Desmond Kaplan MD FAPA

Child, Adolescent & Adult Psychiatry

1777 Reisterstown Road, Suite 50
 Baltimore, MD 21208


Hypnotherapy is a type of psychotherapy that utilizes the trance-like state called hypnosis as a means towards uncovering subconscious thoughts or memories, eliminating undesirable behaviors, and improving overall mental health. Hypnotherapy is designed to help the patient reach a deeply focused state in which the mind is particularly receptive and responsive.

While helpful to many patients, it is not workable for everyone. Since hypnotherapy is not licensed in most states, patients seeking this treatment should be careful to seek skilled professionals as their therapists. Those who may have special training in this discipline may include psychiatrists, psychologists, nurse practitioners or social workers.

Uses of Hypnotherapy

Under hypnosis, patients are in a deep state of concentration where it may be possible for the therapist's suggestions for improved health to have much greater effect than they would during the patient's usual conscious state. Hypnotherapy may help patients to:

  • Uncover buried memories
  • Experience less stress or anxiety
  • Change undesirable behaviors
  • Manage chronic pain
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce physical symptoms, such as nausea
  • Overcome sleep disturbances
  • Overcome phobias

The Hypnotherapy Procedure

Hypnotic states may be induced using several methods. Typically, guided relaxation and vivid imaging techniques are employed. During the process, the patient's eyes are usually closed and the therapist's soothing voice tones may be accompanied by calming music or recorded natural sounds. The patient is involved in the process and may eventually learn the pathways to self-hypnosis. Each therapeutic session usually lasts for about an hour, including the time spent transitioning to the hypnotic state.

Benefits of Hypnotherapy

While in the hypnotic state, the patient becomes inwardly focused and may be able to block out or ignore external stimuli. Once in this state of heightened consciousness, the patient is more available to the suggestions for improved health and functioning that the therapist supplies. This is called suggestion therapy and may be used to help patients stop over-eating, smoking or nail-biting.

Under hypnosis, it is also possible for psychoanalytic hurdles to be overcome because patients may be able to remember memories so disturbing they have been long buried in the subconscious mind. Once brought to consciousness, such memories can be dealt with in psychotherapy. This is especially helpful in treating patients suffering from post-traumatic stress.

During hypnotherapy, the patient can also be taught to steer thoughts or perceptions into more positive channels. This is particularly useful in pain management.

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