Find A Hypnotherapist: All You Need to Know

Medically reviewed by Majesty Purvis, LCMHC
Updated April 11, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Hypnotherapy can be categorized as one of the many types of therapy aimed at making observable and long-term changes to behavior. It is a form of psychotherapy that usually falls into the suggestion therapy category, since it typically involves the therapist making direct suggestions to the client. At the same time, the client is normally in a suggestible state to encourage changes in behavioral patterns. When looking for a hypnotherapist, it can be important to ensure they are certified by the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis. Another crucial factor may be that you feel comfortable with the therapist you choose because if you don’t feel safe and comfortable with them, it can be more challenging to enter a hypnotic state. You may find a hypnotherapist in your local area or online.

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What is hypnotherapy?

In essence, hypnotherapy is a form of therapy that relies on suggestions. In fact, the word “hypnotherapy” draws its meaning from the Greek words for “sleep” and “treatment.” 

Hypnotherapy is divided into experimental hypnosis and clinical hypnosis. Experimental hypnosis involves going into a hypnotic state to explore what one might discover in their subconscious, while clinical hypnosis is geared toward treating a specific psychosis or problem like chronic pain or post-traumatic stress disorder. Hypnotherapists often use clinical hypnosis to target treatment that is focused on long-term behavioral change or treating specific concerns like post-traumatic stress disorder.

Does hypnosis work?

Clinical hypnosis and experimental hypnosis have had plenty of positive results, especially when it comes to the treatment of addiction, sleep disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, weight loss, pain management, and other behavioral changes. There are many observable links between mental health and hypnosis, not dissimilar to the connections found between meditation and stronger mental health.

These links between health and hypnosis have been proven time and time again. Many people feel well-rested and “reset” after they come out of the hypnotic state at the end of a session. They report feeling both mentally and physically rested. Many people also experience euphoria or a state of clarity that they haven’t felt while fully conscious outside of the hypnotic state.

Hypnosis has also been shown to be successful when it comes to family therapy. If you find a therapist who is certified and experienced with children, it can be safe for children as well. When it comes to marital family therapy, it can also be an excellent way to approach relationship problems with a long-term change and solution in mind. In this way, the vulnerability and suggestibility of hypnotherapy can spark positive change in your whole family with a generally low risk of side effects.

Of course, much like cognitive behavioral therapy, one key component to the success of clinical and experimental hypnosis can be to find a therapist that can make the hypnosis therapy work for you. This generally means that your guided hypnosis is only as good as your guide, so you may need to find a therapist that meets all your proper qualifications. For example, if you’re looking for a hypnotherapist who can help you with your post-traumatic stress disorder, you’ll likely want to find someone skilled in both hypnotherapy and PTSD.

What does a hypnotherapy session look like?

You probably have a picture in your head of a client lying on a couch with a therapist waving a watch back and forth in front of their eyes. This is the way that hypnotherapy sessions are often depicted in pop culture and media. While it’s not necessarily too far from reality, there may be more nuance to a hypnotherapy session.

Most hypnotherapy sessions follow the same procedure. At the very beginning of the hypnotherapy session, the clinical hypnotherapist will usually help you relax and feel comfortable. This often means talking you through a series of short exercises and guided deep breathing while you sit or lay in a comfortable position. Then, they may start the guided hypnosis by easing you into a hypnotic state.

A hypnotic state is often described as a trance, where your conscious mind is quieted, and your subconscious mind has more freedom to be expressed. It is in this hypnotic state that the therapist can start the suggestion therapy and hypnosis treatment.

As your therapist eases you into the trance or hypnotic state, you will likely begin to feel lighter. You might imagine yourself in another place, where you feel free to explore your subconscious. Many people also report the slowing down of time; everything may seem elongated. You may also find yourself in a lucid state, where you feel like you’re caught between sleeping and waking. These are common descriptions of what it can be like to enter a hypnotic state.

Once you are in a hypnotic state, the therapist will typically start to talk to you. They may ask you to imagine certain things. They may also ask you to respond to questions and note down your answers; however, not all hypnotherapists make use of asking questions while the client is in a trance. They may also ask you to imagine your problems. Then, once you have a clear visualization of the problem, they may encourage you to destroy it.

