Is Hypnotherapy Legit?

Written By

Dr. Azhar Qureshi


Fact Checked

mans face with rainbow colored hypnotising shapes around him

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Hypnotherapy has become an increasingly popular alternative and complementary therapy method for a variety of conditions in recent years.

However, the legitimacy and efficacy of hypnotherapy is still questioned by many. Here, we analyze whether hypnotherapy constitutes a scientifically valid and effective treatment option.

What is Hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy involves placing patients into a deep state of relaxation and focus, known as a hypnotic trance, during which the therapist makes suggestions to influence behavior, thoughts, feelings or the body.

The goal is to tap into the subconscious to promote beneficial changes.

A hypnotherapist first induces the hypnotic state then provides therapeutic suggestions tailored to the individual. This allows the patient to be highly receptive to new ideas and thought patterns.

Conditions Hypnotherapy May Help With

Hypnotherapy has been primarily used to help treat:

  • Addictions
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic pain
  • Sleep problems
  • Weight loss
  • Phobias

However, research indicates it may also benefit other conditions like depression, skin disorders, asthma, and migraines.

Science Behind Hypnotherapy

Science Behind Hypnotherapy

Studies show hypnosis impacts areas of the brain involved in attention, perception, self-awareness and focus.

Brain RegionFunction
Prefrontal cortexRational thinking, decision making
Anterior cingulate cortexEmotion regulation
Basal gangliaHabit formation

Altering activity in these areas allows ideas to bypass inner resistance and criticism.

  • Imaging scans reveal those under hypnosis have increased blood flow and connectivity between regions.
  • This enhanced communication lets suggestions permeate deeper and enact more change.
YouTube video
Can Hypnosis Permanently Change Your Brain?

Is The Hypnotic Trance Real?

There is legitimate concern around whether hypnotic trances genuinely occur or if patients simply fake responses to please the therapist.

Awareness shift

However, studies confirm hypnosis alters awareness in consistent and measurable ways that patients cannot purposely replicate. Under hypnosis, patients demonstrate:

  • Decreased spinal reflexes – Meaning trance is physiologically, not psychologically, induced
  • Changes in brain waves – Including increased theta waves associated with deep relaxation

Patients also perform differently on suggestion-based tasks depending on language used to induce hypnosis. This implies trance depth genuinely shifts.

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Hypnotherapy Results

Numerous studies exemplify hypnotherapy can yield positive outcomes when applied correctly.


  • A meta-analysis found hypnotherapy effectively reduces hot flashes and night sweats in breast cancer survivors.
  • Likewise, a research analysis reports an average 23% success rate for managing acute and chronic pain with hypnotherapy.

While more research is still needed, current evidence supports hypnotherapy provides tangible therapeutic benefits for many individuals.

Ensuring Effective Hypnotherapy Treatment

  • However, outcomes largely depend on hypnotherapist skill and appropriate application.
    • Seek professionally trained therapists certified by reputable hypnosis societies.
    • Be an engaged, willing participant in your own treatment.

Rapport with your therapist also leads to better responsiveness.

When leveraged correctly, hypnotherapy constitutes legitimate, beneficial therapy worthy of consideration. Discuss options with your healthcare provider.

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About the author

Dr. Azhar Qureshi

Dr. Azhar Qureshi

As a physician and cardiologist, my training encompassed a comprehensive range of invasive and noninvasive procedures, providing extensive hands-on experience in echocardiography, cardiac stress testing, diagnostic catheterization, and coronary interventions. In addition, I developed skills in psychological assessments and formulating detailed case reports. This multifaceted training has equipped me with a strong foundation across cardiology, psychological studies, and documentation to support my medical research. I am passionate about medical writing and exchanging knowledge to help the global community. Social

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