5 Ways Hypnotherapy is Different from Talk Therapy
Updated: Sep 9
Therapy is having a moment and I am HERE for it!
Gone are the days where therapy is reserved for people with severe mental illness or trauma.
Gone are the days where we're judged for going to therapy.
Gone are the days where seeking therapy is something to be embarrassed about.
Therapy isn't just about treating clinical illness or making life "suck less". It's about getting help in any aspect of life you feel you could use some support with.
Some people don't know where to start, or they've tried traditional talk therapy and haven't gotten the results they'd hoped for. Well, my friend, there are other options to consider.
Hypnotherapy is worth taking a look at. In this post you'll learn 5 ways hypnotherapy is different from talk therapy.
Now, let me just say that there is no "one size fits all". No one type of therapy is "better" than the other. Each has its place and every client will respond differently to each type of therapy.
That being said, I've heard many times from my clients that they've experienced more breakthroughs in one hypnotherapy session, than they have over months, or in some case years of talk therapy.
Let's break down some of the things that set hypnotherapy apart from "traditional" talk therapy.
1. Hypnotherapy uses the power of the subconscious mind while talk therapy uses the conscious mind.
Talking is at the core of traditional talk therapy, just as the name implies. Simply put, talk therapy involves exploring the clients feelings, by talking about them. A psychologist or counselor will ask you questions about what you're feeling, past life experiences, and traumas in order to treat or diagnose various mental "conditions". Your therapists goal is to help you develop coping strategies and gain a better understanding of your emotions.
While some people find it helpful to have someone they can talk to, others find it uncomfortable revealing their deepest feelings and emotions.
Some people find they initially feel better talking about their issues, but soon after the session ends they fall back into old patterns or don't experience meaningful change.
Using your conscious mind to talk about how you feel can help you get things off your chest and discuss possible lifestyle changes or coping strategies, but it only works if people are able to actually implement them.
Hypnotherapy is different from talk therapy because it uses guided relaxation methods and focused attention to induce a heightened state of awareness (also referred to as trance or hypnosis) so that you can communicate directly with your subconscious. This allows you to access information you wouldn't normally be able to, allowing for new insights and deeper healing. Think of this like a very natural and safe state of relaxation. You'll be conscious and aware, yet you'll be physically and mentally calm.
Why would we want to do this?
Well, science has shown that the subconscious mind controls 90-95% of out thoughts and behaviors. Pretty crazy, right? This means that if you want to change your thinking and your actions, you need to work at the layer of the subconscious. Doing so means you'll easily accept new suggestions and be receptive to making changes, so that you can step outside of the status quo and make the changes necessary to live a better life. More on this when we get to point #3.
2. Hypnotherapy is focused on creating solutions and talk therapy is focused on managing symptoms.
Traditional talk therapy can be a rabbit hole. It can feel like an ambiguous and never ending process. Many people will comment that it's nice to have someone to talk to, but it's hard to know if they're making meaningful change. If you're working with a good therapist, they'll help you measure your progress, but usually this is focused on symptom management.
Hypnotherapy on the other hand is all about making life phenomenal. Before I start every session, I will spend time with the client to design their transformation. We will identify tangible and intangible goals that aren't just about reducing the negative.
Let's use an example.
Eliza has just started weekly talk therapy with a counselor. She wants to sleep better at night, have less anxiety in social situations, and reduce the frequency of her panic attacks. This is a good starting point but do you notice how it's all about reducing her problems and making life suck less?
Say I was working with Eliza to overcome this anxiety. In speaking with her, I learn that she frequently delivers presentations for her job and that she constantly doubts herself. The night before a presentation she will feel so anxious that she loses sleep. While speaking she gets sweaty, her face gets red, and she feels fidgety. I would then ask Eliza, how she wants to feel instead. I would say something like, if you could approach your presentations like one of the best speakers on the planet, what would that feel like? Eliza would light up and say she would feel totally calm and at ease with a little bit of excitement to keep her focused and motivated. She would speak clearly and stand tall and proud, knowing that she was a phenomenal leader. She would have charisma, make eye contact with her audience, and speak in a strong steady voice. Notice the difference?
Why is this so much more effective?
Well, the subconscious mind is designed to do exactly what you want it to do, so we need to tell it exactly what that is, and with a lot of vivid detail! Defining these goals helps us not only track your progress, but it helps your hypnotherapist give you exactly what you want in your life.
...And because the subconscious mind needs very clear instructions, it helps make the session 10x more effective too (YAY!).
3. Hypnotherapy is a technique that is designed to quickly change your underlying thought patterns
Do you ever feel like you're a prisoner to your thoughts? If you're shaking your head yes, know that you are not stuck with the brain you have! It is absolutely possible to rewire and remodel your subconscious thought patterns to be more positive, calm, and uplifting.
The human brain is a complex and wondrous organ and it is always changing and adapting to new circumstances. You have the ability to train it just like you would, a muscle. When you learn something new, you create new connections between your neurons. Learning something new could be a language, how to play an instrument, or a skill --- but it could also be learning how to think differently.
This phenomena is referred to as neuroplasticity and it is one of the biggest developments in positive psychology and the mental health space in the last 60ish years.
The problem is that most people have used neuroplasticity to their own demise. They have taught themselves to operate in states of high stress and have formed negative thoughts and beliefs about themselves and the world that replay over and over again like a program. This is the leading cause of issues like chronic stress, depression, and anxiety (as well as a host of physical conditions).
The good news is that if we can wire our brains into being stressed and anxious, we can RE-wire them into being calm, happy, and positive. This is the exact purpose of hypnotherapy! It is an art and a science which is designed to do exactly that. Changing the underlying structure and patterns of your mind is life changing. As my mentor and teacher Marisa Peer says, Your thoughts affect your beliefs, your beliefs affect your actions, your actions affect your behaviors and results.
So if you want to change your life, you have to start by changing your thoughts.
4. Hypnotherapy helps you rapidly uncover the underlying root cause of your challenge or issue
Some hypnotherapists (not all) will use a technique called "regression". This means that while in a state of hypnosis, you will be guided to access very specific memories, experiences, and feelings buried in your subconscious that are directly linked to your challenge or issue.
So, instead of spending session after session consciously analyzing your past with your therapist to try and understand or explain why you are the way that you, are we can use hypnosis and the power of your subconscious to unlock major insights about yourself (in a matter of 20-30 minutes). Seriously.
This allows us to spend the rest of your session helping you heal from trauma, move past your subconscious blocks, and reframing your experiences so they no longer hold power over you.
Having this knowledge is freeing, liberating, and in many cases - life changing.
5. When working with a hypnotherapist you will probably only need a few sessions
It is not uncommon for traditional talk therapy to require a significant time and financial investment. When starting talk therapy, be prepared to meet your therapist weekly for a minimum of 3 months. Many people state that they didn't start to see meaningful change until 20-30 sessions.
On the other hand, for all of the reasons above, hypnotherapy can create change in the mind very quickly (I usually suggest 1-3 sessions for my clients). Because our habits are deeply embedded in the subconscious (vs the conscious, logical, analytical mind), we're able to understand the root cause of your issue and produce meaningful changes to your underlying thoughts and behaviors in a short timespan.
One "rule of the mind" is that it learns by repetition. Every client I work with gets their own custom hypnosis recording that they listen to every day for 30 days following the session. This, combined with the hypnotherapy session itself, produces rapid and lasting changes.