Hypnotherapy: A Clinical Approach

Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy are often confusing because there are many different approaches and different theories. Analytical hypnosis, hypno-analysis, NLP, clinical hypnosis. Which is what?

Hypnosis ranges from the antics of stage hypnotists to new-age therapists regressing you back to when you where Cleopatra (how come no-one is ever a peasant from Yorkshire under past life regression.?) - then we have the NLP trainers and therapists, old Harley St types who simply suggest "you no longer are a smoker" and then those who are aligning themselves with modern medicine and psychology, seeking to find evidence for the methods they use, obtaining clear treatment goals for clients and ensuring their theories of hypnosis and the mind are in accordance with the developments in modern psychology.

Clinical Hypnosis communicates the sense that the approach will be formal, methodical, analytical and focused on treating the client with objective improvement as the goal. So while many hypnotherapists describe their work as "Clinical Hypnotherapy" or "Clinical Hypnosis" I would reserve that term for therapists who approach their therapeutic work in the following ways:

1. Use Evidence-based Treatments

Evidence-based medicine is considered the way forward in selecting treatments for clients in the NHS and there is no reason why therapists should not do the same. There are many studies on the most effective types of psychotherapy and also on the most effective therapeutic methods and techniques Cognitive therapies, CBT and hypnotherapy have scored as the most effective therapies in meta-analysis of psychotherapies (meta-analysis is where researchers look at several hundred research studies to find overall evidence for effectiveness across a range of studies.)

2. Obtain Clear, Measurable Treatment Goals for Clients

Obtaining a clear and measurable treatment goal for a client is essential. Failure to agree on what the client is seeking treatment for can lead the therapist to focus on what they believe the client needs help with. Subjective self-assessment of emotional distress, anxiety etc. help to give measures which can be reviewed and re-assessed during the course of treatment and towards the end of treatment. Often clients fail to recognise and acknowledge the improvements they have made. Being able to show that on a self-assessment a client now feels 60% less anxious and 70% less irritable or angry - gives a tangible sense of progress and this in turn boosts confidence, self-belief and accelerates progress.

3. Adhere to Modern Psychological Theory

Too many hypnotherapists are using outdated models of the mind and consciousness - and while some of the therapy is effective (and some isn't) - the incorrect explanation of why and how therapy works confuses the client, leaves them disempowered and stops the therapist from optimising their treatment approach.

For example, there is a prevalent idea that an event in your past must have caused your current feeling of anxiety. Until we find that event in your past and heal it/stop repressing it, you can't release that feeling and move on.

Firstly the idea that there is a lost memory, hidden away in their unconscious, that is exerting a deep, covert influence on their current life is deeply disempowering to clients.

Secondly the therapist here has confused the "originating cause" with the "maintaining cause". Of course there may be an event in the past that made you start to think of yourself as deficient in some way - but the real issue is the ongoing belief in being deficient. This ongoing belief is the "maintaining cause" and is active in the here and now. Therefore we simply need to identify the belief and adopt a more helpful one - we don't need to go back to the original event. There is no unconscious (a very unhelpful concept that tries to define something by what isn't) - there are simply beliefs and automatic thoughts of which we are less conscious, but we can become aware of them and of how they are effecting our immediate experience.

Regression to the original cause can have a powerful effect on a client and can make them believe they no longer have that problem. However this isn't because the original event was revisited but because clients convinced themselves they didn't have that issue anymore

Likewise NLP theory, subliminal techniques, covert techniques etc. have a certain glossy appeal but do not hold up in terms of evidence for the theoretical model. Many young people become fascinated by the ideas of NLP - but critical elements of NLP theory - e.g. sensory predicates - the idea that some people process information more visually, some more auditory etc - and that we can know how they process the information if we watch how their eyes move. This simply hasn't been shown to have any validity.

It would be nice if the term Clinical Hypnotherapist really did indicate a therapist who practices with a clinical approach - i.e. a certain formal process, analysis, measurement of symptoms etc. Unfortunately it is a term that anyone can use (unlike the term Clinical Psychologist) and so those seeking treatment need to read between the lines to find discern the therapist's approach.

Read more Cognitive Hypnotherapy, the type of hypnotherapy practiced at Inspired Hypnosis.

Initial Consultation - free

If you would like to meet the hypnotherapist first to find out if hypnotherapy is for you an initial free consultation of 30 minutes is available on request. At the end of the session you can decide if you want to proceed or not. There is no obligation to decide at the end of the session. You can take some time to think about it.

Satisfaction guarantee

We can't guarantee cures but we do guarantee satisfaction. If you aren't satisfied that the therapist has brought all the necessary skills and efforts to bear in your session you can apply for a refund or another session. (Terms & Conditions apply)


Clinics in North London and Central London



The UK College of Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy offer a training available as a distance learning hypnotherapy training.

The UK College also runs an excellent MasterClass in Smoking Cessation workshop for hypnotherapists.

Instead of a NLP training or NLP course consider the Diploma in Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy from the UK College of Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy


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mark davis hypnotherapist
Mark Davis
Dip. Hyp., BSc (Psy. & Phil), GHR (Reg), GHQP

Cognitive Hypnotherapist
(trained in Hypno-CBT®)

Principal & Director of The UK College of Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy

Meditation Instructor
Yoga Philosophy Teacher

“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.” - Buddha

"Imagination is more important than knowledge" - Albert Einstein

Clinics in North London (Mill Hill) and Central London