Erika Slater Head and upper torso image2Hypnosis can be used to help with many challenging and stubborn issues in life today. It’s history with aiding people to quit smoking or weight loss is prominent, but it’s also being used by the medical community to help with quick recovery after surgical procedures, and reduce the reliance on medications for pain.

Hypnosis is a natural phenomenon but it’s also mistakenly promoted as a cure-all or “magic wand” solution. In the hands of a professional hypnotist it’s a tool to help relax the subject and provide access to the unconscious mind so change can take place using therapy when under hypnosis.

The selection of articles covers general information about hypnosis and what it is and now it works, along with some of its uses in sports performance, medical case studies, self-hypnosis and specific medical conditions.

Enjoy the articles.

Hypnosis for Pregnancy – Before, During and After Childbirth

By Erika Slater
Pregnant woman in bed feeling stress

Pregnant woman in bed feeling stress

In this article you’ll discover:

  1. The multiple benefits of using hypnosis during the distinct phases of your pregnancy, prenatal and postnatal.
  2. How hypnobirthing can help you during the birthing experience with pain management and relaxation techniques.
  3. Further reading, studies and resource links around hypnosis for pregnancy phases.

Pregnancy for a woman should be one of life’s joyous experiences. But too often it can be filled with anxiousness for the soon to be mother. A woman goes through many body and mental changes both before and after pregnancy and it can quickly become overwhelming and spoil the experience [1].

Traditionally, when people talk about hypnosis and pregnancy, they’re focusing on what is generally called hypnobirthing. Hypnobirthing is a birthing method using self-hypnosis and relaxation techniques to help a woman feel physically, mentally and spiritually prepared and reduce her awareness of fear, anxiety and pain during childbirth.

While this is obviously an important part of the whole cycle nonetheless hypnosis offers help and support during the time before and after the childbirth event. After all, a woman experiences pregnancy for normally nine months, and then her body is changing back to normalcy for a few months after.

People tend to think about hypnosis for helping with giving-up bad habits, such as quit smoking, or eating sugar or unhealthy diets for weight loss. But as popular as these topics are for hypnosis, and many women who smoke look towards quitting when they become pregnant [2], hospitals and medical professionals look additionally towards hypnosis with helping pain management [3] and relaxation both before and after surgery. Because of this it’s not surprising hypnosis has become accepted by the medical community for aiding woman with birthing.

In this article I want to explore the use of hypnosis in all phases of pregnancy and its viability and help during the important prenatal and postnatal phases and not only during the birthing event.



Pregnant woman eating salad in kitchenHypnosis can be a tool for helping women who are pregnant, whether they’re in the early or latter stages of pregnancy. Hypnosis can be beneficial for three very important reasons; maintaining physical comfort, controlling nutritious eating, and supporting optimum emotional health.

Maintaining Physical Comfort:

While pregnant, a woman’s body undergoes many changes. Typically, they’ll be increased weight gain (a woman is after all eating to provide ample nourishment for two), but also hormonal changes as well. If you’ve ever gained any appreciable body weight, not only does your body begin to feel different, but you feel different as well.

Added body weight can make an individual feel less energetic, even lethargic because they feel ‘heavy’.

Since you feel heavier then you may start to feel more tired, perhaps even sore, thus leading to lethargy. When you get into this feeling, you may begin to lack the ambition to do much, even taking care of yourself physically. It’s important to try to maintain a degree of energy, that’ll encourage you to keep up your physical wellness and comfort.

Using hypnosis can help you feel more comfortable in your body by helping you become more aware of the physical changes and sensations. Instead of perceiving added body weight, or ‘pain’ as a deterrent or reason for not engaging in regular routines, hypnosis can be used to teach pregnant women physical changes are a part of the evolution and necessity of pregnancy. It can help foster beliefs and feelings things are normal and on track.

Furthermore, hypnosis can ‘distract’ the mind from focusing on unwanted physical discomfort, and instead focus on the positive sensations going on in the body. While under hypnosis, pregnant women can benefit from the cues and post-hypnotic suggestions that’ll lead and guide them into engaging in everyday activities, helping them to feel less lethargic and more ambitious about what they can achieve and perform every day.

When you feel ‘extra weight’ on your body, it can naturally make you feel zapped from your energy and strength. This can lead some pregnant women to feel burdened. Hypnosis can help detract from those feelings and thoughts, leading them to want to be more active.

Controlling Eating:

When a woman becomes pregnant there is the necessity to eat increased calories of healthy food. Just because someone is pregnant, doesn’t mean they should eat everything they can or want because they ‘feel justified’ in doing so now they’re eating for two! It’s easy for a pregnant woman to gain more weight than they need to, and a lot of this can be due to over-eating, or eating more nutrition-less sugar-laden foods. The occasional ice-cream tub at 2am in the morning isn’t going to crack the scales but occasional can quickly become a habit!

Hypnosis can help with food choices. Post-hypnotic suggestions can help the unconscious mind become more deliberate in seeking out healthier foods, becoming conscious of quality of the calories ingested, and creating aversions to eating junk foods. Hypnosis can help with making healthy food choices while not feeling deprived or placing unnecessary limits on calories. There are, after all, plenty of healthy calories out there for you to consume.

Supporting Optimal Emotional Health:

Gaining weight and eating the wrong kinds of foods can wreak havoc not only on one’s body, but also on mental state. Junk foods have the ability to make one not only feel lethargic, but also can depress the body and central nervous system. Throughout the pregnancy, if a woman is not taking the proper vitamins, or perhaps has been prescribed ‘drugs’, this can also affect moods and emotional health.

Many women who are pregnant also struggle with ‘body image’ and some feel the quality of their ‘feminine beauty’ has been compromised. Even though this is quite different from women who suffer from eating disorders (Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia), there are similarities to the dysmorphia in these disorders some pregnant women experience. Some women become extremely anxious, distraught and depressed because of the weight gain and changes. This is normal.

We live in a society obsessed and focused on ‘self-image’, especially body image for women. When it comes to being pregnant, this can up the ante for some women. Hypnosis can help alleviate these negative perceptions and help women feel better about their bodies.

Since body image is ‘a state of mind’, hypnosis can help the unconscious mind get in a state of acceptance, of not only one’s body, but also the new circumstances affecting it. Hypnosis can foster increased feelings of self-esteem, self-worth, and a greater acceptance of one’s temporary body state, while diminishing anxiety or feelings of being depressed.

Often times the ‘depressions’ associated with pregnancy (during and post-partum), are caused by the changing circumstances and hormones. Hypnosis has the ability to prevent, impede or at least help shift moods and control emotions.



Mother holding baby few seconds after birthHypnosis can be effective for aiding in childbirth and pain management. You see, hypnosis is an altered state of mind. Hypnosis leads to a heightened state of awareness in the individual. Individuals are able to shift their focus to specific qualities of an experience and hold them there. This means they can put their attention on things they want to think and feel, and avoid focusing on what they don’t want to, in this case birthing pains!

When it comes to child birthing, hypnosis helps produce tunnel vision. Through tunnel vision, you’re able to isolate and intensify your focus on one key perception or experience. When you get to this point, you’re able to hold your concentration there. You only see, hear and feel what you choose to.

Everything surrounding the experience gets blocked out, in this case, the pain of child birthing!

Under hypnosis, the therapist gives post-hypnotic suggestions which will be used in the future, in this case… the delivery! Hypnosis is useful when the individual has effective triggers they can use and focus their attention on. Much like breathing techniques, individuals using post-hypnotic suggestions are able to block out the pain, put their focus completely on the positives of the child birth and in fact, keep their minds focused on the joys of the completed outcome – the birth.

Hypnosis doesn’t eradicate the pain of birthing completely but allows you to cope better and remain in a calmer state during the more intense periods of the birth. To get a sense of what to expect read this account of the experience by three different women [4].

If you’re thinking of having an all-natural child birth and anxious it might be uncomfortable and painful, look into hypnosis as an alternative or to compliment your birthing classes. Hypnosis can help people feel in control and possess great empowerment over all areas of their lives.



Woman feeling sad holding newborn babyAfter you’ve given birth, you still may feel the need to ‘work’ on things using hypnosis. It’s common for women whose given birth to want to try to lose the weight they’ve added, sooner rather than later. Furthermore, some new mothers have become caught up in the cycle of eating too much since becoming pregnant, or too much of the wrong kind of food.

Some women have a difficult time breaking free from this eating cycle.

Hypnosis can be a tool for helping with this weight loss.

Just as hypnosis is effective with controlling caloric consumption and the quality of food before the birth, it can help with facilitating a mindset that’ll gravitate toward proper eating, exercise and weight loss post-pregnancy.

When you’ve been eating a certain way for a period of time, in this case the 9 months leading up to the pregnancy, both the mind and brain become conditioned to eating a particular way. Furthermore, the body becomes use to the excess calories. One becomes ‘habituated’ to eating more. Sometimes these cycles and habits of eating need to be broken after the birth.

Moods can also change after a woman gives birth. Some women experience bouts of extreme post-partum depression. Many new mothers also experience anxiety – fearing they may accidentally hurt their new born, or not do enough to keep it healthy. Hypnosis can be helpful in not only relieving anxiety, but also addressing post-partum depression, or at least minimizing it [5]. You see, hypnosis can be used for confidence building, as well as for relaxation. If you will, it can help ‘unburden’ new mothers of feeling inadequate.



As I mentioned there are hypnotherapy practices that specialize in hypnobirthing. But these same places can provide help during all phases. Discuss with your medical doctor or specialist this option and usually they can provide a referral for you. Because it’s a common use of hypnosis these days then usually those in the medical field have more exposure to these services locally to you. If you’re also taking birthing classes then you can usually get a referral from the leader of the class as well.

If you’re struggling to get a referral then do an online search yourself and interview a few over the phone to see what their experience is and if they can help with all the phases of pregnancy.

Hypnosis is an excellent practice for pregnancies, during and after. Its credible and proven qualities can help make the whole experience of pregnancy and birthing and beyond a joyous time for a woman.



Hypnosis is commonly used during the birthing process for a woman to aid with pain management and relaxation. This is known as hypnobirthing. However, because pregnancy covers a much longer period impacting the physical and mental well-being of the woman before and after birthing, hypnosis can provide help and support during all phases of her pregnancy.

Hypnosis can provide support during pre-natal care involving maintaining physical comfort, controlling nutritious eating, and supporting emotional health. In addition, after birthing it can help in reducing post-partum depression and provide support in any anxious feelings you may have about caring for your new baby.

If you continue to have anxious thoughts about your pregnancy then check out this hypnosis session on reducing pain in childbirth naturally here >>>



[1] Pregnancy Health Center – WebMD >>>

[2] Quit Smoking Service using hypnosis – Erika Slater >>>

[3] Hypnosis for Management of Pain Relief – A History and Uses >>>

[4] What It’s Really Like to Have a Hypnobirth >>>

[5] Treating postpartum depression with hypnosis: addressing specific symptoms presented by the client >>>

Library of Self-Hypnosis Downloads Products >>>

Erika Slater CH
Free At Last Hypnosis

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What are Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms and Treatments and Can Hypnosis Help?

By Erika Slater
Young woman experiencing irritable bowel syndrome or other gut condition

Young woman experiencing irritable bowel syndrome or other gut condition

In this article you’ll discover:

  1. What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms and treatments, and current thinking around these topics.
  2. The psychological impact of IBS and how it can impact more than just your health.
  3. How hypnosis can help with the treatment of IBS and the expectations you should have for outcomes.
  4. Further reading, studies and resource links around IBS and various treatments.

While Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) has been around a long time, what’s different now is medicine is identifying it more readily, as well as more sufferers are seeking medical attention for treatment. Furthermore, the fact our diets of today have become more laden with additives and chemicals has also contributed to IBS being a more common condition.

IBS causes its sufferers tremendous discomfort, pain, and worry. Not knowing when it may strike causes psychological impact leading to stress in itself. For those with severe symptoms it can be a debilitating condition and impact quality of life.

Below I’ll discuss current thinking around what is IBS, its causes and symptoms, and treatments available. How it impacts more than just your health and who’s at greatest risk to develop it. Studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of various treatments in particular around integrative and alternative medicine. I’ll conclude with a section devoted to hypnotherapy and how it can realistically help as a treatment.

Let’s get going…



Man holding stomach experiencing gut painIBS is a functional gastrointestinal disorder with chronic, and even debilitating symptoms that often times include; abdominal pain, bloating, and altered bowel behaviors such as constipation and/or diarrhea, and most times alternating between these two symptoms.

IBS is the most common gastrointestinal condition worldwide and the most frequent disorder presented by patients consulting a gastrointestinal specialist – gastroenterologist [1].

IBS can begin in childhood, adolescence, or adulthood and can recur unexpectedly for periods at any age of the individual’s life.

Most people with IBS have unique experiences within the range of known symptoms. IBS conditions can significantly decrease a person’s quality of life.

It’s worth noting only about 40% of those who have IBS symptoms seek help from a physician [1].

IBS has been referred to by many different names – mucous colitis, nervous colon, spastic colon, and irritable colon. IBS often times gets confused with colitis or other inflammatory diseases of the intestinal tract.



Irritable Bowel Syndrome often times has as its most prevalent symptoms abdominal discomforts such as bloating and cramping, and of course the more intense symptoms are chronic diarrhea and/or constipation. Most time individuals will experience a culmination of these symptoms, not only on a weekly basis, but on a daily basis. As the disorder progresses and becomes more intense, the symptoms appear more frequently. The individual who suffers with IBS recognizes the disorder is out of hand when the symptoms are so frequent and intense they hinder their daily living and lifestyles!

When an individual has IBS they’re more prone to a sensitive digestive system with heightened reactivity, so their gastrointestinal tract responds quite differently to normal gut stimuli, such as the passage of solids, gas, and fluid through the intestines. These less than normal movements may result in difficulty passing stool, or sudden and urgent elimination. Up to 20% of those who’ve IBS report untimely passage of stool [1].

Individuals with IBS who experience bowl disorders often times are experiencing stress and anxiety which can exacerbate or perpetuate the symptoms! Bowel experiences and their unpredictability can lead to a high degree of anxiety for IBS patients. Stool consistency may vary enormously, ranging from entirely liquid to so firm and separated that it resembles small pebbles [1].

There are a host of symptoms occurring outside of the digestive tract that often times related and comorbid to IBS. These include; sleep disturbances, fibromyalgia, chronic pelvic pain, back pain, interstitial cystitis, temporomandibular joint disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and migraine headaches.

There have been more current studies and stats showing even more prevalent symptoms that can be related to IBS. It was found female patients who have IBS have also reported discomfort during sexual intercourse (dyspareunia). One survey showed 32% have some form of mood disorder, 27% have gastroesophageal reflux disease, and 27% have anxiety disorder [1].



