Clinical Hypnotherapy - General Information

Clinical Hypnotherapy in its briefest definition is "therapy under hypnosis". It is a safe and beneficial form of therapy with no harmful side effects which has been used for hundreds of years in various countries and cultures and which was approved as a therapeutic practice by the British Medical Association in 1955 and by the American Medical Association in 1958.

Although the term "Hypnosis" was derived from the Greek word hypnos, meaning sleep, Hypnosis is not sleep, but a natural, normal, relaxed and focused state of attention or "trance state" that is characterised by:

  • Feelings of well-being
  • Increased muscle relaxation
  • Predominating Alpha Brain Waves
  • An enhanced ability to access memories
  • An enhanced ability to accept new ideas about yourself if they are not in conflict with your values.

It is important to remember that hypnosis per se is not "therapy": the skilled practice of clinical hypnotherapy resides in the way in which hypnosis is used to optimise a broad range of psychotherapy and counselling techniques to facilitate whatever healing and change is appropriate for you in your particular situation.

This distinction between "hypnosis" and "clinical hypnotherapy" needs to be well understood: basic hypnosis techniques can be learned relatively quickly and easily but to become a professional clinical hypnotherapist requires significantly more in-depth knowledge and training. 

Contrary to some of the myths surrounding Hypnosis, you cannot be made to do anything you do not want to do nor will you "reveal your deepest secrets" either - it is even possible to tell lies while under hypnosis. You can only be guided into the hypnotic state by your therapist if you want to be and all hypnosis is in fact self hypnosis.

Hypnotherapy in the Australian Media 

22 August 2008 “Hooker in pole position after hypnotist sends him to leap”

1 January 2007 "Hypnosis helps some build New Year's resolve"

18 June 2006 "Childbirth Without Pain"

26 September 2005 “Hypnosis helps sleep-walking lawyer” 

Clinical Hypnotherapy - Applications 

Clinical Hypnotherapy has a huge range of applications some of which include:

  • alleviation of physical or emotional trauma
  • release of anger, fear and frustration
  • elimination of fears and phobias
  • habit control such as quitting smoking, nail biting
  • performance anxiety such as exams, driving tests
  • increased self acceptance and self respect
  • improvement in confidence and motivation
  • heightened concentration and creativity
  • improved positive thinking and problem solving
  • enhanced sports performance
  • stress management and insomnia

In addition to the above examples, Hypnosis has a long history of application for pain control as well as being an effective treatment for easing the symptoms of various medical conditions such as hypertension, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, migraines and asthma. Moreover, a recent summary of some of the evidence-based research findings pertaining to the use of Hypnotherapy by cancer patients reported the effectiveness of hypnotherapy in helping to alleviate many of the symptoms associated with cancer and cancer treatments. The report, published in 2011, can be found here. 

There is a wealth of information about Hypnosis and Clinical Hypnotherapy elsewhere on the internet and it can certainly be extremely helpful and empowering to familiarise yourself with some of the concepts and terminology used in Clinical Hypnotherapy. It can also be the case, however, that the sheer volume of information available is quite overwhelming and you would much rather be able to ask a "real person" a few questions. 

One of the main purposes of this website is to provide you with a user-friendly way of being able to find out exactly what you would like to know without having to spend hours searching the web for a specific answer to your question(s). You can do this either by going to our "Find a Practitioner" page and contacting one of our members directly or by contacting the AACHP via email. 


This section provides information reported about some of the more recent research findings into the applications of Clinical Hypnosis. 

As of December, 2004 there are more than 5,000 clinical research studies having to do with hypnosis and its benefits currently being conducted worldwide.

(According to: 

As of December 15, 2004 results from more than 3,000 clinical research studies are available showing positive benefits from hypnosis.

(According to: 

According to studies done at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, suggestions given in a hypnotic state, even once, can produce actions in human beings that are the same type of actions that would have resulted from more long-term conditioning and practice. 

