Yvonne Vermaak
Counselling Psychologist


What is hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy is a technique that uses the hypnotic state, which enables changes in perception and memory, a major increase in response to suggestion, and the potential for controlling many physiologic functions that are usually involuntary. Hypnotherapy uses guided relaxation, intense concentration and focused attention to achieve a heightened state of awareness that is sometimes called a trance. The person’s attention is so focused while in this state that anything going on around the person is temporarily blocked or ignored. In this naturally occurring state and with the help of a trained therapist, the person may focus his or her attention on specific thoughts or tasks.

How does hypnotherapy work?

Hypnotherapy is usually considered an aid to psychotherapy, rather than a treatment in itself. It helps with psychotherapy because the hypnotic state allows a person to explore painful thoughts, feelings, and memories that may be hidden from the conscious mind. Hypnotherapy also enables a person to perceive some things differently, such as blocking an awareness of pain.

Hypnotherapy can be used in two ways:

Suggestion therapy — The hypnotic state makes a person better able to respond to suggestions. Hypnotherapy can help a person change certain behaviors, such as stopping smoking or nail-biting. It can also help change perceptions and sensations which can be particularly useful in treating pain.

Analysis — This approach uses the relaxed state to find the root cause of a disorder or symptom, such as a traumatic past event that a person has hidden in his or her unconscious memory. Once the trauma is revealed, it can be addressed in psychotherapy.

What are the benefits of hypnotherapy?

The hypnotic state allows a person to be more open to discussion and suggestion. It can improve the success of other treatments for several conditions such as:

Phobias, fears, and anxiety

Sleep disorders



Post-trauma anxiety

Grief and loss

               Hypnotherapy might be used to help with pain control and to overcome habits, such as smoking or overeating. It might also be helpful for a person with severe symptoms or in need of crisis management.