Depressed young woman sitting on floor cryingThe majority of people with IBS often feel they can’t engage in work or social activities away from home unless they’re certain there are easily accessible bathroom facilities available. Some sufferers are in such pain even the slightest movements makes them feel uncomfortable. The chronic and continual pain and frequent bowel movements and the preoccupation with an inability to eliminate stool may make school, work, and social situations difficult for many individuals with IBS.

What often times gets overlooked though are the psychological factors that accompany the illness. Many of those suffering with IBS experience a diverse wide gambit of emotions triggered by IBS that vary in intensity. These psychological and emotional symptoms usually include; anxiety, frustration, depression, shame, fear, self-blame, guilt, anger, low self-esteem leading also to a lack of confidence. This can then create a vicious cycle as the stress and anxiety of these emotional symptoms can lead to worsening of their IBS by “feeding” the condition.



As of this moment the primary cause or causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome hasn’t been determined. IBS presents as a functional disorder with altered patterns of intestinal muscle contractions. According to the Mayo Foundation of Education and Research [2], there are a diverse range of factors contributing to IBS. These factors can include any of the following:

Nervous system issues: When you’ve abnormalities in the nerves in your digestive system, this may cause greater than normal discomfort when the abdomen stretches from gas or stool. Poorly coordinated signals between the brain and the intestines thus cause the body to overreact to changes that normally occur in the digestive process, which can result in pain, diarrhea or constipation.

Muscle contractions in the intestine: We all have muscles in our intestines that aid in moving food through the digestive tract. Unfortunately, sometimes these muscles contract too intensely which can lead to bloating, gas and diarrhea. Conversely, when the muscular contractions are weak, it can lead to constipation.

Inflammation in the intestines: In some instances, IBS sufferers may possess too many immune-system cells in their intestines which actually create the pain as well as the diarrhea.

Changes in bacteria in the gut: Everyone has what is called microflora, which are good bacteria that maintain positive health in the intestines. Research shows those with IBS may have differing microflora than healthy individuals.

Severe Infection: Research has also shown IBS may develop by a severe bout of diarrhea that was induced by a virus or infections.

There are a host of contributing factors leading to the triggering of IBS, even when its been controlled for a long period of time. Food allergies appear to be one of the leading causes of symptoms. Some people experience worse symptoms when they consume wheat or dairy products, and several kinds of fruits, legumes and cabbage. For some it can be spicy foods.

Some individuals have as their triggers, ‘stress’! Many sufferers will assert when they’re under prolonged stressful periods in their lives, or the stress is intense, their IBS flares up. It’s important to note stress exacerbates it, but does not actually cause IBS! Women who have IBS are more prone to develop intense symptoms triggered by hormonal changes. Many women report during menstrual periods, they experience their worst set of symptoms.



There seems to be various attributes which might make one individual a greater risk for IBS than others. According to the Mayo Foundation of Education and Research [2], a host of factors needs to be considered.

First off, it would appear IBS is more prevalent in females, at least in the USA. Research has shown estrogen therapy, before or after menopause, is a risk factor. It can be more age specific occurring more frequently in people under the age of 50. Furthermore, genes tend to play a role in IBS. Either shared genes or shared environments may come into play. It could also be families share similar eating habits. Finally, one’s mental health and emotional state can serve as triggers. IBS is more common during times of anxiety, depression and other mental health ailments. Furthermore, it’s been linked to mental, emotional, physical and sexual abuse.



Pathophysiology of irritable bowel syndrome chartThere are a range of treatments for IBS from medical to dieting to alternative therapies.

Medical treatments usually include; muscle relaxers, anti-diarrheal medications, stool softeners, as well as anti-biotics if there’s intestinal infections or viruses. No doubt these should be prescribed and monitored under the guidance of a medical physician after tests have been run to determine the type and severity of the IBS in a patient. Some doctors may also recommend medications for pain caused by the cramps and discomfort.

Some medical practitioners will prescribe laxatives as well as fiber-based products for those individuals with IBS who have constipation problems. Even though these medications do not need a prescription, they should first be approved by physicians.

For those individuals who suffer from mental illnesses, such as anxiety and depression, they may require anti-depressants and tricyclic antidepressants, a type of medication that relieves depression, as well as inhibit the activity of neurons that control the intestines to help reduce pain.

Most medical doctors will recommend improved dieting which can help reduce the triggers as well as the severity of IBS outbreaks. Doctors may refer patients to a dietitian to make sure they’re eating properly. Most dietitians will recommend patients with IBS to avoid problematic foods that can trigger their symptoms. Furthermore, practitioners will suggest patients’ ‘experiment’ with fiber. The hope with increasing and using fiber is it can reduce constipation. Unfortunately, in some cases the increased fiber diet can lead to gas and bloating, whereby a ‘fiber supplement’ may need to be used to eliminate the issue. This is why a good dietitian comes in to play to help the IBS patient find the proper balance!

There is evidence suggesting that conventional medicine alone isn’t as effective as integrative medicine where the focus is on controlling stress and relieving the symptoms. “In short, IBS is much better treated by integrative medicine than by conventional medicine [3]. There are alternative approaches too such as cognitive behavioral therapy [4], reflexology, reiki, meditation, and hypnosis. All of these approaches are aimed at helping patients with IBS manage and control their stress, which if left untreated can prime the IBS pump.

Hypnosis particularly has a long history of treating IBS and helping sufferers control their symptoms, and there has been sufficient scientific research and studies performed suggesting it as a viable treatment for IBS. It’s also beneficial because it can be applied ongoing. Because of this the next section is devoted to answering the question “can hypnosis help sufferers of IBS?



Walking talking with her therapistFirst off, some basics of hypnosis and how it works for IBS sufferers…

Hypnosis is an altered state of mind and leads to a heightened state of awareness. Individuals are able to shift their focus to specific qualities of an experience and hold them there. This means they can put their attention on thoughts leading to what they want, and avoid focusing on what they don’t want. Our brains are naturally wired to focus on what we don’t want, such as to avoid feeling the pain and stress of IBS leading to their symptoms.

Unfortunately, this negative focus tends to keep the problem in our subconscious. Under hypnosis we can learn to train the unconscious mind to instead focus on the positive – what we want!

In hypnosis, and through tunnel vision, you’re able to isolate, intensify and ingrate your focus on one key perception or experience and hold your concentration there. You only see, hear and feel what you choose to. Everything surrounding the experience gets blocked… the pain and discomfort of IBS!

Under hypnosis, the hypnotherapist offers post-hypnotic suggestions which can be used in the future by a patient. In this case whenever someone with IBS begins to get too stressed out, or they feel the pain from the symptoms of their IBS, the post-hypnotic cues kick in and the individual “nips things in the bud” so to speak before the symptoms overtake them.

Dealing with IBS using hypnosis is also called “gut directed hypnotherapy” and there have been studies conducted to determine the effectiveness for this treatment on IBS. One study was conducted with follow-up over 5 years [5]. Improvements in symptoms and quality of life were experienced by patients in the study. “The beneficial effects did not appear to decline with time since patients who had finished treatment more than five years ago maintained symptom improvement just as well as those who had completed only a year ago. Similarly, extra-colonic features, quality of life, anxiety, and depression scores were still better at follow up compared with pre-HT levels” [5].

The study concluded: “… the beneficial effects of HT are long lasting, with continued improvement in symptoms, thus giving patients better control over their condition” [5].

The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders – IFFGD –
wrote “research has found that hypnotherapy may help improve the primary symptoms of IBS. It may also help relieve other symptoms suffered by many people with IBS such as nausea, fatigue, backache, and urinary problems. Hypnotherapy appears to offer symptomatic, psychological, and physiological benefit” [6].

Multiple hypnosis sessions with a qualified hypnotherapist should be planned for gut hypnotherapy. The number of sessions can vary depending on type and severity of symptoms but will fall within the range of 2-12 weekly sessions. Ongoing therapeutic treatment can be accommodated by more sessions, use of recorded sessions on CD/MP3 media, and training for the patient by the hypnotist in self-hypnosis, or a combination of all of these. Most professional hypnotists can teach self-hypnosis to clients as part of their program. Self-hypnosis is the ability of a client to enter the hypnotic trance state by themselves without the guidance of a hypnotist.

While hypnosis offers an effective treatment for those suffering with IBS this doesn’t mean other treatments should be abandoned, and common sense would suggest paying attention to a healthy diet “soft on your gut” is an important component as well, and coming off medication should always be discussed with your doctor first.

Hypnosis offers a viable treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome and your next step should seek out a professional hypnotherapist with experience in treating the condition and discussing with them if it’ll be able to help and ease the symptoms you’re experiencing.



Irritable Bowel Syndrome seems to be one of those modern conditions but in reality, has been around for a long time. IBS can be debilitating for sufferers impacting their quality of life and even making them housebound and shunning social contact outside their home.

While you should seek out advice from your Doctor and consider medical treatment for your symptoms, current thinking is integrative medicine and some alternative therapies offer more viable long treatment for the condition.

One of the treatments available is hypnosis, and this helps control common triggers for bringing on IBS. Because there’s a strong link between stress and triggering of IBS, hypnosis provides a treatment to reduce stress and lessen the symptoms of the condition. If Irritable Bowel Syndrome is putting limits on your life the check out this self-hypnosis session for IBS here >>>



[1] Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) – Canadian Society of Intestinal Research >>>

[2] Irritable Bowel Syndrome – Mayo Clinic >>>

[3] Hypnosis for IBS? – Andrew Weil, M.D. >>>

[4] Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) 101 >>>

[5] Long Term Benefits of Hypnotherapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome >>>

[6] Hypnosis for IBS – International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders >>>

Library of Self-Hypnosis Downloads Products >>>

Erika Slater CH
Free At Last Hypnosis

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Can Hypnosis Help as a Treatment for Sufferers of Tinnitus?

By Erika Slater
Tinnitus woman sufferer holding her ear with pain

Tinnitus woman sufferer holding her ear with pain

In this article you’ll discover:

  1. Different forms of Tinnitus sounds, and what can cause it including physical and psychological conditions.
  2. How to go about getting a diagnosis and the various forms of treatments available depending on the diagnosis.
  3. How hypnosis can help with the treatment of Tinnitus and the expectations you should have for outcomes.
  4. Further reading, medical studies and resource links around Tinnitus and various treatments.

Have you ever experienced ringing, pulsating sounds or buzzing in your ears? Have you had this problem for some time and it makes you feel uncomfortable, and at times disrupts your life?

This “ringing in your ears” is commonly referred to as Tinnitus. Tinnitus is believed to affect at least 10-15% of the general population, with 5% of those experiencing it are severely impacted in performing day to day activities.

Often times, it’s referred to as a phantom auditory sound as the noises someone with tinnitus experiences are present in the absence of external noise. Individuals suffering from tinnitus may also experience tension in their neck, jaw, and head, which can lead to headaches. Furthermore, when it’s acute tinnitus can lead to psychological issues such as an individual experiencing anxiety and depression.

The medical profession recognizes generally two types of tinnitus: Subjective Tinnitus and Objective Tinnitus.

Subjective tinnitus is “Head or ear noises that are perceivable only to the specific patient. Subjective tinnitus is usually traceable to auditory and neurological reactions to hearing loss, but can also be caused by an array of other catalysts. More than 99% of all tinnitus reported tinnitus cases are of the subjective variety” [1].

Objective tinnitus is “Head or ear noises that are audible to other people, as well as the patient. These sounds are usually produced by internal functions in the body’s circulatory (blood flow) and somatic (musculo-skeletal movement) systems. Objective tinnitus is very rare, representing less than 1% of total tinnitus cases” [1].

I’ve personally lived with tinnitus for a long time. Like so many I’ve got used to it and I’d consider it mild compared to many others. I’ve known people though at the extreme who’ve been driven to considering suicide. One of those I’ll talk about later and how they overcame it.

My goal in this article is to provide some general information about the tinnitus condition (specifically we’ll cover subjective tinnitus), various treatments available, and how hypnosis can realistically help sufferers. Let’s begin by discussing what tinnitus is all about and how it’s caused…



Sound waves hitting ear for auditory testingTinnitus is the sensation of hearing sound when no external sound is present. Commonly known as “ringing in the ears” the sound and its level varies from sufferer to sufferer.

With some its a mild background noise with minimal impairment on daily life. With others it can be a constant uncomfortable sound causing major disruption in their lives.

The Mayo Clinic defines tinnitus and its symptoms as: “Tinnitus is the perception of noise or ringing in the ears. Tinnitus isn’t a condition itself – it’s a symptom of an underlying condition, such as age-related hearing loss, ear injury or a circulatory system disorder” [2].

Tinnitus symptoms include these types of phantom noises in your ears: ringing, buzzing, roaring, clicking, or hissing.

The phantom noise may vary in pitch from a low roar to a high squeal, and you may hear it in one or both ears. In some cases, the sound can be so loud it can interfere with your ability to concentrate or hear actual sound. Tinnitus may be present all the time, or it may come and go” [2].

What is the cause of tinnitus?

Is it really a by-product of listening to blaring music as a kid, or having too much ear wax build-up? Not necessarily in all cases! It was once believed that tinnitus was caused by resultant damage to microscopic nerve endings in the inner ear. More current research asserts tinnitus is a symptom and not an actual disease, as a result of an injury to the peripheral auditory system, hearing nerve or auditory centers in the brain.

However, there are a variety of other causes that have been associated with tinnitus. The more common causes are eardrum perforations (sometimes the result of sticking Q Tips in your ears), over-wax buildup, ear infections, barotitis, which is when your ears get blocked after flying in an airplane, extreme noise exposure, head injuries, grinding your teeth, as well as advancing in age, while being exposed to noise over the years.

There are more complex causes of tinnitus, such as medical conditions referred to as otosclerosis, which is an abnormal bone growth in the middle ear. Also, intense periods of stress as well as certain medications, such as aspirin in high doses have also been linked to tinnitus.

The fact is tinnitus can develop at any time in a person’s life with many long time suffers not recalling when it started and what event brought it on.

In the next section I’ll cover getting a diagnosis for tinnitus and common treatments for it.



White noise machine

By Morn – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69998806

Regardless of how long you feel you’ve suffered with tinnitus if you haven’t been diagnosed before then you should make an appointment with your Doctor and get a referral for an audiological exam. Your Doctor can perform exams on your upper body and ears to rule out other causes of “ringing in your ears.”

The audiological tests can also help rule out other causes by comparing your hearing levels to what is normal for your age.

