Hypnotherapy—a focus on changing subconscious behaviors

Kimberley Lehman

There are many situations where hypnotherapy can be useful.

Help smokers quit smoking

There is a significant amount of evidence that smoking can be reduced by using hypnosis. On average, 15 sessions of hypnotherapy are needed to successfully stop smoking.

Cope with stress

Many people who self-harm choose to access hypnotherapy in order to try and reduce their urges to hurt themselves, therefore having less harmful incidents. This is seen by clients as a positive move forwards in terms of coping with their emotions and urges without resorting to cutting (self-harming). The client will work with the therapist during sessions; this allows the client to feel safe within the space they are working through issues that may have led them to self-harm in the first place. It has even been found that hypnosis reduces cortisol levels (a stress hormone) suggesting that individuals who use it could cope better with stressful situations than those who do not.

Mental health

Some mental health patients also use hypnotherapy. There is a significant amount of evidence that people with schizophrenia and depression respond well to this form of therapy, and it can be used alongside other treatments such as medication. Hypnosis has been shown to work effectively in the treatment of many conditions including anxiety disorders, phobias, and physical symptoms such as pain or nausea.

Childhood emotional problems

A study was conducted on children who had emotional problems; they found that 35% (21) were willing to participate in future research on hypnotherapy; 37% (22) were unwilling, and 28% (17) were undecided. This suggests that there may be potential for using hypnotherapy as part of the child’s therapy. However, this is something that needs to be investigated further.

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Hypnotherapy can also be an effective treatment for the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. In a study, the participants had significantly reduced symptoms of PTSD after undergoing 20 sessions of hypnotherapy. Some individuals were even cured of their symptoms.


There is evidence that cancer patients may use hypnosis to help with pain management and other symptoms such as nausea. Research shows that hypnotherapy can be an effective treatment for these symptoms. In addition, hypnosis has been found to improve psychological well-being for cancer patients, especially those who have failed surgery or experienced distressing side effects from chemotherapy. It also appears to provide postsurgical benefits such as reducing nausea and lessening pain following breast surgery. However, further research needs to be conducted before we can determine just how effective this form of therapy is in treating people with cancer.

Chronic fatigue syndrome

Hypnotherapy shows great potential in helping individuals who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome deal with stress and pain. It has been found that sessions can help reduce levels of depression and anxiety.

Weight loss

People wishing to use hypnosis for weight loss must keep in mind that there is no evidence to support its use over other treatments. Hypnotherapy should always be seen as an addition to a weight management plan rather than a substitute for following a healthy eating plan and doing regular physical activity.

Irritable bowel syndrome

Hypnotherapy has also been found to be an effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome, which can cause pain, constipation, diarrhea, and nausea. Drug treatments are available but the side effects may not be tolerable for many patients. It is thought that hypnosis can help relieve these symptoms by encouraging people to have greater control over their gut function. Hypnosis has even been found to lead to improvement in IBS symptom severity beyond what is seen through changes in traditional treatment protocols alone.


The use of hypnotherapy as a way of helping those dealing with infertility was assessed using 37 women who had problems conceiving after previous pregnancies. The study suggests that there were large improvements in fertility levels twice as high for women who used hypnotherapy compared to those who did not.

From the examples above, it is clear that hypnotherapy can be applied to many situations that require a focus on changing subconscious behaviors in humans seeking natural methods of healing and balance.

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