Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


How Quickly Does Clinical Hypnosis Work?

Benefit can usually be observed within a few weeks of hypnosis use.

Key points

  • Shortness of breath, habit cough, and phobias sometimes resolve in a single session of hypnosis therapy.
  • Many children with medical issues appear to improve within a few weeks as a result of hypnotic relaxation alone.
  • Improvement through use of hypnosis is dependent on the specific hypnotic tools that are used, and the nature of a patient’s symptoms.

Virtually all people who want to help themselves with hypnosis gain at least some benefit, since everyone can improve their mind/body connection with achievement of a healthier mental state, patience, and practice. On infrequent occasions, improvement occurs immediately, and on most occasions some benefit can be observed within a few weeks of hypnosis use.

Ryutaro Tsukata/Pexels
Source: Ryutaro Tsukata/Pexels

Relaxation is One Key to Improved Health

Achieving a relaxed state of mind with hypnosis sometimes leads to a very quick improvement in health. In my experience in treating more than 7000 children and adolescents with hypnosis therapy, many patients with habit cough and anxiety-associated shortness of breath resolved their symptoms as soon as they relaxed during their first hypnosis experience. This improvement sometimes appeared to be dramatic, as some of these children reported their symptoms for years before they learned about hypnosis (Anbar, 2021).

Children with phobias often can resolve them during a single session of hypnosis, which may involve thinking back to the time when the phobia began and learning how to “rewrite” the memory of the event. For example, a child who is afraid of insects because at one time a spider crawled on his arm, can learn to resolve the phobia by imagining that at the time of the spider encounter he was able to remain calm and confident. Thus, since he can now imagine a peaceful first encounter with a spider, he can then react as if the phobia never developed in the first place.

With use of daily self-hypnosis for relaxation, abdominal discomfort related to irritable bowel syndrome in children and adolescents tends to improve greatly after an average of 3 weeks.

Bedwetting tends to improve within a few weeks, but sometimes takes a few months (Kohen & Olness, 2011).

On the other hand, children with chronic headaches may experience some improvement within a few weeks of regular use of hypnosis, but it may take several months of consistent use of hypnosis to achieve lasting improvement with the frequency or intensity of their headaches.

Children with long-term anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, or depression also improve with use of hypnosis, but often benefit from long-term counseling as well.

Overall, two thirds of children with medical issues who were referred to my clinical pediatric practice appeared to improve a lot within a few weeks as a result of hypnotic relaxation alone.

Source: Veeterzy/Pexels

Advanced Hypnosis Techniques and Counseling

Children in the other third require use of more complex hypnosis techniques and counseling. These techniques also can lead to improvement within days, weeks, or months, depending on the nature of the symptoms and complexity of any underlying psychological difficulties. Such techniques include learning how to:

Use metaphors to improve a symptom – such as imagining placing discomfort into a helium balloon and letting it go. The further the balloon rises, the better they feel.

Imagine a healthier future, or a future in which the child can cope better with their illness.

Interact with the subconscious to figure out what psychological stressor might be causing a symptom to persist, and then addressing this stressor.

Achieve a spiritual perspective. By keeping things in perspective big problems can seem smaller and more manageable.

Focus on the positive instead of negative aspects of stressful situations. Much of anxiety and depression is rooted in patients’ negative thought pattern that can self-perpetuate. For example, a child who expects to fail socially, tends to be more awkward, which can lead to more social problems, and increased negative expectations.

Live in the moment. Philosopher Lao Tzu said, “Those who are depressed live in the past. Those who are anxious live in the future. Those who are at peace live in the present.”

Hypnosis therapy with adults also has shown great benefit through use of the aforementioned techniques.

The Takeaway

Hypnosis can help achieve rapid improvement in health in certain situations, especially in patients who can benefit easily from hypnotic relaxation.

Copyright Ran D. Anbar


Anbar, Ran D. 2021. “Changing Children’s Lives with Hypnosis: A Journey to the Center.” Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Kohen, Dan P., and Karen Olness. 2011. “Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy with Children.” Routledge, New York, NY; pp. 170-180.

More from Ran D. Anbar M.D.
More from Psychology Today