Information on Hypnosis:

A Service of the Society of Psychological Hypnosis-
Division 30 of the American Psychological Association (APA)



What is Hypnosis?



The Division 30 Definition and Description of Hypnosis

Hypnosis is a procedure during which a health professional or researcher suggests that a client, patient, or subject experience changes in sensations, perceptions, thoughts, or behavior. The hypnotic context is generally established by an induction procedure. Although there are many different hypnotic inductions, most include suggestions for relaxation, calmness, and well-being. Instructions to imagine or think about pleasant experiences are also commonly included in hypnotic inductions. People respond to hypnosis in different ways. Some describe hypnosis as a normal state of focused attention, in which they feel very calm and relaxed. Regardless of how and to what degree they respond, most people describe the experience as very pleasant.

Some people are very responsive to hypnotic suggestions and others are less responsive. A person's ability to experience hypnotic suggestions can be inhibited by fears and concerns arising from some common misconceptions. Contrary to some depictions of hypnosis in books, movies or television, people who have been hypnotized do not lose control over their behavior. They typically remain aware of who they are and where they are, and unless amnesia has been specifically suggested, they usually remember what transpired during hypnosis. Hypnosis makes it easier for people to experience suggestions, but it does not force them to have these experiences.

Hypnosis is not a type of therapy, like psychoanalysis or behavior therapy. Instead, it is a procedure that can be used to facilitate therapy. It is the opinion of the authors of this statement that because it is not a treatment in and of itself, training in hypnosis is not sufficient for the conduct of therapy; rather, clinical hypnosis should be used only by properly trained and credentialed health care professionals (e.g. licensed clinical psychologists), who have also been trained in the clinical use of hypnosis and are working within the areas of their professional expertise.

Hypnosis has been used in the treatment of pain, depression, anxiety, stress, habit disorders, and many other psychological and medical problems. However, it may not be useful for all psychological problems or for all patients or clients. Again, it is the opinion of the authors of this statement that the decision to use hypnosis as an adjunct to treatment can only be made in consultation with a qualified health care provider who has been trained in the use and limitations of clinical hypnosis. In addition to its use in clinical settings, hypnosis is used in research, with the goal of learning more about the nature of hypnosis itself, as well as its impact on sensation, perception, learning, memory, and physiology. Researchers also study the value of hypnosis in the treatment of physical and psychological problems.

(This definition and description of hypnosis was prepared by the Executive Committee of the American Psychological Association, Division of Psychological Hypnosis. Permission to reproduce this document is freely granted.)



Other Important Sources of Information on Hypnosis



Some Books On Hypnosis:

General collections presenting theories and research in hypnosis from a variety of viewpoints:

Fromm, E., & Nash, M. R. (Eds.). (1992). Contemporary hypnosis research. New York: Guilford Press.

Lynn, S. J., & Rhue, J. W. (Eds.). (1991). Theories of hypnosis: Current models and perspectives. New York: Guilford Press.

General collection addressing clinical applications of hypnosis from a variety of theories and viewpoints:

Lynn, S. J., Rhue, J. W., & Kirsch, I. (Eds.). (1993). Handbook of clinical hypnosis. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

A basic hypnosis text recommended by the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis:

Hammond, D. C. Hypnotic induction and suggestion.

Reference which includes lists of training programs with ongoing research and practicum sights in hypnosis:

Mayne, T. J., Norcross, J. C., & Sayette, M. A. (2000). Insider's guide to graduate programs in clinical and counseling psychology (2000/2001 edition). New York: Guilford.


General collection of papers of historical importance to the field of hypnosis:

Gauld, A. (1992). A history of hypnotism. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Tinterow, M. M. (Ed.). (1970). Foundations of hypnosis. Springfield, IL: Charles Thomas.



Major Hypnosis Journals:

American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis
Australian Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis
Contemporary Hypnosis
Imagination, Cognition, and Personality
International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis
Journal of Abnormal Psychology
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Psychological Bulletin


Professional Hypnosis Organizations:

National Guild of Hypnotists (NGH)

P.O. Box 308
Merrimack, NH 03054-0308
phone: 603-429-9438

American Board of Professional Hypnosis (ABPH)

c/o Sam Migdole EdD
North Shore Counseling
23 Broadway
Beverly, MA 01915
phone: 978-922-2280

American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH)

130 East Elm Court, Suite 201
Roselle, IL 60172-2000
Phone: 630-980-4740
Fax: 630-351-8490

The International Society of Hypnosis (ISH)

Ms. Karyn Harte
Edward Wilson Building
A&RMC Austin Campus
Studley Road, Heidelberg
VIC 3084 Australia
Fax: 61-3-9459-6244

Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis (SCEH)

2201 Haeder Rd., Suite 1
Pullman, WA 99163
Phone: 509-332-7555
Fax: 509-332-5907

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This page was last updated: Thursday, November 14, 2002 06:50:38 PM