The 5 Types Of Hypnosis (and How They Work)

Hypnosis is a method that promotes changes in behavior through suggestion Depending on the definition on which we base ourselves, we can conceptualize hypnosis as a psychological state or as a set of mental attitudes and processes; Currently the scientific community associates it with expectations or brain waves.

In this article we will talk about the 5 most common types of hypnosis: the traditional method, which is based on direct verbal suggestion, the one developed by Milton Erickson, cognitive-behavioral hypnosis, self-hypnosis and neurolinguistic programming or NLP, which without being exactly a form of hypnosis is largely based on the variant Ericksonian.

The 5 most popular types of hypnosis

Below we will describe 5 of the most well-known techniques that include the use of hypnosis. Of course, there are many other versions and there may be professionals or instruments that combine more than one of these methods.

1. Traditional hypnosis (by suggestion)

The history of traditional hypnosis dates back to the peculiar methods of Franz Mesmer, which involved magnets and became popular in the late 18th century. Later James Braid showed his opposition to mesmerist hypotheses and proposed that hypnosis was a state of the nervous system, while Pierre Janet attributed it to psychological dissociation.

Traditional hypnosis is based on the induction of a trance state ; Once the hypnotized person has reached him, he will receive suggestions in verbal format in relation to his behavior or his mental contents. Thus, the goal of this method is to influence behavior, for example by suggesting the person give up a negative habit or belief.

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Today the classical method remains the most used form of hypnosis throughout the world. From a theoretical point of view it is related to the hypothesis of the unconscious mind raised by Freud that marked in a key way the subsequent developments of psychoanalysis, in addition to influencing orientations as different from it as cognitivism.

2. Ericksonian hypnosis

This type of hypnosis was developed by Milton H. Erickson, an American psychologist who is considered a pioneer in this field and in psychotherapy in general. This author should not be confused with Erik Erikson, a German developmental psychologist known mainly for his theory of the 8 stages of psychosocial development.

Ericksonian hypnosis is not carried out through direct suggestions, but through metaphors that promote creative and reflective thinking Due to this, it is attributed greater effectiveness than classic hypnosis in people who are refractory to hypnosis, with a low level of suggestibility or who are skeptical of the procedure.

Erickson’s influence is not limited to hypnosis and neurolinguistic programming, which we will discuss later. The central aspect of his intervention model, the weight of the relationship between therapist and client in achieving change, was collected by the strategic school and by brief solution-focused therapy, both part of the systemic approach.

3. Cognitive-behavioral hypnosis

The cognitive-behavioral perspective conceives hypnosis as a set of methods that promote behavioral change through suggestion. This phenomenon is understood as a consequence of the interaction between factors such as state of physical relaxation, the use of imagination or the person’s expectations and beliefs.

Some therapists who subscribe to cognitive-behavioral orientation use hypnosis techniques as a complement to broader interventions. In this sense, it has been applied to problems as varied as alterations in the sleep-wake cycle, behavioral and substance addictions (especially tobacco) or post-traumatic stress disorder.

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4. Self-hypnosis

We talk about self-hypnosis when a person induces this state for himself through autosuggestion Instruments that serve as support are frequently used; The most common are recordings in sound format, although there are also devices that alter brain waves to modify the level of consciousness.

This type of hypnosis is mainly applied to everyday difficulties that are not particularly serious. Thus, for example, it is commonly used to develop intrapersonal and interpersonal skills (such as assertiveness), to reduce the level of stress and induce relaxation, to face stage fright, to lose weight or to quit smoking.

5. Neurolinguistic programming (NLP)

While we cannot say that it is strictly a type of hypnosis, neurolinguistic programming (often referred to as “NLP”) is closely related to these methods. This technique created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder uses “thinking models” to improve psychological skills

The Milton Model is based on the hypnosis method developed by Milton Erickson; In this variant of NLP, suggestion is practiced through metaphors. However, Bandler and Grinder’s use of Ericksonian hypnosis has been criticized because these authors modified or misinterpreted many of its basic ideas.

The scientific community considers neurolinguistic programming as a pseudoscience, and therefore as a fraud. His postulates are not based on any empirical basis, although he includes complex concepts in order to give the “theory” an air of credibility; This type of practice is extremely common in pseudosciences.