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by Brighton-based hypnotherapist Jason Evans

What does the word "Hypnosis" conjure up for you?

Maybe you've seen stage shows from the likes of Derren Brown or Paul McKenna, or films like "Stir of Echoes" or "Now You See Me". Maybe you've experienced hypnosis yourself, either with a hypnotherapist or stage hypnotist, or maybe it's something you've never tried but always been curious about.

Whatever your view of hypnosis, you may find that the experience of seeing a good hypnotherapist is very different to what you previously thought. The truth is that from a wider hypnotherapy perspective, we all dip into and out of trance states all the time in our daily lives.

Does this surprise you? If you've ever got engrossed in good book or film, or else arrived somewhere after a long journey without any clear recollection of how you got there, you have probably experienced a mild trance state that is not very different in kind to the gentle state of relaxation that a good hypnotherapist will guide you into.

To be sure, a hypnotherapist is simply a guide, allowing you through the power of your own unconscious mind, to make positive changes to your life. Hypnotherapy can tackle a wide range of issues from habits and phobias to lifting depression, dealing with stress and anxiety, becoming a non-smoker and even experiencing past lives.

What to look for in a Hypnotherapist

When seeking hypnotherapy, it is not necessary to go to a doctor or psychiatrist, but you do want to see someone who is caring, trustworthy and responsible. Things to look for are:

  • A recognised qualification, such as a certificate or diploma
  • Registration with a governing body, preferably accredited
  • Committment to a code of ethics, usual for any psychotherapy
  • Regular supervision
  • Public liability insurance
  • Open and transparent about charges, terms and conditions

Hypnotherapists should absolutely not use titles for which they have no legal right (such a Professor or Doctor), they should not diagnose unless they have medical training, they should not claim "guaranteed" results without solid scholarly evidence to back it up.

Hypnotherapy is not a regulated profession unlike doctors and other healthcare professionals, so they cannot legally claim to be such. Registration with an accredited registering body should be considered essential to ensure your hypnotherapist meets a minimum standard of responsible practice.

How to find a Hypnotherapist

You could probably find yourself a hypnotherapist by using a search engine, but there are several options to consider that might work out better for you.

There are a number of specialist directories. For example here in Brighton and Hove there is
Brighton Mind, Body and Spirit

You might also find searching the registers of registering bodies useful, for example in the UK there is a registering body accredited with the UK Professional Standards Authority, the
Hypnotherapy Society

If you do find your therapist using a search engine or social media, take the time to read through any reviews or testimonials. They may not need to be perfect, but so long as clients' experiences are generally good, that's a start.

If your therapist offers a free consultation of some sort to let you get a feel for what therapy with them will be like, even better!

What is a hypnotherapy session actually like

Unlike stage hypnotists, who are aiming for something quick and dramatic, a good hypnotherapist will gently lead you into a focused state of hypnosis through something like a gentle relaxation or guided visualisation. It is rather like being read a bedtime story! Or taking an afternoon nap.

As part of the relaxation, your hypnotherapist might get you to imagine something pleasant vividly, like for example a quiet beach or a secluded forest. Then after deepening the hypnosis they will give you some carefully chosen suggestions to help you with whatever issue you came to them.

It feels really nice and the hypnotherapist will gently bring you back to ordinary awareness, often feeling relaxed and refreshed.

Hypnotherapy and Mindfulness

Clients seeking hypnotherapy are often surprised how much common ground there is between hypnotherapy and mindfulness. In fact, US hypnotherapy entrepreneur Grace Smith has been quoted as saying that hypnotherapy is "meditation with a goal" (

Basically, because of this common ground, one might say that just about any benefit you may have heard in relation to mindfulness is even more likely through hypnotherapy, because your hypnotherapist is giving suggestions directly to your unconscious mind.

Still unsure about Hypnotherapy?

There are some common reasons people might still be unsure about hypnotherapy:

  • They may still have some misapprehensions or weird ideas about hyonosis, like the idea they may be asked to bark like a dog or act like a chicken (generally you will not, that is unless you really want to!)
  • You may not really be willing to give it a try. Sometimes smokers are talked into going by relatives, but don't really want to stop - hypnosis may not be the answer in this case
  • You might have had a bad experience with hypnosis in the past (a good hypnotherapist can only do so much about that bad therapist that you saw previously!), or have a fear of "losing control" (although irrational fears ironically are something that can sometimes be addressed through hypnotherapy!
The truth about hypnosis is that it is almost impossible to make people do things they do not want to do through hypnosis. So if they act out a suggestion given under hypnosis, it is probably because deep down they are already open to doing it.

If "losing control" or a bad past experience with hypnosis is still an issue for you, maybe a gentler form of peer-based psychotherapy which keeps you 'in the driving seat' is more for you. Focusing is a therapeutic technique that might fit the bill:


Hypnotherapy is a sometimes overlooked, effective psychotherapy which can be very effective for certain issues. It has a complicated past and sometimes something of an image problem thanks to popular portrayals of hypnosis. But with the current sustained interest in mindfulness meditation, it may be worth considering as a kind of "meditation with a goal".

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