Stage Hypnosis -v- Hypnotherapy – what’s the difference?

  • By nabeeh
  • June 14, 2019

You would be amazed how often I’m asked the difference between stage hypnosis and hypnotherapy.

There is some similarity in the way that hypnotherapists lead clients into a hypnotic state, although there are many different techniques in doing this. However, the overall purpose of the hypnotherapy are entirely different.

What are the differences between stage hypnosis and hypnotherapy?

The biggest difference between the two is the intended outcome.  With stage hypnosis, the main aim is to provide entertainment to the audience, with no long-lasting change to the participant.  Participants are ‘awakened’ at the end and the hypnosis ends immediately.

With hypnotherapy, the long-term goal is almost always behaviour change, whether that is better relaxation, improved confidence, habit-quitting (such as smoking or weight loss) or indeed any other personal goal that we can help a client achieve.  This is incredibly life affirming work and over the years I have been privileged to have helped many people achieve their goals and regain control of their lives.

Can everyone be hypnotised?

Everyone who WANTS to be hypnotised can be hypnotised.  Although undergoing much training we are not magicians – so if you are determined not to be hypnotised or don’t want to be, then we can’t override free will.

What makes a person receptive to hypnosis?

A stage hypnotist uses suggestibility testing in order to choose their volunteers and will often choose only the most receptive people from the audience – usually those who most want to perform.  In a therapy session, a professional hypnotherapist may use these same tests to identify the best suggestions and approach to use or avoid during a therapy session.  We may choose different approaches for different people, but the state we aim to achieve is the same.

Can you make me act against my will?

Whether on stage or in an office, perhaps the biggest myth hypnotists encounter is that we will somehow make the recipient do things they don’t want to do.  Fortunately, this is a myth.

Under hypnosis you will not be able to do anything which goes against your personal values or beliefs – you are not asleep, but will be in a state of heightened awareness in which you are aware of everything that’s happening around you.

The hypnotherapist does not take control, we simply make suggestions, which the mind is more receptive to when the brain is in a hypnotic state. It is not possible to take control of someone else’s mind, only to suggest things to them.  If you don’t like a suggestion that you hear – will ignore it.

How does hypnosis work then?

We are all often subconsciously sabotaging our success through habits and old belief patterns.

Weight loss and smoking are great examples.  It’s a safe bet that we all know that drinking fizzy pop, downing copious amounts of junk food and smoking 20 cigarettes a day is bad for us.  We don’t need to learn they are bad, we need to treat the impulses which make this food seem like a reward, which sabotage our best efforts to quit.

Hypnosis is the perfect tool for dealing with this, because both these impulses and the therapy itself take place in the sub-conscious.

Is stage hypnosis wrong?

Some, not all, hypnotherapists feel strongly about stage hypnosis and hypnotherapy and assume stage practitioners are somehow ‘lesser’.  However, many have trained over many years