Hypnotherapy or Psychotherapy? Why Not Both?

hypnotherapist with clientHypnosis uses guided relaxation methods, focused attention, and sharpened concentration to achieve a heightened state of awareness—a trance state. This hypnotic trance state allows for openness to positive suggestions. While in this state, a person’s attention may be so greatly focused that almost anything going on around the person is temporarily blocked out or ignored.

We go into trance states on a daily basis. Case in point, when we are watching TV, listening to music, or reading a great book. We can still hear the passing cars outside, the bus that drives by, and the neighbor’s dog barking, but will not be alarmed or bothered by them.

This trance state is a naturally occurring state of mind. During a hypnosis session, a person will focus his or her attention with the help of a trained hypnotherapist on specific tasks or concerns they want to work on or improve. A few areas that a person may want to focus on during hypnosis include feeling less depressed, becoming more productive, decreasing pain, stress management, and, more commonly, weight management, smoking cessation, and dealing with phobias.

Hypnotherapy is not designed to be a cure for a disease such as cancer, a heart attack caused by stress, or being overweight, but rather is a tool to help relieve the symptoms of these issues. Hypnotherapy may also be combined with counseling, including therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and relaxation techniques to help increase the positive outcome and to enhance the overall therapeutic process.

In my private practice, I often work with people who are struggling with stress management and anxiety, and use hypnotherapy to help relieve the symptoms. I then use CBT to help understand what is causing the stress and anxiety. Once we know the cause, we are able to figure out a way to handle situations differently so a person is less stressed and less anxious when facing the situation.

So how, exactly, does hypnotherapy work, and is it dangerous? Hypnotherapy is not an altered state of sleep, but for some, it may feel like sleep. When done properly, hypnosis is very relaxing. Although there is no consensus as to how hypnosis works, some people believe it causes the brain to react by releasing naturally occurring chemicals that affect how we sense and feel pain and other symptoms. Others believe hypnosis works on the subconscious mind, and fosters the ability to control bodily reaction to blood pressure and heartbeat. Regardless of how it works, it is widely accepted that hypnosis is safe, especially when performed by a trained professional.

So what constitutes a trained professional? A well-qualified hypnotherapist has extensive training in hypnosis and belongs to a hypnosis organization, such as the National Guild of Hypnotists, Inc. (NGH), American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH), or International Medical & Dental Hypnotherapy Association (IMDHA). There are no formal licensing policies in the United States, so choose your hypnotherapist wisely. Make sure he or she has training in hypnosis and you have met and feel comfortable working with them.

© Copyright 2014 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Ann Marie Sochia, MS, LPCA, CHT, NLP, therapist in Cary, North Carolina

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Carla

    Carla

    August 12th, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    I suppose that if I knew that I was working with a trained professional and that it wouldn’t hurt anything then sure, I would be willing to give hypnotherapy a try. I know in my mind that this is not like the stage shows, that this is about something far more serious than that and that those shows are for entertainment. If I was going through something that nothing else was helping or if my therapist thought that going another route might help, then I would be all in to at least give it a try and see what happens. I don’t think that you are losing out on anythingto at least give it a try.

  • Ann Marie Sochia

    Ann Marie Sochia

    August 12th, 2014 at 2:46 PM

    Carla,

    Thanks for your response. I often hear comments like…”I have tried everything else and found no success why not Hypnotherapy?”. For many of the clients I work with it is a tool that is very effective and time sensitive.

  • Libba

    Libba

    August 12th, 2014 at 4:00 PM

    I am very curious if this is something that you are finding would have to be pre approved by one’s insurance or have you found that billing really is a non issue when it comes to these types of services? I just didn’t know if you have to file for this differently than say another type of therapy (I am sure you probably do) and how insurance is doing with reimbursing members for these costs. Thanks for the input.

