Hypnosis is as ancient a practice as sorcery and magic. But it wasn’t until the late 1800’s that it entered the scope of science.
While hypnosis is often still thought of like a magic trick, this therapeutic practice has psychological benefits. Hypnosis is a legitimate form of therapy that can help people with everything from sleep disorders to abstaining from smoking.
What it is you’re treating will determine what types of hypnosis you attempt. With quite a few types of hypnotherapy to choose from, you should know a bit more before deciding which is right for you.
Keep reading to learn more about hypnosis as well as its different applications and forms.
How Hypnosis Works
Hypnotherapy involves a clinical hypnotherapist guiding an individual into a trance-like state. This state of intense focus and concentration opens the subconscious mind to cues from the therapist.
The therapist is trained in various methods of hypnosis and psychology. They help the client focus to uncover their issues and work toward fixing them. Usually, they work with the patients own internal resources to work toward a solution.
Different types of hypnosis have been used to treat the following:
- Substance abuse and addiction (i.e. quitting smoking)
- Sexual dysfunction
- Bad habits
- Unwanted spontaneous behaviors
- Sleep disorders
- Learning disorders
- Relationship issues
- Communication and social problems
Hypnosis can also be used in medical applications such as treating pain, digestive disorders, gastrointestinal side effects of chemotherapy, and even skin issues.
Hypnotherapy is generally a solution-focused therapy. Like many other therapies, hypnotherapy aims at developing a solution to the patient’s issues instead of focusing on a problem. The principle behind this approach is that it’s working towards a goal or solution is more effective than working away from a problem.
Regardless of the type of hypnosis your hypnotherapist uses, you’ll need to be induced for every session. This is the process through which a hypnotist guides you into a state of trance. When you’re in this state, your mind and subconscious are more open to suggestion.
This is perhaps the most common form of induction. As a patient becomes more relaxed, they’re more open to suggestion and open communication.
The handshake technique works by disrupting the patterns established in your mind. When the hypnotherapist shakes a patient’s hand, they’ll do something uncommon such as grab the wrist or pull a patient off balance. This disrupts what your mind believes about handshakes, and suddenly wakes the subconscious mind.
A hypnotherapist will have a patient visualize scenery, a situation, or a time period. As a person become fixated on those details, the therapist will change the visual. This opens the mind to suggestion but can also be used to induce trance.
A key principle of meditation is controlled focused breathing. These techniques can also be applied to induce a patient into a trance-like state.
By paying attention to your eyes, a hypnotherapist can decipher whether you’re accessing the creative side of your conscious or the practical side of your subconscious. By knowing when you’re accessing the subconscious side of your brain, they can make timely suggestions.
Body scanning is a popular method for inducing self-hypnosis. In this technique, an individual begins at 1 end of the body and scans their way to the other, body part by body part. With eyes closed, you should focus on your breath, where your body is touching and not touching the ground, and every other sensation.
7 Types of Hypnosis
So what types of hypnosis are there? We’ve listed 7 common hypnotherapy approaches and their details below.
1. Behavioral Hypnotherapy
One of the first types of hypnotherapy a therapist usually attempts is behavioral hypnotherapy. It’s a non-intrusive form of hypnosis and provides a good starting point into their counseling.
Behavioral hypnotherapy is aimed at changing the current behavior of the patient toward a more positive outcome. Usually, the therapist and patient work together to figure out what that outcome looks like. They’ll also talk through the techniques and suggestions that will be used to support that outcome.
2. Analytical Hypnotherapy
Also known as hypnoanalysis, this type of hypnosis draws on the analytical school of psychotherapy. It looks for the root cause of a patient’s problem or behavior.
Analytical hypnotherapists help a patient determine why they behave in the way that they do. When they understand the behavior, they have a better chance of changing it.
3. Cognitive Hypnotherapy
Unlike analytical and behavioral hypnotherapy, cognitive hypnotherapy doesn’t focus on behaviors. Instead, it targets the beliefs that cause those behaviors.
A hypnotherapist employing cognitive therapy helps patients update their beliefs and think about their life and behavior differently. Techniques may be borrowed from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). Cognitive therapy can also draw from mindfulness and meditative approaches
4. Regression Hypnotherapy
This type of hypnotherapy is considered relatively intrusive. For this reason, most hypnotherapists won’t employ this method until other approaches have been exhausted. Behavioral, cognitive, and analytical hypnosis are psychologically easier on a patient than regression.
However, if the case calls for it, and the therapist and patient have discussed the pros and cons, regression can help a client remember past events that might be adding to or causing their problem. This type of hypnosis carries the risk of re-traumatizing the patient and should only be used with caution and by an experienced hypnotherapist.
If the first approach your therapist recommends is regression therapy, it’s probably a good idea to look for a new therapist. Therapists that recommends this as the first or only approach generally don’t have much training outside of regression therapy. This means they’ll have trouble helping you with your problems even if they can identify them.
Past-life Regression Hypnotherapy
Some patients believe that a past life can affect their current life and cause their issues. For those patients, past-life regression can help them figure out what’s causing their behavior and give them insight on how to fix it. It also gives them an opportunity to cut the connection with anything from a past life that’s not helpful in this one.
The specific technique for past-life regression therapy isn’t much different than those used for a regular regression. As such, even therapists who don’t believe in past-lives can perform this type hypnosis and help patients. Other therapists simply use past-life regression and its language as a metaphor for change.
If you’re feeling stuck and can’t figure out why past-life regression might be something to consider. Learn more about it here.
5. Ericksonian Hypnosis
Dr. Milton Erickson is considered the father of scientific hypnosis. This type of hypnosis is named after the techniques that he developed.
Because Erickson used metaphors instead of direct suggestions in his approach, this form of hypnosis is more accessible and acceptable to skeptics. Using metaphors, this approach allows the mind to approach a problem in a new or more organic way.
Self-hypnosis involves inducing oneself into a relaxed and state-like trance. You can use any of the methods mentioned above but, for self-hypnosis, body scanning and breathing techniques work best.
Once you’re deeply relaxed and your mind is more open to suggestion, you can either introduce suggestion yourself or use an audio guide. If you’re skeptical about hypnosis or you’re not ready to trust a therapist with what’s in your subconscious, this is a great starting point.
7. Clinical Hypnotherapy
For all the effective forms of hypnotherapy, we had to include at least 1 to look out for. And that 1 is clinical hypnotherapy – because these are typically just hypnotherapists adding a fancy name to their practice. But they use the same techniques and processes of any other hypnotherapist.
The official definition of clinical hypnotherapy is a therapy that’s conducted in a clinical setting. It can also mean hypnotherapy that’s used to treat medical conditions. These might include treating pain, psychological disorders, skin problems, and more.
Because the involvement of other healthcare providers is an essential aspect of true clinical hypnotherapy, there aren’t many actual clinical options out there. Make sure you do your research before choosing a therapist who advertises in this way.
If you’re considering seeing a hypnotherapist, you should know about the types of hypnosis and how they might benefit your particular situation. There are different approaches to target issues in a multitude of ways. You’ll want to understand what therapy offers the best chance at identifying and fixing your problem.
Regardless of what you’re looking for, you’re sure to find some answers on our blog. Check out our lifestyle page for more tips and advice.