Hypnosis vs. Hypnotherapy: What’s the Difference?

It can be subtle, but to me, hypnosis implies a more passive experience – where you visit a hypnotist and they “fix” you. You’ll often find things like recordings that you listen to, and instructions from the hypnotist to find yourself naturally avoiding the habits and behaviors you’re trying to avoid and pursuing positive behaviors.

For example, if you’re looking to quit smoking with hypnosis, the hypnotist might help you relax and then suggest to your subconscious that it is no longer attracted to smoking, does not find it appealing, and instead is drawn to exercise and eating healthy foods.

Does hypnosis work?

Does this straightforward approach of instructing your subconscious to change its behavior, work? It can be hard to tell. With some habits you might find yourself being able to give a binary yes/no answer, like “did I actually stop smoking?”

With other things, like hypnosis for anxiety or trauma, it can be more difficult to pinpoint if and how much progress was made. Maybe you feel a bit better? Maybe some days are better than others?

To me, the main challenge with the more passive hypnosis approach is that it is built entirely around the results it aims to achieve – the progress is secondary.

Contrast that with hypnotherapy.

To me, hypnotherapy is engaging in a lot of the same explorations you might do with a conventional therapist, like exploring your childhood, uncovering your hidden motivations, and resolving traumatic memories.

The main difference is that you do this in a state of trance by first relaxing your body and mind to allow deeper insights and change.

This difference is huge and can lead to profound changes very quickly – but ultimately the therapeutic process is similar.

So when you think back after a session about what you did during it, you might not remember all the details, but there will be key themes that you’ll know you’ve explored, and a sense of emotional catharsis after having grappled and processed challenging issues.

Another name for this distinction might be clinical hypnosis, where the extra word “clinical” implies that the focus here is more similar to that of a classic psychologist setting.

As you can see, hypnosis and hypnotherapy are actually quite different, and I believe they will ultimately appeal to different people and different situations. When making the decision, I often encourage people to try both.

If you’re looking for something more dynamic, I invite you to get in touch and try a trial session with me, Shalom Shore.

I believe you’ll have a good sense of whether we’re a good fit, and even whether hypnotherapy is right for you, after a single session. Many people have an “aha” moment during their first session, a feeling of “this is exactly what I needed”; I welcome you to find out for yourself if you’re one of those people

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