  • mark powlett

    mark powlett

    August 12th, 2014 at 11:14 PM

    I am a clinical hypnotherapist in England and we really don’t have the same culture of stage hypnosis here. This means that in many ways we don’t have to overcome these ideas about what happens during a session. Like yourself I use a variety of tools to ultimately help teach people to relax and let go of stress and anxiety. Thank you for your article.

  • Ann Marie Sochia

    Ann Marie Sochia

    August 13th, 2014 at 11:18 AM

    Libba,

    Thanks for the question. I don’t accept insurance at my practice (personal choice) so I may not be the best one to answer this. From what other therapists have told me…some insurance companies will not pay for Hypnotherapy but some will. As far as billing is concerned, I would think it would be billed the same. I hope…if Hypnotherapy is the right choice for someone that insurance reimbursement or lack of reimbursement will not be the deciding factor of receiving services.

    Ann Marie

  • Ann Marie Sochia

    Ann Marie Sochia

    August 13th, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    Mark,

    Interesting, I never realized Stage Hypnosis was mostly an American concept. Thanks for your response.

    Ann Marie

  • Teegan

    Teegan

    August 13th, 2014 at 1:39 PM

    this all makes me a bit uncomfortable- I suppose that I would want to meet with someone first to check them out before agreeing to it?

    i always have visions that i will end up doing goofy things thru the power of suggestion that can be utilized

  • Ann Marie Sochia

    Ann Marie Sochia

    August 13th, 2014 at 3:04 PM

    Teegan,

    I understand many people feel the same way. However, in Hypnosis it is impossible to make someone do anything other than what they want or would normally do. When people do the goofy things you see on stage that wanted to do them and were chosen because they displayed signs they wanted to. Some signs might be that they wanted to be the life of the party or volunteered.
    I agree I would want to meet the person before I would let them hypnotize me and I would also want to check their references.

    Thanks for the comments!

    Ann Marie

  • Ron Lake, CHt.

    Ron Lake, CHt.

    August 13th, 2014 at 7:09 PM

    Ann Marie,

    Thank you for such a well written article. I graduated from HIM (the oldest college of hypnosis in the US) a few years ago, and find that people really don’t understand how safe hypnosis is and how much control they actually have in the therapy. I love, love, love helping people using this modality my clients see result so quickly. I am a bit sad about the stigma “Stage Hypnosis” has on the practice but it is what it is. I love that I can study and study finding much information on all the ways hypnosis helps people from pain management to stroke recovery to general success. I personally can not get enough certifications in various areas to help people.
    I would love to link your article to my website with your permission.
    To your success, Ron

  • Ann Marie Sochia

    Ann Marie Sochia

    August 14th, 2014 at 10:34 AM

    Ron,

    Thank you for the kind words. I also love how with many of my clients I see a somewhat quicker results as compared to other modalities. It also saddens me that Hypnosis is often so miss understood when it can help so many people in a safe way…where the client is in complete control.

    Yes, please link this article or any of my others to your site.

    Ann Marie

  • Deborah L

    Deborah L

    August 19th, 2014 at 10:34 PM

    Hey @Ann Marie Sochia, I agree with you that Hypnosis is often misunderstood and a lot of people think that it can make a person like a Zombie while in reality it is the exact opposite. :)

  • Shruti

    Shruti

    January 30th, 2015 at 9:32 PM

    Hi Ann,

    I am very curious about past life regretion and hypnosis. I have been through hypnosis before. But never felt anything. Rather relaxed, I feel more in stress and my heartbeat rises. The more the doctor is making me relaxed, I am not able to focus. What reasons it could be, which are not letting me go in trance? Can you help me with this and tell me how can I improve on it?

    Thank you

  • Cenk K

    Cenk K

    April 25th, 2015 at 3:26 AM

    I agree with my collague. Iam using hypnotherapy and schema therapy together in my sessions. They are very helpful with both.

  • Sophia L.

    Sophia L.

    July 29th, 2018 at 11:46 PM

    Nice article. Thank you for sharing this information.

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