Hypnosis is a fascinating practice that’s based on creating a trance-like mental state. While you’re in this trance-like state, you’re in a state of focused attention and heightened suggestibility. This allows you to help create behavior changes and in some cases even relieve pain. For example, one study showed that a hypnotized patient was much more likely to leave their arm in a bucket of ice-cold water, versus those who were not hypnotized. The important thing to also note is that hypnosis requires voluntary participation. You can’t make someone do something that they wouldn’t do. 

Also while only 10-15% of people are very responsive to hypnosis, the majority are still able to feel some effects of hypnosis. This creates an interesting opportunity for those who want to explore hypnosis as a way to create behavior change, relieve pain, or change internally states. 

So what’s the best way to approach hypnosis? Generally, there are three potential forms of practice:

Hypnotherapy: This type of hypnosis is practiced by licensed physicians or psychologists in order to treat certain conditions, such as PTSD, or for behavior change such as smoking cessation.

Guided Hypnosis: With guided hypnosis, you can use recorded instructions or music to help induce a hypnotic state. For example, Hypnobox is an app that can help with sleeping.

Self-Hypnosis: With self-hypnosis, you are able to induce a hypnotic state in yourself, which you can again use for either behavior change or control pain.

If you’re interested in hypnosis, it’s probably best to start with a hypnotherapist who can show you what the practice looks like and provide instructions for self-hypnosis. While we know that not everyone is susceptible to hypnosis, if you are, it’s worth exploring as a potential tool in your toolkit.