Hypnotherapy helps with anxiety problems

Treat anxiety disorders with hypnosis

Fear has many faces. Sometimes she comes across as naked panic without make-up and sometimes she hides behind pretended sanity.

The triggers for fear are also diverse. Basically, we can be afraid of everything that is there and of much that is not. The list of phobias is endless. Nevertheless, hypnotherapists in particular claim to be able to take on all fears, from ablutophobia (the fear of washing and bathing) to zoophobia (the fear of animals).

Effectiveness of hypnosis in psychotherapy

Since 2006, hypnosis has been recognized by the Scientific Advisory Board for Psychotherapy (WBP) in 11 of 12 defined areas of application for psychotherapeutic treatments for adults. The only exception concerns the treatment of acute psychoses or severe personality disorders.

The decision was based on various expert reports, scientific articles and a number of different studies that dealt with the effectiveness of hypnosis and in many cases clearly documented it.

In March 2006 the final report of the WBP was finally available, in which hypnotherapy is recommended as a scientifically recognized method for certain indications.

The WBP is made up of the sponsors of the Federal Medical Association and the Federal Chamber of Psychotherapists.

Scientifically proven effectiveness of hypnotherapy for anxiety disorders

The most common diagnoses in which hypnosis is used include various anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder, logophobia (fear of speaking) or diffuse fears without an identifiable cause. The effectiveness in this area has been very well documented.

Decades ago, various clinical studies gave cause for hope that hypnosis was an important and successful method for combating pathological fears. These include the study by Marks et al. 1968 and Melnick & Russell 1976 on the subject of phobias, which were published by Benson et al. 1978 on generalized anxiety disorder or the study by Spies 1979; Sapp 1991 and Zeyer et al. 1994 for the area of ​​exam anxiety. Not all studies were carried out according to today's scientific standards.

This changed, among other things. with the study “The effectiveness of hypnotherapy for anxiety disorders”, which Erich Flammer carried out in 2006 according to the latest scientific standards. His conclusion:

"This means that hypnotherapy can be seen as an effective to highly effective method for certain anxiety disorders and is just as effective in direct comparison with behavioral therapy." (Source: Prof. Dr. Revenstorf, Dirk: "Scientific recognition of hypnotherapy", under: dgh-hypnose. de / cms-files / scientific-recognition-of-hypnotherapy-revenstorf-1.pdf (accessed on July 31, 2019))

Methods of demonstrating effectiveness

The effectiveness of hypnosis can be demonstrated in empirical studies as well as with various methods of monitoring brain activities, such as B. the EEG (electroencephalography) - a method for measuring the electrical activity of the brain - can be detected.

The Cerebral State Monitor (CSM) is a value from the field of anesthesia. The CSM is used there to monitor the depth of anesthesia. It has been shown that the CSM in a hypnotic trance shows the same values ​​as anesthesia. This explains the effectiveness of hypnosis in pain patients.

In the area of ​​hypnosis and fear, however, it is much more important to recognize the conditions under which the self-organization ability of the brain can be influenced by the trance. The changes in the brain during hypnosis are observed with imaging methods. It becomes very clear that the brain reacts differently when it is deeply relaxed than when it is not relaxed.

In a state of deep relaxation, pictorial associations are learned more easily. This has several specific implications for the patient. For example, fear-inducing situations are reinterpreted in trance and charged with other, positive content.

In addition, the patient learns to react differently to the emerging fear in the trance and to look towards it with calm and self-confidence. This newly learned behavior is learned sustainably in the deep relaxation.

Comprehensive phobias, undifferentiated anxiety disorders and panic attacks can be treated particularly well with hypnosis

Hypnosis goes beyond the conscious recognition of the triggers and the resulting behavior. In this way, the feeling of fear can be reassessed and the story of how it came about can be relived.

In addition, relaxation training is always part of the hypnosis treatment. The patient learns to control his breath, calm his heartbeat and thus regain control of his body. An ability that leads him into a trance on the one hand, but also helps him in the concrete fearful situation.

It should be mentioned at this point that a severe anxiety disorder can rarely be treated with just one hypnotic session. The patient has often experienced fear intensely over several years and has used strategies to avoid it. This requires an individual approach to the patient and can take several sessions to heal. But after about three to four sessions, most patients have a fear-free future.

The course of hypnotherapy for treating an anxiety disorder

People with anxiety disorders usually have a very good imagination and react very sensitively and attentively to their environment. All properties that indicate good hypnotizability. But what happens once the patient has relaxed? What does the concrete work of a hypnotherapist look like?

