Hypnosis Frequently Asked Questions

Hypnosis can be a viable alternative treatment.

What Is Hypnosis?

Many of us have seen shows at carnivals or fairs where a hypnotist supposedly hypnotizes several audience members and persuades them to commit silly or amazing acts for the crowd. This form of entertainment is not a true representation of legitimate hypnosis. Hypnosis is, in fact, a well-studied and accepted therapy for many different diseases and disorders that is accepted by the American Medical Association as well as the American Psychological Association.

How Does Hypnosis Help Digestive Problems?

Hypnosis is an option for people with digestive disorders who have been unresponsive to traditional medical treatment with drugs and alterations in diet and lifestyle. A ground-breaking study in 1984 showed that Irritable Bowel Syndrome patients treated with hypnotherapy demonstrated not only significant improvement in their symptoms, but also did not suffer relapses during the 3 month study period. Hypnosis has also been found to delay both colonic motility and gastric acid secretion. Some benefits of hypnosis include long-lasting results, the absence of negative side effects, and the overall relaxation from treatment sessions.

What Is A Typical Hypnosis Session Like?

During a hypnosis session the patient is generally asked to relax and focus their eyes on a certain point. Next the hypnotist instructs the patient to listen closely to their voice while further suggestions of deeper relaxation and focus are given.

A first session may include simple tests (such as lift one arm or imagine an object in the room) to test the suggestibility of the patient. Finally the hypnotist will give post-hypnotic suggestions to reinforce the new attitudes and perceptions after therapy has ended.

Can Anyone Be Hypnotized?

The ability to be hypnotized will vary from person to person and depends upon many factors including attitude towards hypnosis and previous experiences.

The 85% of people who are hypnotizable will enter the hypnotic state to varying degrees. Those who are hypnotizable are likely to stay that way; it is a stable mental trait.

How Do You Find A Reputable Hypnotist?

The bond between a hypnotist and patient should be one of trust. Therefore it is important to find a licensed practitioner with a good reputation. The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis and Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis are two organizations that offer membership to qualified practitioners.


Forbes A, MacAuley S, Chiotakakou-Faliakou E. Hypnotherapy and therapeutic audiotape: effective in previously unsuccessfully treated irritable bowel syndrome? Int J Colorectal Dis. 2000 Nov;15(5-6):328-334.

Whorwell PJ, Prior A, Faragher EB. Controlled trial of hypnotherapy in the treatment of severe refractory irritable-bowel syndrome. Lancet 1984 Dec 1;2(8414):1232-1234.

Whorwell PJ, Houghton LA, Taylor EE, Maxton DG. Physiological effects of emotion: assessment via hypnosis. Lancet. 1992 Jul 11;340(8811):69-72.

Klein KB, Spiegel D. Modulation of gastric acid secretion by hypnosis. Gastroenterology. 1989 Jun;96(6):1383-1387.

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