Hypnotherapy is a form of complementary alternative therapy that involves hypnosis, or tapping into an altered mental state. While it was once considered a type of ineffective pseudoscience, hypnotherapy has gained credibility through scientific research. During hypnotherapy, a trained hypnotherapist directs the client’s mind towards an intended change in behavior, outlook, feeling, or thought. The process is believed to enable access to the subconscious mind, which can induce powerful changes without the influence of the conscious mind. The therapist is crucial in this process; he or she works with the client to first develop a set of goals. Subsequently, the therapist acts as a guide, helping the client to move closer to achieving those goals during hypnotherapy sessions. Hypnotherapy may be used to help people of all ages and backgrounds. It has been used to treat psychological, medical, and dental issues. Common areas of application including reducing anxiety or stress, controlling weight, reducing addictive behaviors such as smoking, enhancing performance, and improving confidence.

Elements of Therapy

Hypnotherapy works best when it is tailored to the individual’s needs and goals. People respond differently to hypnotherapy. The hypnotherapist may have training in different types of hypnotherapy, including traditional hypnosis, cognitive-behavioral hypnosis or Ericksonian hypnosis, which can be selected according to the issue and the individual. During the first meeting between therapist and client, a program of treatment is developed.

Psychiatrist and woman patient


Hypnotherapy has been applied to individuals in a number of different settings. For instance, it may be used during pregnancy to help allay an expectant woman’s anxiety, stress, or discomfort. Hypnotherapy has also been used to treat people suffering from bulimia nervosa, a type of eating disorder. A recent meta-analysis which analyzed the effectiveness of this particular method of treatment indicated that the average hypnotherapy intervention achieved a 64% success rate, compared to an improvement of 37% among control groups with no intervention. Given that many of the studies involved in the meta-analysis examined mental disorders, medical conditions, and addictions, this is a fairly high success rate. Hypnotherapy is most successful when used to treat anxiety disorders.



The American Council of Hypnotist Examiners (ACHE) is one of the leading organizational bodies governing the certification of hypnotists and hypnotherapists. In order to obtain certification, prospective hypnotists must complete a minimum of 200 hours of instruction from an education institution approved by the State Board of Education. Certification is granted following a written exam and a practical skills exam. Some exceptions are considered. ACHE also offers the title of Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist to those who qualify. In order to qualify, prospective hypnotherapists must have taken at least 300 hours of instruction at an approved school of hypnosis and satisfied the requirements to become a Certified Hypnotherapist.


Hypnotherapy usually occurs in a one-to-one setting between a hypnotist and a client. The client’s personal goals, whether to change his or her behavior, thoughts, or emotions, are outlined before hypnosis. During hypnosis, the hypnotherapist acts as a guide, leading the individual on a journey through his or her subconscious mind. Hypnotherapy has been shown to have a beneficial effect on individuals suffering from diverse issues, including addictions, eating disorders, and poor self-confidence.