What is Hypnotherapy?
Hypnosis can be seen as a waking state of awareness (or consciousness) in which a person’s attention is detached from their immediate environment and is absorbed by inner experiences such as feelings, cognition, and imagery.1 Hypnotic induction involves focusing attention and imaginative involvement to the point where what is being imagined feels real. The clinician and patient construct a hypnotic reality by using and accepting suggestions.
Hypnosis is not a therapy, but it can be a tool that facilitates the delivery of treatment in the same way a syringe delivers drugs. Hypnosis does not make the impossible possible but can help patients believe and experience what might be possible for them to achieve.
“Since ancient civilizations, Hypnotherapy has been known and documented under different names, and the ways of conducting the therapy have also differed. In the 18th century Austria, hypnosis was known as “animal magnetism” or “mesmerism,” named after Franz Anton Mesmer. The word hypnosis comes from the Ancient Greek after “Hypnos,” who was the God of sleep and was first coined in relation to treatment by the Scottish doctor James Braid (1795–1860), who is regarded by many as the first genuine hypnotherapist.”
Are there any side effects or risks?
Hypnosis rarely causes any side effects or has risks. As long as a trained hypnotist or hypnotherapist conducts the therapy, it can be a safe alternative therapy option.
Some people may experience mild-to-moderate side effects, including:
- situational anxiety
However, hypnosis used for memory retrieval is a controversial practice. People who use hypnosis in this way are more likely to experience anxiety, distress, and other side effects.
How can hypnosis help you?
Hypnosis has been used instead of anesthetics to decrease pain and anxiety before and after surgery. It also seems to boost healing from many conditions, including epilepsy, neuralgia, rheumatism, and skin conditions. The physiological and neurological changes that occur under hypnosis are similar to the self-healing placebo effect—a case of mind over matter.
Maternal (Klaus, Kennell & Klaus, 1996) bonding during pregnancy is associated with positive infant attachment, whereas unresolved, dissociated trauma, chronic affect dysregulation, and obstetric complications during pregnancy seem to alter the bonding experience, often resulting in broken bonds.
- Patterson, D.R. (2010) Clinical Hypnosis for Pain Control. Washington, DC: APA.
 Williamson A. What is hypnosis and how might it work? Palliat Care. 2019 Jan 31;12:1178224219826581. doi: 10.1177/1178224219826581. PMID: 30728719; PMCID: PMC6357291.
 Trumm, Aile. (2019). Hypnotherapy Research in Anxiety Disorders A Brief History and Definition of Hypnotherapy.
 Psychology Today. Hypnosis, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/hypnosis
 Rosita Cortizo (2021) Prenatal Broken Bonds: Trauma, Dissociation and the Calming Womb Model, Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 22:1, 1-10, DOI: 10.1080/15299732.2021.1834300