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What is Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy? (Also known as Hypno-CBT®)

Updated: May 11, 2021

Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CBH) combines Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) with hypnosis, to give you the tools to manage and overcome daily stress and feelings of anxiety, as well as manage some physical ailments. Cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy is designed to help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. By integrating techniques from CBT and combining it with hypnosis, CBH can provide you with the tools to deal with your issues in a positive way.

CBT - current problems, not past traumas

CBT is a talking therapy, which looks at current problems, rather than past traumas. It focuses on our ability to change, through altering how we think, feel and behave to certain situations.

When you add hypnosis into the mix, we’re able to access a place in our minds in which we are more able to accept positive direction and suggestion, while our conscious thoughts are suspended. Read more about Hypno-CBT® from the UK College of Hypnosis & Hypnotherapy HERE.

Conventionally used to help manage depression and anxiety disorders, Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy or Hypno-CBT® can also assist in many issues from overcoming unwanted habits such as smoking or teeth grinding, to dealing with emotional issues, such as low self-esteem and self-doubt. It can be very useful for neurodivergent or highly sensitive people, as they may be prone to anxiety, excessive rumination (self-talk), issues of self-worth and social communicative issues. Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy is a useful tool to help address these issues, and develop new, healthy behaviours.

Cognitive-Behavioural Hypnotherapy - four main features:

· The cognitive-behavioural theory of the nature of hypnosis rejects the notion of hypnotic trance.

· The interventions and therapeutic work we provide partly derives from modern cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), and partly from traditional hypnotherapy, pre-dating CBT.

· It’s a broadly cognitive behavioural theory of people’s problems (psychopathology), which attempts to explain issues such as anxiety using specific evidence-based models.

· The cognitive-behavioural approach emphasises ordinary psychological factors such as suggestion, expectation and imagination.

What are the main approaches to hypnotherapy?

Virtually all hypnotherapy falls into one of these four broad categories, although they adopt different assumptions, language and methods from each other: · Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CBH) – blending CBT with hypnosis.

· Ericksonian - originating with the work of Milton Erickson.

· Psychodynamic - originating with the work of Sigmund Freud, commonly utilising regression.

· Traditional hypnotherapy – various techniques according to the therapist, that may include achieving a hypnotic trance state.

The history of CBH

The cognitive behavioural approach to hypnosis can be traced all the way back to the founder of hypnotherapy, James Braid, who coined the term ‘hypnotism’ around 1841.

His approach to hypnosis and that of other Victorian hypnotists was not ‘cognitive-behavioural’ in the modern sense, but definitely contains traces of theories that were to develop later under that heading.

From the 1950s onward, psychologists such as Ted Sarbin began to propose theories of the nature of hypnosis that rejected the notion of ‘hypnotic trance’, and emphasised the role of ordinary cognitions (thoughts and beliefs) and behaviour, in explaining apparently extraordinary responses such as hypnotic amnesia or painless surgery.

Following on from this early work, the psychologist Theodore Barber and his colleagues carried out a systematic programme of research on hypnosis. This led to further refinements of Sarbin’s non-state model. In one of the most influential books in the field of hypnosis, Hypnotism: Imagination and Human Potentialities (1974) by Barber, Spanos & Chaves, he eventually labelled the ‘cognitive-behavioural’ approach to hypnosis. Since the 1970s, it has become common to refer to various non-trance theories as the ‘cognitive-behavioural’ tradition in hypnosis.

Many people cite A.T. Beck, prominent in the 1960s and 1970s, as being one of the most dominant figures in cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT. Albert Ellis, who developed Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) in the 1950s, is also widely regarded as being a CBT pioneer. Many therapists and theorists have subsequently contributed to the main CBT theories. Essentially, at Arrive Therapy, we believe that people’s emotional reactions and behaviour are strongly influenced by cognitions; their thoughts, beliefs and interpretations; and like all CBT and Hypno-CBT followers, seek to help people make positive changes to their lives.

Is CBH derived from CBT?

As we have said, the cognitive-behavioural theory of hypnosis was labelled ‘cognitive-behavioural’ in the mid-1970s. Most theorists agree that cognitive therapy, which later became known as ‘cognitive-behavioural therapy’ or CBT, was just beginning to develop around this time, and did not become well-established until the 1980s.

Cognitive-behavioural approaches to hypnosis therefore slightly pre-date the development of modern CBT. However, because of the overlap between them, modern cognitive behavioural approaches to hypnotherapy DO of course draw on and advocate many elements of CBT.

The document 'Basic Theory, Development and Current Status of CBT' has some interesting information and further reading within its content, if you'd like to know more about CBT.

Kathy Carter

If you’d like more info, please email me on to discuss your queries.

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