Hypnotherapy is a complementary intervention that many therapists use to supplement a core practice such as CBT. Hypnotherapy uses hypnosis to help patients enter a state in which their attention is more focused and they are more amenable to suggestion. While many equate it with going to sleep, hypnosis actually creates a heightened state. In this state of heightened relaxation and awareness, the therapist and patient can work to alter the patient’s behaviors, change established patterns, and address past traumas.

How Hypnotherapy Works

To initiate the hypnotherapy session, the therapist utilizes guided relaxation techniques such as speaking in soothing tones and describing images that encourage relaxation and a sense of security. These techniques ideally lead the patient into a state of relaxation and extreme focus. The therapist can then begin hypnotherapy. Methods used can include suggestion therapy or analysis.

In suggestion therapy, the therapist makes suggestions about new behaviors a patient can begin to incorporate into life. It can work well in changing addictive habits, but can also help with those experiencing chronic pain.

In analysis, the therapist works with the patient to uncover deeply repressed memories or traumas. The ultimate goal is to identify historical issues and then move past them in the present.

What Hypnotherapy Treats

Hypnotherapy works in the treatment of many mental health issues, including but not limited to:

  • Phobias
  • Substance abuse
  • Interpersonal conflicts
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Hypnotherapy can be most advantageous for patients who want a non-medication intervention for behavioral issues.


Treating anxiety with hypnotherapy involves suggestion therapy, oftentimes. During the state of deep relaxation, the therapist can suggest behaviors that help the patient assuage the symptoms of anxiety when they occur, such as :

  • Feelings of doom
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Tension

Hypnotherapy for anxiety is often done in tandem with cognitive behavioral therapy.


As with treatment for anxiety, using hypnotherapy to address PTSD can involve making suggestions that replace negative patterns with more effective coping mechanisms. Hypnotherapy can also be effective in reducing the disassociation that can happen in PTSD, allowing the patient to get to a place where they can deal with feelings and trauma.