Hypnosis: find out how it really works

Hypnosis is a practice that generates a lot of curiosity, mainly because it is usually represented in films and fictions in a very wrong way.

In general, it is used to assist in the treatment of different conditions, promoting relaxation and even overcoming trauma. Learn more about the practice:

What is hypnosis?

In the popular imagination, hypnosis works as a kind of control of the individual, but in reality it is nothing like that. In a more technical way, it is possible to define the practice as an altered state of consciousness characterized by focused attention and high susceptibility to suggestions.

In other words, it is a moment of much focus and more openness to the guidelines that are given. However, it does not mean that the hypnotized person can be commanded to do things he does not want to do.

Often, the suggestions cause a change in the individual’s sensation and perception, so that he can see, hear or feel things that are not really there (hallucinations).

According to the American Psychological Association, hypnosis is a procedure in which a hypnologist (researcher or health professional) suggests that the hypnotized individual experience changes in their sensations, perceptions, thoughts and even behavior.

The technique has been used by big names in science, such as Ivan Pavlov and Sigmund Freud, but it has also been widely criticized for a long time.

Freud himself believed that hypnosis was not effective in treating hysteria and therefore abandoned the method, replacing it with free association and starting psychoanalysis as we know it today.

Despite everything, today it is known that hypnosis is effective in some cases, being used as a complement to the main treatment. She is recognized in the fields of medicine, dentistry, psychology, occupational therapy and physiotherapy.

Currently, hypnotherapy is used to treat a wide variety of illnesses, such as emotional disorders (mental disorders such as depression , anxiety , among others), phobias, addictions ( alcoholism , smoking , substance abuse), chronic pain, pain management in cancer patients, insomnia , sexual disorders, among others.

It is worth remembering that hypnosis to treat disorders is done over 6 or more well-structured sessions – nothing like those child’s games or what is seen on television.

How does hypnosis work?

Hypnosis puts the person in a state of trance in which he is highly suggestible. With this, certain resistances are removed from the path, making it easier for the therapist to be able to access contents that the person would not speak of in a state of alert awareness.

This can help to rediscover memories that were censored by the mind itself, to access traumas, fears and insecurities that the individual has difficulty in consciously assuming and, from that, to work on the problems.

Hypnosis can also work as a relaxation technique, helping in some specific contexts such as insomnia and anxiety.

For sleeping

Sleep hypnosis works in two ways: the first helping to eliminate the cause of insomnia, if it is something psychological, and the second helping the person to relax before going to sleep.

Insomnia often appears as a symptom of trauma, anxiety, phobias, among others. In this sense, treating these problems with hypnosis, it is expected to obtain a better quality of sleep.

In addition, self-hypnosis is taught, that is, the act of hypnotizing yourself. This is because hypnosis also works as a relaxation technique, which helps the patient to fall asleep. Therefore, doing self-hypnosis at bedtime can help insomnia.

It is worth remembering that hypnotic trance and sleep are different mental states, that is, they are not the same thing. Although hypnosis can help you sleep, it does not mean that it does the same thing as sleep or can replace it.

To lose weight

There are several ways in which hypnosis can help with weight loss.

The first of these is the treatment of eating disorders. If the person already has a diagnosis of an eating disorder, treatment with psychotherapy and hypnotherapy can help solve the problem.

In addition, hypnosis can help the individual to establish a healthier relationship with food and with the body itself.

For anxiety

First, hypnotic trance can help the patient to understand the situations that cause him anxiety (called “triggers”). From this, it is possible to work with these triggers so that they no longer cause this anxiety response in some conventional therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy.

However, there are cases where it is possible to continue treating anxiety with hypnotherapy.

This is because, through the hypnotic trance and the suggestions made by the hypnotherapist, the patient is able to reframe certain traumas and situations, making the triggers no longer cause the anxiety response.

There are people who use hypnosis in conjunction with conventional psychotherapies and pharmacological treatment (drugs), having great efficacy. It is also often used as a relaxation technique to assist in psychotherapy.

Who can do it?

There is no specific regulation on who can apply hypnosis to other people. However, being widely used in the fields of medicine and psychology, the Federal Councils of Medicine and Psychology have guidelines that must be followed to incorporate hypnosis into clinical practice.

In general, hypnotherapists are usually health professionals such as doctors, psychologists, occupational therapists, among others.

As for patients, there are no restrictions, that is, everyone can do hypnotherapy. However, some people are more resistant to hypnotic trance than others.

The hypnotic state can be more difficult to reach in some people, especially those who have difficulties with confidence and are not willing to “let their guard down”.

Bearing in mind that hypnosis depends on the patient / client’s relaxation, it is necessary to establish a trusting relationship between hypnotherapist and patient for the hypnotic trance induction to work.

Are there risks?

In general, there are no risks associated with hypnosis if it is done by a well-educated professional. Although the person is susceptible to suggestions, the hypnotherapist does not have complete control over the individual and cannot force him to do something he does not want to do.

Practice can be a risk when done by poorly educated people with little knowledge of how to deal with emotionally sensitive situations.

This is because the potential of hypnosis to relive trauma is quite large and hypnotherapists unprepared to deal with it may end up harming the patient even more.

Many people are afraid of not being able to get out of the hypnotic trance. Although it is an altered state of induced consciousness, the hypnotized person does not need another person to get him out of that state. Often, she returns to normal consciousness alone or falls asleep.

The most serious risk that is taken during hypnosis is the implementation of false memories. Since memory is one of the factors that are most suggestible during hypnotic trance, the hypnotherapist may end up implanting false memories.

In general, trained hypnologists know how not to make this mistake. However, doing hypnosis with a bad person, for example, can yield some traumatic false memories.

Where to find hypnosis professionals?

It is possible to search for hypnosis professionals on the internet. Give preference to reliable sites that list several professionals, or look for associations of local hypnologists.

Don’t forget to make sure you are a well-educated and experienced hypnologist. If possible, see reports from other patients.

Give preference to hypnologists who can prove your education level, such as psychologists registered with the Regional Council of Psychology or other properly regulated health professionals.


There are several therapeutic practices related to mental well-being. Hypnosis is one of them.

Although quite common in films and in the popular imagination, the treatment is quite different from what is usually represented. It is safe, provided it is done by responsible and trained professionals.

Find out more tips and therapy techniques at Minute Healthy!

Loading...