Hypnosis or Hypnotherapy? What is the difference? 

People ask “What is the difference between hypnosis and hypnotherapy?” 

Of course, the best way to explain the difference is to look at a definition of each.

Hypnotic trance is an altered state of consciousness wherein the mind is usually relaxed and inward focused, yet receptive to external stimuli. Therefore, it is open to increased potential for suggestibility.

That’s the textbook definition. Another way to explain it is … various parts of our brain run different software. During trance our deepest unconscious mind takes a step forward and our logical and analytical conscious mind takes a step back.

It does the same thing during sleep, so people find the experience safe, pleasant, and somehow familiar.

Our unconscious mind is responsible for creating and maintaining our deepest beliefs and habits of behaviours. It creates all our emotions. It also runs functions of the physical body.

(The unconscious is sometimes confused with the subconscious or day-dreaming part of the mind)

So, you can see that if our emotions, beliefs (be they true or not) and behaviours (if they serve us or not) and our emotions (both positive and negative) originate from the same place, then the most efficient place to find mental and physical heath is in the unconscious mind.

Hypnotherapy was the original treatment for both mental and physical ill health, together with herbs.

Sharman have used chants, drums, and rattles to induce hypnotic trance in members of their tribe for healing purposes for many thousands of years, and some still do. The process can take many hours and sometimes days.

European priests such as Father Maximilian Hell (1720 – 1792) and physicians such as Franz Anton Mesmer (1734 – 1815) were part showmen and healers. They performed highly ritualised trance inductions which took many hours. However, their successes were legendary.

Over the centuries hypnotic trance inductions were perfected by many, sometimes as performances on stage. Sometimes in research projects or by medical doctors in private practice.

Today there are countless hypnotic trance induction techniques and hypnotherapy methods.

At a basic level, some people simply read a script from a book and then read positive affirmations. The experience is almost always pleasant for the patient, but usually lacks any long-term change for the better. So, they must return for a ‘top up’ session or regularly listen to recordings.

Another method is for a qualified hypnotherapist to age regress the patient during trance back to the source of their challenge and guides the unconscious to find understanding to resolve the issue in the present.

Since the 1970’s neurolinguistic programming (NLP), which does not necessarily require a trance induction, may be combined with hypnotherapy to affect an immediate shift in inappropriate unconscious beliefs and behaviours.

In addition, hypnotherapy and neurolinguistic programming can be followed up with pre recorded subliminal affirmations to ‘lock-in’ deep unconscious changes.

About the Author:

Peter Zapfella is an internationally accredited Master and Trainer of Hypnotherapy, Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and the Emotional Alignment Technique (EAT). He has been in private practice since 1995.