The effectiveness of hypno-psychotherapy

The effectiveness of Hypno-psychotherapy & Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy has been used for thousands of years to help people with a variety of different problems. The ancient Egyptians and ancient Indians are believed to have employed hypnotherapy over 4000 years ago to help cure their sick in ‘sleep temples’. Hypnotherapy was also used to help control pain and facilitate surgical operations before anaesthetic drugs became available, and it was authorised as a legitimate treatment by the British Medical Association in 1955.

More recently, there have been numerous studies that have demonstrated the effectiveness of using hypnotherapy, either on its own or in conjunction with other psychotherapies, in the treatment of a broad range of different problems. The results from a very small number of these trials are outlined below.

Smoking cessation

“Hypnosis is the most effective way of giving up smoking, according to the largest ever scientific comparison of ways of breaking the habit. A meta-analysis, statistically combining the results of more than 600 studies of 72,000 people from America and Europe, compared various methods of quitting. On average, hypnosis was over three times as effective as nicotine replacement methods, and 15 times as effective as trying to quit alone”. (Schmidt and Viswesvaran, 1992)

Pain reduction

A review of the effectiveness of hypnosis in the treatment of headaches and migraines, by the National Institute of Health Technology Assessment Panel, concluded that hypnosis is a well-established and efficacious treatment (Hammond, 2007).

Including hypnosis in protocols to manage major burns has been shown to reduce the level of pain and anxiety, improve the efficiency of opioid use, improve wound outcomes, and reduce hospital costs (Berger et al, 2009).

Weight loss

A review of several weight loss studies determined that adding hypnosis to traditional behavioural weight loss programmes can more than double the level of weight lost, and that the benefits of receiving hypnosis will continue to increase substantially over time (Kirsch, 1996).

Analysis of 18 weight loss studies involving cognitive-behavioural therapy, either on its own or with hypnosis added into the programme, found that people receiving hypnosis lost more weight than 90% of those who had not received hypnosis. Also, those who received hypnosis had maintained the weight loss 2 years after treatment had finished (Storrs and Faith, 1996).

Irritable bowel syndrome

A review of 20 studies that investigated the use of hypnotherapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), concluded that hypnotherapy is an effective treatment in the management of IBS (Wilson et al, 2006).


A review of 43 studies of different types of mind-body intervention, found evidence that hypnotherapy (imagery/hypnosis) is able to provide improvements in the individual symptoms of pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbance (Kwekkeboom et al, 2009).


1. Schmidt F. and Viswesvaran C., How one in five give up smoking.  Journal of Applied Psychology, 1992.

2. Hammond C.C., Review of the efficacy of clinical hypnosis with headaches and migraines. Int. J. Clin. Exp. Hypnosis.  2007, 55 (2): p.207-219

3. Berger M.M., et al, Impact of a pain protocol including hypnosis in major burns.  Burns. 2009, Oct 30

4. Kirsch I., Hypnotic enhancement of cognitive-behavioural weight loss treatments – another meta re-analysis.  Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.  1996, 64 (3): p.517-519.

5. Storrs A.D.B. and Faith M., Hypnosis as an adjunct to cognitive-behavioural psychotherapy for obesity: a meta-analytic reappraisal.  Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.  1996, 64 (3): p.513-516.

6. Wilson S., et al, Systematic review: the effectiveness of hypnotherapy in the management of irritable bowel syndrome.  Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.2006, 24 (5).

7. Kwekkeboom L.L., et al,  Mind-body treatments for the pain-fatigue-sleep disturbance system cluster in persons with cancer.  Journal of Pain Symptoms Management. 2009 (Nov).