Hypnotherapy vs. Psychotherapy

Illustration to represent hypnotherapy and another for psychotherapy

Psychology is the study of human behaviour and psychotherapy is an umbrella term for the many different ways of helping people with their thoughts and emotions. Hypnotherapy falls into this category, so the purpose of this article is to compare it with traditional forms of psychotherapy, such as working with a psychologist, psychiatrist or even a counsellor.

Hypnotherapy has two significant advantages over other psychological approaches:

  • Hypnotherapy deals directly with the subconscious mind.
  • Hypnotherapy is usually far quicker in producing beneficial changes and results.

These two factors are obviously linked. Hypnotherapy tends to be quicker, because it deals with subconscious thought processes, which are often the cause of many people’s problems.

To be clear, I am not saying that hypnotherapy is superior, just that we have an advantage that sometimes can produce faster results than the other methodologies. Hypnotherapy can also sometimes produce results, where other methodologies might fail.

Direct communication

A hypnotherapist is in a unique position of actually being able to communicate with the subconscious mind directly in a way that nobody else can. A psychotherapist can, but it takes much longer, as a rule. A counsellor can, but will be no faster than the psychotherapist and possibly less effective. A psychiatrist can, but seldom without dependency-creating medication. A psychoanalyst can, but will take several years to do it effectively.

Hypnotherapists and psychotherapists have an understanding of the way the psyche works and also have a recognition of how beliefs about one’s self can be so inaccurate, how and when they will have been formed, and how limiting they can be. In addition to this, we both know more than a thing or two about communication. However, our “trump card” as hypnotherapists has to be our ability to bypass that Conscious Critical Faculty, so that we can work directly in the area where the problem is. It gives us a major advantage over even the very best of psychotherapists and counsellors, since the only way they can work with the subconscious is via consciousness, which means that therapy will be slower and more complex.

Hypnotherapy is not always the best solution

Do not, at this point, run away with the idea that the hypnotherapist is some sort of god, because we most certainly are not! We cannot help those who suffer from severe mental illnesses. We are very successful in treating emotional illness such as neurosis, but we are not suited to treating psychosis. There are also some emotionally ill people who will not respond to hypnotherapy, but will make great strides of improvement with psychotherapy. There are people who will fear us so much that we cannot help them at all, but they may respond to a counsellor far more positively.

There are other conditions, such as bi-polar disorder, that will not respond to hypnotherapy and could even leave a person at risk if we did not ensure they have received conventional medical help. Hypnotherapy is also not a perfect tool for all to use in the treatment of obsession, although there are occasions when it has been effective; generally, behavioural-type therapies are more effective. Obsession has always been a very difficult illness to get to grips with – for both therapists and clients.

However, it must be pointed out, that there are very few conditions in which hypnotherapy cannot be beneficial, even if it is only as a complementary approach. There are also some conditions in which straightforward psychotherapy is unlikely to be very successful, one of them being jealousy; yet the results using hypnotherapy, especially analysis, with that particular symptom can be quite good.

The influence of psychotherapeutic techniques

Hypnotherapy does not merely involve suggestion style therapy; it is heavily influenced by a variety of psychotherapeutic techniques. A skilled hypnotherapist will often incorporate many different methodologies into any given treatment. One psychotherapeutic method that is particularly useful for hypnotherapists is to directly challenge the limiting belief structures – which is the basis of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). For instance, when someone says, “I can’t do that,” we can ask them to change “can’t” to “won’t” and then explore the reasons. Incorporating such methodologies into hypnotherapy gives us additional tools for permanent, lasting change.

Please remember that hypnotherapy is complementary, not alternative. I believe that when we use these tools in conjunction with hypnosis, it makes them much more effective and they will often work much quicker. However, everyone has their own unique model of the world, their own inner world, and their own differences. We can never know how long it will take a particular person to respond to psychotherapy or hypnotherapy.

Although there are some exceptions, I personally believe that almost anything that psychotherapy can achieve, hypnotherapy can accomplish much quicker. I just see it as a more direct route to resolution. You can talk about something at length and never really resolve any of the underlying subconscious thoughts and feelings that fuel your waking reactions. The advantage of hypnotherapy is that we can go straight to the source — the subconscious mind!