An introduction to Hypnosis

18 November 2020

An introduction to Hypnosis

Hypnotherapy is a skilled communication aimed at directing a person’s imagination in a way that helps elicit changes in some perceptions, sensations, feelings, thoughts and behaviours. It is both an art and a science, and numerous bodies of research have shown it to be effective for a large number of interventions.

Hypnosis can be used for pain management, and has been widely cited as effective in the treatment of chronic pain. A review in US Library of National Medicine identified 13 published controlled articles that evaluated the efficacy of hypnosis for chronic pain. ** “In each of the studies, the hypnosis intervention was demonstrated to be significantly more effective than a no-treatment condition in reducing pain in chronic-pain patients. Moreover, the efficacy of hypnosis in reducing pain was consistently confirmed for a wide variety of different chronic-pain conditions (e.g., cancer, low-back pain, arthritis pain, sickle cell disease, temporomandibular pain, disability-related pain).”

It is well regarded for the management of chronic pain.

Previous studies have shown that patients who use hypnosis may also experience reduced post-operative pain, have reduced need for sedation, have better blood pressure control and leave hospital sooner following their procedure.” Dr Slater,  Northampton General Hospital.

In a hypnotherapy session the hypnotherapist and client will discuss the intended alterations and desired therapeutic goals. The hypnotherapist asks about health, lifestyle, current wellbeing, and medical history.

Hypnotherapy may be helpful for those seeking relief from a range of problems and is used alongside a person’s motivation to achieve a desired goal. It is often used to help relieve anxiety and stress, panic attacks, aid sleeping, help to address bedwetting, address attitudes to weight, and help clients achieve behavioural change. This could include stopping smoking, overcoming fears and phobias, dealing with sexual performance or concerns with intimacy, understanding triggers and dealing with past traumas, treating PTSD and negative thinking, mild depression, and similar cognitive behaviours. It may also help with minor skin conditions that are exacerbated by stress and confidence issues and may also be used to enhance performance in areas such as sport and public speaking.

Hypnosis is used as an alternative to pain relief during childbirth. The Cochrane Review concluded that hypnosis was one of only two alternatives to pharmacological pain relief in childbirth for which there is evidence of effectiveness.* “The hypnosis-based interventions improved women's emotional experiences and outlook towards birth, with less anxiety, increased satisfaction, fewer birth interventions, more postnatal well-
being and better childbirth experience overall, and is a complementary therapy included on patient information at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital.”

A limited online trial for combat veterans suffering from PTSD has proven that clinical hypnotherapy is effective as a method to help sufferers diminish their symptoms, and understand the root causes of how they feel, allowing each person to investigate their own memories and emotions, to get a greater understanding of the impact of incidents upon them. Every man who volunteered to take part in this trial achieved significant relief from PTSD symptoms by the end of the maximum six hypnotherapy sessions, even if they only participated in a few.***

Hypnosis is used regularly for overcoming fears and phobia’s, combined with NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming). Often, only a single session is required to make significant progress with the more common fears such as fear of heights, needles, flying, dentists, hospitals, driving, claustrophobia, agoraphobia, food, darkness, etc.

Hypnotherapy has also been used with both adults and children to help manage the pain associated with irritable bowel. There is evidence to support its use in this condition for both adults and children and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Guidance (NICE) recommends the NHS should consider referring patients for hypnotherapy if their irritable bowel is persistent and has failed to respond to simple prescribed medicine.

“Hypnotherapy is NICE recommended CG61/2 for IBS ( Irritable Bowel Syndrome)”

Choosing a practitioner

It is important to choose a qualified hypnotherapist who has undertaken all the necessary training to understand the theory and practice of hypnotherapy.

You can check whether a hypnotherapist is registered with the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) by searching the register at By choosing hypnotherapists registered with the CNHC you can be confident that they are properly trained, qualified and insured.


* Catsaros S, Wendland J. Hypnosis-based interventions during pregnancy and childbirth and their impact on women's childbirth experience: A systematic review.

Midwifery. 2020 May;84:102666. doi: 10.1016/j.midw.2020.102666. Epub 2020 Feb
12. PMID: 32087396.

** Hypnotherapy for the Management of Chronic Pain
Gary Elkins, Mark P. Jensen, David R. Patterson
Int J Clin Exp Hypn. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2009 Sep 25. Published in final edited form as: Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2007 Jul; 55(3):
275–287. doi: 10.1080/00207140701338621


Cognition provides Hypnotherapy in West Sussex, where we offer face to face treatments for clients, as well as offering successful online hypnotherapy using Zoom.


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