Is Hypnosis Safe? | Get Professional Hypnotherapy or Try to Do it Yourself?

Sometimes it may seem almost impossible to rid oneself of a bad habit such as smoking or managing negative thinking, sadness, or hopelessness. This is where hypnosis can offer a viable alternative to traditional therapy, such as drugs.

People who are considering using hypnotherapy legitimately ask whether it is safe before pursuing sessions with experts in hypnotherapy, such as a certified hypnotherapist. It is a question that deserves a truthful response. 

We answer this inquiry in this article so you can feel confident in your knowledge about the safety of this practice.

What Happens

When you use hypnosis, you are contacting and potentially manipulating the 88% of your brain called the subconscious

The subconscious is responsible not only for storing memories and the formation and use of habits but also for the function and maintenance of the myriad body systems. For example, you don’t need to make the lungs breathe or the heart pump consciously. You have no awareness, the subconscious does this for you. So too with the nerves, brain, muscles, glands, circulation, and other parts of your body.

It makes sense to be able to use the power of the subconscious mind to our advantage, like using hypnosis for success in life or business (see also ‘Self-Hypnosis for Success’ guide). 

Paramahansa Yogananda, a leading yoga expert, says we must quiet the conscious mind’s chatter to reach the subconscious. 

This is what professional hypnotherapists help us do. They use the power of suggestion to get us into a trance-like state and to induce us to visit the calm place that lies between everyday waking consciousness and the space we visit before we fall asleep. There we can enter the subconscious and use its power to potentially change patterns of thought and feelings. 

The changes that occur when we enter the subconscious through trance, can influence the conscious mind to think more positively and clearly. When we are aware of the ability to change thoughts and feelings, we can leave undesirable habits, behaviors, and feelings behind.

The Positive Aspects of Hypnosis

Dr. Andrew Weil, an expert in integrative medicine and a physician, states that hypnosis sessions are effective and safe. While he admits it deserves more study, he reports that he has witnessed positive improvements in people with autoimmune diseases, skin conditions caused by stress, combat-related issues, and reducing or eliminating harmful habits like smoking. Hypnotherapy sessions when done by a trained health care professional can help improve overall well-being, pain control, a feeling of being content, and a clearer mind. Also, though it may seem mundane, hypnosis can be a way to organize your lives better, as explained here.

In addition, Dr. Weil says, “I think it [hypnosis] has been tainted by its association with stage hypnosis.”

Hypnosis offers you the opportunity to treat medical and mental health issues without medications that may have harmful side effects. It may also help with psychological issues. Hypnosis for pain has been an effective method without having to resort to years of expense and time-consuming psychotherapy. 

According to Mayo Clinic, hypnosis may help treat conditions including: 

  • Depression
  • Chronic pain
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Weight loss
  • Better sleep
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Pain management
  • Undesirable habits such as smoking, drinking, chewing tobacco, and over-eating
human silhouettes

Note: Depression involves a range of emotions, feelings, and thoughts, along with its physical symptoms such as pain and nervousness. A person who is depressed can also be stressed or sad and have anxiety and feelings of hopelessness, which hypnotherapy can address. It’s also important to note that hypnotherapy may work best when used with another form of treatment. For example, hypnosis for PTSD works better when combined with CBT. The same goes for hypnosis for memories you had repressed and hypnosis to overcome your fears.

Hypnosis has few side effects and can help people control feelings of anxiety, sadness, and stress that accompany depression. It can also help alleviate behavior that can make a person’s depression worse, such as over-reacting, uncontrolled anger, or shyness.

Dr. Weil has said, “I think it should be more widely used. It’s safe, it’s inexpensive, and it can produce dramatic results.” 

A Word About Stage Hypnosis

This process is for entertainment purposes and often the type of hypnosis that you see an advertisement for. In front of an audience, the entertainer uses suggestion techniques to elicit a specific response from a person. This response, verbal, bodily, or both, often produces a humorous effect on the audience. 

Performance hypnosis may use similar relaxation techniques that a professional hypnotherapist uses to produce a relaxed state, but the result does not induce positive, permanent change or improvement for the subject. Hypnosis, in this case, produces only entertainment. This type of hypnosis is not intended to replace or provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

a woman in hypnosis process

The Negative Aspects of Hypnosis 

While most people’s experience with hypnosis is positive, some report potential negative aspects of the practice. Let’s check them out. 

Minor Problems

Doctors report minimal risks for a person using hypnosis to treat medical conditions. These risks include dizziness, headaches, and minor anxiety. Fortunately, they almost always disappear for patients soon after the hypnotherapy session concludes.


The most hazardous potential problem for those using hypnosis to address issues is confabulation, creating false memories. 

Medical professionals do not know exactly what triggers confabulation. And while they do not list hypnosis as a cause, it may occasionally contribute to confabulation. 

Other Conditions That May Create Problems

Another potential concern is that clinical hypnosis may make the symptoms of some conditions that cause suffering worse. These include those who experience hallucinations and delusions.

Before considering hypnosis as a potential therapy, make sure you first consult with a psychiatrist or your doctor. A consultation is especially important if you have experienced any of the above conditions.


Have more questions on hypnosis or want to schedule a hypnosis session? Consider these FAQs.

Is hypnosis for depression safe?

A qualified yes. Success occurs most often when hypnotherapy is combined with other treatments. Steve G. Kopp, a family and marriage counselor, and certified mental health therapist says using hypnotherapy can help because it reduces patients’ resistance to more traditional types of therapy. 

Is hypnosis safe to stop smoking?

Yes, it’s safe. However, some people experience success, others do not. However, fifty-nine studies found that people who use hypnotherapy are more opt to quit than those who don’t. 

Is hypnosis safe for weight loss?

It is safe, yes. Therapists have seen some success in applying hypnosis for weight loss, especially when combined with exercise, dieting, and counseling. But a definitive answer is still not available because of a lack of research. 

Is hypnosis safe for anxiety?

Yes, hypnosis for anxiety is safe, along with treating fear and nervousness.

Is hypnosis for sleep safe?

Yes, doctors consider it harmless for this condition, although some medical professionals say cognitive-behavioral therapy is more effective. 

What about self-hypnosis?

Yes, self-hypnosis is generally regarded as a safe practice. There are several apps and programs that teach the art and science of self-hypnosis. If you want to use hypnosis as part of a treatment plan or gain control of some unhealthy habits, professional hypnotherapy is probably the safest and most effective option.

Professional Hypnotherapists

Hypnotherapists are professionals that have completed years of training and practice. Licensing agencies and professional organizations that exist to train and certify people in the field include the American Association of Professional Hypnotherapists and the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH). 

For example, to become an ASCH member, the therapist must have completed 40 or more workshop training hours, individual training of 20 hours, and two years in clinical practice. Medical professionals such as doctors, nurse practitioners, family, and marital therapists, and even dentists, may include hypnotherapy in their practices.


Should you be interested in using hypnosis as a treatment to alleviate problems, consider contacting a professional organization to help you find a licensed practitioner. 

If you suffer from difficulties such as depression, anxiety, or the continuing effects of bad habits, you can consider hypnosis as a potential remedy. Health care professionals and those who have used it to become healthy attest to its safety and effectiveness.