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Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy
Is there a difference?

I’m sometimes asked what’s the difference between hypnosis and hypnotherapy. Some people feel that these are just two different words for the same thing, but really there are differences.

With both hypnosis and hypnotherapy you’re led into a light or deeply relaxed state, often referred to as a trance. Each of these is used effectively in dealing with a variety of problems, emotions and behaviors.



In hypnosis, the goal of the hypnotist is to offer suggestions to modify behaviors. This often works very well for behavioral problems such as smoking or over-eating.

The hypnosis method is to usually follow a formal “induction”. This is just a way to help you get into a deep state of relaxation. Once in this state you’re then ready to receive the suggestions made by the hypnotist.

The hypnotist will then give a series of guided imageries and/or suggestions so that you can experience the behavior change in your imagination. The idea being that once the subconscious accepts the suggestions the behavior will change automatically.

In traditional hypnosis it’s normal for a client to simply lie on a couch or sit comfortably in a recliner while a hypnotist makes the suggestions from a memorized script or phrases of suggestions to be made.

Personally, I prefer not to use traditional hypnosis because I find that it doesn’t weed out the root cause of problems. Although many people find relief of symptoms from using hypnosis, my belief is that if the underlying emotions are not released then they will surface in some other way at a later time.

However, for people only looking for relief of symptoms, or even for behavior changes, I'll often recommend hypnosis CD's. These are a very affordable option for many people and they don't require the introspection used during in-person hypnosis and hypnotherapy.


In hypnotherapy, the goal of the hypnotherapist is to help you find the underlying causes for the behaviors and release the emotions associated with the behavior. This leaves you with the option of either doing the behavior, or not, but without the automatic triggers. Successful hypnotherapy aims at removing the "compulsion" behind behavior.

Although many excellent hypnotherapist will still use an induction, others will ask you to feel the problem or pain and allow the subconscious mind to deliver the reasons for the problems or pains.

I like to have my clients relax and begin to experience the emotion. Once the images, memories or “knowing” starts to come up, I then start asking questions that will help to take you deeper into the experience.

One of the more noticeable differences between hypnosis and hypnotherapy is the dialogue that takes place between the client and the hypnotherapist. As mentioned above, in hypnosis there often is no dialogue throughout the session. But in hypnotherapy asking questions and getting responses is a very normal part of the process.

The difference between hypnotherapy and just remembering an event is that as you go deeper into the experience you’re given suggestions on how to subtly change the experience.

In the Subconscious Mind section, we talked about unlocking past traumas and memories. By using hypnotherapy we can get access to those memories and release the emotion associated with the event.

Another powerful use of hypnotherapy is changing the “meaning” of an event or experience. While the past events of our life will not change, we are able to assign new definitions as to what each event means to our life.

It’s an unfortunate but common experience for someone to go through a physical attack. To some people the meaning that they’ve assigned is, “I am damaged goods. Who would want me now?” The event becomes a definition of who they are as an Identity.

By using a combination of hypnosis and hypnotherapy, we can release the emotions of the event and the associated meaning that was given. The result is that the event becomes just an event without any definition to the identity.

I prefer using hypnotherapy because it allows a dialogue with the person. As the emotions are released we’re then able to explore for things like meaning or other similar events from the past that “add-on” emotionally.

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