What's It Like: Being hypnotized for medical reasons

Through hypnosis, or hypnotherapy, people enter trance state and become more open to suggestions that could help them improve their health. Sometimes people use hypnosis to quit smoking or lose weight.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: November 4, 2012

Why be hypnotized?

Through hypnosis, or hypnotherapy, people enter trance state and become more open to suggestions that could help them improve their health. Sometimes people use hypnosis to quit smoking or lose weight.

Through hypnosis, people can sometimes learn how to better control anxiety. It also has been studied for pain management, hot flashes in breast cancer survivors and irritable bowel syndrome.

What happens when you're hypnotized?

There are a lot of different styles of hypnosis, so each hypnotist, or hypnotherapist, will do things a bit differently.

The classic version of hypnosis is done through progressive relaxation. Some hypnotists will use guided imagery, where the hypnotists will focus your attention on pleasant images that replace negative feelings.

At the beginning of your session, you and the hypnotherapist, or hypnotist, will talk about what your person goals are. For example, “weight loss” can mean a lot of different things.

Once you're ready, the hypnotist will help you enter a trancelike state of relaxation. You might lean back in a recliner, and the hypnotist might dim the lights. During the process, you make the decision about whether you're going to allow yourself to be in the state of mind to be receptive to suggestion.

Your hypnotist will start you breathing in a way that will relax you. If you're not comfortable once you arrive, you can leave before the process begins.

As you grow more and more relaxed, the hypnotist will begin making suggestions that will be targeted at curbing your behavior. At the end, you will be brought out of the trance state.

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, medicine and fitness, among other things. She graduated from Oklahoma State University with a news-editorial and broadcast production degree. Outside of work, she enjoys riding her bike, taking pictures of...
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