Difference between Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy

Key Difference: Hypnosis is a process, while hypnotherapy is actually a form of psychotherapy that uses hypnosis.

At a magic show, seeing a person dance or act like a monkey under perceived hypnosis is pretty entertaining and funny. But it gets you wondering, is hypnosis real? Can people actually be made to act like a monkey at someone else’s beck and call? According to hypnotherapists, hypnosis is not only real but can also be used to alter and better lifestyles.

While many people claim that hypnosis and hypnotherapy are two sides of the same coin – it is actually more different from each other in many ways. Let’s look at it in this way, while hypnosis is a process, hypnotherapy is actually a form of psychotherapy that uses hypnosis.

Long gone are the days that used watches and shiny jewels to perform hypnosis and according to many experts, it was just a distraction technique anyways. Hypnosis actually occurs from the calm and steady voice. The British Society of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis claims that a person in a state of hypnosis usually experiences, “…a sense of deep relaxation with their attention narrowed down, and focused on appropriate suggestions made by the therapist."

According to this definition hypnosis is not a state in which the person is in deep sleep, but rather it induces a trance-like state where the patient is still in control of their own thoughts and actions. This just opens a whole new level of awareness. Hypnosis closes off the ration conscious state, and allows the patient to access the subconscious state.

Other expert theories claims that hypnosis can fall under two groups: Altered state and Non-state. In altered state hypnosis is seen as an altered state of mind or trance, marked by a level of awareness different from the ordinary conscious state. However in Non-state, hypnosis is seen as a form of imaginative role-enactment (example: dancing like a monkey).

It can be said that hypnosis that is used by illusionists and magicians is the non-state type, while the one that is used in hypnotherapy is the altered state. For hypnotherapy to work, the patient is usually allowed to enter the trance-like state that closes off the conscious part of the brain and allows the therapist to access the unconscious part of it. The therapist then alters and digs deeper to find the root of what cause of unhappiness to the patient.

For example, let’s assume that a patient wants to quit smoking. In hypnosis, the patient will be asked to no longer smoke or associate smoking with a bad memory. This may work for a little while, but the patient has a higher chance of falling back into old habits. However in hypnotherapy, the therapist will try and find the root of the cause of why the patient is smoking or what started the patient on the path to smoking and find a solution around that.

Hence, it can be said that hypnosis and hypnotherapy are related to each other wherein hypnosis is a tool and hypnotherapy is a means to achieving an altered state of mind.

Comparison between Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy:





Putting someone in a relaxed state of mind

A form of therapy that uses the relaxed state of mind to understand underlying issues


Changes made during hypnosis are usually temporary

Changes made during hypnotherapy are long lasting

Resolving the Issue

Graces only the surface of the problem

Goes deeper and tries to eradicate the problem


Can be performed by magicians, illusionists, mentalists, etc.

Performed by therapists and psychiatrists with appropriate degrees


A degree is not required to perform hypnosis

A degree is needed to perform hypnosis for therapy

Image Courtesy: phxnews.com, atms.com.au

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