Intensive preliminary talk

First of all, it is important that the patient feels that they are in good hands and that they are being taken seriously. As a rule, an intensive conversation takes place between the hypnotherapist and the patient at the beginning. Here, a good therapist will first of all help her client to accept his fear and to recognize that the fear reaction was entirely appropriate and meaningful under the conditions it developed. The conversation also serves to build a relationship of trust.

Transition to the hypnosis room

As soon as the atmosphere between patient and therapist is sufficiently relaxed, actual hypnosis begins. This can sensibly be done in a separate room that exudes a lot of calm and comfort. With the change from one room to the other, the level is also changed. In the preliminary discussion, the focus was on the word and the description of the problem, now it is the senses and the unconscious redesign of the problem experience. The patient takes a seat on the comfortable hypnosis chair. Maybe he can be wrapped in a blanket, maybe he closes his eyes. What matters is what is right for the patient.

Relaxation phase with breathing exercises

The relaxation is then initiated with some breathing exercises and gradually deepened. The deepening can usually be done by counting. For example, the patient imagines a staircase going down step by step. How quickly and intensely this happens varies from patient to patient. The methods and images in the introduction can also be different and are individually adapted depending on the client and topic.


During the trance, the patient is instructed and supported to approach the causes of his phobias in his own rhythm. Again, there are different techniques from regressive work to progressive work. Hypnosis is a very individual process and should always be viewed as such. The patient always maintains the distance between the visualized situation and the experiencing self. This means that the patient looks at the fear-inducing situation as if through a pane of glass. He can empathize with the reactions from back then without being overwhelmed by his feelings again.

In the next step, the anxious patient is encouraged to fill the situation with new content. In the case of a spider phobia, for example, the focus is on other, non-fearful aspects of the spider. For example, on their beauty, the skill of tensioning the net or something similar. The spider itself is neutralized as a fear trigger with the presented aids that a patient has at the time.

Markus T. visited the hypnotherapist because of his fear of speaking. He was supposed to occupy a leading position in his company, but did not dare to speak to an audience because of his great difficulties.
The first session was mainly about relaxation exercises and breathing techniques. According to the patient, the effects were felt almost immediately. Not only in a more relaxed posture, but also as a concrete change in his inner attitude, even if he was initially unable to grasp this concretely.
In the course of the following sessions, the patient became more relaxed. With concrete fear-inducing moments in the past, a new perspective was integrated with which Markus T. managed to feel empathy for himself and the fears in his childhood. Furthermore, concrete situations from professional life were progressively brought to life in trance and the feelings of fear of speaking in front of people became less.
At the same time he managed to better recognize his professional situation and his possibilities within the trance. After all, his superiors suggested him for the higher post, so in their eyes he seemed to have what it takes.
In the course of just a few meetings, Markus T. has developed so much self-confidence and calm that he now leads independent team meetings and can also give lectures.

"Side Effects"

Like any healing method, hypnosis can also have undesirable effects. People under hypnosis have increased imagination. You confide in a “stranger” intensely and open up.

Forms of undesirable "side effects"

The adverse reactions to the therapeutic use of hypnosis are mainly mild to moderate headaches, restless dreams, or a slight degree of confusion.
These "side effects" have also been observed with other relaxation and therapy methods. They are often a sign of effectiveness. One possible reason for a headache is the relaxation that occurs, during which there is an expansion of the vessels, which in turn press on nerves as a result of the expansion, which can lead to the headache.
Although this is a rare but possible side effect, it should also be taken into account by a competent therapist.

Choice of hypnotherapist is very important

With a hypnotherapist, make sure that he has completed hypnosis training and has either a naturopath for psychotherapy, a psychotherapeutic license or a medical degree. Whereby the medical aspect in the case of psychotherapeutic hypnosis is significantly less important than the holistic view as it is lived by licensed psychotherapists and alternative practitioners for psychotherapy.

Do extensive research and ask questions

Take your time researching. Read the information you can get on the internet. If you have any questions, ask them by phone or email.

When you have decided on a therapist, do not be afraid to call first. Just the first few words you exchanged on the phone give you an indication of whether you can trust this person.

Since the personal relationship between you and the therapist is no less important, trust your gut feeling in any case. It is important that you feel comfortable and in good hands. The mood between you and the therapist should be trusting and relaxed.

A good hypnotherapist will always make you feel that you are being taken seriously and that you are in control of the situation.