In a research study on Self-hypnosis for relapse prevention training with chronic drug/alcohol users, (Am J Clin Hypn. 2004 Apr;46(4):281-97), individuals who played self-hypnosis audiotapes "at least 3 to 5 times a week," at 7-week follow-up, reported the highest levels of self-esteem and serenity, and the least anger/impulsivity, in comparison to the minimal-practice and control groups.

In a research study done with 60 college student volunteers (Spring of 2004 at Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona), using hypnosis with ego-enhancement suggestions showed "significantly dramatic effects" in brain-wave patterns, subjective sense of self-confidence, and test scores.

As reported by news service:

"Hypnosis is more than just a party trick; it measurably changes how the brain works," says John Gruzelier, a research psychologist at Imperial College in London. "Hypnosis significantly affects the activity in a part of the brain responsible for detecting and responding to errors, an area that controls higher level executive functions." The finding is one of the first to indicate a biological mechanism underpinning the experience of hypnosis. “This explains why, under hypnosis, people can do outrageous things that ordinarily they wouldn’t dream of doing,” says Gruzelier, who presented his study at the British Association for the Advancement of Science Festival in Exeter, UK. Gruzelier hopes it will also benefit emerging research showing, for example, that hypnosis can help cancer patients deal with painful treatments. 

Research using positron emission tomography (PET) scans, shows that hypnosis might alleviate pain by decreasing the activity of brain areas involved in the experience of suffering. Scientists have found that hypnosis reduced the activity of the anterior cingulate cortex, an area known to be involved in pain, but did not affect the activity of the somatosensory cortex, where the sensations of pain are processed. 

Clinical trials of therapeutic hypnosis confirm its potential benefits. Christina Liossi, a psychologist at the University of Wales in Swansea, recently conducted a study of 80 cancer patients aged 6 to 16. She found that those under hypnosis experienced far less pain during treatments than control children, who simply talked to the researchers normally.

According to published results of clinical studies (Am J Clin Hypn. 2004 Apr), the use of hypnosis facilitates a more uncomplicated birth process. In a separate research study done by University of Florida counseling psychologist Paul Schauble, it was also found that women who learn hypnosis before delivering babies suffer fewer complications, need less medication and are more likely to have healthier babies than are women without hypnosis. Schauble's first study involved adolescents getting prenatal care at a public health clinic. A group of 20 patients who received hypnosis preparation were compared with 20 who were given supportive counseling and 20 patients in a control group who received only the standard prenatal care. None of the women who received hypnosis required surgical intervention in their deliveries, compared with 12 in the supportive counseling group and eight in the control group, he said. "Patients who are prepared for labor and delivery in hypnosis are more likely to absorb and benefit from information because they are in a relaxed, highly focused state," he said.

In an ongoing pilot study being done by University of Florida counseling psychologist Paul Schauble, preliminary results show hypnotized patients with hypertension are more easily able to make lifestyle improvements that can lower blood pressure. 

A study being done by a team of University of Florida researchers is finding that learning self-hypnosis gives a patient greater control over the stress, anxiety and pain of medical operations and childbirth, overall. "Training patients in hypnosis prior to undergoing surgery is a way of helping them develop a sense of control over their stress, discomfort and anxiety," says Dr. Paul Schauble, psychologist. "It also helps them better understand what they can do to bring about a more satisfying and rapid recovery." He also said, "We've found, in working with individual patients, that they often feel literally stripped of control when they go into the hospital. The surgeon may do a good job of explaining the surgery, but patients' anxiety may make it difficult for them to absorb or comprehend. This can result in undue apprehension that can create complications or prolonged recovery."


AACHP is a Member Association of the HCA

Hypnotherapy Council of Australia (HCA), which is the national peak body for clinical hypnotherapy in Australia. As a member association of the HCA, the AACHP is dedicated to promoting the highest standards of clinical hypnotherapy and psychotherapy in Australia. 

It works to provide support, education, and advocacy for its members, as well as promote the benefits of hypnotherapy to the wider public. Membership in the AACHP is open to qualified and practicing hypnotherapists and psychotherapists who meet the association's requirements for training and education.