
She hypnotized four of us as a group. The induction here was very different. I felt different than I had during my prior hypnosis experience. At the time, I did not know why. Now, in hindsight, I understand is because I was much deeper in hypnosis than I was the first time around.
She used a technique where she asked us to take all of our stress and anything we need to let go, and put it in our hand. We were to clench our fist around it as hard as possible. In the end, she had us open our fist and let it go.
When I relaxed my arm and fist, the change was overwhelming. The stress was gone. I was so relieved that tears were running down my face. I felt like I could go home and remove the obstacles from my life that I’d just “let go” of in hypnosis. And I did.
As I mentioned before, one of the major differences between the two experiences, was how deeply I was in hypnosis. In my first experience, i was working with a counselor who was reading from a script. This script used a technique that works for hypnosis, but doesn’t get you deep enough by itself.
The second hypnotist used several other methods to bring us much deeper into hypnosis. The deeper you are in hypnosis, the more you will accept the suggestions. Also, the longer the suggestion will last.
It seems obvious to me that the experience levels of the hypnotherapists were the main difference here. The more experienced hypnotist was able to get me in faster and to a deeper level than the inexperienced one.
As I have a science background, it is important to me that any methods I use be backed by research. Hypnosis has been proven effective by research for treating many issues. I’ll discuss a few of them here.
Does hypnosis help with chronic pain?
In a prior article, we addressed whether hypnosis helps with pain relief. The answer to that question is a resounding yes! Hypnosis has been shown to relieve pain and chronic pain when used correctly.
Hypnotherapy for phobias?
Hypnotherapy has been shown to help relieve phobias. Phobias are fears of specific things such as dogs, blood, or doctors. In several cases, hypnosis was shown to relieve the phobia of clients and help them to move forward with a normal, phobia-free life.
Does hypnosis work for anxiety?
Several studies have shown the effectiveness of hypnosis on anxiety. It also showed that while all hypnosis was somewhat effective, hypnosis delivered by a trained hypnotherapist was much more effective.
Does hypnotherapy help with weight loss?
Hypnotherapy has been shown to be effective on weight loss. 94% of the hypnosis clients lost weight when compared with those who did not receive hypnosis. This worked especially well in conjunction with cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques. Surprisingly, however, the popular Gastric Band Hypnosis was shown not to produce weight loss in studies.
What else does hypnosis work for?
The possibilities for what hypnosis can help with are endless. Primarily because hypnosis is a behavioral tool for positive change. In effect, it helps the client help themselves. This means that any area where a client is struggling to change is a topic where hypnosis has an application.
As we’ve shown here, hypnosis does work. However, one has to know how to use it, in what cases it works and how to most effectively use it. Hypnosis works best when working with a highly trained hypnotherapist. Your hypnotherapist should know which methods work best for each type of issue.
If you would like to talk with us about whether hypnosis will help you with a particular problem, contact us or book now. You will be able to discuss your issue with a highly trained and experience hypnotherapist who can help you understand if hypnosis is right for you.
Chen, P., Liu, Y., & Chen, M. (2017). The Effect of Hypnosis on Anxiety in Patients With Cancer: A Meta-Analysis. Worldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing, 14(3), 223–236.
Greetham, S., Goodwin, S., Wells, L., Whitham, C., Jones, H., Rigby, A., … Atkin, S. (2016). Pilot Investigation of a Virtual Gastric Band Hypnotherapy Intervention. International Journal of Clinical & Experimental Hypnosis, 64(4), 419–433.
Kraft, D. (2016). The place of hypnosis in psychiatry part 6: Treatment of specific phobias—Natural environment type, blood-injection-injury type, and other types. Australian Journal of Clinical & Experimental Hypnosis, 41(1), 1–15. Ret
Milling, L. S., Gover, M. C., & Moriarty, C. L. (2018). The effectiveness of hypnosis as an intervention for obesity: A meta-analytic review. Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice, 5(1), 29–45.
Thompson, T., Terhune, D. B., Oram, C., Sharangparni, J., Rouf, R., Solmi, M., … Stubbs, B. (2019). The effectiveness of hypnosis for pain relief: A systematic review and meta-analysis of 85 controlled experimental trials. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 99, 298–310.