Hypnotherapy is just hypnosis, isn’t it?

Anyone considering hypnotherapy, understanding the different types of hypnotic phenomena will help the client experience, and provide a better outcome, it could be described as going somewhere new and having the best possible routes described to you, but in detail. But what is the hypnotic phenomenon?

This is a question that will solicit many different answers depending on who you ask, this is my answer.
In essence, it is the physical or emotional responses that you the client and I the hypnotherapist can create, during hypnosis, sometimes assisted with suggestion or direction. The key point here is that all the phenomena have a useful purpose according to the client needs.
Ok to paraphrase popular TV jargon the answers come in no particular order

Time distortion

Time distortion this can happen with or without suggestion by the hypnotherapist, it is entirely natural and you can experience it in or out of hypnosis. It could be described as a “where did the day go?” kind of feeling you become so absorbed in a project, film on TV, or a job of. Some clients feel that a couple of minutes in trance feels like waking up after a great night’s sleep. Other clients have told me they felt their session was only a few minutes until they check their watch and realise they have been in trance for well over an hour. This is because your subjective measuring of time can be altered simply by being in hypnosis. Marathon runners and endurance athletes experience similar time distortion because they are so focused that time and distance become unimportant. Whereas ten days cruising the Mediterranean, visiting different places, and having new experiences, seems to fly by. Some of its applications either on its own or with other aspects of hypnotherapy could be nervous dental patients, fear of flying, compulsive behaviour, and pain management

Amnesia and hypermnesia

Amnesia this is our ability to forget, or more accurately our ability of not being able to remember. Now, we are all capable of forgetting, and some of us are much better at it than others. Hypnotic amnesia, most stage hypnotists use this as a staple part of their routine, it’s impressive, funny, and easy to do.
However, amnesia can be used to great effect during hypnoanalysis where you can revisit painful or uncomfortable episodes of your life, this would be to uncover the root cause of a problem, and then locking it back away so that the client forgets what happened during a hypnotherapy session.
This is to stop a client from trying to self analyse or unravel the work that was done during their session.
However, bear in mind there are limitations, I have had clients who want to forget relationships for various reasons. Unfortunately, relationships are complex and have many facets, it would be like having a tartan jumper and taking all the red wool out to see if it fits better.
However, other hypnotic interventions can help deal with past relationships and indeed future choices.

On the other side of the fence is hypermnesia is where you can recall or remember more than what might be considered normal. Hypermnesia this effect is used in trance to help remember past events, to solicit further details about a past event. Hypermnesia suggestions are often delivered during regression therapy, and it is entirely natural to have better recall while in hypnosis as your thinking is uncluttered by other stuff like shopping lists, school runs, work, etc.


This is physical rigidity or the immobility of muscles when not in hypnosis the most common occurrence that is quite natural is the fight, flight response to a traumatic situation. In essence, your brain is saying this is dangerous getaway, but your body gives a very defiant no.

Catalepsy is sometimes used during the induction and deepening process. Anecdotally It has been used to deal successfully with psychogenic erectile dysfunction and sleepwalking.

Future pacing

Future-pacing or more accurately a mental rehearsal is a hypnotic phenomenon often used with a client and is a visualisation of the future. It’s where I guide a client through various future options, to prepare them for success and a visual realisation of their therapy goals. It is useful in overcoming mental or emotional obstacles that may be very real or just perceived. Again entirely natural as we all use some form of future pacing in our day-to-day lives. For the good things that are going to happen like imagining yourself away on holiday as part of the decision making process. and then for the for negative stuff (a shit happens attitude regarding a future event) thinking about a presentation or task again this may be a mental or emotional idea that may be very real or just.

However future pacing is a very powerful tool, just as an actor rehearses a part they are going to play, you can rehearse your future and as every actor will tell you the more you rehearse the better is your performance when it comes to the real event.

There is a law of suggestion that dictates what you perceive, and believe, you will achieve.

