Let’s answer your most common questions and break down some hypnotherapy misconceptions

When you think about hypnotherapy, what first pops into your head? Is it the pocket watch luring people into a helpless (and sometimes humorous) trance-like state? Or do you know someone, perhaps, who has experienced the benefits of hypnotherapy? It’s no wonder with the many stereotypes surrounding hypnotherapy that we jump to conclusions about what hypnotherapy is and what’s involved. Let's delve deeper into the inner workings of hypnotherapy, answering your most-asked questions.

What is hypnotherapy?

To put it simply, hypnotherapy means the therapeutic work carried out in a hypnotic state to help you work on and improve a specific problem or condition. There are many types of hypnotherapy, including cognitive hypnotherapy, Eriksonian hypnotherapy, hypnoanalysis, past life regression, Rapid Transformational Therapy® and suggestion therapy. During my time as a practising hypnotherapist, I would describe it as a ‘flow state’ or an altered state of awareness, where time and space don't exist in the same way we usually know it. You, as the client, are in complete control, and it’s the therapy carried out in this hypnotic state that’s actually the important bit!

Does hypnosis really work?

What's great to hear is that hypnotherapy comes with a sturdy scientific frame of reference. Studies have revealed that hypnotherapy can be a successful way to lessen symptoms of pain, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and can help with losing weight, phobias, and smoking cessation. Find out more about the studies into hypnosis.

We recommend talking with your GP first when looking for support with a specific concern or condition.

What really happens in a hypnotherapy session?

Often, the first part of the session involves looking at what your goals are and what you would like to achieve from a hypnotherapy session. The hypnotherapist will also take a look at your lifestyle, relationships, and past experiences. The hypnosis part of the session will usually take place towards the end of the first session, but some hypnotherapists don’t use hypnosis in the first appointment as it may take the entire session to talk through your concerns and work out a plan moving forward. Talking through your worries can also be incredibly helpful and help build trust with your therapist.

It is in the hypnotic state that the ‘therapy work’ can then be carried out. If the hypnotherapist is using suggestion therapy, for example, they will take you into a deeply relaxed state; when you are relaxed, your subconscious can come to the fore and absorb positive suggestions to make the changes you’re looking for. At the end of your session, your hypnotherapist will check in with how you’re feeling and make an appointment for the next session. After your session has ended, you may notice changes immediately as the suggestions take root in the subconscious mind, but for others, it may take more time for new beliefs and ways of thinking to evolve. Your hypnotherapist may give you a recording to listen to or teach you some self-hypnosis techniques to facilitate your journey of self-improvement.

In this video, a hypnotherapist shares what you can expect from a hypnotherapy session, giving us snippet of a client session so you can see what's involved.

If you would like to learn more about how to make that first hypnotherapy appointment feel easier, you can read Linda Witchel’s Hypnotherapy Directory article Preparing for your first hypnotherapy appointment.

Does hypnotherapy work for anxiety?

Anxiety can feel like a permanent knot in your stomach, and no matter what you do to untangle it, it feels at times overwhelming and unrelenting. It can manifest in an increase in heart rate, intrusive thoughts, tiredness, digestive issues, and sleep difficulties.

One of the most common reasons people seek a hypnotherapist, alongside help with reaching a healthy weight, fears/phobias, and giving up smoking, is for anxiety-related symptoms. Types of anxiety include generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and health anxiety.

Typically used alongside cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), research has suggested that cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy (CBH) can help improve symptoms of anxiety and phobias. According to a meta-analysis, hypnosis can help lessen anxiety, revealing that hypnosis (when used in conjunction with other psychological interventions) is more successful in decreasing anxiety levels than when used as a singular treatment.

What is the cost of hypnotherapy?

The cost of a hypnotherapy session depends on the area you live, how long the hypnotherapist has been working, and the nature of the session. Typically, you can expect to pay between £45-£120 per hour, with many hypnotherapists offering a free discovery call or initial consultation. If you require several sessions, some hypnotherapists offer a reduced-cost package, whilst other hypnotherapists charge per session regardless of how many you have. If you have any specific questions about the cost of hypnotherapy, it’s worth reaching out to your chosen professional to ask more.

In her article, Why does hypnotherapy cost so much? Hypnotherapist Marian Barry explains the cost of hypnotherapy compared with other therapeutic models.

Unlike other therapies, which are largely based on listening to the client, making the occasional observation or asking a question, hypnotherapists are responsible for the input of subliminal guidance which is completely tailor-made for the client… The demands on the therapist are naturally much higher than in other therapies. It is for this reason that reputable hypnotherapists will limit the number of clients they see per day so they can give their best.

Can you get hypnotherapy on the NHS?

Hypnotherapy isn’t generally available on the NHS, but it may be worth asking your GP or taking a look at your local integrated care board for more information.

If you are looking for a private hypnotherapist, our members have been checked to make sure they meet our proof policy. Although there aren’t any current guidelines specifying the qualifications a hypnotherapist needs to have in order to set up a practice, it is recommended by industry guidelines that a professional should have completed an appropriate diploma or a course that involved at least 450 learning hours.

If you would like to reach out to a qualified hypnotherapist, you can connect with a professional on Happiful.