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How can hypnotherapy nourish you?

As its name suggests, hypnotherapy is a way of applying the condition known as hypnosis for therapeutic purposes. Hypnosis is the deliberate induction of a naturally occurring state of consciousness, similar to the condition of your mind during the process of falling asleep,[1] or when you zone out from what’s happening around you during an intense daydream. Although hypnosis continues to be a hotly debated subject,[2] researchers have used imaging technology to show visible changes in brain activity during hypnosis.[3]

The hypnotic state has been invoked in various contexts since ancient times,[4] but its modern popularity largely began with Franz Mesmer, a German doctor, in the late 18th century.[5] He used hypnosis treatment as a therapeutic tool for his patients; his belief that this involved a mystical (which he termed ‘animal magnetism’) was rejected by later practitioners. 

James Braid, a Scottish surgeon, took a more rigorous and experimental approach to hypnosis, publishing a book on the basis of his findings in 1843.[6] Sigmund Freud, the developer of psychoanalysis, briefly experimented with hypnotherapy,[7] but it wasn’t until the work of Milton Erickson that this modality evolved into something similar to what is now practised. An influential psychologist and psychiatrist,[8] Erickson devoted much of his professional life to the development of hypnotherapy treatment, and pioneered techniques that are still in use today.[9]

Benefits of hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy is sometimes used as a standalone treatment, but often incorporated as part of a greater psychological or cognitive behavioural therapy plan. By guiding the client into a hypnotic state, a practitioner can communicate with them at a more profound level[10] than during normal waking consciousness. 

This may have positive effects on a wide variety of wellness issues, ranging from insomnia[11] to migraine,[12] smoking cessation[13] to weight loss,[14] and many others. The results of a controlled comparison of hypnosis for depression versus conventional psychotherapy suggested that hypnotherapy is “probably efficacious”.[15] There is extensive research on the subject of hypnotherapy for anxiety, and it is recommended as an aspect of cognitive behavioural therapy.[16] It is also reported that hypnotherapy may be an effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome.[17]

During hypnosis, you are deeply relaxed, focused and suggestible,[18] meaning you are more open to absorbing new ideas than during ordinary wakefulness. Hypnosis can also reinforce feelings of peace and safety,[19] making it easier to talk about things that cause you distress, such as memories of traumatic experiences, or phobias that trouble you.

By gently editing your mental habits, for example by encouraging you to think of smoking as a harmful activity that isn’t much fun, hypnotherapy may empower you to establish enduring changes to your behaviour[20] in a short space of time. Hypnotherapy may also help with pain management,[21] by allowing you to deliberately change your perception of what you are experiencing.

Hypnotherapy may assist in relieving symptoms related to:

Alcohol and drug addiction Anxiety Blood pressure Childbirth and labour Depression Fibromyalgia Grief, bereavement and loss IBS and bowel disorders Insomnia and sleep disorders Menopause and hot flushes Pain relief PTSD and trauma Relaxation Smoking and nicotine cravings Stress and tension Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ) Weight control and obesity Show all

What to expect from a hypnotherapy session

The length of time this therapy takes can vary widely, depending on whether it is being used as part of greater treatment program, or whether you are booked in for a session of hypnotherapy alone. Most commonly, a hypnotherapy session lasts about an hour.[22]

To begin, your practitioner will ask you about what you hope to accomplish[23] through hypnotherapy, discuss any concerns you might have, and outline how your treatment will unfold. The practitioner will then guide you into a deeply relaxed state,[24] often by inviting you to imagine calming environments or peaceful feelings, such as lying in a warm bath. You will remain completely conscious and in control[25] at all times during the session.

Depending on your specific goals, you will be offered new ways of thinking about what’s troubling you, or be guided through visualisations[26] to help resolve fears and worries. You might be asked to explore thoughts that are causing you distress and be taught how to frame them in more manageable ways, or be offered strategies to help you find peace[27] when gripped by anxiety.

When the therapeutic part of the session is complete, your practitioner will gently help you shift your attention back to the outside world[28] and and resume normal waking consciousness.

