What is Cognitive Hypnotherapy? A Comprehensive Guide

Cognitive hypnotherapy

Have you ever wondered how your beliefs and thoughts can affect your health and overall well-being? Are you struggling with chronic pain, anxiety, depression, phobias, or other mental health challenges that impact your quality of life? If so, you may find cognitive hypnotherapy a valuable and scientific approach that combines hypnosis with cognitive and behavioral therapies.

In this detailed guide, we’ll explore what cognitive hypnotherapy is, how it operates, and how it can help address a variety of physical and mental health issues.

What is cognitive hypnotherapy?

Cognitive hypnotherapy is a form of therapy that combines the power of hypnosis with the principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). It is based on the idea that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by our subconscious beliefs and patterns, which may not always be helpful or accurate.

By using hypnosis, cognitive hypnotherapy aims to access and modify these subconscious processes and help clients achieve their goals and overcome their challenges.

History and Origins of Cognitive Hypnotherapy

Cognitive hypnotherapy emerged as a relatively recent branch of hypnosis in the late 20th century. It was started by British hypnotherapist Trevor Sylvester, who founded the Quest Institute in 2001.

Sylvester took inspiration from the work of Aaron Beck, the founder of cognitive therapy, who said that thoughts influence emotions and behaviors. Additionally, he was influenced by Albert Ellis, the originator of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), who stated that our beliefs shape our emotional reactions.

He merged these cognitive approaches with hypnosis and other modalities to create a holistic and client-centered framework, which he called cognitive hypnotherapy.

Since then, it has gained popularity and recognition as an effective and evidence-based therapy for a variety of conditions.

It has also been refined and modified by different authors and practitioners, who have proposed different models and techniques, such as:

  • Cognitive-behavioral hypnotherapy (CBH) by Kirsch et al.
  • Hypno-CBT® by Mark Davis
  • Cognitive hypnoanalysis (CHA) by Dowd et al.
  • Cognitive-experiential self-theory (CEST) by Epstein et al.
  • Cognitive hypnotherapy for psychosis (CHP) by Morrison et al.

How does it help?

You may be keen to know about how Cognitive hypnotherapy can help. Here is how!

It helps with a variety of physical and mental health problems, such as:

Cognitive hypnotherapy can help by:

  • Reducing stress and promoting relaxation.
  • Enhancing self-confidence and self-esteem.
  • Improving mood and emotional regulation.
  • Challenging negative or limiting beliefs.
  • Resolving internal conflicts and addressing past traumas.
  • Boosting motivation.
  • Cultivating new skills and habits.

How does cognitive hypnotherapy work?

what is Cognitive hypnotherapy

Cognitive hypnotherapy works by helping you change your relationship with your thoughts and beliefs. It helps you recognize that your thoughts are not facts, but interpretations of reality that can be challenged and changed.

It typically involves four stages:

1. Assessment.

The therapist will ask the client about their background, history, current situation, and desired outcomes. They will also explain how cognitive hypnotherapy works and what to expect from the sessions.

2. Induction.

The therapist will guide the client into a state of hypnosis using various techniques, such as relaxation, imagery, or suggestion. The client will remain aware and in control throughout the process.

3. Intervention.

The therapist will use various techniques to help the client access and modify their unconscious patterns.

For example,

  • they may use regression to revisit past experiences and positively reframe them;
  • they may use cognitive restructuring to challenge and replace negative thoughts;
  • they may use behavioral experiments to test new behaviors and outcomes; or
  • they may use positive suggestions to reinforce new beliefs and skills.

4. Evaluation.

The therapist will bring the client out of hypnosis and review what happened during the session. They will also discuss the client’s progress, feedback, homework assignments, and plans.

Benefits of Cognitive Hypnotherapy

Cognitive hypnotherapy offers several benefits that can positively impact a person’s health and well-being:

1. Effectiveness.

It can be very effective in treating a wide range of issues, such as anxiety, phobias, depression, stress, pain, addiction, weight loss, smoking cessation, and more. Research has shown that cognitive hypnotherapy can produce faster and more lasting results than either hypnosis or CBT alone.

2. Efficiency.

It can be very efficient in terms of time and cost. Because it targets both the conscious and subconscious levels of the mind, it can help clients achieve their goals in fewer sessions than traditional therapies. It can also help clients save money by reducing their need for medication or other treatments.

3. Empowerment.

It can be very empowering for clients who want to take charge of their healing process. It can help clients develop a greater sense of self-awareness, self-confidence, self-control, and self-efficacy. It can also help clients learn new skills and strategies that they can apply to other areas of their lives.

4. It is enjoyable and relaxing.

It uses various techniques to induce a state of deep relaxation and focused attention, which can be very pleasant and beneficial for the client. In this state, the client can access their subconscious mind more easily, and experience positive suggestions, imagery, and metaphors that can help them achieve their goals. The client remains in control at all times and can end the session whenever they want.

The Bottom Line

Cognitive hypnotherapy emerges as a powerful way to combine mind and health for holistic well-being. By addressing deep-seated thought patterns and beliefs, it empowers individuals to take control of their mental and physical health. This comprehensive guide highlights the principles, history, operation, and distinctions of cognitive hypnotherapy.

It is a safe, effective, and empowering way of creating lasting change in your life. If you are interested in trying it out, you can find a qualified cognitive hypnotherapist near you by searching online or asking for a referral from your doctor or therapist.


Cognitive hypnotherapy is not a replacement for medical treatment or professional advice. Always consult with a healthcare professional for specific health concerns.


1. How many sessions of cognitive hypnotherapy are usually required to see results?

The number of sessions required may vary depending on individual goals and the complexity of the issue. Some individuals experience benefits in just a few sessions, while others may require a more extended treatment plan.

2. What should I expect during a cognitive hypnotherapy session?

During a session, a trained therapist will guide you into a comfortable state of heightened suggestibility. They will use a combination of hypnosis and cognitive techniques to explore and reframe thought patterns and beliefs related to your specific concerns.

3. How can cognitive hypnotherapy benefit my mental health?

Cognitive hypnotherapy can benefit mental health by helping individuals manage stress, anxiety, depression, and other conditions. It empowers clients to challenge and reframe negative thought patterns, thereby improving mental health.

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