Hypnosis is a natural psychological process in which critical thinking faculties of the mind are bypassed and a type of selective thinking and perception is established. Although some individuals experience an increase in suggestibility and/or subjective feelings of an altered state of consciousness, this is not true for everyone.
Hypnotherapy is a term to describe the use of hypnosis in a therapeutic context. Many hypnotherapists refer to their practice as "clinical work". Hypnotherapy can either be used as an addition to the work of licensed physicians or psychologists, or it can be used in a stand-alone environment where the hypnotherapist in question usually owns his or her own business.
The majority of certified hypnotherapists today earn a large portion of their money through the cessation of smoking (often in a single session) and the aid of weight loss.
There is no evidence that 'incurable' diseases are curable with hypnosis (such as cancer, diabetes, and arthritis). However, pain and other body functions related to some diseases are controllable.
Some of the treatments practiced by hypnotherapists, in particular so-called regression, are viewed with skepticism.
- Age regression - by returning to an earlier ego-state the patient can regain qualities they once had, but have lost. Remembering an earlier, healthier, ego-state can increase the patients' strength and confidence.
- Revivification - remembering past experiences can contribute to therapy. For example; the hypnotist may ask "have you ever been in trance?" and then find it easier to revive the previous experience than attempt inducing a new state.
- Guided imagery - a method by which the subject is given a new relaxing and beneficial experience.
- Parts therapy - a method pioneered by Charles Tebbetts to identify conflicting parts that are damaging the well being of clients, then helps those parts negotiate with each other through the therapist to bring about a resolution.
- Confusion - a method developed by Milton H. Erickson in which the subject is more likely to be receptive to indirect suggestion due in an altered state of confusion.
- Repetition - the more an idea is repeated the more likely it is to be accepted and acted upon by the patient.
- Direct suggestion - suggesting directly. "You feel safe and secure".
- Indirect suggestion - using "interspersal" technique and other means to cause effect.
- Mental state - people are more receptive while relaxed, sleeping, or in a trance.
- Hypnoanalysis - the client recalls moments from his past, confronting them and releasing associated emotions, similar to psychoanalysis.
- Post-hypnotic suggestion - a suggestion that will be carried out after the trance has ended. "When you re-awaken you will feel refreshed and happy!!"
- Visualization - being told to imagine or visualize a desired outcome seems to make it more likely to actually occur.