The truth about hypnotherapy: What really happens in the therapy room?

Kat Nicholls
By Kat Nicholls,
updated on Jul 1, 2021

The truth about hypnotherapy: What really happens in the therapy room?

Sorting fact from fiction when it comes to hypnotherapy

Here at Happiful we’re big believers in finding the right support for you, whatever that may be. We’re all unique and there’s rarely a one-size-fits-all therapy.

And, thankfully, there are plenty of different therapies out there to explore and find out what works for us. One particular type we want to focus on here, which often has an air of mystery surrounding it and a lot of misconceptions on what to expect, is hypnotherapy.

How does it work?

When we are in a deep state of relaxation, it is believed that our unconscious mind becomes more susceptible to suggestion. This means that when a hypnotherapist invites us into this state and uses suggestion techniques, our thought patterns and behaviours can be encouraged to change.

As a result, this can be particularly helpful for changing habits, overcoming anxiety and easing stress. It’s even been recognised by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as an effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome.

However, there are a few myths and misconceptions surrounding hypnotherapy which can put people off. To sort fact from fiction, we asked hypnotherapist Lorraine McReight to tell us the truth behind these common myths:

1. The hypnotherapist will be able to make me do things I don’t want to do

People usually have this fear because they’ve seen stage or TV hypnosis, but this certainly isn’t the case. Stage hypnotists set the scene for these amusing antics and invite volunteers to get up on stage; when someone does this, they are accepting their role.

In hypnosis, a person will be more open to suggestion and therefore able to change patterns of behaviour that are unhelpful, but no one can make you do anything you don’t want to do. A key part in the success of hypnotherapy is a willing client.

2. Hypnotherapists can control your mind

Hypnosis is not mind control! Someone who is having hypnosis is participating by choice and, while they are usually very relaxed, they remain in control. During a session, the hypnotherapist will make suggestions which you will be free to accept or reject.

Highly creative people are often more open to the suggestions made in hypnosis, because they are able to consider and try out suggestions in their imagination.

3. If I get hypnotised I won’t remember anything from the session

It’s completely normal for your mind to wander while in hypnosis, so there may be times where you are aware of what’s being said, and times where you may not be. Therefore your memories of the session can vary. You may remember some of what’s been said, or nothing at all – both are perfectly normal.

4. If I get put into a state of hypnosis, I may not come out of it

Hypnosis is a completely natural state that we all drift in and out of throughout the day. Everyone has the ability to take themselves out of the hypnotic state – this can be done simply by opening our eyes! If a session is interrupted and the hypnotherapist isn’t there to “talk you back”, you will eventually drift back to awareness anyway, a little like waking up from a nap.

5. Hypnotherapy works like magic

Sometimes it might seem so! When a therapist communicates with your unconscious mind, change can happen quickly and easily. However, hypnotherapy is a collaborative process between you and your practitioner, and so requires effort and a desire to change on your part.

6. Only the “weak-willed” can be hypnotised

Let’s recap what hypnosis really is. Hypnosis is a state of focused attention, similar to that experienced when you’re absorbed in a creative task or sport. It could therefore be argued that those who are very strong-willed are actually better hypnotic subjects.

Most people can achieve some level of hypnotic trance; the key is willingness. In short, if you don’t want to be hypnotised, you won’t be.

Interested in hypnotherapy?

• Search for a hypnotherapist with professional training. Hypnotherapy as an industry isn’t legally regulated, however there are many professional bodies that hypnotherapists can join. These ensure professionals have had appropriate training and adhere to a code of ethics.

• Choose the right hypnotherapist for you. Hypnotherapy Directory lists hypnotherapists from around the country, all of whom have been verified to ensure they are members of a professional body and/or have the appropriate qualifications and insurance. Take your time to learn more about the hypnotherapist and the way they work, to see if they sound right for you.

• Book a consultation. Many hypnotherapists will offer this to give you a chance to get to know each other. This allows you to learn more about the process and discuss your goals, as well as asking any questions you may have, such as the length of treatment.

• Ensure you feel comfortable. Hypnotherapy works best when you are relaxed, so if you have any worries or concerns don’t hesitate to bring them up with your hypnotherapist.

Lorraine McReight is an award-winning hypnotherapist and principal of the London Hypnotherapy Academy, which offers fully accredited courses for those wishing to train for a career in clinical hypnotherapy. To find out more, visit

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