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Hypnosis Science

A Conversation with the Subconscious Mind


If you have ever been totally absorbed while watching a movie or reading a book, you’ve experienced hypnosis.

We all experience some form of hypnosis many times during the day. It is a time of focused thought or intense concentration that is free from distraction. 

Centuries of Science

Hypnosis is among the most studied interventions in neuroscience – with over 12,000 peer-reviewed clinical research papers that demonstrate its profound, positive effects.

The earliest references date to the dawn of the Greek and Roman civilizations. Hypnosis was used as battlefield anesthesia, most notably during the U.S. Civil War, but excitement about its potential accelerated four decades ago when Ernest Hilgard, Ph.D. established the Laboratory of Hypnosis Research at Stanford University. Harvard psychiatrist Martin Orne, M.D. followed with pioneering research, which shaped much of today’s hypnosis clinical practice.

Today, hypnosis is supported by renowned research institutions like the National Institutes of Health and the Mayo Clinic. It is safe and natural. It’s a proven tool to resolve the concerns that impact the quality of life for millions of people. 

Hypnosis by the Numbers

Numerous studies -- covering everything from weight loss and smokingcessation, to pain control, stress management and accelerated learning -- conclude that guided hypnosis is more effective and longer lasting than other methods to change behavior or responses to stress or pain.

Weight Loss

  • A University of Connecticut analysis of 18 studies comparing cognitive behavioral therapy such as relaxation training, self-monitoring, or goal setting found that people who received hypnosis lost more weight than 90% of people who had not tried hypnosis and they maintained the weight loss after two years.1
  • A study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology concluded that a weight management program, which included hypnosis was over 30 times more effective than a weight management program alone. The study evaluated patients for two years and found that the patients who received hypnosis continued to lose weight, while the control group experienced little additional change.2
  • Another study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found that adding hypnosis to a weight loss program more than doubled its effectiveness and that the benefits of hypnosis increased substantially over time.3


  • A University of Iowa analysis reviewing the findings of more than 600 studies involving 72-thousand patients in the United States and Europe found that hypnosis was three times more effective than the nicotine patch and 15 times more effective than willpower to quit smoking.4
  • The University of Washington School of Medicine reported a 90.6% success rate for smoking cessation for 6 months to three years after hypnosis.5
  • A study published in the Journal of Nursing Science found that smokers who had undergone hypnosis were more than twice as likely to remain smoke-free after two years.6


  • Researchers at a Belgian university found that more than 1,400 surgical patients, who received only local anesthesia supported by hypnosis, experienced faster recovery and greater post-operative comfort, including less anxiety, less pain and less need for pain medications.7
  • A study reported in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management found that the addition of hypnosis to a pain management program significantly reduced patient reports of intense pain.8
  • Researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine who used randomized controlled studies found that hypnosis has a reliable and significant impact on acute procedural pain and chronic pain conditions. Studies of central nervous system activity found evidence of actual physiological differences in how patients who had hypnosis responded to pain.9 A separate study by scientists in Sweden also noted biological changes in the cerebral blood flow of pain patients supported by hypnosis.10

Stress, Anxiety & Healing

  • Two studies from Harvard Medical School show hypnosis significantly reduces the time it takes to heal. One found that six weeks after an ankle fracture, those in the hypnosis group showed the equivalent of eight and a half weeks of healing. The other found that patients supported with hypnosis healed "significantly faster" than other patients after breast reduction surgery.11
  • A study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Hypnotherapy found that 261 veterans who were supported with hypnosis three to five times per week during treatment for drug and alcohol abuse reported the highest levels of self-esteem and serenity, and the least anger/impulsivity, compared to control groups. 12

How hypnosis works

Your mind is the spark for everything you do. It is comprised of two systems: your subconscious and your conscious mind.

Your subconscious was forming, as you grew in your mother’s womb. It runs freely and voluntarily with no effort at all. It powers all of your life processes like your heart beat, your breathing, your blood pressure, and your senses. It also directs our attitudes, thoughts, and responses to just about everything. It is the storehouse for your patterns and behaviors.

These now automatic beliefs form our responses to life events such as, “I’m stressed, I need a cigarette” or “it’s time to relax in front of the television, so I need a bag of potato chips” or “I can’t score better on that test, because I’m not good at math.”

The conscious mind may logically decide to diet, quit smoking, or exercise more. And, while we may achieve short-term success, we face strong internal resistance because we haven't changed our internal programming.  Our new habits don’t feel natural and we can't overcome what we've learned over time. That’s why after a few tries, we often give up, and return to our old patterns. 

There is hope.

Guided hypnosis is the means to have a conversation directly with your subconscious to substitute new, positive thoughts such as, “I’m going to relax in front of the television and not want a snack” or “I’m stressed, so I’m going to go for a walk.” You are in complete control, as you reset the navigation and direction of your own success.  

Psychiatrists use talk therapy or even anti-anxiety medication to help individuals reflect on and overcome lifelong issues.  Guided hypnosis can be a compliment to all other forms of therapy and healing. 

The Positive Changes Way

We have refined a unique combination of guided hypnosis and life coaching, which has been refined over thirty years. Our approach has helped thousands of people lose weight, quit smoking, manage stress and anxiety, sharpen mental focus, overcome insomnia, conquer pain and achieve optimal vitality and well-being.

In session your hypnosis provider will offer you the new, deliberately focused script – which you developed together – to prompt the behavior change you seek.  While you will be deeply and clearly focused on the suggestions from your hypnotist, you are fully in control to make the choices you want and to reinforce the habits you desire.  For many of our clients, change happens quickly and is sustained, as you practice a new routine of self-coaching and mindfulness.


1 University of Connecticut, Storrs Allison DB, Faith MS. Hypnosis as an adjunct to cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy for obesity: a meta-analytic reappraisal. J Consult Clin Psychol. 1996;64(3):513-516.

2 Cochrane, Gordon; Friesen, J. (1986). Hypnotherapy in weight loss treatment. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 54, 489-492.

3 Kirsch, Irving (1996). Hypnotic enhancement of cognitive-behavioral weight loss treatments--Another meta-reanalysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64 (3), 517-519.

4 University of Iowa, Journal of Applied Psychology, How One in Five Give Up Smoking. October 1992.

5 University of Washington School of Medicine, Depts. of Anesthesiology and Rehabilitation Medicine, Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2001 Jul;49(3):257-66. Barber J.

6 Guided health imagery for smoking cessation and long-term abstinence. Wynd, CA. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 2005; 37:3, pages 245-250.

7 [Hypnosis and its application in surgery] Faymonville ME, Defechereux T, Joris J, Adant JP, Hamoir E, Meurisse M, Service d'Anesthesie-Reanimation, Universite de Liege, Rev Med Liege. 1998 Jul;53(7):414-8.

8 Dahlgren LA, Kurtz RM, Strube MJ, Malone MD, Differential effects of hypnotic suggestion on multiple dimensions of pain. Journal of Pain & Symptom Management. 1995; 10(6): 464-70.

9 Hypnosis and clinical pain. Patterson DR, Jensen MP, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA USA 98104 Psychol Bull. 2003 Jul;129(4):495-521.

10 Harvard Medical School, Carol Ginandes and Union Institute in Cincinnati, Patricia Brooks, Harvard University Gazette Online at

11 American Journal of Clinical Hypnotherapy (a publication of the American Psychological Association) 2004 Apr;46(4):281-97)

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