The sounds you hear can help your doctor identify a possible underlying cause” [3]. The pitch and the type of sound you hear can determine if the symptoms can be caused by muscle contractions, ear canal blockages, ear wax build up or a foreign body in the ear canal.

Certain heart and ear conditions can cause tinnitus symptoms which can be uncovered with physical exams and CT and MRI imaging tests.

However, in many cases the cause of the tinnitus won’t be found, and so the focus will be on treatments to reduce the impact on your life.

So, how does one treat tinnitus?

There is currently no scientific cure for tinnitus. The treatments mentioned below help reduce the impact on sufferers but there is no one treatment preferred over another as depending on the cause – if discovered – different treatments and sometimes in combination will help individual cases. It’s a question of trying and seeing which treatment(s) work for you under the guidance of your Doctor and potentially other specialists and professionals.

These treatments and tools, “help patients manage their condition; treatments that reduce the perceived intensity, omnipresence, and burden of tinnitus. These currently available treatments are not “cures” — they neither repair the underlying causes of tinnitus, nor eliminate the tinnitus signal in the brain. Instead, they address the attentional, emotional, and cognitive impact of tinnitus. They help patients live better, more fulfilling, and more productive lives, even if the perception of tinnitus remains” [4].

Common treatments include: ear wax removal, treating vascular conditions through surgery, medication changes if its known a medication you’re taking can cause tinnitus-like symptoms. Leveraging noise suppression devices can help such as white noise machines and other noise-masking devices along with hearing-aids. Tinnitus retraining involves “A wearable device delivers individually programmed tonal music to mask the specific frequencies of the tinnitus you experience. Over time, this technique may accustom you to the tinnitus, thereby helping you not to focus on it. Counseling is often a component of tinnitus retraining” [3].

Doctors suggest quitting smoking for smokers, as well as limiting consumption of alcohol, caffeine, salt in diets, and taking aspirin. In cases where the ailment causes concentration problems, fatigue, depression, anxiety and sleepless nights, medication is prescribed to help with these symptoms. Medications tackling tinnitus directly include Tricyclic antidepressants, and Alprazolam, although they don’t cure tinnitus and have potentially harmful side-effects and because of this tend to be used only in severe cases.

Many individuals have reported benefits using alternative therapies such as acupuncture, supplements and vitamins, and hypnosis. Hypnosis can be effective for helping in shifting one’s concentration off of the “ringing in the ears,” thus allowing sufferers to reduce the tinnitus to low-level background noise. As hypnosis as a treatment touches on my professional training I’m going to share current thinking on this as a treatment in the next section.



Mind conscious emotions connections conceptAs with other treatments you should consider hypnosis to help alleviate the impact of tinnitus on your life but not cure it completely. While organizations like the American Tinnitus Association (ATA) fund and promote for a cure for Tinnitus, current common treatments aren’t providing this cure. Likewise, while there is no literature identifying research on specific medications for tinnitus being undertaken by pharmaceutical companies, the expectation is it would alleviate symptoms rather than offer a common cure if a drug was successfully manufactured. In the U.S. we tend to look for a “magic pill” for anything as the ideal solution when it tends to only tackle the symptoms rather than offer a cure.

This is universal in chronic disorders impacted by our psychological condition.

Before approaching hypnosis work with your Doctor to ensure your tinnitus isn’t due to a medical issue such as a tumor or other physical condition that can be medically treated. A hypnotist would require you to do this before starting any program. There are also studies suggesting that sufferers with hearing loss are not helped using hypnosis.

Hypnosis also tends to be a last resort for many problems, when all other clinical treatments have failed to help. This skews the people who come to hypnosis to get relief as the most chronic sufferers who have tried everything else with no positive impact. Hypnosis generally then attracts the toughest and most stubborn conditions of tinnitus, when it can potentially provide help to all level of sufferers. This fact is frequently overlooked when researchers or the medical community compare hypnosis with other treatments.

As is similar to other conditions tinnitus sufferer’s impression of their own condition strongly affects the impact it has on them. Or, put another way, the intensity of the condition can be attributed to psychological reasons. This isn’t saying the sounds heard are not “real” just, like pain in a joint, the intensity level can vary day to day and so the impact can be influenced from a psychological perspective. As hypnosis has long been used to help with pain relief management [5] it shouldn’t be a surprise hypnotherapist’s offer sessions for tinnitus sufferers. Clinical literature has reported its use for tinnitus with case reports for 50-years or longer [Pearson M, Barnes L. Objective tinnitus aurium: Report of two cases with good results after hypnosis. J Phila Gen Hosp 1:134–138, 1950].

A study has been conducted on the applicability of self-hypnosis as a treatment for tinnitus [6] and concluded it can be a viable treatment. Self-hypnosis is when the patient enters hypnosis by themselves directly or by listening to a recorded session led by a hypnotist. Self-hypnosis provides the opportunity for a patient to leverage the benefit of hypnosis whenever needed without having to schedule an appointment with a hypnotist. Most professional hypnotists – myself included – can provide the training and/or recorded session, for a patient to enter self-hypnosis.

There are different hypnotic techniques used by hypnotists when working with tinnitus patients. One of the more prevalent used today is what is called Ericksonian Hypnotherapy. Milton Erickson is a famous psychiatrist who specialized in medical hypnosis and family therapy. He developed a style of hypnosis using indirect suggestions tapping into stories and metaphors rather than the more common direct hypnotic suggestions. A small clinical trial was conducted on specific use of Ericksonian Hypnotherapy and it demonstrated that “Ericksonian hypnosis, in particular using self-hypnosis, is a promising technique for treating patients with tinnitus” [7].

A criticism leveled at results of clinical studies using hypnosis as the main treatment for tinnitus is they’ve been mostly conducted by hypnotherapists so a bias was present from the start. In addition, the professional hypnosis field includes those who advocate only using the process they’ve developed and while using a professional hypnotherapist who has successfully helped tinnitus sufferers is a logical first-step, suggesting only one technique preferred by a psychologist or hypnotherapist is the answer is… illogical.

The translation of sounds into something we hear is complicated but we do know while the ears receive the sounds the actual interpretation of those sounds is produced in our brain. This has led to the belief that many cases of tinnitus are psychological in nature and can be influenced by treatments aimed at reducing negative emotional issues such as stress, anxiety, fear, and depression. As we know our emotions are controlled by our subconscious and as hypnosis works with our subconscious mind then treating tinnitus conditions this way is a viable treatment.

Hypnosis has also long been used to change habits such as addictions for example smoking and unhealthy eating. Charles Smithdeal, MD, FACS, C.Ht, is a former tinnitus and hyperacusis sufferer, a board-certified Hypnotherapist and Otolaryngologist, and has argued “The most crucial factor in whether we’re able to ignore (habituate) a stimulus is whether it’s associated with a positive or negative emotional response.” He’s also written “Your conscious mind can pay attention to about a hundred bits of information at any given instant; however, there are millions of information bits bombarding you constantly, some deemed by your mind to be more important than others. These bits, or stimuli, include sight, touch, smell, taste, and hearing. The relative importance of the stimuli is always changing, so the degree of attention you grant them also changes. Your conscious mind chooses to ignore any not deemed threatening, challenging, exciting, rewarding, or essential to your survival. That is, your brain ignores things it considers unimportant” [8].

On the other hand, your brain will not allow you to ignore any stimuli associated with dangerous or unpleasant situations. While you certainly wouldn’t want to teach your brain to ignore life threatening situations nonetheless turning down the volume dial on emotions that impact the level of suffering invoked by pain or tinnitus is a valid therapy to consider.

Back to Charles Smithdeal again “Many people who undergo hypnotherapy are able to influence the characteristics of their tinnitus, and some can actually reduce its volume, just as people learn to reduce pain through hypnosis” [8].

Kevin Hogan is another psychotherapist specializing in hypnosis and who is also a sufferer of tinnitus and advocate of hypnotherapy use in relieving tinnitus. Hogan’s tinnitus at one point was impacting his life to such a depth he freely admits he was considering suicide and writes about this in a personal account and how he recovered [9]. Hogan is an accomplished Psy.D and a straight-shooting down-to-earth psychologist, and used self-hypnosis in order to successfully bring his tinnitus under control to the point where it doesn’t impact his life any longer. Hogan wrote a book called “Tinnitus: Turning the Volume Down” and has also developed a CD/DVD self-hypnosis program – Tinnitus Reduction Program – both aimed at tinnitus sufferers [10].

Similar to Smithdeal, Hogan advocates seeking out a hypnotherapist specifically trained in dealing with tinnitus. Many people prefer seeing initially a hypnotherapist before moving into self-hypnosis, particularly with an issue like tinnitus. This helps speed up the process and provides professional guidance to get the patient moving in the right direction quickly rather than being distracted by also learning the techniques and nuances of self-hypnosis. Most hypnotists can provide self-hypnosis training as part of their tinnitus program.

There are different hypnosis techniques used by hypnotherapists in dealing with tinnitus. These include Regression Therapy, Ericksonian Hypnosis (or indirect suggestion), and traditional direct suggestion therapy. There is no one size fits all for a specific client and an experienced hypnotherapist should be able to determine the right approach to help a client, and it could be a combination of these techniques plus other therapies such as EFT – Emotional Freedom Techniques.

Regression therapy takes you back to a point in time before tinnitus was impacting your life to determine the cause or trigger of the onset. Once this trigger is identified then the therapist can work using other techniques to help reduce the impact. Many times, patients cannot recall the event or time when it first started but under hypnosis the unconscious mind can often yield up the event.

Ericksonian or indirect hypnosis as I discussed earlier uses hypnotic techniques such as stories, metaphors and other language techniques to produce outcomes, rather than direct suggestions to get a patient into trance and provide indirect suggestions once in there. Many professional hypnotists learn traditional direct suggestion hypnosis when starting out as their primary therapeutic technique, and advance to Ericksonian and Regression therapy in order to provide more options for different types of issues and client responsiveness [11].

To be clear using hypnosis for tinnitus is not as a cure, but it has been successful in reducing the volume of tinnitus to a point where for some it’s not noticeable at all, and for others its impact is minimal and still allows them to lead a normal life. Use the resources identified below to find out more about the treatments for tinnitus and in particular about hypnosis and your next step should this be an avenue you determine makes sense to explore further for your condition.

As Tinnitus is one condition that can be classified under the general term of noise sensitivity – Hyperacusis is also included – then you may be interested for further reading on an article I updated recently called “Treatments for Noise and Sound Sensitivity Including Misophonia and Hyperacusis” and linked below in the resource section [12].



Tinnitus is a condition that can be caused by different physical and psychological issues. There is no known cure for it but an array of treatments is available and some can be used in combination and aimed at lessening the impact on a sufferer so they can lead a near normal life. The intensity of the sounds varies and this can dictate what type of treatment is used.

Anybody afflicted with Tinnitus at the onset should seek medical evaluation in case it is caused by a medical condition requiring surgery or can be lessened by other medical procedures. Once its determined the sound is psychological in nature then hypnosis is a viable treatment for many people and both used as the primary treatment or in combination with other forms.

Discuss your condition with an experienced hypnotherapist trained in Tinnitus recovery and who can also teach you self-hypnosis so you’re able to continue with hypnosis outside formal practice sessions. The relief for most Tinnitus sufferers is a reduction in volume so the remaining noise can be effectively “tuned out.”

You can get a sense of a self-hypnosis session aimed at reducing tinnitus noise using hypnosis here >>



[1] Understanding the Facts – ATA >>>

[2] What is Tinnitus – Mayo Clinic >>>

[3] Tinnitus Diagnosis and Treatment – Mayo Clinic >>>

[4] Treatment Options – ATA >>>

[5] Hypnosis for Management of Pain Relief – A History and Uses >>>

[6] Efficacy of Self-Hypnosis for Tinnitus Relief >>>

[7] Ericksonian Hypnosis in Tinnitus Therapy >>>

[8] Hypnotherapy and Tinnitus >>>

[9] Recovering from Tinnitus – Kevin Hogan Personal Account >>>

[10] Hypnosis: Can It Really Stop Tinnitus? (Updated July 2018) >>>

[11] Who Invented Hypnosis and What’s the History of Hypnotherapy >>>

[12] Treatments for Noise and Sound Sensitivity Including Misophonia and Hyperacusis >>>

Library of Self-Hypnosis Downloads Products >>>

Erika Slater CH
Free At Last Hypnosis

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Learning Hypnosis and Becoming a Professional Hypnotist

By Erika Slater
Hypnosis word cloud

Hypnosis word cloud

In this special Hypnosis Brief I’m going to discuss how to go about learning hypnosis, and becoming a professional hypnotist if you want to make it a career. I’ll also cover some licensing questions to keep you out of trouble.

Have you ever wanted to learn hypnosis, or have you wondered where someone goes to learn to do hypnosis? Where do you go to develop the education, skills and talent to pull this off?

In the past, it was difficult to find a ‘school’, institution or individual who taught others about hypnosis. In the past most found out where to learn about hypnosis through periodicals like Psychology Today, word of mouth, and some educational institutions.

Now that the Internet and all of the variety of ‘search engines’ have come along, it’s much easier to find places to learn about hypnosis, as well as how to perform it.

But if you wanted to learn hypnosis, perhaps the biggest question would be… why?

Do you want to learn hypnosis to go into private practice or perhaps entertainment (stage hypnosis), or would you want to learn it for personal reasons, as a tool to improve your overall state of mental and physical wellness? I entered the profession in order to help others quit smoking and over the years developed my own stop smoking hypnosis programs [4]. You may have different reasons.



Online learning and education conceptIf you just want hypnosis for your own personal benefits, then you’re less likely concerned with the formalities that go along with accreditation, licensing, certification and recognition associated with it. Learning self-hypnosis from an experienced hypnotist may be all you need and most local hypnotherapists can provide this training for you.

Conversely, if you were looking at getting into hypnosis to become a professional practitioner, then you’d want to take all of the above into account as you’d want to be recognized with reputable organizations. When it comes to professionalism, you’ll want to make sure you’re held in the highest regard when it comes to credibility.

Attaching your name to credible ‘associations’ will not only make you appear credible to clients and patients, but among your peers as well.

Many traditional schools, such as colleges and universities unfortunately don’t have formal ‘hypnosis’ education. The most students will learn about hypnosis at college is in an introductory psychology course while discussing Sigmund Freud, or Milton Erickson, or perhaps a little more in depth when taking a psychology major.

Unfortunately, what is learned is usually not of practical use and holds no real value in terms of using it in a practice. Students will only get the ‘theory’ and history of hypnosis; therefore, the only redeeming quality is of a theoretical nature. If you want to learn the practical applications and skills to engage in hypnosis as a professional, you’ll have to seek out a specialty school.

