Does hypnotherapy work?

I’ve been a hypnotherapist for 16 years and during that time have heard some pretty wild claims about what I’m supposed to be able to do, including curing short-sightedness (Le Cron 1951) and enhancing breast size (Williard 1977). To my knowledge I have never done either, and indeed still wear glasses. However, there is good evidence for hypnotherapy being effective, here are five of the most well proven hypnotherapy treatment areas:

Top five hypnotherapy treatment areas

  1. Hypnotherapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)Britain is the world leader in the treatment of IBS with Hypnotherapy and there are literally hundreds of research papers from all over the world showing the beneficial effects of hypnotherapy on both psychological and physical aspects of IBS (Tan, Hammond & Gurrala 2005).
  2. Hypnotherapy for labour- The use of hypnotherapy in labour is associated with reduced use of pain killers and slightly short labour times (Cyna, McAuliffe,& Andrew 2004).
  3. Hypnotherapy for treating asthmaAlthough there is still debate over which approaches are most effective hypnotherapy does appear to be effective in the treatment of Asthma symptoms as well as balancing responses so that fewer asthma attacks occur.  (Brown 2007)
  4. Hypnotherapy for pain control  – A large scale review of numerous academic papers into hypnosis as a form of pain relief/control concluded that “hypnosis has demonstrable efficacy in the treatment of pain” (Hawkins 2001) and another study found that for “75% of the population, hypnosis provided substantial pain relief” (Montgomery 2000)
  5. Hypnotherapy for anxietyThere is a wealth of evidence to support the use of hypnotherapy as a treatment for anxiety. In addition to treating anxiety it can have a knock on effect for anxiety related issues such as headaches, suppressed immune function and the previously notes IBS. (Hammond 2010).



The author

Matt Krouwel is a hypnotherapist in Birmingham, he has lectured on hypnotherapy at hospitals and universities around the world. He specialises in anxiety, IBS and psychosexual issues and is currently doing research with the University of Birmingham.



Brown, D. (2007). Evidence-based hypnotherapy for asthma: a critical review. Intl. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 55(2), 220-249.

Cyna, A. M., McAuliffe, G. L., & Andrew, M. I. (2004). Hypnosis for pain relief in labour and childbirth: a systematic review. British Journal of Anaesthesia, 93(4), 505-511.

Hammond, D. C. (2010). Hypnosis in the treatment of anxiety-and stress-related disorders. Expert review of neurotherapeutics, 10(2), 263-273.

Hawkins, R. M. (2001). A systematic meta-review of hypnosis as an empirically supported treatment for pain. Pain Reviews, 8(2), 47.

LeCRON, L. M. (1951). Relief of myopia by hypnosis and eye training. Diseases of the nervous system, 12(5), 142-146.

Montgomery, G. H., DuHamel, K. N., & Redd, W. H. (2000). A meta-analysis of hypnotically induced analgesia: how effective is hypnosis?. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 48(2), 138-153.

Tan, G., Hammond, D. C., & Gurrala, J. (2005). Hypnosis and irritable bowel syndrome: a review of efficacy and mechanism of action. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 47(3), 161-178.

Willard, R. D. (1977). Breast enlargement through visual imagery and hypnosis. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 19(4), 195-200.