Analgesia and Anaesthesia

What is the difference, Analgesia is the reduction of pain sensation and Anaesthesia is the complete absence of any pain or physical sensation. In your normal waking state, you might cut yourself without noticing and don’t realise until you see the blood, primarily because you have got your mind on something else. This self-generated pain control can be easily recreated during a hypnotherapy session with some simple hypnotic suggestion.

I have had many clients benefit from hypnotic pain management for many different conditions, simple things such as headaches, IBS, dystonia, pregnancy and even for pain relief in hospitals and in emergency situations. see extreme pain management.

It is quite common in Europe to have minor surgery using only hypnotic anaesthesia for pain management with no pharmaceutical pain relief. However, this is dictated by subjects receptiveness to suggestion.  Click here for some videos I made about pain management.


In simple terms, Hallucination means to see or experience something that is not happening or real, but you see or experience it as if it were there or happening. Technically, this is known as a positive hallucination, you have added something in’ that isn’t there. Such as seeing something move in the dark which turns out to be nothing. Conversely,  a negative hallucination is where you remove something, like not seeing your car in the car park when it is in plain sight to everyone else you just imagine it’s not there and compound your idea.

Hallucinations are not always visual any of the senses can hallucinate it is just that our visual sense seems to dominate, for example, A person can hallucinate in any of the senses, if I said such something like that person’s hair is full of fleas look at them crawling about their head, maybe you have now an urge to scratch? Just as you might imagine someone calling your name or the smell of baby powder. Hallucination is again part of the stage hypnotist routine, however, it can be used by hypnotherapists too, aversion therapy utilises positive and negative hallucinations to great effect.

Ideo-motor response (IMR) & Automatic writing

Ideo-motor response, no mystery it simply, means a movement in response to an idea. in hypnosis, this means having a person move in response to a suggestion given to them while in trance. This IMR is more commonly used in therapy, using ‘IMR signals’ to communicate directly with the client subconscious mind, for example asking for an index finger twitch on the right hand for “yes” or the left hand for a “No” I can then ask the clients subconscious mind direct questions and get a direct response. This is a simple but very effective way to communicate with that deeper part of the client’s memory when not inhibited by the critical faculty but not wanting to raise awareness of traumatic events. An IMR can happen while you are wide awake a simple example might be when as a passenger you slam your feet on the floor in real life if the driver brakes hard and unexpectedly, that’s an IMR. it is worth pointing out it has no effect on the vehicle.

Automatic writing is another type of IMR, where the client is given a pencil and suggestion that the subconscious mind will do all the work and write the answer to questions, without conscious effort. This is useful as a degree of separation from traumatic events the client might not want to verbalise. because the client is completely oblivious to what their hand is writing.

Post-hypnotic suggestion

Any instruction given while the client is in trance which is later triggered by an event when they are consciously aware is a post-hypnotic suggestion. “Every time you see a red car you will remember how much you dislike chocolate”. All hypnotherapy relies on some form of post-hypnotic suggestion. Post-hypnotic suggestions can be either temporary or permanent, depending on the type of suggestion, and the clients desired outcome.


Regression allows a client to vividly imagine themselves travelling back in time to a past event, or even a previous life “The search for Bridey Murphy” is a well-documented example of past life regression It doesn’t matter how important or mundane the client experience is it will always have meaning.

Regression, this is where a client experiences a past event, but they are aware that they are not actually there, and just imagining it.

Revivification’ is where a client completely re-lives an event, as if they are there at the time and place completely disassociated from the current time or place. A pleasant dream or nightmare while sleeping is a form of revivification dreams.

Some clients will regress, others will revivify, however, Revivification often requires a very deep and profound state of hypnosis and responsiveness to suggestion, both Regression and Revivification are useful  for working on phobias (which often start during childhood) and thats it…

There are many phenomena and all have their uses, it is dependant on me as a hypnotherapist, to be creative in the application of any hypnotic phenomenon, making sure it is in tandem with the clients desired outcome.

If you do have any questions,  please  ask.