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Definition and History of Hypnotherapy: A Mind-Body Journey Through Time

To better understand hypnosis, this article provides the definition and history of hypnotherapy.

Have you ever seen a movie where a hypnotist swings a pocket watch and someone clucks like a chicken?

Hypnosis is often portrayed as a mysterious force that takes control of your mind. 

Let me assure you, that's pure Hollywood fiction! In reality, hypnotherapy is a safe and natural technique that can help you achieve positive changes in your life.

Angie Riechers Hynotherapy Headshot

Angie Riechers, CMS-CHt, FIBH
Certified Medical Support Clinical Hypnotherapist

So, what exactly is hypnotherapy? It's a guided relaxation technique that uses focused attention and positive suggestions to influence the subconscious mind.  

Think of it like planting a seed of positive change in a fertile garden.

Over time, with regular care and attention (hypnotherapy sessions), that seed can blossom into real progress.

Definition and History of Hypnotherapy Explained

What is Hypnotherapy?

During a hypnotherapy session, a certified hypnotherapist will guide you into a deeply relaxed state, similar to daydreaming.

In this relaxed state, your subconscious mind becomes more receptive to positive suggestions.

These suggestions can be anything that helps you achieve your goals, such as reducing stress, managing pain, or breaking a bad habit.

It's important to remember that you are always in control during a hypnotherapy session.

You can't be forced to do anything against your will, and you can easily come out of the relaxed state whenever you choose.

A Look Back in Time: The History of Hypnotherapy

The history of hypnotherapy is as fascinating as it is long.  Believe it or not, there's evidence of hypnosis being used in ancient civilizations!  

The Egyptians used sleep temples to induce a trance-like state for healing purposes.  

Fast forward a few millennia, and we find the ancient Greeks using similar techniques.

Hypnotherapy, as we know it today, started to take shape in the 18th century with a fascinating character named Franz Mesmer.

Mesmer believed in a mysterious force called "animal magnetism" that he thought could cure a variety of ailments. While his theory about animal magnetism was eventually debunked, Mesmer's work did spark renewed interest in hypnosis.

In the 19th century, a British physician named James Braid began studying hypnosis scientifically.

He coined the term "hypnosis" (derived from the Greek word for sleep) and developed theories about how it worked.  

Although there were periods of skepticism throughout the 20th century, hypnotherapy has continued to evolve and gain recognition as a valuable therapeutic tool.

The Science Behind Hypnotherapy: Myth vs. Fact

Let's dispel some common myths about hypnosis.

  • Myth: You lose consciousness during hypnosis.

  • Fact: Hypnosis is not sleep! You remain aware of your surroundings throughout the session.

  • Myth: Hypnotherapists can make you do anything against your will.

  • Fact:  You are always in control. You can't be forced to reveal secrets or do anything that goes against your morals.

  • Myth: Hypnotherapy involves reliving past traumas.

  • Fact: While hypnotherapy can sometimes be used to address past experiences, it's not a requirement.  Most hypnotherapy sessions focus on positive suggestions for the future.

So, how does hypnotherapy actually work? There are different theories, but some scientists believe it has to do with brainwave patterns. 

During hypnosis, your brainwaves slow down to a state similar to deep relaxation or meditation.

This heightened state of suggestibility allows positive suggestions to take root in the subconscious mind.

The Many Uses of Hypnotherapy Today

Definition and History of Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy is a versatile tool that can be applied to a wide range of issues in modern life. Here's a glimpse into how hypnotherapy can empower you to achieve your wellness goals:

  • Pain Management:  Chronic pain, headaches, and even discomfort during childbirth can be significantly reduced through hypnotherapy. By promoting deep relaxation and providing alternative coping mechanisms, hypnotherapy helps you manage pain more effectively.

  •  Weight Loss:  Hypnotherapy can support your weight loss journey by addressing emotional eating triggers and unhealthy food cravings. It can also help you develop a healthier relationship with food and promote a positive body image.
    • Stress Management:  In today's fast-paced world, stress can take a toll on our mental and physical well-being. Hypnotherapy can equip you with relaxation techniques and coping mechanisms to effectively manage stress.
    • Smoking Cessation: Hypnotherapy can be a powerful tool to help you quit smoking. By strengthening your resolve and addressing the underlying reasons for smoking, hypnotherapy can increase your chances of quitting for good.
    • Sleep Disorders:  Do you struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep? Hypnotherapy can help you achieve deeper, more restful sleep by promoting relaxation and addressing the underlying causes of sleep disturbances.
    • Confidence and Self-Esteem: Do you struggle with self-doubt or negative self-talk? Hypnotherapy can help you reprogram your subconscious mind with positive affirmations and visualizations, boosting your confidence and self-esteem.
    • Behavior Modification: Hypnotherapy can be a powerful tool for behavior modification. Whether you're trying to break a bad habit like nail-biting or overcome overeating, hypnotherapy can help you develop the willpower and positive mindset you need for lasting change.
    • Phobias:  Do you have a phobia that hinders your daily life? Hypnotherapy can help you address the root cause of your fear and develop coping mechanisms to manage phobias like public speaking or spiders.
    • Athletic Performance: Athletes can leverage hypnotherapy to enhance their focus, concentration, and mental resilience during competition. Hypnotherapy can also help athletes improve visualization skills and develop a winning mindset.
    • Hypnotherapy for Labor and Birth: Childbirth is a powerful and unique experience. Hypnotherapy empowers you to approach it with confidence. By learning self-hypnosis techniques, you can gain control over anxieties and promote deep relaxation. Visualization exercises help you connect with positive birthing imagery, fostering a calmer and more focused mindset throughout labor.
    • Past Life Regression: Have you ever felt a deep connection to a specific era or unexplained emotions? Past-life regression hypnotherapy offers a safe and guided exploration of these questions. In a relaxed state, you can access past-life memories that might influence your present reality. 
  • This is just a sampling of the many ways hypnotherapy can be used to improve your life. If you're looking for a safe, natural, and effective approach to addressing a specific challenge, hypnotherapy might be the answer you've been seeking.

    It's important to remember that hypnotherapy is a complementary therapy, not a replacement for medical treatment. If you have a medical condition, it's crucial to consult with your doctor before starting hypnotherapy.


I hope you enjoyed this definition and history of hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy is a safe, effective, and natural tool that can help you make positive changes in your life.  

Whether you're looking to reduce stress, manage pain, or break bad habits, hypnotherapy can offer a powerful and lasting solution.  

If you're curious to learn more about how hypnotherapy can benefit you, Take advantage of our 30-minute consultation for only $19.00. 

During this consultation, we can discuss your specific goals and answer any questions you might have about hypnotherapy.

During this hypnotherapy via Zoom session, we'll discuss your specific goals, answer any questions you have, and explore how hypnotherapy can help you reach your goals.

See additional Angie Riechers Hypnotherapy Services that are provided. Or visit Angie Riechers Hypnotherapy.com for more information about Angie.

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About the Author

Angie Riechers is a certified hypnotherapist and Fellow of the International Board of Hypnotherapy. Angie uses the transformative power of hypnosis to help clients overcome obstacles and unlock their full potential. Whether you want to reverse negative thinking, conquer phobias and habits, or achieve your goals for health and wellness, Angie provides personalized support for self-improvement through hypnotherapy.


Discover your path to positive change with Angie Riechers Hypnotherapy in Tucson, Arizona.
Schedule a 30-minute consultation to get started on your journey of mindset shifts and positive behaviors with Angie today. With compassion and expertise, Angie guides clients to unlock their inner strengths and create lasting changes for an empowered life. Contact Angie now to experience the benefits of hypnotherapy firsthand.