If you do a Google search, you’ll come across many ‘schools for hypnosis’. Although there are a variety of schools, you’ll need to do diligent research before signing up for one. Some of these private schools are costly, so you want to get the most bang for your buck in terms of; credibility, knowledge, competence and certification. Since hypnosis is viewed as a pseudo-discipline that falls within the domain of psychology and mental health, the standards for accrediting it are difficult at best and inconsistent. You’ll also find a number of hypnosis schools offer their curriculum in online classes.

If you’re a practicing psychologist or counselor, there are various boards and licensing agencies you need to apply to and become certified to promote your services. The same is not necessarily true for hypnosis, and depending on the state and/or country you reside in then you may need to be licensed or not, or be limited in whether you can call yourself a hypnotherapist or hypnotist.

If you’re learning any skill, whether it be hypnosis, massage, reflexology, etc., it’s important who you’re learning from is teaching the skill set based on incorporating as much information about the discipline, as well as including the principles of ethics and beneficence in the training.

When I refer to beneficence and ethics, I’m referring to setting intentions you’ll always do what is best for the client, and leave them better than before they came to see you. Furthermore, ethics teaches if you can’t help the client, then you recognize this and refer them to someone else who can.

Where many hypnosis training institutions get a ‘bad rap’ is through the handful of them that don’t practice ethics, or don’t teach practicing competence to their students. Furthermore, this is a by-product of the fact these training institutes are operated by individuals who lack competence themselves. Unfortunately, often times it’s all about ‘collecting money’ from potential students, training them quickly over the course of a weekend, and then sending them out into the real world letting them believe they’re ready to practice as professional ‘hypnotherapists.’

This is when ‘hypnosis’ overall in the clinical sense gets perceived in a negative light by accredited hypnotherapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors and the public overall.

Basically, you have incompetent hypnotists who’ve been trained by incompetent teachers who have allowed them to go into the real world and deal with real emotional problems. The problem is they often times at best don’t do anything for the client.

If you’re interested in becoming a hypnotherapist and helping people with their problems; quitting smoking, improving their self-esteem, losing weight, overcoming phobias, that’s a wonderful intent. Wanting to help others improve their life is a noble cause for any profession.

Hypnosis is a reputable and honorable profession that should only be practiced by individuals who have been trained properly, and who know what they’re doing, and importantly recognize limits and when to refer out. One quick intense week course isn’t going to be enough, unless there is both quality theoretical and practical training included for a specific problem. Like any skill it can take many years to become proficient in being able to tackle the problems presented by real clients.

If you’re seriously looking for training in hypnosis consider checking out organizations like the National Guild of Hypnotists [1] as they offer standard courses and certification programs, and require ongoing accreditation to remain members. I obtained my training and certification from NGH. I’ve also been a student of Igor Ledochowski and member of his Hypnosis Training Academy [2] for a number of years and he has a two-year intensive program where you can also learn how to run a hypnosis business as well as providing the basic and advanced skills of hypnosis, and opportunities for practice with other members.



Senior woman on computer doing trainingDo you need a license to practice hypnosis as a professional? The answer is it depends.

In many places in the world hypnosis is a self-regulating profession. That is, you don’t need to pass a recognized exam or qualification by a governing authority before you hang up a sign promoting your services.

In the USA requirements for hypnotherapists vary from state to state. Many states don’t require hypnotists to have a license to practice.

Some states require you to be licensed to promote yourself as a hypnotherapist but not as a hypnotist.

Still others you have to register and obtain a license, but there is no examining board so effectively you just apply.

With the advent of hypnotists offering client sessions online then it becomes important for the hypnotist to understand where their client resides, as you should assume, to be safe, that state’s licensing requirements will be in effect. So, this may limit you on clients you can take on.

In order to remain in compliance a hypnotist should research and ensure she understands the local requirements for country and state/county/province.

More general information about licensing for hypnotists can be found in an article posted at Hypnosis Training Academy [3].



Being a professional therapeutic hypnotist and helping others overcome negative habits or challenges to improve their life is a wonderful and noble intent. But with this intent comes high expectations covering the treatment of clients and the ethics of your business to preserve your reputation, and avoid compliance and licensing issues with the local authorities.

Always consider the client and do what is best for them and like any profession know your abilities, and limits, and build a network of specialized professionals so you can refer out clients who present problems you’re not experienced to address.

Being a professional hypnotherapist is hard work, and for many it’s part-time, particularly during the early years learning the skills and gaining experience. But it can be immensely rewarding helping people overcome problems and seeing them grow and improve their life.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and the information it contains and would love to hear your feedback on it, and how I can improve it. Use the comment section below or send me a direct email using information at my contact page here >>>



[1] National Guild of Hypnotists >>>

[2] Hypnosis Training Academy >>>

[3] Do You Need a License to Practice Hypnosis? >>>

[4] Why is it So Darn Hard to Quit Smoking and Ways to Make it Easier >>>

Library of Self-Hypnosis Downloads Products >>>

Erika Slater CH
Free At Last Hypnosis

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The Pros and Cons of Group Hypnosis Vs Individual Sessions

By Erika Slater
Girl weighing pros and cons of a decision

Girl weighing pros and cons of a decision

In this special hypnosis brief I want to tackle the major differences between Group and Individual Hypnosis Sessions and what you can expect as a client so you can choose what might work best for you.

Be aware many hypnotherapists only offer individual sessions. So, depending on who you choose you may not even have an option. However, most professional hypnotists offer group sessions so they can reach a wider audience and thereby help more people.

You may find hypnotists who only offer group sessions, and this can be because they’ve decided they want to reach as many people as possible, or they offer online group hypnosis sessions which is an excellent compromise between being part of a group but being in your own private “space.”

The choice then of offering group or individual only, or offering both types of sessions, is down to the individual hypnotist, and the way they prefer to deliver their services to be most effective for them and their clients. For example I offer both private and group sessions for my quit smoking hypnosis programs.

So, let’s dig into each format and discuss the pros and cons for you.



Group of [people in a therapeutic sessionMost people’s introduction to group hypnosis is watching a stage hypnotist performance for entertainment. This where a hypnotist is calling members of the audience onto a stage and hypnotizing them as a group, or one by one to be a part of a collective group.

If you witnessed this, you were probably amazed, if not astonished, how it appeared one individual had so much power over a group of individuals and was able to make them do whatever was asked of them. Most likely part of you thought it ‘wasn’t real’, or the group was simply ‘playing along’ with the hypnotist.

Without spoiling the fun of the entertainment if you enjoyed this, the truth is, you’re probably right… it wasn’t real.

If you want to know more about what’s going on here then you can read Terrence Watts’ article “Stage Hypnosis – How and Why it Works”.

The fact is, what you saw happening in stage hypnosis show isn’t anything like a group therapeutic hypnosis experience. So, I would caution you about making a choice just based on what you saw in a stage show.

The number one reason people choose group hypnosis is its cost effective. Group hypnosis sessions tend to be less expensive than individual sessions, and for those on budget this can be their primary factor, particularly if you’re looking at tackling a change requiring multiple hypnosis sessions.

Another reason people choose group hypnosis is wanting to be part of a group working towards a common goal. Some people enjoy the comradeship of having others to feed off in a group setting. In addition, the group environment can create some competition, especially if the topic is weight loss and help push people along. The fact is, we also learn from others and their experiences and can even help them. We are after all social animals so wanting to achieve an outcome as part of a group helps many to stay engaged and see it through.

On the other hand, some of us are more private and so tackling a problem or challenge with a group of strangers may just not fit your profile, and would make you feel intimidated, particularly if the group has some personalities and dynamics in the membership which impact inclusion in the group.

By attending a group hypnosis session, it enables those who are hesitant about trying hypnosis, a great sense of comfort. By attending group sessions, especially with friends, it can create a sense of comradery, and ease any stigmas and apprehensions associated with misconceptions about hypnosis.

Groups can also be more difficult for the hypnotist to manage and get effective outcomes for all. This is a primary reason why some hypnotists don’t offer group sessions. But its more around the personality and beliefs of the hypnotist than hypnosis skills. Hypnotists, after all, are folks just like their clients and come to the table with their own styles and preferences which dictate the format of supporting their clients which works best for them.

A major drawback of groups is the necessary generic nature of the sessions, one-size fits all is confining and makes tackling individual challenges for each participant unrealistic and one of the reasons why I keep my groups small – max. 10 people. Small groups do allow some individual coaching work to happen especially if a number of people are experiencing similar challenges.

Although you don’t get the one on one attention you would in an individual session, you’re still getting the ‘hypnosis’ experience, as well as suggestions and cues offered by the hypnotherapist. If you’re able to focus and not be distracted or intimidated by others in the group then a group program can work for you.

Another constraint about group sessions is they come with fixed dates and times set in advance and usually no make-up sessions if you miss one or two in the program for any reason. So, there’s little to no flexibility on session availability. Finally, you’ll usually be expected to pay the full cost of the program up-front with no refunds for missed sessions. This is understandable as you’re getting a steep discount anyway because of the group nature of the program.

Bottom-line for group hypnosis then is commit to the program and show up!



Hypnotherapist holding patient wrist in her office during sessionThe primary benefit of individual hypnosis sessions is a one-on-one session is more personable, private, and you get the hypnotist’s full attention to address individual challenges, while at the same time you can focus and concentrate on giving the hypnotist your full, undivided attention.

Some people find going into hypnosis in an individual session is easier than in a group session. In theory this shouldn’t be a factor as when your eyes are closed you’re hearing the same voice and instructions as in an individual session. However, if you’ve been exposed to both then again it comes down to your preference.

Unlike groups, individual sessions can be scheduled to suit you and the hypnotist, and if something urgent crops up then it can be rescheduled without any loss of sessions.

This also allows you to dictate the pace of a program as well. For single individual session programs, such as stop smoking, then a follow-up can be scheduled if needed as part of the program and included in the cost. This generally isn’t offered in groups in order to keep costs down.

Because of the individual attention you receive, and the ability for the hypnotist to address your specific challenges to help you achieve the outcome you want, then, individual hypnosis programs are more expensive than groups. Most hypnotists price their sessions by a fixed hourly rate, although for programs requiring multiple sessions generally you’ll find you can get a discount if you commit to a minimum number of sessions – like a block discount.

Personally, I feel individual hypnosis sessions always win out over group sessions for overall fast outcomes. I can make more progress in one individual session than in an equivalent group session.



I mentioned earlier about online group hypnosis sessions. But these can be both individual and group. They provide a number of benefits, reducing travel time, in the comfort of your own home, etc. In a group program they also provide some of the private elements you obtain in individual sessions. Again, it comes down to preference for the client. Some people want to avoid the distractions of the home for their hypnosis sessions and I understand this and so offer both online and in-office sessions for group and individual hypnosis programs.

What is really interesting these days is more folks are actually opting to have ‘home’ hypnosis parties. I’m sure you’ve heard of lingerie parties, Avon parties, psychic parties, etc. Hypnosis parties are becoming the new fad in many homes and individuals are getting to experience it first hand in a group environment which makes it less threatening and fun to try.

Although hypnosis tends to be more common among women overall, especially in these party-type atmospheres, it’s becoming more common among men. Did you know more men are actually considering hypnosis not only for quitting smoking and weight loss, but things like improving their golf game!

I hope you found this hypnosis brief helpful in deciding the pros and cons of Group, and Individual hypnosis sessions. Leave a comment below if you did and let me know how I could improve it for you.

You can find more information about my own Individual and group hypnosis services here >>> and yes, I do offer online sessions for both types as well.



Why is it So Darn Hard to Quit Smoking and Ways to Make it Easier >>>

5 Tips on Choosing a Hypnotist >>>

Erika Slater CH
Free At Last Hypnosis

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Is Hypnosis Real or Fake and is it Legitimate Science?

By Erika Slater
Real or Fake and related words with magnifying glass

Real or Fake and related words with magnifying glass

In this article you’ll discover:

  1. The answer to the question is hypnosis real or fake, and a better question to be asking?
  2. What is the science behind hypnosis, and what is the view of the medical community of hypnotherapy as a treatment?
  3. Who and what can hypnosis help with, and why isn’t it for every person?
  4. Further reading and resources for help in determining if you should consider hypnosis to help you with personal challenges and self-improvement.

If you’re considering hypnosis to help heal, overcome a challenge, or achieve an outcome, then you may be thinking “is hypnosis is real or fake” and if there’s any ‘legitimate science’ in support of it? After all, why spend time investing in a therapy if it’s a waste of your effort and no chance of helping you achieve your outcome?

There’s a lot of myths and confusion surrounding hypnosis and our understanding of it. History hasn’t always been kind to hypnosis, and for the longest time the medical community viewed hypnotism with skepticism. Also, at times practitioners of hypnosis made outrageous claims, and marketed it more as a commodity service with a guarantee, and emphasizing price, than a legitimate therapy that may or may not be able to help an individual.

So, in this article I’ll provide my answers, based on professional experience and my own study of scientific research on:

  1. Is Hypnosis real or fake?
  2. What is the science behind hypnosis?
  3. Who and what can hypnosis help?

That’s a lot of ground to cover so let’s get going…



Scientific data study with researcher contemplating resultsI’ve been a professional hypnotist since 2004 and consider myself a logical-minded person – I’m a former computer analyst and left brain dominant! So, I form my opinions by research and cause and effect experience. I need to understand the science behind anything before accepting and adopting it. In my profession I’m a student of the mind. Our mind is a complex scientific topic and frankly we still lack precise understanding of how it works in unison with our body – it’s a relatively new field called neuroscience.

However, there’s enough evidence and experience now to say hypnosis is real and not fake therapy.

But before you skip off because you feel its vindicated your belief it works, or you’ve decided I’m biased and it doesn’t work… it’s also not “magical fairy dust” which once sprinkled over you all your problems dissolve away.

False expectation of hypnosis contributes unfairly to opinions its fake and not real. The more probing and relevant question for you is “can it help you for what you need?” As part of my intake process of clients for my stop smoking hypnosis programs I vet them to determine if they’re ready to quit and if they’ll make a good hypnosis subject to benefit from the therapy.

To explain the reality of hypnosis you need to know key fundamental points as a “consumer” of it before forming your own opinion.

So, What is Hypnosis?

Wikipedia defines hypnosis as “… a state of human consciousness involving focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness and an enhanced capacity to respond to suggestion.” It’s a solid definition. Notice there is nothing about what is done when in hypnosis.

Hypnosis then is the way of getting you into a state where a skilled hypnotist can work with you to achieve your goals for the session. Notice I used the words “work with you” to imply this is a partnership between the hypnotist and you. There’s nothing about you being a passive bystander in the relationship, and letting the hypnotist wave their “magic wand” to fix whatever ails you.

