Hypnotism for Sexual Concerns

Hypnotism can be a useful and versatile tool for addressing sexual concerns, including several types of sexual problems (such as non-medically caused erectile dysfunction and low desire) and negative body image, shame, and sexual inhibitions. Hypnotism can help discover and correct inner obstacles to sexual health and pleasure. As a skill set, hypnotism is used in a complementary way by many types of helping professionals. Hypnotism also provides the foundation for a growing group of professional practitioners variously known as consulting hypnotists and hypnotherapists.

I spent a good portion of 2011 working on a doctoral project related to this topic. The literature search was extensive, fascinating, and deeply frustrating. Part of my frustration had to do with the strange history and frequently tarnished reputation of hypnotism, which has created a number of public and professional myths and misconceptions. Another complication had to do with the diversity of practitioners who use hypnosis to address sexual problems; licensed therapists (and sex therapists in particular), clinical sexologists and sex coaches, professional hypnotists and hypnotherapists, and a wide variety of erotic hypnotists (professional and amateur) have all found human sexuality to be fertile and often lucrative terrain. This meant that my literature search ranged from peer-reviewed articles in journals, to popular “how to” erotic hypnosis books, and everything in between. While I labored on my project, I found myself thinking that one lifetime would not suffice to understand it all. The history and use of hypnotism for sexual concerns is that broad, that deep.

What does stand out is the efficacy and promise of hypnosis in this area. This is supported by numerous peer-reviewed articles, as well as books by authors and practitioners such as Dr. Daniel Aroaz, who has became a tremendous guiding light to me.

Another thing that stands out is the almost universal lack of training in the specialty I’ve come to call “sexological hypnosis” – the application of hypnotism to sexual and gender concerns. My concept of sexological hypnotism is based on the triple-pronged idea that:

  • (1) more therapists, counselors, and other licensed professionals should be trained in sexology (a multi-disciplinary study of human sexuality, which includes but is not limited to clinical considerations)
  • (2) more therapists, counselors, other licensed professionals, and sexologists should be trained in hypnotism
  • (3) more consulting hypnotists and hypnotherapists should be trained in sexology, human sexuality, and gender studies – particularly those who want to offer hypnosis for sexual problems.

However, there are no comprehensive programs which specifically address the application of hypnotism to sexual and gender concerns. The one hypnotism school I found which includes sexuality courses in its curriculum was founded by a man (now deceased) who believed that most women don’t have an orgasm – they have a “climax” – and that “ethnic sexuals” are distinctly different than non-ethnic sexuals (whatever that means!). In other words, discredited ideas and inaccurate information is likely still a part of this school’s curriculum, as the books are still published and sold without revision. (Incidentally, none of these books cite even a morsel of research or contain a bibliography or list of sources – however dated!) Hypnotists trained in this school get something worse than no sexuality education at all – they are sold an old “clunker” when they rightfully deserve a Ferrari. Clients may suffer as a result.

Up-to-date, comprehensive training in human sexuality is crucial because people whose understanding of human sexuality is limited to their own experience (or a few books or workshops or outdated programs) may have a skewed perspective on the bigger picture of adult, consensual diversity. Such practitioners may pathologize or misinterpret any behavior or expression that seems out of the ordinary to them. This is a disservice to clients who seek assistance with sexual or gender concerns. Issues of erotic or gender authenticity – so crucial to sexual health and well being – may not be acknowledged, let alone addressed, respected, and supported.

I would like to see more real training and expertise in this area. In my doctoral project, I designed a 150-hour certificate course capable of delivering the triple-pronged training that I wish already existed. In 2012, I hope to teach the entire program, in addition to the partial courses I now offer online through Creative Sexuality and Sex Coach U. As a dual practitioner, I’ve experienced the value of combining clinical sexology with hypnosis and believe that my clients are generally well-served as a result.

Related Articles:
What Do Your Sexual Fantasies Mean?
An Introduction to Clinical Sexology
An Introduction to Holistic Psychotherapy

© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Dr. Amy Marsh, EdD, DHS, ACS, CHT, Sexuality / Sex Therapy Topic Expert Contributor

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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  • gareth.m

    January 5th, 2012 at 11:44 PM

    sexuality has deep mental and psychological connections and hypnotism can help from that description of it. but as I understand, hypnotism is still in its nascent stage and especially so for sexuality, partly so because there are not enough experts in the field. well, the professional community needs to get together and frame a draft towards establishing such a thing because otherwise it will only lead to half-baked programs like the one mentioned and it only ends up in the clients suffering and also losing their faith in the hypnosis technique.

  • Frank Einstein

    January 6th, 2012 at 9:10 AM

    The old ED problem had to have a mention isnt it?Its one wide spread example yes but there r so many ppl who go through hell due to it.No physical problem or anything but still they suffer.Something in your mind causing trouble would definitely call for a method to influence your mind.And if hypnotism is gives a solution then that should be the way forward.

  • disney bound

    January 7th, 2012 at 7:54 AM

    I don’t know, seems kind of like you would have to have no inhibitions to be able to get the full benefits of this and we have to know that those with these kinds of problems have LOTS of inhibitions in the first place.

  • Lou

    January 9th, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    Wow, I would think that you have to be pretty confident going in to be able to submit to hypnosis especially when you are dealing with a touchy subject like sex, literally! I would be so afraid of what I might say and may not want to hear what my partner had to say when there are no feelings about having to hold something in or hurting someone’s feelings. We say we want full and complete disclosure, but maybe sometimes there is a such thing as too much information, and some things I might just not want or need to know.

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