Hypnotherapy, Hypnotism, Self-Hypnosis (explained)

If you are looking for explanation to the question, “What is hypnosis?” click here.

Otherwise, continue to read this page. There are some terminologies that need clarification here.

How is self-hypnosis different than well…hypnosis? Is it better to consult a hypnotist or a hypnotherapist?

Hypnotist or Hypnotherapist?

First, let’s clarify the hypnotist and hypnotherapist confusion. What is the difference between the two?

To explain it simply, they are one and the same. Even though the use of exploring the subconscious mind to help people has occurred since the ancient times, the word “hypnotherapy” only became widely used in the mid 1900s when individuals trained in the field set up a profession to help people resolve common issues such as sleep difficulties, addictions, emotional problems etc.

As the field became more widespread in the past two decades, there arose the concern that “hypnotherapy” may become confused with other professions such as counseling, psychotherapy and other forms of medical therapy. Organizations for hypnotists such as the National Guild of Hypnotists then decided that hypnotists need to be distinguished more clearly from those other professions. “Hypnotism” is now the modern, more widely accepted term to describe the proud profession of practicing hypnotism on clients who seek self-improvement in various areas of their lives.

Some states have regulations that forbid hypnotists to call themselves “hypnotherapists”. In other states, both terms may be used interchangeably. Being compliant with the standards set by the Guild, I hereby happily and proudly call myself a hypnotist.

Self-hypnosis versus consulting a hypnotist

Now for the difference between practicing self-hypnosis versus consulting a hypnotist. What is the difference? Well, it’s kind of like asking, “What is the difference between working out on your own versus working out with a trainer?” They are both working out. If you don’t have some hard-to-achieve goal, and you don’t have major fitness issues, you could possibly manage it on your own. If you are highly skilled and trained, you could possibly be successful. But if you are struggling with a problem area, and if you need someone trained in the field to facilitate your success and to help you achieve your goals, then a trainer is the way to go. In any case, it’s the same body (yours) that is being worked on. It’s the same goal (yours) that is being achieved.

All hypnosis is self-hypnosis

The fact is: All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. The hypnotist is a highly trained and experienced person in the field who is there to facilitate the process of self-hypnosis, and thereby helping you achieve your goals. The following table summarizes the comparison between practicing self-hypnosis versus consulting a hypnotist:



Consulting a hypnotist

Training Client is likely not trained in hypnotism Hypnotist has been trained in the field (look up their credentials and make sure that they are trained by a reputable organization such as the NGH)
Experience Client lacks experience in practicing self-hypnosis Hypnotist is experienced in working with clients of various personalities and issues
Focus Likely to fall asleep during the session Hypnotist can guide you to stay focused
Discipline Requires more discipline Hypnotist can help keep you on track
Achieving your Goal Too close to the problem Hypnotist provides a perspective as a bystanding observer
Addressing the problem objectively No one to sound out the issues to Hypnotist allows client to assess situation clearly and from an objective perspective
Cost Free of charge, making it seem trivial and unimportant Paying the hypnotist makes the client feel that the process is important and worthy


Being a trained hypnotist myself, I am my most frequent client. I practice self-hypnosis regularly on day-to-day issues like i) preparing myself for an important event ii) resolving some interpersonal conflict and iii) relaxation and de-stressing.

But even I consult a hypnotist from time to time, so that I can work on some difficult to resolve and recurrent issues that I am often blindsided by. Consulting a hypnotist is a very enjoyable event for me. I always feel listened to and well taken care of. I know that I am working with someone who has my welfare in mind. I always have some sort of revelation every time I consult a hypnotist. Something that makes a lot of sense to me but had always escaped me because I was too close to the problem to see it. By tapping into the subconscious mind in a safe and effective way, I am able to address the situation most productively.

In a nutshell, I would say that hypnosis changed my life for the better. The year that I went through the Certified Hypnotist training by NGH in 2008 was truly the turning point in my life. It opened up doors that I never knew existed.

Do you have any event that serves as a turning point in your life? Share your comments below.

© Chui Sien Chan 2016

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