What’s the Difference Between Stage Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy?

The term hypnotherapist came about to distinguish between hypnosis used to entertain such as by a stage hypnotist, and therapeutic hypnosis to help achieve a life outcome. Some hypnotists do both. There’s nothing wrong with stage hypnosis shows as long as you realize its just for entertainment. If you want to know what’s really happening to people in a stage hypnotist show then I’ve placed a link to a detailed explanation in the resource section at the end of this article.

Who Practices Hypnotherapy?

In the U.S. there’s no consistency in the oversight of hypnotists or hypnotherapists in the states. Some require licensing for a hypnotherapist and others don’t. So, depending on where you live anybody can call themselves a hypnotherapist after getting a business license. Even in those states requiring formal certification they can hang a sign on a door as a hypnotist and they’re good to go. There are bodies formed that provide training and certification for hypnotists to support those who wish to distinguish themselves as professionals. One such organization is called the National Guild of Hypnotists and they’re the largest in the world.

For a consumer the best preparation is to interview any hypnotist and ask about their qualifications and experience in hypnosis. A professional hypnotist will answer any questions without feeling threatened. I welcome it in my practice as it shows a person is serious in getting an outcome. It also provides me an opportunity to determine if I should take them on as a client.

Can You Get Real Results from Hypnosis?

There are no guarantees in hypnosis, just as there aren’t 100% guaranteed results in every medical procedure. Hypnotherapists can’t guarantee a client’s behavior after the session, the same a Doctor can’t guarantee a patient will take the medication he prescribed.

Getting a lasting outcome from hypnosis requires a number of factors to be in place, not the least is the skill of the hypnotist. After all, there are mediocre medical practitioners out there so it’s no surprise competence is a primary factor. A hypnotist specializing in the area a patient needs help with is also a predictor of success.

Additionally, the client comes to the table with a number of factors dictating success… or failure. These include: mindset and attitude, belief, commitment, expectations, having an open mind, and willing to actively participate in sessions and use the resources provided after the session is over.

In the next section I’m going to tackle what science understands about hypnosis today…



Research and study results in binders on tableHypnosis is about reaching and maintaining a trance-like state. People in a hypnotic state are relaxed and have a focused intent. It may surprise you to learn most of us enter a hypnotic state regularly. Common examples are being absorbed in a book or a TV program to the point where your peripheral environment is blocked out. Another example is driving a car on a frequent commute and reaching the destination without remembering much about the journey. These are simple examples of a hypnotic state.

Therapeutic hypnosis isn’t about being under somebody’s spell. It also isn’t about losing control or being asleep. In fact, when in hypnosis, the hypnotist doesn’t want you to fall asleep. You also won’t do anything against your moral code so you can’t be hypnotized to rob a bank! A client is always in control and can come out of hypnosis whenever they want.

For those expecting to be mesmerized and not remember anything sorry to disappoint. Most of the time you’ll be aware of your environment and other noises and remember most of what the hypnotist says.

Conscious Mind vs Unconscious Mind:

For explanation purposes of this article you have two minds in one brain: conscious mind, and unconscious mind (sometimes known as subconscious mind). The conscious mind is active when you’re awake and alert and helps you make decisions throughout your day. Your conscious mind for example is reading this article and generating your thoughts as you read it. Your unconscious mind for the sake of our discussion today, controls your habits and reactions based on passed experiences, and also helps protect your survival. At its most basic it manages your essential functions such as breathing during sleep.

So, the two-mind concept work in unison when you’re awake but when you sleep your unconscious mind takes over. Despite this knowledge we still can’t point to our conscious and unconscious minds on a picture of the brain. It remains for the moment conceptual.

Science and Hypnosis – Studies and Research:

Likely you’ve heard of the placebo effect? It’s defined as “a beneficial effect, produced by a placebo drug or treatment, that cannot be attributed to the properties of the placebo itself, and must therefore be due to the patient’s belief in that treatment.” In other words, the mind produced the effect. So, science acknowledges in some instances you possess the capabilities of healing yourself using the power of your own mind.

So, what evidence does science have of hypnosis as a therapy and its ability to contribute to healing and improving our condition? While scientific research and study has been conducted on identifying the parts of the brain affected by hypnosis, and produced theories around how it may work, there’s still much about our brain we don’t understand so its pioneering work today.

However, this doesn’t mean hypnosis isn’t real or is fake, it just means science can’t explain its workings. This is not an unusual phenomenon though. For example, antipsychotic drugs work to help reduce mentally ill patient’s symptoms, but medical science doesn’t really understand how they work. Psychiatrists have theories but concrete understanding remains elusive. But this doesn’t mean they don’t ease symptoms of the illness and help.

Dr. David Spiegel of Stanford University Medical Center and a team did a study to determine what area of the brain is affected by hypnosis and I’ve put a link to this study in the resource section below – Stanford Medical Study identifies brain areas altered during hypnotic trances.

Studies have also been conducted on post-surgery healing, and one such concluded: Surgical Wounds Healed Faster with Hypnotic Visualization Techniques Broadbent, E., Kahokehr, A., Booth, R. J., Thomas, J., Windsor, J. A., Buchanan, C. M., . . . Hill, A. G. (2012). A brief relaxation intervention reduces stress and improves surgical wound healing response: A randomised trial. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 26(2), 212-217. doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2011.06.014

Another study and its positive results on healing is “Ginandes C, Brooks P, Sando W, Jones C, Aker J. Can medical hypnosis accelerate post-surgical wound healing? Results of a clinical trial. Am J Clin Hypn. 2003;45(4):333-51” and a link can be found in the resource section below.

One more citation related to smoking cessation and hypnosis and its results is “Johnson DL, Karkut RT. Performance by gender in a stop-smoking program combining hypnosis and aversion. Psychol Rep. 1994;75(2):851-7” and you’ll also find a link to it below.

How Does the Medical Community View Hypnosis?

The medical community was slow to embrace hypnosis as a viable treatment and there remains prejudice among some older Doctors. However, today hypnosis, in partnership with other medical treatments, is accepted in pre-surgery and post-surgery work, and in unison with medication to help reduce dependency on drugs with harmful side effects. The medical community struggles with patients who smoke or are overweight and lead unhealthy lifestyles. Because these are behavioral issues and negative habits which the pharmaceutical companies or nutritionists can’t help, then, alternative treatments such as hypnosis are now sought out by healthcare professionals for their patients.

But hypnosis isn’t a panacea and doesn’t help everybody or heal everything. Those conveying otherwise do an injustice to the field of hypnotherapy and create false hope in those desperate for a solution.

In this last section then I’m going to explore who and what hypnosis can help…



Therapist working with patientMost people can fall into a state of hypnosis. As I mentioned earlier being relaxed with a focused intent is what you experience when being absorbed in watching a compelling program on TV. However, there are diagnoses and illnesses, particularly serious mental illness, that can prevent people from doing this easily. In addition, if you posses a mindset that’s convinced you can’t be hypnotized, or feel being hypnotized conveys loss of control, then, you’re not a good candidate for hypnosis therapy. Any hypnotist will tell you they’ve had clients where there was a barrier preventing the person from going into the level of hypnosis necessary to do the change or healing work.

Some people are highly suggestible and these usually make ideal clients for a hypnotist. These are the people stage hypnotists single out from the volunteers to take part in the show.

Its not necessary for everybody to be highly suggestible to benefit from hypnosis, but there is a section of the population hypnosis won’t be able to help due to experiencing a barrier to entering hypnosis and/or not accepting of hypnotic suggestions.

What Type of Individuals Benefit from Hypnosis?

I briefly touched on client factors that dictate success with working with a hypnotist. I also mentioned clients having expectations around active participation and treating the work as a partnership with the hypnotist. If you’ve smoked for 30 or 40 years or been overweight most of your life then you’ve got ingrained habits and poor lifestyles to be erased. So, it’ll take work and commitment from the client to get a positive outcome.

In my practice I’ve found I can help most people who show a strong commitment to follow what I ask them to do, both during and after the hypnosis sessions, and using the resources I provide. On the flip side a predictor of failure is somebody who is looking for a “magic wand” or seeking help to overcome an issue because somebody else wants it for them more than they do.

What Can Hypnosis Help With and Can’t Help With?

Common issues hypnosis can help with are aiding people to stop smoking and those seeking weight loss. Other issues are reducing stress, various sleep problems, and most types of phobias. I’ve seen an increase in clients looking to improve their confidence in specific activities and around sports performance. Use of hypnosis in professional sports using visualization techniques has long been studied and employed by sport psychologists.

Other areas hypnosis helps are in pain management and addictions. In particular pain medications can be addictive for patients, and so being able to manage pain but also reduce dependency on drugs is uppermost on Doctor’s minds these days.

Addictions such as drug and alcohol abuse can also be helped employing hypnosis in conjunction with other therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – see article linked to in resource section for more on this therapy. Most professional hypnotists will look for a referral from a medical Doctor before helping with treatment for pain management and addictions. This is to ensure they understand the role it will play in a patient’s overall treatment plan being led by a physician.

Hypnosis isn’t likely to be successful in situations where serious mental illness symptoms are prevalent, and where the patient is in denial and/or where the client has an inability to relax and focus long enough to stay in a hypnotic trance. When medications help reduce symptoms, then, there are psychotherapists trained in hypnosis who use it as a compliment to other techniques, such as previously mentioned Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. So, hypnosis can be an additional resource to help increase positive outcomes in conjunction with other therapies.

What is Self-Hypnosis?

You may have heard the term self-hypnosis and wondered what it’s all about?

Let’s turn again to Wikipedia for help with a definition. “Self-hypnosis or auto-hypnosis (as distinct from hetero-hypnosis) is a form, a process, or the result of a self-induced hypnotic state. Frequently, self-hypnosis used as a vehicle to enhance the efficacy of self-suggestion; and, in such cases, the subject ‘plays the dual role of suggester and suggestee’.

What this means is you don’t need a hypnotist to induce you into state of hypnosis or guide you through a session and offer suggestions. You can do this yourself. If you listen to sessions on CDs or MP3s you’re still having a therapist guide you as you listen to their voice and absorb their suggestions.

You’ll often hear hypnotists say all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. To a degree it’s true if you look at the work done under hypnosis as all being directed at the client, and it’s the client’s ability to accept the suggestions into their unconscious mind where the real changes take effect. However, in my opinion, it underplays the importance of a hypnotist in providing the guidance and resources to the client which is key to having a successful outcome. While I’ve trained individual clients in self-hypnosis, I’ve found most prefer to be guided in their hypnotic journey.



Now it's your turn to decide and have opinion wordsHypnosis is real and not fake. But it isn’t effective for everybody and doesn’t work to solve all problems. A successful outcome isn’t only dictated by the skill of a hypnotist and setting the right expectations for a client to avoid disappointment, but their commitment to do whatever it takes.

A client works in partnership with a hypnotist to achieve a specific outcome and so they’re not a passive bystander waiting to be “fixed” by the hypnotist. The hypnotherapist guides the client under hypnosis to their own resources in their unconscious mind and by making hypnotic suggestions throughout the session using various techniques specific to the problem to be solved.

The medical world and science was initially cautious and skeptical about the claims of hypnosis. They considered it unproven and unscientific, and there were no real independent studies to support the claims. There are now studies to not only support hypnosis but also to begin to understand how it works, and what happens in the brain. While our understanding of how the brain works is still in its infancy, nonetheless the medical community now looks to supplement their treatments with hypnosis where it can reduce reliance on medications and overcome stubborn unhealthy habits such as smoking and poor diets causing weight gain.

Most people are hypnotizable and accepting of hypnotic suggestions while in hypnosis, but there is a section of the population who have illnesses or personal barriers making hypnosis ineffective for them.

We’ve come to the end of this article. I hope you’ve found it informative and it spurs you to learn more. Spend time on this blog where I cover a lot more about other questions you may have on hypnosis, or its use for a specific treatment or condition. If you’d like to work with me directly then check out my Hypnosis Services I offer online or in-office here >>>.

Please leave a comment below to let me know if this article helped you in your decision and how you think I can improve this article for you and others.



Stage Hypnosis – How and Why it Works by Terence Watts >>>

Here’s What Hypnosis Does to the Brain – What Happens to Your Brain on Hypnosis Revealed – Erika Slater >>>

Why is it So Darn Hard to Quit Smoking and Ways to Make it Easier >>>

Stanford Medical Study identifies brain areas altered during hypnotic trances >>>

Can Medical Hypnosis Accelerate Post-Surgical Wound Healing? Results of a Clinical Trial >>>

Performance by Gender in a Stop-Smoking Program Combining Hypnosis and Aversion >>>

The Benefits and Criticisms of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Erika Slater >>>

Library of Self-Hypnosis Downloads Products >>>

Erika Slater CH
Free At Last Hypnosis

Read More

Who Invented Hypnosis and What’s the History of Hypnotherapy?

By Erika Slater
hypnotherapy word cloud

hypnotherapy word cloud

In this article you’ll discover:

  1. The roots of hypnosis and the history of hypnotherapy from obscurity to acceptance as a healing therapy.
  2. All about modern day hypnosis and its advancement with Dave Elman, Milton Erickson, and David Spiegel, MD.
  3. Why hypnosis isn’t really a therapy in itself and its ability to prepare for change work using the unconscious mind.
  4. Further reading and resources for help in history and understanding of hypnotherapy.

If you’ve ever wondered about using hypnosis to stop smoking or help on weight loss or something else you may be struggling to overcome then its no surprise you’ll want to know about who “invented hypnosis” and what’s its background and history.

Where did hypnosis come from in the first place and who discovered it?

Is hypnosis normal, as in a naturally occurring phenomenon? How has it been used in the past and who used it for what?

These questions on the roots and development of hypnosis bring up some interesting questions, and where it began and how it’s viewed today by consumers and medical professionals alike.

The fact is no one person really “invented” hypnosis, but it did evolve out of a fascination and desire to understand the human mind. This desire for understanding dates back hundreds of years when, and just like the medical world at those times, there were strange theories promoted to explain what people experienced and saw.

So, let’s start by tracing the roots of hypnosis, and how we advanced to where we are today with hypnosis accepted, and used daily, as a therapy to help people overcome major challenges and provide support to the medical community.



Franz Mesmer PortraitWhile early writings allude to the ability of the human mind to be suggestible, and its use of relaxation and focused imagination to put some people into a trance-like state, there wasn’t an understanding on what was really happening.

It wasn’t until Franz Mesmer came on the scene in the late eighteen century talking about magnetism and its use as a therapy and cure we see the beginnings of different theories on how this works.

Franz Mesmer was a German physician who lived from 1734 to 1815 in Germany.

