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About Hypnosis


Hypnosis, also referred to as hypnotherapy or hypnotic suggestion, is a trance-like state in which you have heightened focus, concentration and inner absorption. When you're under hypnosis, you usually feel calm and relaxed, and you can concentrate intensely on a specific thought, memory, feeling or sensation while blocking out distractions.

Under hypnosis, you're more open than usual to suggestions, and this can be used to modify your perceptions, behavior, sensations and emotions. Therapeutic hypnosis is used to improve your health and well-being and is different from so-called stage hypnosis used by entertainers. Although you're more open to suggestion during therapeutic hypnosis, your free will remains intact and you don't lose control over your behavior.

Why it's done

Hypnosis is intended to help you gain more control over undesired behaviors or emotions or to help you cope better with a wide range of medical conditions. Hypnosis isn't considered a treatment or a type of psychotherapy. Rather, it's a procedure typically used along with certain treatments and therapies to help a wide variety of conditions.

Hypnosis may be used for:

Pain control

Smoking cessation

Reducing stress related to medical procedures

Mental health conditions



Surgical preparation


Weight loss

Athletic performance

Dental procedures

Coping with chemotherapy

Skin conditions

Gastrointestinal problems


Hypnosis that's conducted under the care of a trained therapist or health care professional is considered a safe complementary and alternative medicine treatment.

Adverse reactions are rare but may include:




Anxiety or panic

Creation of false memories

Use special caution before using hypnosis for age regression to help you relive earlier events in your life. This practice remains controversial and has limited scientific evidence to support its use. It may cause strong emotions and can alter your memories or lead to creation of false memories.

What you can expect

There are a variety of techniques for hypnosis. The approach you choose depends on what you want to accomplish and your personal preferences. Your hypnotherapist may make a recommendation about the best technique for your situation.

In general, a hypnotherapist explains the process of hypnosis and reviews what you both hope to accomplish. The hypnotherapist typically induces you into hypnosis by talking in a gentle, soothing tone and describing images that create a sense of relaxation, security and well-being.

When you're in a deep trance-like state, the hypnotherapist suggests ways for you to achieve specific goals, such as reducing pain or eliminating cravings to smoke. The hypnotherapist also may help you visualize vivid, meaningful mental images in which you picture yourself accomplishing your goals, such as shooting baskets accurately. When the session is over, either you are able to bring yourself out of hypnosis or your hypnotherapist helps you end your trance-like state.

A typical hypnosis session lasts about 30 to 60 minutes. You may benefit from just one session or several sessions of hypnosis. You can usually resume normal activities immediately.

Contrary to how hypnosis is sometimes portrayed in movies, on television or on stage, you don't lose control over your behavior while under hypnosis. Although hypnosis makes you more open to suggestions, you can't be forced to engage in behavior involuntarily. Also, you generally remain aware of who you are and where you are, and you typically remember what happened when you were under hypnosis.

You may eventually be able to practice self-hypnosis, in which you induce a state of hypnosis in yourself. You can use this skill as needed — for instance, after a chemotherapy session.


Hypnosis may help you cope better with certain medical conditions, stop unwanted habits or reduce stress related to medical procedures. The effects of hypnosis can be long lasting and can improve your overall quality of life.

Hypnosis isn't right for everyone, though. You may not be able to enter a state of hypnosis fully enough to make it effective, for instance. Certain qualities that may mean you're more likely to have success with hypnosis include:

The ability to be so engrossed in music, a book or a movie that you aren't aware of what's happening around you

Smells trigger vivid memories for you

Memories trigger physical sensations of past events

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