Hypnosis and Anxiety Recovery

I am often asked if hypnosis and anxiety go together.  Does hypnosis or hypnotherapy “work” for anxiety?  Will it make your panic attacks or scary thoughts stop?  Will it calm you down?  I am far from an expert on hypnotherapy so I asked my friend and qualified psychotherapist Emma Garrick to join us to talk about the role of hypnotherapy in anxiety recovery.  This episode is jam packed with really useful information so grab a coffee and take a listen!

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The Highlights

Emma is a qualified psychotherapist and also a qualified clinical hypnotherapist practicing in Scotland.

Many people have lots of preconceptions and inaccurate beliefs about what hypnosis really is.  Hypnosis is really just based on using techniques, suggestions, and imagery to help induce a state of calm and relaxation.  Hypotherapy is NOT “stage hypnosis”.  It does not involve anyone planting suggestions in your mind to make you do things or that cause you to behave in a certain way.

Hypnotherapy is not a magic bullet that stops panic attacks or makes your anxiety go away.  Hypnosis does not instantly calm you or relax you when you are in a frantic state and trying to escape scary symptoms or thoughts. Be careful about trying hypnotherapy, then placing the responsibility on the practitioner to fix you. No therapy does that – not even hypnotherapy.  Beware of claims that a given practitioner can “cure” your anxiety.

Hypnosis is best approached as one tool in a varied recovery or therapy toolkit. It can help you slow down and make some space between you and those racing thoughts that often get out of control. Hypnosis can help you better navigate through anxiety and fear. Its another way for you learn how to take care of yourself and practice that.  I love this view of hypnosis that Emma gives us!

Emma tells us that while many people fear hypnosis because they fear being controlled or losing control to someone else, the fact of the matter is that only about 10 percent of the population can be hypnotized. The vast majority of people are either too resistant or simply do not respond to the process.  Hypnotherapy is definitely not a process that somehow causes you to give up your control or that allows a therapist or other practitioner to control you.

Even for people that do not respond to hypnosis, a good therapist trained in hypnotherapy methods can use those methods and their own voice and mannerisms to help a client be more relaxed, focused in a session.  Hypnosis may not “work” for you but a therapist like Emma can still make use of those tools to help you feel safer and a bit less frantic, which can go a long way toward productive therapy work.

Hypnotherapy is NOT a stand-alone intervention for anxiety and anxiety disorders. Often a qualified hypnotherapist will work alongside another therapist, a medical doctor, and other health and mental healthcare providers as part of a multi-disciplinary approach to treatment.

Be careful about hypnotherapists or hypnotists that charge an excessive amount for “packages”.  Handing out mass-produced recordings and calling that a recovery program is not OK, yet many practitioners will do this and hint that the program or package will definitely work.  Also beware of any practitioner that puts the blame on you if it doesn’t work the way you hope it will.  A good hypnotherapist is designing and creating scripts, practices and recordings designed for your specific situation.  They address specific issues, not just a general “anxiety cure.” Always understand what the goal of any hypnotherapy session is BEFORE starting the session.  A good hypnotherapist will have a specific outcome in mind, often addressing one small issue. Sessions are never designed to just “make your anxiety better”. This is no different than with any therapy.  No psychotherapist will go into sessions planning to banish your fear as the primary goal in that session.

Can hypnosis be a tool in your recovery toolkit?  It can!  We just can’t look at hypnosis as a stand alone treatment for anxiety disorders and definitely not as an anxiety “cure”.  It simply is not that and never has been. Used with proper understanding, training, and ethical practice, hypnotherapy with a qualified practitioner may be of value as part of your recovery journey.


About Emma Garrick

Emma has had an ongoing relationship with anxiety since she was 14 and suffered her first panic attack. Fast forward some years later, Emma works from her therapy practice in Scotland as a specialist anxiety psychotherapist. She uses my many years of living with anxiety myself, plus her professional knowledge as a therapist, to help people from all over the world recover from crippling anxiety.

Find Emma on her website, on Instagram, and on YouTube.




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Helpful Recovery Resources:

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Podcast Intro/Outro Music: "Afterglow" by Ben Drake (With Permission)






Founder and host of The Anxious Truth podcast. Graduate student and therapist-in-training. Author and educator on the topic of anxiety disorders and anxiety recovery. Former anxious and depressed person.