Mesmer had a strong interest in astronomy which led him to theorize a natural energetic transference of energy occurred between all animate and inanimate objects which he coined ‘animal magnetism’. Mesmer made a distinction between physical magnetism used to explain what we see in the external physical world, to magnetism within human bodies and those of other animals, that could be influenced with the use of magnets to perform healing.

This magnetism created a focus and attraction which would later be called mesmerism. The roots of hypnosis began to grow with Mesmer’s theory.

From his work came the term “mesmerized” which means to have your attention so focused that an individual appears to be in a trance-like state.

Mesmer’s theories gained many followers in Europe and its practitioners were known as magnetizers. Mesmer’s theories and ideas were met with skepticism, and eventually he retired from the public world and died in obscurity in 1815. As Mesmer is an important figure in the history of hypnosis I’ve included a link in the additional resource section below to more information about his life and work.

We first see the use of the terms hypnosis and hypnotism around 1820 and these were credited to Étienne Félix d’Henin de Cuvillers who was a follower of Franz Mesmer but offered an alternative theory on how magnetism affected our body to help heal it.

There was no real credibility to earlier work on hypnosis and hypnotism until James Braid, a Scottish surgeon took Mesmer’s work further in the early to mid 1800’s and became known as ‘the Father of Modern Hypnotism’.

Braid studied hypnosis and also conducted ‘self-hypnosis’ experiments using himself as the subject. Braid discovered he could use hypnotism in medicine while treating his patients, as well as using ‘induction’ techniques to put them into hypnosis.

Braid adopted the term hypnotism from Étienne Félix d’Henin de Cuvillers work, but used it to describe the state of a subject rather than any techniques used once in hypnosis.

Although a medical doctor, Braid’s assertions were met with much criticism when it came to hypnosis, but his theories and descriptions moved the field of hypnosis forward and paved the way for others to advance his theories.

It was the ‘Father of Psychoanalyses’ psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud who used hypnosis in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, thus offering it a greater credibility. Given his reputation as an expert in psychology and working with the mind, Freud used hypnosis to treat psychoses and neuroses in patients, (namely anxiety and hysterias), and also used it to tap into one’s unconscious mind to help them recall memories that created profound negative influences on one’s current quality of living.

Freud had tremendous success using hypnosis and it grew to be seen less as mystical mumbo jumbo, and more as a useful tool. But as Freud’s theories advanced in psychiatry he eventually introduced other techniques. Hypnosis floundered for a number of years and was kept alive mostly by stage hypnotist practitioners.

While it just appears hypnosis floundered in the “therapy” basement for first half of twentieth-century it was in fact still be practiced beyond the entertainment stage, and there were those working behind the scenes to develop its use as a serious therapy alternative.

During this period, and even today, pharmaceuticals took over the medical world and prescription drugs became the preferred method of dealing with many physical and mental symptoms.

For the longest time this relegated alternative therapies such as hypnosis to the “shadows”, and not even considered by the medical community as viable treatments for their patients except in situations where they were stumped or the patient didn’t respond to their help.

Unfortunately, this meant the patients seeking out hypnosis were many times in “last resort mode” and felt abandoned by the medical community, and the most difficult cases for a hypnotist to help.

We’ll move on now to identifying those people who’ve helped move hypnosis into our modern-day world and take it to a point where it’s used in conjunction with other medical treatments and used to help overcome stubborn challenges people have in achieving goals they set for themselves.



Milton Erickson at CollegeThe stimulated interest, and advancement in hypnosis in the last 60 years, grew out of many circumstances of people understanding fixing symptoms doesn’t solve the underlying problem which returns once the medications are stopped, or where drugs don’t help at all in the first place.

Before we move into the tide that changed towards hypnosis its important to explain about the term hypnotherapy.

Hypno-therapy describes the use of hypnosis to perform therapy. This is distinct from hypnosis used for other reasons, be it entertainment or just going into hypnosis without realizing it, such as becoming absorbed in a book or movie when we become so focused on something we enter a trance-like state.

Hypnosis in itself is not a therapy.

A hypnotist uses hypnosis to put a subject into a trance-like state of relaxation and focus in order to then use a mixture of techniques to work with the subject to effect change. The skill of the hypnotherapist then is less about the process of getting somebody into hypnosis, but more on being able direct the subject to use their unconscious mind to make the changes they desire.

Think of a surgical operation and the prep-work prior to performing the surgical procedure. One of the key elements is anesthesia, which involves the choosing of the appropriate and safe anesthesia to administer based on the history of the patient and the procedure to be used. Once the patient is “unconscious” then the surgeon’s specific skills to the procedure they’ll use comes into play to perform the operation to get the expected result for the patient.

Think of hypnosis as basically equivalent to anesthesia to get the patient into the required relaxed yet focused trance-like state, and ready for the hypnotherapist to perform the partnership work with the client on the changes they want to see.

Since Freud there are many people who have advanced the use and acceptance of hypnosis in the modern era. I’ll pick three names that have helped advanced hypnosis’ credibility in my view.

The first is David Elman. Elman is famous for introducing to hypnosis rapid inductions. Inductions are the methods used to get people into the trance-like state. There are many methods and each hypnotist have their favorites they’ll use on a patient. Elman’s method though is used world-wide and the preferred method of many practitioners.

Elman’s path to promote the use of hypnosis, especially to the medical field, is unusual. His background is one of a radio host and songwriter but he began to pursue hypnosis in late 1940’s and begun teaching it to doctors and dentists after he perfected his technique.

In the next 13 years through to early 1960’s Elman performed training through his courses in hypnosis and published audio recordings of sessions he did. In his last years Elman dedicated his work to writing a book on hypnotherapy and this is available today simply titled “Hypnotherapy.” Elman died in 1967.

It was American psychiatrist and psychologist Milton Erickson who brought hypnosis to legendary status with his ‘miracle cures’ and storytelling that appeared to heal patients who had struggled with medical and mental health issues for years.

Erickson introduced hypnosis into his medical practice, as well as his family therapy practice, and the results were exceptional. Patients started preaching of his abilities to ‘heal’ and treat them using hypnosis, and hypnosis grew in acceptance as a credible therapy. He believed a patient’s background, beliefs, habits and own experiences should be used to help them make changes, and this knowledge should be weaved into the stories told back to the patients during sessions.

Here is a section from his biography at a site dedicated to Erickson and his work:

The Ericksonian approach departs from traditional hypnosis in a variety of ways. While the process of hypnosis has customarily been conceptualized as a matter of the therapist issuing standardized instructions to a passive patient, Ericksonian hypnosis stresses the importance of the interactive therapeutic relationship and purposeful engagement of the inner resources and experiential life of the subject. Dr. Erickson revolutionized the practice of hypnotherapy by coalescing numerous original concepts and patterns of communication into the field.”

Today, many of his methods, namely NLP (neurolinguistics Programming) are widely used by hypnotherapists, psychologists and psychiatrists around the world. Hypnosis is no longer viewed as fiction, myth or mysticism, rather a method to treat the human mind to help heal.

For more about Erickson and his life and work I’ve added a link to a biography in the resource section below.

As the medical community accepted hypnosis as a therapy to assist with healing of their patients then powerful voices begun to adopt and experiment with advancing our understanding of hypnosis. One of these is David Spiegel, MD, who is a professor and associate chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Spiegel has conducted published studies about hypnosis and used it himself to recover from shoulder surgery, and in advocating its use in pain management to reduce dependency on prescription drugs with major side-effects.

Spiegel, and many others like him in the medical world, have reached beyond questioning hypnosis and if it is real, and rather asking more advancing questions on how it works with the unconscious mind to help with healing our physical bodies and mental health. I wrote about this in an earlier article “Here’s What Hypnosis Does to the Brain – What Happens to Your Brain on Hypnosis Revealed”, and there is a link to it below in the resource section.

This is the place we are at today with hypnosis being a natural therapy without negative side effects but being able to deliver healing and positive changes in the hands of a skilled hypnotist. If you’d like to work directly with me then check out all my online and in-office Hypnosis Services here or contact me here.



The effect of hypnosis has been documented for hundreds of years but it’s only in the last two hundred years the terms hypnosis and hypnotism were coined and were used widespread. For most of these years hypnosis was rejected by the medical community and considered unproven.

As the discipline of psychiatry was accepted as a medical discipline, the techniques of psychiatry and those who practiced it began to include hypnosis and hypnotism. It took more years before an understanding of what happens in hypnosis to effect healing and change became accepted, and the medical world begun to take notice of hypnotherapy as a credible therapy.

In this century two powerful figures advanced hypnotherapy and its use, particularly around the medical community. These were David Elman and Milton Erickson. Today thanks to their work and published findings, and many others who have focused on hypnosis as a way to help people overcome challenges, hypnosis lives and breathes each day in helping people overcome personal challenges and live a better life.

If you’d like to discover more about hypnosis then check out this Free 5-Day hypnosis course here >>>



Franz Mesmer – Wikipedia >>>

Here’s What Hypnosis Does to the Brain – What Happens to Your Brain on Hypnosis Revealed – Erika Slater >>>

Why is it So Darn Hard to Quit Smoking and Ways to Make it Easier >>>

Milton H. Erickson – Biography >>>

Library of Self-Hypnosis Downloads Products >>>

Erika Slater CH
Free At Last Hypnosis

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What is Hypnosis and How Does Hypnosis Work?

By Erika Slater
Brain network senses concept

Brain network senses concept

In this article you’ll discover:

  1. What is hypnosis. You’ll discover some of the history of the topic, debunking of some myths, and what the field looks like today.
  2. What science is beginning to capture and uncover about exactly how hypnosis works as well as the tools, and techniques, used by professional hypnotherapists today to help individuals obtain positive outcomes.
  3. The difference between stage hypnosis and hypnotherapy, and how entertainment remains on the stage and not used in an hypnotherapists office.
  4. Further reading and hypnosis resources around the cited hypnosis studies, and understanding further what hypnosis can be used for, and the benefits it provides.

Two common questions I’m asked at meetings I attend when people learn I’m a hypnotist is, what is hypnosis and how does hypnosis work?

The fact is, we’ve still so much to learn about our brain and how it works, and though we have some scientific research as it relates to hypnosis, and our brain on it, we have just begun to scratch the surface.

In this article I’ll explore in some depth these two questions to provide what answers we know today, and how hypnosis can help you now even if we don’t entirely understand all the nuances around the impact it has on our brain.



Before we go any further I’d like you to watch this brief 2-minute video. It not only quickly explains what hypnosis is all about but also what it is NOT about. It’s a little bit of a myth-buster and will give you a basic understand of hypnosis. Enjoy and come back and read the rest of this post when ready…


Therapist working with patientBy one name or another hypnosis has been around for hundreds of years. Some would argue it even dates back to ancient times, but I’ll focus on just the modern era for this discussion.

It’s been known by different terms, some of which conjure up negative connotations and connections with the mystic arts. It’s depicted in movies as a way of putting people under spells and influencing them in a bad way or to do, or say, bad things. Swinging watches or asking somebody to “Gaze into my eyes and you’re feeling sleepy” are common scripts in films for what the public deem as a hypnotist ‘putting you under their spell.’

Of course, in real life it’s none of these silly things, and a hypnotist performing therapeutic work with a person is operating under a different script and mode of operation.

Firstly, a hypnotist doesn’t want you to fall asleep. They want you to be in a relaxed state for sure and focused on their voice, but not asleep. It’s not even necessary to close your eyes but most people prefer to block out the physical, and visual world, to help with focus and concentration, and closing one’s eyelids helps folks do this.

Some hypnotists like to use a prop to help with getting a patient into the “trance-like” state. Having a person focus on a prop, like a hanging small shiny stone on the end of a chain, can aid with obtaining the trance-like state quicker, but equally many hypnotists just have the patients focus on their voice. I’ll talk further below about the word “trance” in just a minute; an innocuous flash word used unfortunately to depict a “sleep walking” person seemingly not in control of their actions, which is far from the truth.

The final myth to dispel about hypnosis is “being under somebody’s spell.” I’ll talk about stage hypnosis, which is very different and far removed from therapeutic hypnosis or hypnotherapy, in a later section. The fact is all hypnosis is considered by many hypnotists to be self-hypnosis – although this is debatable and underplays the role of a hypnotist, but for the sake of our discussion today it doesn’t matter.

The patient then is an active participant in entering hypnosis, and the hypnotist is the guide to help the patient enter the hypnosis state, and help with the work done under hypnosis and beyond the session.

A hypnotist can’t put any hypnosis subject under their spell to do things against their moral code or act in a way they don’t wish to act. The patient is in control of their hypnosis session at all times. A hypnotist can’t put a subject into hypnosis against their will, and then tell them to rob a bank and they will (unless of course they rob banks already!).

Effectively, there has to be a willingness for the patient to go into hypnosis for hypnosis to work.

I mentioned the word “trance” earlier and so here’s a brief explanation and why it’s a common condition for us all to experience almost daily.

There is nothing bad or evil about being in a trance. Most of us go into trance each day. It’s a state of intense focus to the point of blotting out what is going on around us. An example would be absorption in a movie at a theater or watching your favorite show on TV. In this instance the film has inducted you into a trance. Hypnosis is just an alternative way of inducing a trance-like state. But it isn’t sleep.

So, what is hypnosis? Wikipedia defines hypnosis as “… a state of human consciousness involving focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness and an enhanced capacity to respond to suggestion.”

Notice no mention of sleep.

So, the state of hypnosis and trance are essentially the same. Depending on the nature of the work with a person it may be desirable to induce a deeper trance to effect changes. But for much work a hypnotist performs, such as helping folks to stop smoking using hypnosis, weight loss services, stress reduction and sleep problems, it’s not necessary to induce a deep trance in an individual.

Where did the term “hypnosis” come from and who coined the term?

Again, borrowing from Wikipedia “… the term ‘hypnosis’ comes from the ancient Greek word hypnos, ‘sleep’, and the suffix -osis, or from ‘put to sleep.’ The words ‘hypnosis’ and ‘hypnotism’ both derive from the term ‘neuro-hypnotism’ (nervous sleep), all of which were coined by Étienne Félix d’Henin de Cuvillers in 1820.” The term hypnosis was popularized by James Braid.

While the word seems to imply “sleep” given where it’s derived from, the fact is it only appears for folks to be asleep, but they can be brought out of hypnosis, or their trance, instantaneously either by the hypnotist or themselves.

In this section we’ve covered what is hypnosis but for the inquisitive mind it doesn’t explain how does hypnosis work? So, let’s visit that question now…



MRI brain scan activityAs way of a disclaimer before we start, science is still at the early stages of understanding how the brain works, so, much of what we’ve learned so far is theory based on circumstantial evidence, fMRI brain scans, and observations.

