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What is Hypnotherapy

The word or term "hypnosis" was invented in  the 19th century and devised from the Greek word for sleep.  However, this can almost be misleading as anyone undergoing hypnosis is not asleep but purely in a state of relaxation.  In addition, whilst considering hypnosis, many people are a little apprehensive, tending to think of the stage hypnotic acts.  These acts often appearing to get members of the audience to make fools of themselves. However, the fact is that no one can be hypnotised against their will and anyone undergoing hypnosis, would certainly not say or do anything against their will.


Hypnotherapy uses relaxation, extreme concentration and attention, to encourage positive change.  Hypnosis therefore is a treatment option which often enables clients to achieve an alteration to habits, actions or emotions, which in turn can produce a better quality of life. 


Whilst in a state of hypnosis, (which is purely a state of relaxation) and which is a natural state that many of us have experienced when we have daydreamed.  There is awareness of all surrounding sounds, which will be heard and a full awareness of what is going.

During the relaxed state of hypnosis, hypnotic suggestions which are intended to have a beneficial effect are made by the Clinical Hypnotherapist. 


As far back as 1958 the American Medical Associated approved hypnosis as a therapy and the American Psychiatric Association followed in 1961.  Since then various studies have been undertaken regarding hypnosis and reduction in pain and receiving hypnosis prior to operations. Anxiety levels were shown to reduce 56% lower than anxiety levels prior to hypnosis. Indeed hypnosis has actually been used successfully in place of anaesthetic. 

Research has been undertaken by Harvard University which indicated that during hypnosis changes to conscious experience happen in a way that would not be possible when not in hypnosis.


In fact various research has been undertaken over the years by eminent clinicians and scientists including Freud, Erickson and Hilgard.

As far back as 1892 The British Medical Association (BMA) commissioned a committee to investigate hypnosis. Their report, published in the British Medical Journal, stated that they “satisfied themselves of the genuineness of the hypnotic state” and recognized that hypnotism is “frequently effective in relieving pain, procuring sleep, and alleviating many functional ailments.”

1955 A BMA subcommittee issued a report in the British Medical Journal endorsing the 1892 report and stating that hypnosis is a effective in treating psychosomatic disorders, revealing unrecognized motives and conflicts, removing symptoms, changing morbid thoughts and behaviors, and alleviating pain. The report also recommended that medical students be introduced to hypnosis as part of standard psychiatric training, and that specialists in psychology should receive instruction in hypnotism.

As already mentioned in 1958 The American Medical Association (AMA) approved a study by its Council on Mental Health, which recognized hypnotherapy as an orthodox medical treatment (as opposed to an “alternative” or “complementary” treatment). The AMA committee stated their agreement with the report of the BMA, and it recommended that instruction in hypnosis be included in the curricula of medical schools and postgraduate training centers. [In 1987 the AMA rescinded almost all policies from 1881–1958. As a result of that decision the AMA now has no official position on the use of hypnosis.]

1960 The American Psychological Association endorsed hypnosis as a branch of psychology (it should be understood that the practice of psychology emerged from the field of hypnosis)

1961 The AMA Council on Mental Health recommended that medical students should receive 144 hours of training in hypnosis over a 9- to 12-month period at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

1978 The Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) formed a section for “Hypnosis and Psychosomatic Medicine”.

1983 The RSM approved a diploma level training course of hypnotherapy.

1984 The RSM commissioned a report entitled “Symposium on Psychological Influences and Illness: Hypnosis and Medicine.”

1986 The BMA emphasized that hypnotherapy is “part of orthodox medical treatment.”

1995 The United States’ National Institute of Health (NIH) issued an extensive report, which concluded that hypnosis is effective in alleviating chronic pain associated with cancer and other conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and tension headaches.

2000 BMA stated to the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology that “Hypnotherapy and counselling may be considered as orthodox treatments.”

2001 The British Psychological Society commissioned a group of psychologists to publish a report on The Nature of Hypnosis, which reported that hypnosis is a proven therapeutic medium. The report stated that “hypnotic procedures may be beneficial in the management and treatment of a wide range of conditions and problems encountered in the practice of medicine, psychiatry and psychotherapy.”

2005 The American Psychological Association published a formal definition of hypnosis.

More and more hypnotherapy is being used by the medical profession and is respected for the results that can be achieved.

Couple Meditating
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