How Does Hypnotherapy Work?

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To achieve your goals in recovery from substance abuse, it’s essential you know about your treatment options.  Many people are aware of traditional treatments like individual and group therapy, but there are also several holistic techniques available like hypnotherapy. Whether you struggle with impulsivity or self-destructive behaviors, hypnotherapy sessions could be an effective option for you.

Does Hypnotherapy Work?

A lot of people disregard hypnotism as a pseudoscience (practices that claim to be scientific, but are not). As a result, you may associate the healing practice with things like palm reading and fortune telling. While mainstream portrayals of hypnotism often make it out to be a humorous side act, hypnotherapists know it is the main event.

In fact, the healing power of hypnotism speaks for itself. In treating various conditions, our hypnotherapists obtain quicker results that otherwise may have taken months or even years to unearth. While many find healing through traditional therapeutic interventions, hypnotherapy is a unique therapeutic approach to mental health counseling.  In certain cases, hypnotherapy has been known to provide faster results than evidence-based practices like psychotherapy and behavioral therapy.

This is not to say that traditional therapy practices are without merit — in fact when paired with regular group therapy sessions, you may be able to embrace hypnotherapeutic methods with even more success. Learning additional coping skills in group and individual therapy alongside hypnotherapy may help you discover a deeper understanding of the underlying factors that once fueled your substance misuse.

What Is Hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy is an alternative form of psychotherapy that offers relief from symptoms of anxiety, substance abuse, and other disorders. Working at a subconscious level, hypnotherapy uses the power of suggestion to change your behavior, thoughts, or feelings. 

In order to be effective, hypnotherapy requires a trained therapist who uses repetition, visualization, and imagery techniques. These hypnotic techniques aim to relax you into a state where you’re more open to suggestions. In fact, hypnotherapy can be a powerful tool that eases the process of healing and creates lasting change. Hypnotherapy helps you to:

  • Uncover negative patterns and beliefs
  • Untangle false narratives
  • Resolve trauma
  • Restore inner peace 

Through the use of relaxation techniques, guided hypnosis lulls you into a tranquil state of intense concentration. This hypnotic state helps you to achieve a heightened state of mindfulness.

Hypnosis is a psychological therapy process that’s often misunderstood. As a result, it is not widely used in the treatment of substance use disorders. In spite of this, medical research continues to support hypnosis as an incredibly beneficial therapy tool.

What to Expect During a Hypnotherapy Session

During hypnotherapy, certified master hypnotists help you use your mind in new, unconventional ways to heal from challenges like trauma. Certified master hypnotists aim to strengthen your resolve in recovery by harnessing the entirety of your mind’s power. They do so by accessing your subconscious through a process known as hypnosis.

While using hypnosis techniques, hypnotists guide you into a state of relaxation that is free from negative emotions. As you’re in this hypnotic state, your therapist works with you to replace behaviors that are no longer serving you.

The five steps of hypnotherapy include:

  1. Explanation: Identify and review your problem behavior
  2. Creation: Develop a plan to redirect energy during the sessions
  3. Induction: Encourage a receptive mindset with calming techniques
  4. Suggestion: Introduce the strategy for change through suggestions
  5. Evaluation: Follow up to review the positive shifts in behavior

During hypnosis, the hypnotist will often give suggestions that can help you address the issue at hand. For example, a hypnotherapist may suggest visualizing yourself in a different situation that is more positive or relaxing.

Used to treat symptoms of anxiety, phobias, and substance abuse, hypnotherapy is a helpful therapeutic tool. The altered state of increased relaxation helps to keep you focused and open to the power of suggestion. As a result, you can examine unhealthy beliefs and behaviors without fear. Introducing therapeutic suggestions that encourage positive behavioral change within your subconscious mind is a key part of hypnotherapy’s benefits.

Is Hypnosis the Same Thing as Hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy is the practice of hypnosis within the parameters of a therapeutic treatment. This means that hypnosis is the tool and hypnotherapy is the healing application of that tool. Another way to look at it: hypnosis is to hypnotherapy as horses are to equine therapy.

Simply put, hypnosis is a state of relaxation and concentration in which the hypnotherapist can access the subconscious mind. The therapist then gives suggestions that are intended to help you overcome your condition. 

Without the guidance of a qualified hypnotherapist, hypnosis is whatever the person providing the service wants it to be. This is why it’s important to experience hypnosis in a professional, therapeutic setting with licensed hypnotists.

What Does Hypnotism Feel Like?

During a guided hypnosis session, the certified hypnotist or hypnotherapist guides you into a deep state of relaxation. Most commonly regarded as a trance-like state, our clients often describe this experience as if they are in a daze, or being gently soothed into a calming daydream, unburdened and light.

While in this state of calm, you may feel as though you drifting off to sleep, yet you remain fully aware of your surroundings.

How Does Hypnosis Work?

