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Weight Loss Hypnosis


Can hypnosis help you lose weight?
The answer is unequivocally "yes".

How does hypnosis for weight loss work?
Hypnosis is a tool that helps you focus on what you want--your goals--for example, to be a thinner person at your desired weight. Hypnosis can help you harness the power of your imagination to see yourself doing what you must do to achieve your goals--for example, to lose weight. For losing weight, this would require your changing your eating and exercise habits, and your self image. Hypnosis can help you do these things.

But, how does hypnosis help you do this?
Hypnosis is a method whereby you are helped to open up a new channel of communication with your body and your mind, through your mind. With the help of a qualified clinical hypnosis practitioner, you are guided into a state of focused concentration and mental and physical relaxation in which your suggestibility is heightened and your imagination is stimulated. In this state, the part of your mind that controls your habits (i.e., your subconscious mind) is more receptive to constructive suggestions for changing your eating and exercise habits, and improving your self-care.

You are not only helped to experience this heightened state of suggestibility and relaxed, focused concentration in the office, but also on your own at home. This is accomplished by making you an audio tape (CD or cassette) that you are instructed to listen to at least once a day at home for months. By repeatedly listening to your hypnotist's suggestions over and over again, the messages get through to your subsconscious control center in your brain. This helps to re-program your eating and exercise habits, your body image, and your self image. You are also taught how to harness the power of self-hypnosis so that you can enter this state of focused concentration on your own to meditate on your goals and your new self image.

Hypnosis is also a tool for uncovering and discovering underlying, unconscious emotional factors that cause you to overeat or make poor food choices when you are stressed, anxious, bored, depressed, and so forth. Once these emotional eating factors are made conscious, the hypnosis tool is then used to help you change them to more positive motivators so you can make better choices under stress.

When combined with a behavioral weight management treatment plan, hypnosis has been shown to be an effective tool for achieving low to moderate amounts of weight loss. However, there are several variables that must be taken into account. First, the hypnotic program must be tailored to the individual. There is no one size fits all.  Different people have different needs and requirements.

Second, hypnosis for weight loss often requires a time intensive program and considerable effort and responsibility on the part of the weight loss client or patient. There are many fraudulent claims made on the internet by people, usually unlicensed lay hypnotists, who are trying to sell their audio CD or DVD programs.  The fact is that one size fits all weight loss tapes lack scientific evidence to support their success and they should be purchased with this knowledge in mind.  Consumer beware.

Third, hypnosis is a process by which an individual enters a state of relaxation, focused attention, and heightened suggestibility. When an individual is helped into a hypnotic trance state by a clinician, or hypnotist, the process is called hetero-hypnosis.  Once an individual experiences hetero-hypnosis, and is taught to do it by himself, it is called self-hypnosis.  Both hetero-hypnosis and the teaching of self-hypnosis are necessary tools for an effective hypnotic weight loss protocol.

Fourth, the fact is that, empirically, there is a dearth of findings for men.  Also, there is a dearth of empirical studies with subjects matched on relevant characteristics, and this limits the generalizability of positive findings from an empirical research perspective.  Weight loss through hypnosis has not been given as much attention as is desirable by research scientists.  More research studies with control groups and large subject pools are necessary to help us better understand how and how much hypnosis can really help committed people lose weight.

Fifth, the largest obstacle in weight loss is its long-term retention, or the maintenance of weight loss. With that said, it is my clinical experience that maintenance is promoted when a person who is committed to following through with a weight maintenance program has the proper tools to use to help him or her cope with their anxiety and their other emotions.  The proper tools include: emotion regulation skills, self-control skills, motivational skills, and knowledge about diet, nutrition, and exercise.  Hypnosis, self-hypnosis and cognitive-behavioral skills provide the best resource tools in this regard based on the research and my own clinical experience. 

Sixth, my clinical experience has been that successful hypnotherapy treatment for weight loss must tie in to bolstering a patient's self esteem and appreciation of his or her gift of health.

In conclusion, hypnosis should be considered a beneficial tool for assisting limited weight loss when it is combined with other forms of treatment, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, targeted, brief analytical or psychodynamic psychotherapy, appropriate group counseling & support, and dieting, exercise, and educational programs.


A review of six studies published in the September 2005 issue of the International Journal of Obesity found convincing documentation of hypnotherapy's ability to aid weight loss. Other small studies show that participants who undergo hypnotherapy can lose as much as 12 to 15 pounds.


A controlled trial on the use of hypnotherapy, as an adjunct to dietary advice in producing weight loss, was shown to produce a statistically significant result in favour of hypnotherapy. However, the benefits were small and clinically insignificant. More intensive hypnotherapy might of course have been more successful, and perhaps the results of the trial are sufficiently encouraging to pursue this approach further.


In a meta-analysis of the effect of adding hypnosis to cognitive-behavioral treatments for weight reduction, additional data were obtained from authors of two previous studies, and computational inaccuracies in the previous meta-analyses were corrected. Discusses findings. Correlational analyses indicated that the benefits of hypnosis increased substantially over time.

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Other studies have shown (1) that the use of hypnosis motivational suggestions produced an average 17 pound weight loss compared to half a pound weight loss in the control group after 6 months. A further study (2) showed including hypnosis in a weight loss program doubled the amount of weight lost.

  1. Cochrane, Gordon; Friesen, J. (1986). Hypnotherapy in weight loss treatment. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 54, 489-492.
  2. Kirsch, Irving (1996). Hypnotic enhancement of cognitive-behavioral weight loss treatments--Another meta-reanalysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology,
    64 (3), 517-519.


Allison, D. B., & Faith, M. S. (1996). Hypnosis as an adjunct to cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy for obesity: A meta-analytic reappraisal. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64, 513 -516.

Andersen, M. S. (1985). Hypnotizability as a factor in the hypnotic treatment of obesity. Ihe International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 33, 150-159.

Barabasz, M., & Spiegel, D. (1989). Hypnotizability and weight loss in obese subjects. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 8, 3 3 5 - 3 4 1.

Bolocofsky, D. N., Coulthard-Morris, L., & Spinier, D. (1984). Prediction of successful weight management from personality and demographic data. Psychological Reports, 55, 795-802.

Bolocofsky, D. N., Spinler, D., & Coulthard-Morris, L. (1985). Effectiveness of hypnosis as an adjunct to behavioral weight management. Joumal of Clinical Psychology, 41, 35-40.

Cochrane, G., & Friesen, J. (1986). Hypnotherapy in weight loss treatment. Joumal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 54, 489-492.

Kirsch, 1. (1996). Hypnotic enhancement of cognitive-behavioral weight loss treatments Another meta-reanalysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64, 517-519.

Kroger, W. (I 970). Comprehensive management of obesity. American Joumal of Clinical Hypnosis, 12,165-176.

Leon, G. R. (I 976). Current directions in the treatment of obesity. Psychological Bulletin, 83,

McCabe, M. P., Jupp, J. J., & Collins, J. K. (1985). Influence of age and body proportions on weight loss of obese women after treatment. Psychological Reports, 56, 707-710.

Mott, T. (I 982). The role of hypnosis in psychotherapy. American Joumal of Clinical Hypnosis,
24, 241-247.

Stradling J, Roberts D, Wilson A, Lovelock F. Controlled trial of hypnotherapy for weight loss in patients with obstructive sleep apnea. International Journal of Obesity Related Metababolic Disorders. 1998 Mar;22(3):278-81.

Wadden, T. A., & Anderton, C. H. (1982). The clinical use of hypnosis. Psychological Bulletin, 91, 215-243.


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