As with any exercise or wellness program, please consult your medical professional before commencing hypnotherapy. If you have any concerns at all, also speak to your hypnotherapist, who will be happy to address these and customise the session to your individual requirements.


  1. What happens during hypnosis? | Australian Society of Clinical Hypnotherapists
  2. Hypnosis today | American Psychological Association
  3. Study identifies brain areas altered during hypnotic trances | Stanford Medicine
  4. The History of Hypnosis | hypnoself.co.uk
  5. Hypnosis | Encyclopaedia Britannica 
  6. James Braid | Undiscovered Scotland
  7. History of Hypnosis | Harmony Hypnosis
  8. Milton Erickson | goodtherapy.org 
  9. What is Ericksonian Hypnosis? Definition & History | britishhypnosisresearch.com
  10. Hypnosis Overview | Mayo Clinic
  11. Hypnotherapy for Sleep Disorders | Annals, Academy of Medicine 
  12. Review of the Efficacy of Clinical Hypnosis With Headaches and Migraines | International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis  
  13. Complementary Health Approaches for Smoking Cessation: What the Science Says | NCCIH Clinical Digest
  14. Controlled trial of hypnotherapy for weight loss in patients with obstructive sleep apnoea | International journal of obesity and related metabolic disorders | PubMed
  15. Cognitive Hypnotherapy for Depression: An Empirical Investigation | International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis
  16. Hypnotherapy for Anxiety, Phobias, and Psychophysiological Disorders | The Clinical Use of Hypnosis in Cognitive Behavior Therapy | Google Books
  17. The effectiveness of hypnotherapy in the management of irritable bowel syndrome | Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics | Wiley Online Library
  18. Hypnosis: Applications | Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Psychology | ScienceDirect
  19. Hypnotherapy Services | sydneywellbeing.com.au 
  20. Hypnosis | betterhealth.vic.gov.au 
  21. Hypnosis to Manage Pain | Professional Clinical Hypnotherapists of Australia 
  22. Frequently Asked Hypnotherapy Questions | Hypnotherapy Directory
  23. What happens in a Hypnotherapy session? | clinicalhypnotherapy.sydney 
  24. Hypnotherapy | psychologytoday.com
  25. Hypnosis as a treatment adjunct | Australian Society of Hypnosis
  26. How does hypnotherapy work? | hypnotc.com 
  27. What Is Hypnotherapy? Key Benefits of Guided Hypnosis | Grace Space Hypnosis
  28. What Happens During a Hypnotherapy Session | The Joy of Hypnosis

Frequently asked questions

Hypnotherapy is the application of hypnosis for therapeutic purposes. Unlike traditional hypnosis, which may focus on entertainment or suggestion, hypnotherapy aims to address various mental and emotional issues by inducing a naturally occurring state of consciousness for therapeutic benefit.

Hypnosis is the deliberate induction of a naturally occurring state of consciousness, similar to the process of falling asleep or daydreaming. Imaging technology has shown visible changes in brain activity during hypnosis, indicating altered states of awareness and increased receptivity to therapeutic suggestions.

Hypnotherapy can be applied to address a wide range of conditions and issues, including stress, anxiety, phobias, smoking cessation, weight management, and various behavioral challenges. It is often used as an adjunct to traditional psychotherapy.

Hypnotherapy's effectiveness varies based on individual circumstances and the nature of the issue being addressed. While some individuals may experience positive changes in a few sessions, others may require more prolonged therapy. The number of sessions needed is often determined on a case-by-case basis.

Hypnotherapy is generally considered safe when conducted by a qualified and experienced practitioner. Most individuals can be hypnotized, but the depth of hypnosis may vary. People with certain mental health conditions or those resistant to the process may find hypnotherapy less effective.

The history of hypnotherapy dates back to ancient times, but its modern popularity began with Franz Mesmer in the late 18th century. Influential figures like James Braid and Milton Erickson played key roles in refining and developing hypnotherapy techniques, leading to its current practices and applications.
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