The process begins as a certified hypnotherapist guides you into a state of intense concentration.  The therapist helps you achieve this state through repeated verbal cues. By entering an altered mental state of heightened relaxation and concentration, you can focus on accepting the therapeutic suggestions of a certified hypnotist.

As you settle into tranquility, hypnotherapists introduce suggestions designed to promote introspection and reflection as a means of accomplishing the chosen goal for the therapy session. The course of the session and the content of the verbal cues are dependent on the hypnotherapist and your goals, both for the session and the long term. Sessions can focus on anything from phobias to recalling events. Once the session has come to an end, the therapist will “wake” you from your trance-like state, or you may exit the state yourself.

Why Does Hypnosis Work?

The hypnotic state induced during hypnotherapy is meant to both relax the mind and heighten focus. As a result, you are able to contemplate the guided suggestions without experiencing the instinctual reflex to reject or avoid potentially painful topics. This is because the subconscious mindset helps to put a barrier between you and the painful memory or topic. This allows you to acknowledge the details surrounding the pain without consciously re-experiencing the traumatic event(s).

Hypnotherapy’s mind-body intervention eases you into a mental state of increased suggestibility, offering the therapist a clean slate to work with as they introduce healthier, alternative behaviors in replacement of your unwanted behaviors that were discussed earlier in the sessions.

In essence, the mindset induced during a session of guided hypnosis frees you from experiencing any negative reactions to the suggestions during the therapy session. 

What Does Hypnotherapy Treat?

Hypnotherapy’s focus on relaxation can be an incredibly helpful tool for those struggling with conditions like addictive behaviors, anxiety, and trauma. Our certified master hypnotists aim to help you progress in recovery by harnessing the entirety of the power of your mind. As a very effective method for accessing subconscious thoughts, hypnosis helps you remove unhealthy behaviors without triggering any feelings of stress, fear, or self-doubt.

As a treatment geared toward identifying and replacing maladaptive behaviors, guided hypnosis can help if you suffer from mental blocks. Hypnotherapy is a great tool that helps you remove unhealthy beliefs that impede your ability to acknowledge the need for change and introduce new, positive behaviors into your daily life. 

Hypnotherapy assists in the treatment of:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Phobias
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Substance use disorder (SUD)
  • Codependency and relationship issues
  • Grief and loss
  • Sleep disorders
  • Chronic pain

Hypnotherapy can assist you in your recovery from both physical and mental conditions. It can also help you implement healthier alternatives to replace unwanted behaviors like drug and alcohol use. 

How Can Hypnosis Help People With Addiction?

Many who want to end their addiction make several attempts to recover but have a difficult time staying sober. Trying a variety of therapy techniques in treatment without seeing lasting success can be incredibly discouraging and may lead to feelings of hopelessness. 

Hypnotherapy can increase your chance of success by addressing some of the contributing factors to dependence including low self-esteem and emotional trauma. It can also help resolve conflicts between conscious and subconscious motivations.

During a clinical study focused on hypnotic states, Harvard researchers determined that hypnosis elevates two key areas within the brain that control and process the internal workings of the body. Similarly, the area of the brain that controls your actions and your awareness of your actions also shuts down or slows significantly during sessions of hypnosis.

The study also found that the effects of a hypnotic state include: 

  • A dissociated control state
  • Increased positive feelings
  • Decreased negative feelings
  • Improved visual imagery
  • Heightened attention

Simply put, key portions of the brain — areas that affect our levels of awareness and control — are noticeably altered during hypnosis. For this reason, hypnotherapy is an extremely beneficial form of treatment for those suffering from mental health and substance use disorders when administered in a safe and secure environment.

Recovering From Trauma in Hypnotherapy

Unfortunately, a person’s past experiences — especially after receiving judgment and blame — can result in the development of defensive mechanisms such as increased anger and volatility when confronted with evidence of their poor behavior. Others may shut down and withdraw from the thought of change following years of shame and rejection from loved ones. 

Normally, once you associate the concept of change with negative interactions from the past, your initial gut reaction to therapeutic healing methods can trigger confrontational responses that will often impede your progress.

It is important to understand that feelings and memories related to trauma can “hide” in your unconscious memory. On a conscious level, you may not realize the impact of the trauma you experienced. In fact, you may not remember the traumatic event at all. During these sessions, you will gain the ability to ruminate over questions that you otherwise might have brushed off, ignored, or reacted defensively against, were you in your default mindset. 

Hypnotherapy provides a space for you to separate yourself from the walls you have built throughout the years. It is within the space between your walls of defense that your hypnotherapist works, guiding you toward healthier emotional outlets, and motivating you to accept change with open minds, hearts, and arms. 

Reach Out

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please call us today at 888-965-3085 to find the right level of care for your unique situation. Hypnotherapy is one of our holistic therapy techniques and it has helped many of our clients heal in recovery.


Phenomenological state effects during hypnosis: a cross-validation of findings; V. K. Kumar PhD, Ronald J. Pekala, Michael M. McCloskey; 23 February 2006;