Neuroscience is advancing rapidly and is discovering regularly new connections for the dots we already know.

But it’s important you know we are still learning about really how hypnosis works. Science focuses on evidence-based results and so studies continue to be run to uncover the many mysterious of the brain and understanding what happens to our brain when under hypnosis.

Remember here we are not talking about if hypnosis works, but instead how hypnosis works.

By way of introduction think of your mind as having two aspects. Your conscious mind – which is reading this sentence now – and your unconscious mind (also called your subconscious mind).

When you’re awake your conscious mind controls your deliberate actions and thoughts. It’s a gatekeeper for you and considered to be your critical-thinking and reasoning machine and its aim is to protect you from harm. So-called: fight or flight reasoning in threatening situations!

On the other hand, the unconscious mind, for the sake of our discussion today, controls our habits and reactions based on passed experiences, and also protects our survival. At its most basic it manages our bodily functions such as breathing and stages of sleep for physical and mental recovery.

However, the unconscious mind isn’t relegated to a minor role when we’re awake in fact it injects thoughts and actions throughout the day without the conscious mind being aware. Frankly, we’d overload the conscious mind and it’ll shut-down if each time we drove a car we had to require it to deliberately access our stored experiences of driving.

Driving a car is a complicated task – remember your first lesson? Of course, now, you drive on a road and turn corners and get to a destination rarely without paying much attention to actually driving, but more on navigating.

Thank your unconscious mind for that!

One person who has made it a large part of his research to understand scientifically how hypnosis works is Dr. David Spiegel, professor and associate chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Spiegel and his colleagues published a study discussed below in the journal Cerebral Cortex.

Spiegel has first hand experience of using hypnosis as an alternative to pain medication when he used it after shoulder surgery. “This isn’t just some weird parlor trick,” he says. “It’s a way we use our brains that’s different.”

In the study, the team chose 36 people who were highly hypnotizable, and 21 people with low hypnotizability served as the controls. Everyone was then given a series of fMRI scans during several different conditions: at rest, while recalling a memory and during two bouts of hypnotism.”

Interesting things happened to the highly hypnotizable group under hypnosis. The researchers saw a drop in dorsal anterior cingulate activity. This part of the brain we know fires up when there’s something to worry about, but under hypnosis is simmers down. Additionally, they saw suggestions that “your brain in hypnosis is intensifying it connection to your body,” Spiegel says. They saw these changes in the “…part of the brain where you plan things and carry out routines – the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex – and the insula, a part of the brain that helps regulate body functions, like increasing blood pressure and heart rate.”

Alternatively, other brain areas had reduced connection, such as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and a part of the brain characterized by self-reflection.

Taken together, these changes help explain how hypnosis can have powerful effects, including tamping down stress, anxiety, pain and self-consciousness. Spiegel believes the practice can – and should – be used instead of painkillers in many cases. His own previous research has shown when people in pain are taught self-hypnosis, they use half the pain medication and had half the pain than those who were just given access to opioids.”

Dr. Spiegel concludes about hypnosis, “It’s a real-deal treatment that should be given the same respect that a lot of other treatments we use that are sometimes less efficacious and more dangerous.”

For more information about this study check out the Time article about Dr. Spiegel and his colleagues work. You can find the link to “The Secret to How Hypnosis Works” in the additional resource section below.

I’ve also included a link in the same section to a recent article I did that also included more about Dr. Spiegel’s work and others entitled “Here’s What Hypnosis Does to the Brain – What Happens to Your Brain on Hypnosis Revealed.”

So that’s recent science behind understanding how hypnosis works. Let’s turn now to hypnotherapists and psychologists for their explanation of how it can help us quit smoking and overcome other challenges around weight loss, phobias, and stress reduction. How do professional hypnotists use hypnosis to help people make significant changes in their life?

Roger Elliot is one of the founders at Uncommon Knowledge, a group in the UK that creates self-hypnosis sessions for lay people, and training and courses for professional hypnotherapists.

Roger explains: “… hypnosis ‘re-educates’ your unconscious mind. By that I mean your habitual responses, or instincts. So, for example, you might think of a certain person and feel nervous. How does that happen? You thought of someone, and even though they weren’t in the room, you felt nervous! How did you do that? Well, at some stage, a mini hypnotic state glued together in your mind that particular person and the emotion of anxiety. That’s what hypnosis does – it helps you learn – and fast

Control your thoughts message in scriptBut using hypnosis we can change this “emotional reaction – how you feel about something.” The implications then are far-reaching. Changing how we feel about cigarettes, unhealthy food, stressful situations holding us back, exercise, and much more.

Earlier I talked about thinking of our mind has having two critical components, conscious mind and unconscious mind. The conscious mind is our critical thinker which it needs to be to guard us from making poor decisions that could put ourselves in danger. However, it can also impede us from making changes to bad habits. As making changes to habits requires access to where they are stored – in our unconscious mind – we need to bypass the conscious mind, and work directly with our subconscious mind.

This is what hypnosis allows us to do.

It quietens the conscious mind so it gets out of the way, so we can focus on making real changes in the unconscious mind.

A common mistake we all make is thinking about what we don’t want rather than what we do want. Unfortunately, when we focus on what we don’t want this is usually because we have a negative feeling or emotion attached to that thought, and it just reinforces in our unconscious mind those negative feelings when we think about it. You see the problem?

So instead, Roger Elliot explains… “Using hypnosis a lot trains your brain to focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want, giving you control over the contents of your thoughts. That’s why, if you want to get out of your own way, we recommend using hypnosis on a regular basis. This gives you the immediate benefits of the hypnosis itself, plus in the longer term, stops you doing negative self hypnosis and making life difficult for yourself.”

For more from Roger Elliot check out the link in the resource section below called “How Hypnosis Works.”

Professional hypnotists and hypnotherapists then use hypnosis on a subject to quieten their conscious mind and awaken their unconscious mind. The therapist can then work with the patient to make suggestions to change their behavior directly to the subconscious mind.

What’s important about this is during the hypnosis experience real changes can be made in your unconscious mind. Your unconscious mind is what will be most affected by hypnosis in a positive way.

While under hypnosis, the therapist offers post-hypnotic suggestions which will be used going forward in your life! These new suggestions will replace old, negative ways of thinking which may have led to bad habits, low self-esteem and even addictions.

The hypnosis subject has effective triggers they can use and focus their attention on. These triggers will help them develop new and improved ways of thinking and responding!

Many people’s first exposure to hypnosis is by way of a stage hypnotist and as entertainment. They see people doing and saying silly things. This conveys, incorrectly, that a hypnotist has complete control over a patient – a sort of mind control. This is just not true.

But the stigma of stage hypnosis spills over to therapeutic hypnosis and so the next section will be revealing to you as I explain the real differences between the two types of hypnosis, and why this shouldn’t worry you.



When you go a stage hypnosis show, then the hypnotist is there to entertain you. They’ve been paid money to perform so they’d better give you a good show. You know what to expect, people saying and doing silly things.

A therapeutic hypnotist, or hypnotherapist, isn’t there to entertain you, but do serious change work with you a willing subject who wants to get results for a better and healthier life. This is true in both a private or group setting.

I could stop there but I know you want to understand how does a stage hypnotist get members of the audience to do and say outrageous things?

Next time you go to an event featuring a stage hypnotist and they ask for volunteers from the audience, pay careful attention to the process they use to get to the few people they’ll use in their act, and reject the rest. The filter exercise they use is intended to exclude all those who aren’t highly suggestible subjects. Each stage hypnotist has developed their own selection process so they only end up with those people who they know are highly hypnotizable and in addition will “play along” with the act.

If you’re thinking to yourself but they do such ridiculous stuff they must be under his control then frankly you would not make a good subject for a stage hypnotist. Choosing the right volunteers requires the stage hypnotist to be an expert in understanding people.

Terrence Watts has written a fuller article about this topic and I’ve provided a link to his article “Stage Hypnosis – How and Why it Works” in the resource section below.

There are many therapeutic hypnotists who also perform stage hypnosis as well. In my practice I focus exclusively on using hypnosis to help people overcome significant life challenges and get positive outcomes.

The results I seek to get for my clients are long-lasting.



With the help of science and advances in technology we are just beginning to understand how hypnosis works and how it can help the medical community. In addition to it’s common uses in helping people to quit smoking, eat healthy and lose weight, and overcome stress and phobias, hypnosis is providing alternatives to medications for pain management.

Hypnosis is a heightened state of awareness which means your mind becomes more focused. Individuals are able to shift their focus to specific qualities of an experience and hold them there. This allows people to place their attention on things they want to change and avoid focusing on the things they don’t want to think about. Wherever your thoughts go, this is what you’re going to focus on most, and continually bring it into your personal awareness.

Some people call this “tunnel vision.”

Through tunnel vision, you’re able to isolate, intensify and ingrate your focus on one key perception or experience and hold your concentration there. You only see, hear and feel what you choose to. Anything that doesn’t fit into your thinking scheme, or the experience you’re trying to manifest during hypnosis, is blocked.

Once in a state of hypnosis, either with the help of a professional hypnotist or through self-hypnosis, an individual can work on making changes in their unconscious mind for positive outcomes through triggers and post-hypnotic suggestions. If you’d like to consider working directly with me then you can check out my online and in-office Hypnosis Services here or if you have a different need then contact me here.

There is nothing magical about hypnosis and it requires a willing subject who is in control of their thoughts throughout a session to be able to make changes for outcomes they want.

If you’d like to learn hypnosis for free then check out Mark Tyrell’s 5-Day Video course here >>>



The Secret of How Hypnosis Really Works >>>

Here’s What Hypnosis Does to the Brain – What Happens to Your Brain on Hypnosis Revealed – Erika Slater CH >>>

Why is it So Darn Hard to Quit Smoking and Ways to Make it Easier >>>

How Can Hypnosis Work if I Can Hear and Remember Everything? >>>

How Hypnosis Works – Roger Elliot >>>

Stage Hypnosis – How and Why it Works by Terence Watts >>>

Library of Self-Hypnosis Downloads Products >>>

Erika Slater CH
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Here’s What Hypnosis Does to the Brain – What Happens to Your Brain on Hypnosis Revealed

By Erika Slater
MRI scan of head and brain

MRI scan of head and brain

If the brain were so simple we could understand it,
we would be so simple that we couldn’t.”
Emerson M. Pugh/George Edgin Pugh

In this article you’ll discover:

  1. Why science and medical researchers are showing an expanded interest in hypnosis today.
  2. What science and medical studies are finding out about “what hypnosis does to the brain” from a visual perspective.
  3. Translation and mapping of the characteristics of these studies, to understanding how hypnosis produces the results, and outcomes, hypnotherapists see in patients and clients.
  4. Further reading and hypnosis resources around the cited hypnosis studies, and understanding further what hypnosis can be used for, and the benefits it provides.

When trying to answer what hypnosis does to the brain there are two types of answers. One is scientific and delves into understanding what exactly in the brain can be seen to change during hypnosis, and the other focuses more on the results and outcomes for the person experiencing hypnosis, or put another way – “This is what happens to your brain on hypnosis.”

Both sides of the coin interest researchers and practitioners of psychology and psychotherapy.

We have many more questions about our complex brain than answers, and this is likely to be the case for the foreseeable future. We’ve only just started on our journey of understanding our brain and how it all works.

But why the interest on hypnosis by science and researchers?

Well, while hypnosis has been in use by different names for hundreds of years, it was shrouded in mystery and widely believed to be just trickery, like magic, by those who practised it. It wasn’t until the last century as we begun to explore the frontiers of the brain, and advanced in our understanding of cognitive science, researchers realised hypnosis was a natural condition of our brain and produced an altered visible state, and was grounded in the working principles of the mind.

More recently these altered states have been confirmed in MRI scans, and from scientific studies attempting to understand what is going on in the brain under hypnosis.

As it’s no longer a question of does hypnosis work to help people with both medical and habit challenges, the research is focused on understanding “how it works,” because if we understand the “how,” then, we can better control it to provide more consistently the outcomes we want. For example why is it some people are successful quitting smoking using hypnosis in one session while others can still struggle or need extra sessions to quit? Can this research help hypnotists obtain consistent results for clients?

So, let’s start by diving into some of the recent research around what science has discovered through studies about hypnosis and the brain…



Brain scan using MRI analysis viewIn one experiment done at Cornell University’s medical school with the findings appearing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers used brain scans to watch the brain under the influence of hypnosis.

Specialized MRI brain scans showed less activity in two areas of the hypnotized brain, one covers visual processing, and the other is likely significant in handling conflicts.

That could mean that the brains of highly hypnotizable people were more accepting of the instructions (suggestions), said Michael Posner, PhD, and colleagues.”

The researchers say that these results could also help explain the power of suggestion under other circumstances.”

You can read more about this study in the link provided in the resource section at the end of this article.

In another study performed by David Spiegel, MD, professor and associate chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine, along with other colleagues, they scanned the brains of subjects while they were hypnotized and were able to see neural changes associated with hypnosis.

The scientists scanned the brains of 57 people during guided hypnosis sessions similar to those that might be used clinically to treat anxiety, pain or trauma. Distinct sections of the brain have altered activity and connectivity while someone is hypnotized, they report in a study published online July 28 in Cerebral Cortex.”

The Stanford study uncovered characteristics of a brain under hypnosis. “First, they saw a decrease in activity in an area called the dorsal anterior cingulate, part of the brain’s salience network.” This confirms when you’re absorbed in something such as a book, movie or hobby, then, you enter a state of hypnosis or trance as some professionals prefer to define this state.

“… secondly, they saw an increase in connections between two other areas of the brain — the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the insula. He (Dr. Spiegel) described this as a brain-body connection that helps the brain process and control what’s going on in the body.”

The third hallmark they observed was “…reduced connections between the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the default mode network, which includes the medial prefrontal and the posterior cingulate cortex. This decrease in functional connectivity likely represents a disconnect between someone’s actions and their awareness of their actions, Spiegel said. ‘When you’re really engaged in something, you don’t really think about doing it — you just do it,’ he said.”

Again, I’ve placed a link in the resource section below to the full transcript of the article I pulled excerpts from.

One common technique, as a hypnotic convincer to subjects, is to invoke paralysis during hypnosis. This can be something like telling a subject while in a hypnotic state “their arm is so heavy its impossible to lift it.” Then when you ask them to lift up their arm while still in trance they’re unable to do so.

