The House of Lords Science & Technology Select
Committee report (1999) defines hypnotherapy as follows,
“Hypnotherapy - The use of hypnosis in treating
behavioural disease and dysfunction, principally mental disorders.”
Hypnotherapy was arguably the original modality of
Nowadays, however, a distinction is made between,
Classed as a branch of Complementary & Alternative Medicine
(CAM) following a House of Lords report.
Within this sector there are several organisations which
voluntarily self-regulate the practice of hypnotherapy.
Which is recognised by umbrella bodies like the UK Council
for Psychotherapy (UKCP), European Association for Psychotherapy
(EAP), and World Council for Psychotherapy (WCP) as designating a
core modality of psychotherapy.
Historians believe that the first use of the word
“psychotherapy” in a book title came with the English hypnotist
Charles Lloyd Tuckey’s Psycho-therapeutics, or Treatment by
Hypnotism & Suggestion (1889). Tuckey popularised the use of
the word “psychotherapy” as a synonym for the hypnotherapy of
Hippolyte Bernheim's Nancy school in France, and attributes the
discovery of “psychotherapy” as a discipline to Liébault, its
Since the start of the Twentieth century, however,
with the advent of Freudian psychoanalysis, the word "psychotherapy"
has taken on broader connotations, and now encompasses a wide range
of psychological therapies. As research has progressed in
these areas, new models and techniques have been developed, and
modern hypno-psychotherapy attempts to benefit from these
advancements by re-assimilating aspects of other branches of
Almost all modern hypnotherapy, therefore,
inevitably draws upon concepts and techniques from the wider culture
However, some forms of hypnotherapy do this to a minimal degree,
while others do so to a greater extent and in a more sophisticated
manner. As one
contemporary authority on the subject writes,
A century ago, hypnotherapy often consisted of a
hypnotic induction, followed by suggestions of symptom removal.
Consequently, hypnotherapy has been viewed by some writers as
a mode of therapy that might be compared with psychodynamic,
cognitive-behavioural, or other therapeutic approaches.
However, suggestions for symptom relief play a relatively
minor role in contemporary hypnotherapy.
Instead, hypnotherapy generally consists of the addition of
hypnosis to some recognised form of psychotherapy.
(Kirsch et al., 1995: 214)
Modern hypnosis is not simply about “hypnotising people and telling them they will feel better”,
although this can certainly form part of treatment.
Many training programmes place hypnotherapy
squarely within the context of modern psychotherapy.
In the Register's view the ideal training in hypno-psychotherapy
selects techniques for integration within a hypnotic psychotherapy
framework. It does so based upon a philosophy of evidence-based (technical)
eclecticism, which endorses therapeutic techniques mainly on the
basis of their support from the best independent research evidence
Hypnotherapy has always been pragmatic and
while dedicated to a particular methodology (hypnosis) it has both
drawn from and inspired the theories and practices of most other
schools of psychotherapy. Indeed it is arguably the
multi-component nature of modern clinical hypnosis that makes it
such a powerful and flexible tool.
The development and publication of a broad
research base has allowed evidence-based technical eclecticism,
mixing and matching techniques that have a proven effectiveness,
within the field of clinical hypnosis.
Moreover, there is reason to believe that
much of what can be done by therapeutic methods outside of
hypnosis can be done more effectively with hypnosis.
Hypnosis seems to raise motivation, focus attention, enhance
relaxation, increase responsiveness to suggestions, and improve
visualisation. It therefore seems capable of enhancing other
forms of psychotherapy.
There is evidence from a range of studies
showing that using hypnosis increases the impact of other
therapeutic techniques. Moreover, the use of hypnosis in
psychotherapy allows the therapist to engage in ways that would seem
unusual in normal dialogue, for example, repeating a positive
suggestion or image many times. Hypnotherapy also provides a
range of strategies and techniques which add significantly to the
armamentarium of other therapies.
Therefore in the Register's view the ideal model
for hypno-psychotherapy would select techniques for integration
within a hypnotic psychotherapy framework based upon a philosophy of
evidence-based (technical) eclecticism, which endorses therapeutic
techniques mainly on the basis of their support from the best
independent research evidence available.