The 5 types of hypnosis (and how they work)

Hypnosis is a method that promotes behavioral changes by 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, developed by Milton Erickson, cognitive-behavioral hypnosis, self-hypnosis and neurolinguistic programming or NLP, which without being exactly a form of hypnosis largely of the Ericksonian variant.

    The 5 most popular types of hypnosis

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

    1. Traditional hypnosis (by suggestion)

    The history of traditional hypnosis dates back to the particular methods of Franz Mesmer, which involved magnets and became popular at the end of the 18th century. James Braid later showed his opposition to hypnotic 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 transit state; Once the hypnotized person has achieved this goal, they will receive suggestions in verbal form regarding their behavior or mental content. Thus, the purpose of this method is to influence behavior, for example by suggesting that the person give up a negative habit or belief.

    Today, the classic method remains the most widely used form of hypnosis in the world. From a theoretical point of view, it is related to the hypothesis of the unconscious posed by Freud which marked in a key way the later developments of psychoanalysis, as well as orientations of influence as different from it as cognitivism.

      2. Ericksonian hypnosis

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

      Ericksonian hypnosis is not done by direct suggestions, but by metaphors that promote creative and reflective thinking. For this reason, it is credited with greater effectiveness than conventional hypnosis in people refractory to hypnosis, with a low level of suggestibility or who are skeptical of the procedure.

      Erickson’s influence isn’t limited to hypnosis and neurolinguistic programming, which we’ll talk about later. The central aspect of its intervention model, the weight of the relationship between therapist and client by making the change it was picked up by strategy school and brief solution-oriented therapy, both part of the systems approach.

        3. Cognitive-behavioral hypnosis

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

        Some therapists who adhere to cognitive-behavioral counseling use hypnosis techniques in addition to broader interventions. In this sense, it has been applied to problems as varied as disorders of the sleep-wake cycle, behavioral and substance addictions (notably tobacco) or post-traumatic stress disorder.

          4. Self-hypnosis

          We talk about self-hypnosis when a person induces himself into this state by auto-suggestion. Instruments which serve as a support are often used; the most common are recordings in sound format, although there are also devices that alter brain waves to alter the level of consciousness.

          This type of hypnosis is mainly applied in everyday difficulties which are not of particular gravity. So, for example, it is common to use it to develop intrapersonal and interpersonal skills (like assertiveness), to reduce stress levels and induce relaxation, to cope with stage fright, to lose weight or to quit smoking.

          5. Neurolinguistic programming (NLP)

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

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

          The scientific community considers neurolinguistic programming to be a pseudoscience, And therefore as a fraud. Its postulates are not based on any empirical basis, although it includes complex concepts in order to endow the “theory” with an air of credibility; this type of practice is extremely common in pseudoscience.

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