Hypnotherapy applies suggestion and altered levels of consciousness to effect positive changes in behaviour and treat a range of health conditions. Under hypnosis, the patient can experiance relaxtion and changes in respiration, Which can lead to a positive shift in behaviour and an enhanced sense of well-being. Physiologically, the hypnotic state can give the patient greater control over his autonomic nervous system, functions that would ordinarily be considered beyond his control.

Defined as a state of attentive and focused concentration, hypnosis leaves people relatively, unaware of their surroundings. In this state of concentration, a person is very susceptible to suggestion. However, the person must be willing to follow the suggestions offered; he can’t be hypnotized to follow suggestions that go against his wishes.

The three major components of hypnosis are absorption, dissociation, and responsiveness. Absorption refers to the rapt attention that the subject pays to the words or images presented by the hypnotherapist. The subject then begins to dissociate from his ordinary consciousness and surroundings and becomes responsive to the therapist’s suggestions. To bring the subject to a hypnotic state, the therapist leads him through relaxation, mental imagery, and suggestions. The subject can also be taught to hypnotize himself. The therapist may provide the patient with audiotapes to enable him to practice the therapy at home.

There are actually two states of hypnosis: the superficial state and the deeper somnambulistic state. In the superficial hypnotic state, the patient accepts suggestions but doesn’t necessarily carry them out. In the somnambulistic state, the patient is better able to carry out suggestions made during the trance once the session has ended. Although an estimated 90% of the population can be hypnotized, only 20% to 30% are susceptible enough to enter the somnambulistic state, making them good candidates for treatment.

Hypnosis has been used for healing since ancient times; its use was central to the practices in early Greek healing temples. Modern applications date back to the 18th century, when Viennese doctor Franz Anton Mesmer used what he called “animal magnetism” to treat psychological and physiologic disorders such as hysterical blindness, paralysis, headaches, and joint pain. Using iron rods along with soothing words and gestures, Mesmer claimed he could realign his patients’ “magnetic fluids.” Although his magnetism theory was disproved, Mesmer’s practices laid the foundation for hypnotherapy by demonstrating that medical conditions could be affected by the power of suggestion. Sigmund Freud also used hypnosis until he became uncomfortable with the powerful emotions it evoked in his patients, The American Medical Association recognized hypnotism as a legitimate practice in 1958. Although it’s still not completely understood, hypnosis has become accepted and used by a growing number of doctors, dentists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals in recent years.

Training The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis is the professional organisation for doctors and dentists in the field. Training and certification are provided by the American Institute of Hypnotherapy for hypnotherapists and by the International Medical and Dental Hypnotherapy Association for doctors, dentists, and hypnotherapists. The National Guild of Hypnotists is the oldest certifying guild in the United States.

Reported uses

Hypnotherapy has therapeutic application for both psychological and physical disorders. A competent hypnotherapist can facilitate profound changes in the patient’s respiration and relaxation so that positive shifts in behavior and enhance physiologic well-being can occur.

Almost any ailment that can be affected by the mind lends itself to treatment with hypnosis. Hypnosis has been show to be effective in managing pain (including pain associated with dentistry and childbirth), reducing anxiety, and enhancing immune system function. As a method of pain management, hypnosis helps patients gain control over the fear and anxiety typically associated with pain, thereby also reducing the pain. In dentistry, hypnotherapy is used as a replacement for or adjunct to anesthesia, to reduce anxiety and post-procedural discomfort, and to control bleeding.

Pregnant women who receive hypnosis before delivery have reported having shorter, less painful labor and delivery. People with phobias such as fear of flying or stage fright can learn to establish a new response to the trigger activity through hypnosis. Hypnosis has even been used to help people stop smoking and to lessen bleeding in hemophiliacs.

How the treatment is performed

The most essential condition required for successful hypnotherapy is the patient’s willingness and desire to be hypnotized, A quiet, private environment that is free from distractions and a comfortable place for the patient to recline are the only types of equipment necessary for hypnotherapy.

Hypnotherapy should be performed only by a qualified practitioner. The hyponotherapist begins by addressing any, concerns the patient has and illustrating how suggestion works in everyday life. The therapist also explains what to expect while in the trance-physical relaxation, distraction of the conscious mind a narrowed focus of attention, increase sensory awareness, reduced awareness, reduced awareness of physical surroundings, and increased awarness of internal sensation.

After testing t e patient for suggestibility the therapist asks him to concentrate on an object or soun of the therapist may express suggestion, such as “your eyelids are going heavy,” to help induce the hypnotic stale. The sessions usually last from 60 to 90 minutes, depending on the goal and the patient’s receptivity.

After the session, the therapist documents any changes in behavior or answers to questions the patient provided while in the hypnotic state. The therapist also documents the patient’s response to the session.


Because it deals with subconscious areas of the mind. hypnosis may elicit disturbing emotions or memories. If the patient becomes upset or aggressive, or exhibits strong negative emotions, the hypnotherapist should redirect him to a safe memory and terminate the session.

Clinical Considerations

  • According to the World Health Organization, patients with psychosis, organic psychiatric conditions, or antisocial personality diorders shouldn’t be treated with hypnosis.
  • Though hypnosis sessions usually involve only the therapist and the subject, it may be prudent to have a nurse or assistant sit in on sessions involving opposite sexes as a safeguard against liability.
  • Be aware that some patients experience light-headedness or psychological reactions ofter hypnosis. Be prepared to deal with these effects if they arise.

Research Summery

Controlled studies have shown that hypnosis effective for the treatment of childhood migraine headaches. A 1989study of pain in chronically ill patients showed that those who underwent hypnosis increased their pain tolerance by 113%. Studies have also shown positive effects on the immune system, including increased immunoglobulin levels in children and increased white blood cell activity. Other reports have noted success in treating hay fever, asthma, warts, and allergic reactions.

One of the most unusual uses of hypnosis is in the treatment of a genetic skin disorder known as ichthyosis, in which the skin is covered with a hard, wartlike crust. This condition was considered incurable until an anesthesiologist used hypnosis on a teenager he thought had warts. After the hypnosis, the scaly crust fell off, and within 10 days, normal skin replaced it. Since then, hypnosis has often been used to treat this condition, usually resulting in a major improvement, if not a complete cure.