Best explanation that I can find from research, neuroimaging and from feedback from clients is that hypnosis, when delivered therapeutically, calms and focuses the mind. When people struggle with anxiety, they often can’t control the thoughts that come into their minds. These thoughts can often remind them of past upset, encourage thinking of worst-case scenarios and contribute towards a constant negative self-talk that damages confidence and self-esteem.
Hypnosis seems to be able to cut through this constant stream and show people how they can calm their minds.
Once you know how it feels you can then do this for yourself, this is called self-hypnosis. This means that clients with anxiety learn how to calm and control their minds so that they can choose how to respond to thoughts that come into their mind.
By creating this calm and focused mind we can then add in other techniques such as positive suggestions to build confidence and visualisation to help the client imagine being in situations that would have previously caused anxiety but can now be tackled with confidence.
CBT is based on the idea that the thoughts we have about a situation are what cause us to have certain feelings about a situation.
For example if you were looking forward to a social event then you would be thinking things like “I can’t wait to see ……..” or “I’m looking forward to a night out, I haven’t had fun in ages”. These thoughts would make you feel excited and happy. In this case you might buy some new clothes or chat to friends about your upcoming night.
If you had social anxiety however your thoughts would be very different. You may be thinking things like “What if I look stupid?” or “I’m not very interesting, what would I talk about?”. In this case these thoughts would lead you to feel nervous and anxious. In this situation a person might try and find excuses not to go.
Same situation, different thoughts.
The aim of CBT is to help you challenge those thoughts and change them for something more helpful to you in the situation you are facing.
So you can see how a technique to help you calm and focus your mind would work well with a therapy designed to help you change the way you think. The two work really well together.
It is important for any therapeutic intervention to have some scientific evidence to back it up quite simply because it shows that it does something and it is not just a placebo.
A randomised trial of 60 adults seeking help for handling their anxiety is a great example of evidence that shows the benefits of using hypnotherapy for anxiety.
Therapeutic hypnosis consisting of positive suggestions and mental imagery were used for one group, another group that listened to quiet music (movements from Mozart symphonies) and there was also a control group.
Both hypnosis and the music groups experienced a significant reduction in their anxiety, whereas the control group saw minor changes in their anxiety levels. Importantly for hypnotherapists, the reduction for the hypnosis group was larger. Finally, the therapeutic gains were maintained for the hypnosis group only at six-month follow-ups .
Evidence base is how the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) come up with their recommendations for treatment of a huge range of medical issues. The NICE guidelines are what all medical professionals base their clinical decisions on. The guidelines recommend CBT/applied relaxation for generalised anxiety disorder when self help and support groups have not been effective. 
I have combined hypnosis and cognitive behavioural therapy into an easily accessible online course. This course has been designed to show you how to take back control over your anxiety and how to build a calm and solid confidence moving forwards.
Find out more about how this course could help you overcome your anxiety here.
The way we think has a huge impact on our mental health. If you are looking to overcome your anxiety or just improve your mental health then first you need to know what thoughts are making things worse.
This download gives you a list of the most common ways we think negatively. All you need to do is see which ones you do most.
Also, keep an eye on your emails! I will be sending you a really useful video that goes with this exercise.