What the public think about hypnosis and hypnotherapy: A narrative review of literature covering opinions and attitudes of the general public 1996–2016

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes


To describe the public’s understanding of hypnosis and openness to hypnotherapy.

A comprehensive search of English language peer reviewed journal articles from 1st January 1996-11th March 2016 was performed over 9 databases (Medline, PubMed, PsycARTICLES, CINAHL, Embase (excerpta medica), PsychInfo, Cochrane, Science citation index-expanded, Conference citation index) and a title-only search of Google scholar. 39 keyword combinations were employed: hypnosis, hypnotherapy, hypnotic, perception, beliefs, knowledge, view, opinion and understanding, in singular and plural where appropriate. A search of the bibliographies of eligible articles was undertaken.

Inclusion criteria − Articles containing original data regarding the general public’s attitudes towards hypnotherapy or hypnosis.

Exclusion criteria − Non-therapy hypnosis (forensic, entertainment) materials and those concerned with groups likely to possess prior or professional knowledge of hypnosis, (hypnotists, clinicians and psychologists).

Analysis was conducted in line with the questions.

31 articles were identified, covering diverse populations. Most people believe that: hypnosis is an altered state which requires collaboration to enter; once hypnotized perception changes; hypnotherapy is beneficial for psychological issues and is supportive of medical interventions; hypnosis can also enhance abilities especially memory. People are open to hypnotherapy subject to validation from the psychological or medical establishment. Similarity of opinion is more apparent than difference.

Most people are positive towards hypnotherapy, and would consider its use under the right circumstances.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-84
JournalComplementary Therapies in Medicine
Early online date15 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • hypnosis , hypnotherapy , attitude , perception , public