Hypnotherapy is a type of talking therapy that can be used in the treatment of some mental health conditions. It is best-associated with trauma-based mental health conditions, though it can also be used in many other conditions.

Like many other types of treatment, there are advantages and disadvantages to Hypnotherapy, as we cover in this article.

woman sitting on gray rock near body of water
Hypnotherapy is a useful therapy for trauma-related conditions. Photo by Riccardo Bresciani on Pexels.com

What is Hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy: Hypnotherapy is a form of therapy that uses hypnosis in an attempt to treat a condition. Hypnotherapy normally involves an individual being in a deeply relaxed state. The therapy also uses focused attention and concentration to induce a heightened state of awareness. This allows the patient to focus on specific thoughts or factors. Hypnotherapy will commonly involve suggestion therapy, which allows a person to be more inclined to changing behaviours (including pain management). It can also be used to explore causes of a condition or symptom. This may include events that have been hidden in an individual’s unconscious memory.

Advantages of Hypnotherapy

  • Hypnotherapy can treat many conditions: While Hypnotherapy is best-associated with trauma-based conditions like Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, it can also actually work in the treatment of phobias, somatic disorders and when attempting to stop harmful habits.
  • The potential benefits are huge: When hypnotherapy works as intended, it can have enormous benefits. For instance, it can relieve a person’s trauma, rid people f phobias and get rid of bad habits such as smoking.
  • Relatively quick form of therapy: Treatment of trauma-based conditions can sometimes take years. However, hypnotherapy can work in much less time, and can therefore be more better for those looking for quick relief. But it should be pointed out that this isn’t always the case – sometimes it will take time.
  • Induces a state of openness: While this may be concerning to some, hypnotherapy is very useful for inducing a person into a trance-like state that helps a person become more open to discussion. Many people struggle to discuss their problems openly, but hypnotherapy can aid this process.
  • Good crisis management: Hypnotherapy can potentially be used when managing a mental health crisis. Hypnosis can help to stabilise an individual if they are in desperate need, and can be an alternative to a strong sedative medicament.
  • The patient remains in control: While the therapist will be the one guiding each session and instigating interventions, the patient can easily escape the trance if they want to. As the sessions will take place in a calm setting, a person should be comfortable when exiting the trance.

Disadvantages of Hypnotherapy

  • Confronting traumas head-on: Confronting traumas head-on can be difficult, and can make a patient become uncomfortable. It could also feasibly make a person feel worse, especially if uncovered traumas become apparent.
  • Potential for false memories: When in a trance-like state, it is possible that the mind can make false memories. This will mean that what the patient recalls isn’t 100% accurate, and can potentially lead to troublesome relationships with others if a person is implicated in something they didn’t do. This could be possible if a person wrongly perceives a question, or if the therapist is poorly skilled.
  • Unsuitable for psychosis: If a person is going through a psychotic episode, such as having delusions or hallucinations, hypnotherapy can potentially worsen their symptoms – which can put an already-difficult situation into a dangerous event.
  • Hypnotherapy won’t work for everyone: Most studies that have analysed hypnotherapy have praised its use for many conditions. However, there is a negative reputation attached to hypnotherapy, with some suggesting it is a form of pseudoscience [1]. Not all of the research suggests hypnotherapy is effective.
  • Stigma in society: As briefly mentioned above, it appears that many people in society have a rather warped sense of what hypnotism actually is due to its depiction in the media. This can result in embarrassment for anyone that undertakes hypnosis.
  • Poorly regulated: Arguably the biggest concern of all is the fact that hypnosis is very poorly regulated. Virtually anyone can claim to be capable of carrying out hypnosis. But it is crucial to only select a qualified hypnotist that has good experience and reviews. While unlikely, there is always the possibility that someone with a hidden agenda could be masquerading as a specialist in hypnosis – with brainwashing possible. A person also needs to be brought out of hypnosis in a careful way, which an amateur may not know how to do.

See Also


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[1] Hilgard, E. R. (1971). Hypnotic Phenomena: The Struggle for Scientific Acceptance: Modern experiments are bringing hypnotic phenomena out of the fringe area of pseudoscience into the domain of normal psychological science. American Scientist. 59 (5), p567-577.