Often, this imagining and destruction is done in very metaphoric and symbolic ways. For example, the therapist may ask you to imagine your problem as a monster. Then, the therapist may describe the solution, and you may wield the answer like a sword. With this imagined sword, you can use the solution to slay the monster that is the problem at hand.

After an appropriate amount of time in the hypnotic state, the therapist will usually “wake you up” or call you back to a conscious state of mind. Then, they may ask you questions about what you experienced while you were in a trance. During this time of questions and answers, they may guide you into describing specific behavior changes and how to apply them to the problems you explored in that session. With the experiences and suggestions of the hypnotic state, along with the guidance offered by the therapist in the follow-up, the goal is normally to promote long-lasting change in your behavior and problem-solving.

What’s happening to my brain during hypnosis?

To find out exactly what was going on in the minds of people experiencing hypnosis, a recent study at Harvard University took scans and observed the brains of people during guided hypnosis. Most of their observations focused not only on the areas of the brain that “light up” while undergoing hypnosis but also on the connections between the functioning of these areas of the brain.

For example, the researchers learned that the brain centers, which are primarily considered to be responsible for processing and making decisions based on sensory input, tend to be more active during hypnosis. This led the researchers to hypothesize that the brain may experience heightened sensory experiences during hypnosis. They also found that the area of the brain that controls the action and the part of the brain that assesses the client’s own actions were usually disconnected while in the hypnotic state. This could be why clients who undergo hypnotherapy tend to feel less fear or less of a sense of risk when they express desired actions and outcomes in a hypnotic state.

Then, there are the descriptions that hypnotherapy clients give of their experiences while in a trance state. The ways that they describe it often line up with the scientific hypotheses. They often explain a comfortable state where they feel relaxed and ready to explore. Some clients even go further and claim that their senses became so attuned that they were able to see new colors or identify new smells while in a trance.

All in all, the brain is generally in a relaxed state during hypnosis, along with the body. Taken together, this often allows the client to experience heightened sensory awareness while also being more open to new suggestions and behavioral changes. This is largely confirmed both by the experiences of countless clients and scientific research.

Is the hypnotherapist certified?

Practitioners of clinical hypnotherapy are normally certified and are overseen by the ASCH, or the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis. A trained therapist will usually have the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis seal of approval and will be held to professional standards, backed up by the necessary approved training in hypnotherapy. Training in hypnotherapy and up-to-date certification can be crucial factors if you want to find a good hypnotherapist. 

CaptionGetty/Vadym Pastukh
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What do other clients say about the hypnotherapist?

When it’s time to find a therapist, there’s often no better reference than their clients! Even though many types of therapy, like cognitive behavioral therapy require the client to be vulnerable and open with the therapist, hypnotherapy can lay the client especially bare. This is because the client usually spends the bulk of the sessions in a hypnotic state in this form of therapy.

For this reason, you may wish to find a therapist who makes you feel comfortable and at ease. If you can’t find a therapist who makes you feel relaxed, it can be challenging to enter the hypnotic state. When you need to find a therapist, you generally need to be able to trust them through the whole guided hypnosis. So, you might talk to their previous clients and get an idea of who they are and how they interact with clients. Then, you may be able to ease your mind and fully engage with the clinical hypnotherapist.

Find a therapist online

Whether you’re interested in hypnotherapy or another type of mental health treatment with a licensed professional, it’s often simpler to connect with a therapist online than in person. With online therapy, you can get the help you deserve without having to leave your home, and you can schedule sessions at a time that fits your schedule.

Although more research regarding the efficacy of online hypnotherapy may be needed, many studies investigating the effectiveness of online therapy in general state that online therapy, like cognitive behavioral therapy, generally works just as well as traditional in-office therapy. If you’d like to seek professional help, please know that online therapy can be a valid and beneficial alternative to traditional therapy.


Hypnotherapy generally involves entering a suggestible state where it can be easier to navigate your subconscious mind. A hypnotherapist can guide you through this process and help you work through problems and change unwanted behaviors through hypnosis. In general, you should look for a hypnotherapist who is certified by the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis. It can be helpful to ensure that you feel safe and comfortable with your hypnotherapist so that it can be easier to enter a hypnotic state. It can be possible to connect with a hypnotherapist online or in person.

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