If you’ve been struggling to lose weight, change habits, or if you are looking to change an overall lifestyle and overcome trauma, manage stress more effectively, or add hypnosis as an alternative approach to western medicine-then you are in the right place.
It only makes sense to want to explore your options beyond trying out a new approach to a healthier lifestyle. And, with that, you may have come across information on using hypnosis for weight loss and change.
Sure, hypnosis isn’t exactly something more people have experience with. You’ve probably seen things on TV where hypnosis makes people bark like a dog, talk like a zombie, or do a bunch of embarrassing stuff, at the mercy of the hypnotist.
But clinical hypnosis is not like that. And many people have sought out hypnotists to help them adjust their relationship to food and fitness, manage stress, release limitations, and more. Many of those have found great success.
It begs the question: When this technique is facilitated by a certified professional, like a hypnotherapist, psychologist or psychiatrist, does it look like what we see on a stage? The answer is Nah!
Here's what clinical hypnosis is really about—and how it can help you change your lifestyle for the better.
How does clinical hypnosis work, anyway?
When someone is trying to make a major change in their life, like overcoming obesity, there can be a lot to think about: What foods you should be eating, how you should exercise, and where you’ll feel safe enough to exercise, for example. Certain judgements or fears might get in the way of forming long-term habits that could transform a person's health.
I usually describe hypnosis to my clients by likening their current minds to a hamster wheel. There's nonstop movement or thinking, yet that thinking doesn't typically get them very far when it comes to making impactful changes.
So, what a clinical hypnotherapist aims to do is guide their patients into a relaxed state— yes, called a trance—using a number of techniques that vary from deep breathing to visualization.
Contrary to popular belief, a trance won’t have you trudging around like The Walking Dead. In fact, most of us enter a trance when we are daydreaming or doing a routine task. Even when we drive from point A to point B, and not even noticing how we got there-yes, you went into a trance state. In these moments, our “hamster brain” stops spinning and we become less focused on our to-do list or daily stressors. Once in that trance state, I walk the client through series of exercises to help them get in tune with their desires to change.
In other words, hypnosis can help people tap into their subconscious brain, which largely influences our habits and behavior.
The subconscious brain is where a lot of our behaviors and motivations are. It is here that with hypnosis, you're really trying to motivate the brain to make changes.
Hypnosis is used to allow modification of behavior by suggestion. Any lifestyle change, including weight loss, requires behavior change. For some, hypnosis may very well function as that first step in behavior change. We have to make a mental and emotional decision to take different actions that will induce a change that serves us, right? Well, for some, hypnosis may help with that decision making.
Hypnosis & Weight Loss
Does hypnosis help people lose weight right away?
Hypnosis is not a magic bullet, so don’t walk into a hypnotherapy session and think you’ll start shedding pounds at the snap of a finger. Hypnosis is a tool that can help break patterns of thinking that prevents someone from developing healthier routines. It’s those lifestyle shifts that will lead to weight loss over time.
Most people who approach hypnotherapy are already preparing themselves to make lifestyle adjustments, such as altering their food choices or buying a gym membership. Oftentimes people who are struggling with weight loss or eating disorders tend to feel stuck in a cycle of overindulging or being sedentary, which is then followed by self-blame and shame. This type of pattern is usually fueled by other emotions or experiences, so we, my clients and I, tend to explore those aspects of their life within the context of a session. Diet and exercise then tend to come more easily to those who engage in hypnosis since they have shifted their underlying thoughts and feelings to more helpful patterns of thinking.
But if someone is entirely depending on hypnosis to achieve their weight loss goal, that might be a little more difficult. To see lasting results, multiple sessions are recommended. As you learn how to go more deeply down, you'll feel more in touch with your wants and needs, which creates a more heightened sense of autonomy and independence.
Who is hypnosis for?
Everyone has the potential to benefit from this type of therapy. As long as someone is open to the idea that a deeper state of relaxation is possible and they are willing to let go, hypnosis is a fantastic tool. One fact that often interests people is that individuals who are more creative and score higher on intelligence tests can more readily reach a hypnotic state.
Hypnotherapy can be helpful not only for people who want to lose weight, but also for those who want to quit smoking, ease chronic pain or overcome phobias.
Are there any negative side effects?
For most people, there are no negative side effects. However, if you’re suffering from a serious psychiatric condition. If you are suffering from psychosis, an organic psychiatric condition, or an antisocial personality disorder, it’s best to consult with a psychiatrist before trying hypnotherapy.
What does the research say?
Multiple studies show that hypnosis has helped people achieve moderate weight loss.
In 1996, researchers at Oxford found that patients who received stress reduction hypnotherapy lost more weight than a control group that only received dietary advice. In 2014, scientists in Italy studied the effects of hypnobehavioral and hypnoenergetic therapy on women suffering from obesity. Both treatments improved their weight, BMI, and eating behaviors.
While you can find many success stories in literature, remember that most of the individuals who made strides incorporated other weight loss strategies like consuming less calories. This forms part of the coaching that comes along with the program.
Read more on Hypnosis:
What is hypnosis and how might it work?
Clinical Hypnosis, an Effective Mind–Body Modality for Adolescents with Behavioral and Physical Complaints
Clinical hypnosis for palliative care in severe chronic diseases: a review and the procedures for relieving physical, psychological and spiritual symptoms
RN, CHt., LC, EOLD
Reiki Master & Energy Healer
Integrative Healing Arts Practitioner