Why Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CBH) and not Hypnotherapy


You may have heard these different words and phrases bandied about – ‘hypnosis’, ‘hypnotherapy’ and ‘cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy’. So now we wanted to talk a bit more about the differences between them. Why do we teach CBH and not just H?

Not just hypnotherapy

Not just hypnotherapy

Well, firstly, Hypnosis is not a school of therapy and does not provide a theory of personality or behaviour change.  Hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness.  It is a ‘state’ under which you can use any type of therapy or psychotherapeutic framework.  It is for this reason that many Hypnotherapists use ‘techniques’ from a variety of different and sometimes opposing theoretical perspectives.  This, in our opinion, can often lead to client and therapist confusion and poor clinical assessment. 

Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CBH) uses only one model of therapy, CBT, and combines this with hypnosis.  The CBT model is solid, evidence based and comprehensively researched.  It is also recommended by NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) for the treatment of many disorders including anxiety and depression.

At our college, we train people in CBH using cognitive and behavioural theories and frameworks such as Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (RECBT) which was developed by Albert Ellis. We also use other cognitive and behavioural therapies such as Cognitive Therapy, developed by Aaron Beck.  So, CBT is the base theory and framework for integration with hypnosis.

CBH is technically diverse.  Most techniques are cognitive or behavioural but, sometimes, we combine techniques from various psychotherapies too.  The difference is that in CBH these techniques are selected deliberately from a cognitive and behavioural context to guide the practice of CBH and for each client.   The framework and the guiding theory remain cognitive and behavioural.

There are many advantages to working with CBH and, indeed, research highlights the benefits of the addition of hypnosis to CBT practice.  Other advantages include the following:

  • The addition of hypnosis can shorten treatment.
  • Hypnosis enhances imagery.
  • Hypnosis can enable the therapist and client to identify deeply held beliefs and attitudes.  It provides access to unconscious beliefs.
  • Hypnosis helps build rapport between the client and the therapist which strengthens the therapeutic relationship.
  • Hypnosis can be used to induce deep relaxation.  The client can learn self hypnosis to produce similar relaxation.
  • Hypnosis is an excellent state for receiving helpful suggestions based on CBT philosophies.

In conclusion, apart from benefiting many clients, CBH can be really useful for both CBT therapists and Hypnotherapists.  It allows CBT therapists to continue working therapeutically without sacrificing their theoretical bias and preference.  It allows Hypnotherapists to learn a scientific and evidence based structure and framework on which to hang their hypnotic techniques   Both CBT therapists and Hypnotherapists can enhance their current practise.

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