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Difference Between Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy

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The main difference between hypnosis and hypnotherapy is that hypnotherapy is a medical therapy whereas hypnosis is a state of mind we can be in during hypnotherapy. However, these two terms are often used as they're the same, but it's not the case.

Now that the main difference between these two terms is clear let's dive into specific differences between hypnosis and hypnotherapy.

Hypnosis vs Hypnotherapy:

DefinitionRelax and concentrated state of mindA therapy that use hypnosis to bring out desired change by suggestion
GoalSelf-growth / Entertainment / TherapyTreat a physical or psychological problem
RecognitionRecognized by the general public as a mysterious practiceOfficially recognized by the WHO but still debated by the medical community
QualificationsCan be performed by anyone with trainingProfessional and certified hypnotherapist
Example of techniquesProgressive muscle relaxation / VisualizationMinds subtle power / Direct suggestion

1. Short definition

Hypnosis is a particular state of awareness and trans, between wakefulness and sleep, caused by suggestion.

Hypnotherapy is an alternative medicine using hypnosis for therapeutic purposes to treat certain pains or deep problems such as addictions or insomnia.

2. Goal

The purposes of hypnosis can be for various reasons. During some entertainment shows, hypnotists hypnotize spectators to perform. When performed by a medical professional, hypnosis can also be used to treat illnesses.

Hypnotherapy has only one goal: to treat a physical or psychological problem. Hypnotherapy is often used to help the patient stop his addictions (cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, etc.) or to treat phobias (arachnophobia, aerophobia, claustrophobia, etc.).

3. Recognition

The practice of hypnosis is often seen as something mystical practiced by magicians or charlatans. Because of their exposure to hypnosis in entertainment shows, the general public does not take hypnosis seriously. Some people think it's fake and a scam.

Since the 17th and 18th century, psychologists like Erickson have popularized hypnotherapy as a medical therapy. Despite this, the practice is still debated and not universally supported by medical experts. However, the WHO has recognized this practice as effective for over 20 years.

4. Qualifications

Hypnosis does not have any rules. Just as you would train for meditation, you can learn to be in a state of hypnosis. As opposed to this, hypnotherapy can only be performed by certified professionals who have received recognized training.

5. Techniques

To enter a state of hypnosis, the technique most commonly used in self-hypnosis is called progressive muscle relaxation. When a hypnotist wants to hypnotize someone, he or she can use speech, but there is no therapeutic purpose like hypnotherapy.

As there is a therapeutic dimension, the therapist's voice is very important in hypnotherapy. It will combine hypnosis with psychotherapy and will be deeply effective in treating the patient.

What is Hypnosis?

Hypnosis is a state of relaxed concentration in which the neocortex, the part of the brain responsible for reasoning and decision-making, and the limbic brain, which stores emotional memories, can communicate. 

hypnosis state of mind

By accessing the limbic brain through hypnosis, it is possible to temporarily override previously ingrained patterns and behaviors, potentially leading to a new perspective on past experiences and a resolution of problems such as low self-esteem, stress, fears, or insomnia. Hypnosis can also be used to improve mental capabilities.

Hypnosis occurs in a lot of therapies and is characterized by abstraction, which means that while a person is physically present in one location, their mind is elsewhere. This is similar to the experience of dreaming at night, when a person is physically in bed but mentally somewhere else, and has forgotten about their physical surroundings.

What is Hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy is a type of therapy that uses hypnosis to induce a state of relaxation in which suggestions can be made to the unconscious mind to bring about desired change. 


This technique can be used to address a wide range of psychological issues such as anxiety, stress, panic, depression, fears and phobias, as well as physical conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, tinnitus, and pain. Hypnotherapy can also be effective for stopping smoking, achieving weight loss, and breaking habits. 

Each hypnotherapy consultation is customized for the individual, and a personalized hypnosis recording may be shared for use at home.


How to locate a reputable hypnotist / hypnotherapist?

To find a certified hypnotist or hypnotherapist, refer to the ASCH (American Society of Clinical Hypnosis) directory or find one on the website PsychologyToday.com which has a list of verified hypnotherapists.


Hypnosis and hypnotherapy are related but totally distinct concepts. Hypnosis is a state of relaxed concentration in which the neocortex and the limbic brain can communicate. 

Hypnotherapy is a therapeutic treatment that uses hypnosis to treat various psychological or physical problems: anxiety, stress, depression, phobias, migraines, etc. Hypnotherapy is conducted by certified professionals and has a therapeutic purposes, while hypnosis can be self-induced or practiced for entertainment. 

Hypnotherapy uses techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation and visualization to induce hypnosis, while hypnosis can use techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, visualization and mind-body techniques.

Feel free to comment and discuss about the article in the comment space below if you have any information or remarks to add. If you think we made a mistake, you can also report it there.
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About the Author: Tom Vincent

Tom Vincent graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and social studies. He then started his higher education at the University of François Rabelais in Tours with a DUT Information Communication. To expand his knowledge, he also followed a professional degree in e-commerce and digital marketing at the Lumière University of Lyon. On this project, he is in charge of articles covering language, industry and social.
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