I can remember being on a Paul McKenna training many years ago and he mentioned that on some of his recordings that were given away free, he referred to some of the sessions as ‘eyes closed process’ rather than hypnosis.

It was thought that ‘hypnosis’ had legal issues attached to it, but the connotations of the term were the main reason for the change.


I personally love the word “hypnosis.”

Though I hasten to add that my love for it or not does not necessarily mean I am all that concerned of what terms people use… I wrote about the use of the word ‘trance’ before and provided evidence that some people find it off putting. Lots of people wrote to me and told me that the most important thing was to have the client use a term which is best for them – of course I agree, in some cases, you can use a better term for hypnosis.

There are many that believe, as long as some form of suggestion is present, and whether it is woven into some other kind of therapeutic framework or not, that hypnosis is present. Many believe hypnosis exists in most therapeutic interventions, though it does not always go by that name.

I think the point is that regardless of your personal or professional attachment to the word “hypnosis,” if it serves the therapy to use the same principles and interventions, just under a name or term that the client finds more agreeable, then so be it. Though I think with the right level of education, we can allay any emotions or thoughts that would be detrimental to the therapy is the word “hypnosis” is used.

So if a client is keen to see me, but fears hypnosis, yet really wants to enjoy the benefits they believe certain visualisation techniques will give them, then it may lessen resistance to go with that term and notion without necessarily having to insist on the use of “hypnosis.” Though I’d like to think the right approach to educating the client could alleviate such fear, there may be occasion not to be insistent – even if you believe you need to tell them that visualisation is a specific form of hypnotic intervention (should you believe that to be so).

If the client feared hypnosis and you educated that hypnosis is related to visualisation, then you run the risk of them being fearful of visualisation by association, rather than relaxing them about hypnosis, for example.

For some, the mention of the word “hypnosis” creates fear and apprehension, yet the same people may feel totally at ease with the notion of “progressive relaxation” or “visual imagery” or “guided meditation” for example. All of which could be used as a simple hypnotic induction technique.

Do we need to sell our clients on the word “hypnosis”?

I tend to think we only need to do so if it is going to benefit the therapeutic outcome. The terms I used as potential alternatives in the previous paragraph do not necessarily represent hypnosis. Technically, they aren’t the same, I know that. Any hypnosis purist is correct to object about that much.  However, such differences may be considered irrelevant to the client, who we simply wish to empower and make progressive change. That sort of insistence could damage rapport, detrimentally affect the therapeutic alliance and waste precious time.

Hypnosis may well often be in effect without it being identified as such from time to time, if it works to the clients advantage…. What the heck, eh?

That said, if people were educated effectively about hypnosis, they would not fear it… I mean, if you want to fear something, fear a chainsaw wielding nutter in wellies and a mask, not hypnosis…  🙂