In another research study connected to such convincers and what’s going on in the brain… “Yann Cojan, at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, viewed the mental activity of 12 volunteers experiencing hand paralysis while under hypnosis. It was discovered that activity of the right motor cortex, responsible for left side-body movement, was intercepted by a brain region called the precuneus. The precuneus is a section of the brain committed in part to personal memory and mental imagery… this part of the brain then relayed the impossibility of the task to the motor cortex. Cojan said, it’s as if the motor cortex is connected to the idea that it cannot move (the hand) and so … it doesn’t send the message to move.” Excerpted from article with link in resource section below on “What Part of the Brain is Affected by Hypnosis.”

So, what does research so far tell us about what hypnosis does to the brain?

Its shown when someone is in a state of hypnosis, their minds are deeply focused and absorbed in feelings and imagery created by the suggestions of the hypnotherapist. One’s brain becomes so focused and intent on the suggestions they can only focus on the suggestions, and nothing else around them. It also tells us their focus is on carrying out the suggestion (or instructions) without critical thinking or thought around the suggestion.

Researchers who’ve studied hypnosis and the brain found those who were under hypnosis, had fewer connections in their brains between the region in the brain active in self-reflection and daydreaming, and areas in the prefrontal cortex that is involved with carrying out tasks and planning.

Basically, the brain goes on autopilot and only ‘hears’ what the hypnotist is ‘suggesting’ and carrying it out. This goes back to my point on critical thinking being excluded because the hypnotic suggestions are bypassing the conscious mind (critical thinking), and the instructions being encoded directly into the unconscious mind during hypnosis.

Under hypnosis researchers have found that individuals experience a separation between their actions and their awareness of their actions. The ‘connection’ in the brain gets compromised if you will. There occurs a disconnect between one’s actions and the ability to reflect on actions.

This makes it possible for the individual to engage in any activities suggested by a hypnotherapist without having to use their ‘mental’ capacities to think about the activity.

We can conclude this section by stating, we’ve really just begun, and have more questions than answers. More research and studies are needed. I just extracted a few pieces of research performed already but there is a lot more to form solid scientific evidence-based conclusions.

So, now its time to discuss the second element I want to cover, and this is around outcomes for the person experiencing hypnosis, as in many respects this is more important than the science to clients and patients I see daily.



Quoye by Henri BergsonWhile just about everybody can, and has, experienced hypnosis in their life there are a section of people who are highly suggestible and enter trance more easily. If you’ve ever watched a stage hypnotist select volunteers from the audience for their show then you’ll see how they’re looking for those highly suggestible candidates.

I’ve seen figures of 10-20% of the population as being highly suggestible but not seen any scientific studies to back this figure up.

However, that doesn’t mean the remaining population is not hypnotizable, it just means most of us are not good candidates for entertaining others by performing the embarrassing suggestions of a stage hypnotist. Be thankful.

In full disclosure there is a selection of individuals that can’t be hypnotized and likely this percentage is small as it contains people with reduced capability of mental awareness. So, if you’re reading this and thinking “I can’t be hypnotized”, then, likely you can but won’t let yourself, and this is fine. There are many people who don’t want to win the lottery but can – but I’m not one! As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”

Individuals can use hypnosis to change the perceptions they hold, as well as their behaviors. If that isn’t enough, it can also influence the ability to ‘change’ things in the body.

Since the mind/brain controls the body, the body has to do what the mind tells it to do. The body (robot) responds to the brain (Central Processing Unit). What makes this interesting is the body’s ability to heal from the commands by the brain via hypnotic suggestions.

You see, this can help individuals who suffer from stress or anxiety which creates physical symptoms in the body. It can help with unwanted habits or spasms. And it can also help with pain management, or using hypnosis as a form of anesthesia for helping with varying medical procedures.

One of the interesting aspects of using hypnosis and how it can influence the brain is how it can change neural pathways.

The longer you do something repeatedly, the more likely you’re going to do it out of habit. The reason habits form is neural pathways in the brain become conditioned to act and respond a certain way. This greatly influences the unconscious mind.

When you use hypnosis, you can tap in to the unconscious mind and change old thought patterns. By changing thought patterns and creating new ones, you’re creating new neuropathways.

Basically, your brain is malleable like putty when it comes to thoughts and conditioned responses. By changing the neuropathways up, you change the way you think! Hypnotic suggestions can be planted in the unconscious mind to interrupt damaging patterns when they occur. Pattern interrupts to help break habits is another topic I’ve covered in a detailed article linked to below.

Medical science is particularly interested about using hypnosis in treating pain and anxiety to replace addictive and side-effect-laden painkillers and anxiety medication – topical with the current opioid crisis in this country, and which I wrote about recently in another post you can find linked to in the resource section below.

Hypnosis sessions have been shown to be effective in lessening chronic pain, the pain of childbirth and other medical procedures; treating smoking addiction, helping with weight issues, and post-traumatic stress disorder; and easing anxiety or phobias. For a fuller list of “what hypnosis can and cannot do and what it can help with” see my article on this linked to in resources below.

So, what does current research and practice tell us about what hypnosis does to the brain?

Well, we can conclude we’ve really just begun, and have more questions than answers. More research and studies are needed. I just extracted a few pieces of research performed already but there’s more required to form solid scientific evidence-based conclusions.

But that doesn’t mean hypnosis doesn’t work, it just means we’ve just begun the journey to understand how it works in our brain. There will always be skeptics – I understand their remain “flat-earthers” and people who don’t believe the U.S. put men on the moon. Skepticism is healthy and moves us forward but at the end of the day, the skepticism that remains is better founded in focusing on how hypnosis works on our brain, rather than if it works.

The fact hypnosis works is proven by science and the medical world, as well as hypnotists performing work to make life better for their clients and patients day in and day out. If you want to consider working directly with me through my online and in-office sessions then check out my Hypnosis Services or if you’ve a specific need then contact me here.

Those who continue to feel hypnosis is wonky science, and those they feel who believe in hypnosis are wonky, is in this day and age evidence of biased wonky reporting, and we have enough of that going around at the moment to fill up all the internet bandwidth available, and all it does is effectively stop the progress of understanding.



Science and medical research is actively conducting studies on hypnosis and the affect it has on our brain using MRI, and other imagery technology, to determine the actual physical impact on the brain of people in hypnosis.

While science is only at the start of understanding the complex human brain, nonetheless the ability to pinpoint what’s going on in the brain when under hypnosis will help provide more consistent procedures, and results, for those using hypnosis for therapeutic outcomes.

Its no longer a question if hypnosis works to help with various medical procedures and recovery, and as an alternative to the harmful side-effects of many medications, but more a question of being able to expand out from the staple help with smoking cessation, weight loss, anxiety, and phobias, to replace, or compliment, more medical treatments that can benefit from alternative coping and habit changing therapies, leading to better outcomes for patients.

You’ve reached the end of this article, and so, first thank you for making it all the way through. If you’ve any comments on this article please post them below or send me a private note through our contacts page. I’m interested in continuing the dialogue around expanding the use of hypnosis in the medical community.

If you want to learn more about hypnosis and its techniques then you can take a free introductory hypnosis course at the renowned Uncommon Knowledge hypnosis resource center here >>>



What Hypnosis Does to the Brain – WebMD >>>

The Opioid Epidemic and the Way Forward out of the Crisis – Erika Slater CH >>>

Brain Areas Altered During Hypnotic Trances – Stanford >>>

What Hypnosis Can and Cannot Do and What It Can Help With – Erika Slater CH >>>

Why is it So Darn Hard to Quit Smoking and Ways to Make it Easier >>>

What Part of the Brain is Affected by Hypnosis >>>

Pattern Interrupt – Breaking the Habit – Erika Slater CH >>>

Erika Slater CH
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Hypnosis for Management of Pain Relief – A History and Uses

By Erika Slater
arthritis pain in hand for senior woman

arthritis pain in hand for senior woman

Pain is one of our body’s primary defense systems. It tells us something is wrong and requires our attention.

Without pain we could get severely injured – externally or internally – and not even know there’s an issue, but with sometimes dire consequences.

Pain comes to us in different forms; chronic pain that never seems to go away, temporary after an operation or injury, or intermittent such as migraines or phantom limbs. The level can vary from nagging discomfort, to searing and incapacitating pain.

Anticipated pain can be dealt with by narcotics but there can be significant side effects. Surgeons tend to automatically prescribe pain medications after an operation. Limited use of these high-powered drugs should be the plan when they’re prescribed.

There are people who live with pain every waking minute. An option to ongoing pain medication is hypnosis. It’s been successfully used to moderate pain and reduce dependence on drugs for a number of pain related injuries and causes.

Let’s first discuss some history of hypnosis and its uses for pain relief…



Pills capsulesArthritis is a common category of chronic pain, it can be a debilitating disease, and for the elderly, who suffer with it in their hands, can severely impact their ability to perform even the simplest personal hygiene and grooming activities. As if this indignation isn’t enough for them to suffer the ongoing pain in their joints also reduces the quality of their life.

Many people suffer with knee pain either because of an injury or age – for runners this is a common ailment.

Both of these complaints also end up limiting the quality of life and even force surgery to replace joints.

Pain killer medications can help but as time progresses increased doses can be required causing potential for increased side-effects and even dependency and addiction. Read a recent article about the current Opioid Epidemic here >>>

Another common pain category among amputees is the “phantom limb” condition. This is where a limb has been amputated but pain is still felt in the area where the limb was once. Generally, this is intermittent pain as it comes and goes.

The brain thinks the limb is still there and amazingly almost self-generates pain messages to the brain for the missing limb – we still don’t understand fully why and how this happens. But its evidence the brain is still receiving and processing messages from the limb even though it’s gone. Further vindication the brain can be “tricked” into believing something even when mentally we know it to be imagined only  in our thoughts.

Hypnosis has been used for many years to help reduce pain. If you consider there are examples of hypnosis being used to perform surgical operations then it’s a small step to understanding it can be used for management of ongoing chronic pain.

Hypnosis works on the brain to stop responding to pain signals. When used as an alternative to anesthesia – that’s total removal of pain – studies show the pain signals are still generated by the nerves damaged but they’re not ‘acted upon’ by the brain, and the signals are effectively ignored.

Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York examined 18 studies and they found moderate to large pain-relieving effects from hypnosis. This added significant support for its use for pain management in patients. You can read more about these clinical trials using hypnosis at a link in the resource section below.

This same research demonstrated medical hypnosis can help with both sudden (acute) and long-term (chronic) pain from various ailments people suffer with.

The most prevalent ailments included; cancer, burns, as well as rheumatoid arthritis.

Like medication, use of hypnosis doesn’t cure the cause, but can be a replacement for drugs.

It also worth noting it can ease the anxiety some people feel before surgery. There are many individuals who suffer from phobias associated with going to the dentist, or who are allergic to anesthetics, and use hypnosis to help.

In fact, more and more dentists are using hypnosis, and/or meditation techniques to help make their patients feel relaxed during their visits and sessions.

Sigmund Freud wax figure in BerlinHypnosis was once not taken seriously by the medical profession. James Braid (1795 – 1860) was a surgeon in the UK in the 1800’s and is known as the ‘Father of Hypnosis’ because he applied it to treating pain for patients who couldn’t tolerate the use of anesthetics, or when none was available. Furthermore, he found when he used it on patients before surgeries, it helped to relax them.

Up until that point hypnosis was often known as ‘mesmerism’ and was viewed as an occult practice or a form of witchcraft. Braid was the first one to truly label it ‘hypnosis’ to shed the mysticism surrounding it.

It wasn’t until the late 1800’s and into the 1900’s that hypnosis was taken seriously in medicine.

The famous psychiatrist Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939) used it to treat mostly psychological problems in his patients, but found it could also be used in pain management. Freud did all his early work in Austria, Vienna.

Interestingly, he was one of the first to see the true connection in how it could be used as a natural anesthetic for helping individuals with pain issues.

Milton Erickson (1901 – 1980) was a successful American psychiatrist who used hypnosis in his practice. Again, citing a Mount Sinai article on history of hypnosis; “In 1958, both the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association recognized hypnotherapy as a valid medical procedure. Since 1995, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has recommended hypnotherapy as a treatment for chronic pain.”

Many hypnotherapists have taken Erickson’s teachings and techniques and adapted them to helping their clients deal with pain. You can read further about this at a link you’ll find in the resource section below.



Woman in hypnosis sessionProfessional therapeutic hypnotists usually require a referral from a M.D. This ensures the hypnosis is recommended after medical evaluations have been conducted and ongoing monitoring of the patient’s condition is in place.

Hypnosis can help you achieve relief from pain by teaching you how to use your mind to lower the amount of pain you perceive. Learning the skills of hypnosis means you have relief whenever you need it and in an instant.

A Doctor may recommend the use of both medication and hypnosis for a patient.

Many people quickly grasp the techniques and gain relief from the start using hypnosis.

In the case of knee pain and hip pain many people find it can be cured with minor surgery.

But they may have to wait for a long time for the operation, and much can be done to alleviate ongoing pain using hypnosis in the interim. So, knee and hip pain relief can be achieved quickly and relatively easily using hypnosis without the need for drugs.

The best approach to using hypnosis for pain management is to find a hypnotherapist who understands how it can and should be applied to treating your pain. Generally speaking, a couple or more sessions are all that’s needed to learn the skills to manage your pain.

The hypnotist will teach you not only how to use self-hypnosis, and how to practice it, but also can implant post-hypnotic suggestions, as well as condition the unconscious mind for dealing with pain management by helping to shift your focus – distracting your mind from it – and also being able to block it all out together.

Once you’ve learned the skills, you can start to practice them on your own whenever you feel you’re in pain and need relief. There are hypnosis CD’s and MP3 downloads that can also provide the same treatment strategies for helping you control your pain.

Like drugs or surgery there’s no guarantee of relief or “cure.”

There is some time to be invested to learn the skills of self-hypnosis. They’re not difficult but do require commitment and consistency. It’s a little like learning to ride a bike but without the fear of “scraping your knee” or worse. If you’re interested in working directly with me then check out my online and In-office Special Hypnosis Services here.

For best results listen to a self-hypnosis session daily for the first few weeks to get used to the effect, and then use as needed.

More people turning away from high-risk and long-term effects of powerful drugs to alternatives like hypnosis as a natural and risk-free treatment for pain management.



The management of pain using hypnosis is becoming more common these days. Whether its to help after surgery, or to deal with chronic or temporary symptoms then it can be taught to manage pain fairly easily. There are many medical situations and procedures where Doctors are turning to and recommending its use to supplement other treatments.

Hypnosis is also being introduced in other situations, such as dentist visits, to relax and minimize stress induced by a visit and the concern a procedure may cause pain or discomfort.

Self-hypnosis can be learnt easy enough through visits to a hypnotist and/or through programs purchased on MP3’s or CD’s.

Hypnosis Downloads has a large collection of self-hypnosis MP3 products online covering pain relief. Check out all their offerings here >>>



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