How Can Hypnotherapy Help Older Adults Find Relief from Stress and Anxiety?

Wooden blocks with word HYPNOTHERAPY on white background, top viewWritten by Daniel Martin

Stress and anxiety are super common these days. And for us older adults, it can feel even worse. As we get up there in years, a lot of stuff can mess with our emotions – health problems, losing loved ones, big life changes. All that stuff takes a huge toll on our mental health over time. But there are ways to deal with it. One option that’s getting popular for both older and younger folks is hypnotherapy.

So how does it work? Hypnotherapy aims to promote deep relaxation and increase focus. It uses guided imagery, mindfulness, and reframing techniques to help us seniors manage difficult thoughts and emotions smoothly. The therapy is filled with calming exercises that make it easier to handle the stressful stuff. And the best part is it leaves us feeling more peaceful and centered.

Hypnotherapy helps get our minds back on track so we can take on all of life’s challenges with less anxiety. This therapy has been so great for many older adults already. And if you’re feeling stressed, it could be perfect for you too!


The Science Behind Hypnotherapy and Stress Relief 

A staggering 93% success rate after just six sessions, showcases the power of hypnotherapy. But what specific challenges do older adults face that might require such an effective intervention?

When hypnotized, the brain enters a state of heightened focus and concentration, allowing the hypnotherapist to tap into the subconscious mind. This enables underlying issues contributing to stress and anxiety to be addressed.

Hypnotherapy techniques such as guided imagery, mindfulness, and cognitive reframing empower individuals to alter negative thought patterns and develop healthier coping mechanisms.

Older adults need to consult their primary care physician before considering hypnotherapy, especially if they have underlying medical conditions. The guidance of a primary care physician ensures that hypnotherapy aligns with their overall healthcare plan and addresses any potential concerns.


The Unique Stressors Faced by Older Adults

According to the National Council on Aging, a whopping 80% of older folks deal with at least one ongoing health problem. That’s got to take a real toll on their mood and mental health, for sure. But how exactly can hypnotherapy help with all those worries and stresses?

Well, let’s break it down. Things like being less mobile, living with constant pain, and dealing with health issues day in and day out – can ramp up anxiety, tank your self-esteem, and even lead to depression. Hypnotherapy steps in to try and ease some of those issues.

Then there are huge life changes that can rock anyone’s world – like retiring, losing loved ones, or having to pick up and move homes. Those transitions can cause some serious stress and anxiety. But hypnotherapy can be a helpful guide to navigate those changes with strength and adaptability.

And let’s not ignore feelings of loneliness and isolation that can sneak in as we get older. Hypnotherapy can give your sense of calm and emotional well-being a boost, helping fight off those lonely feelings and the anxiety that often tags along.


Benefits of Hypnotherapy for Older Adults

Studies show that hypnotherapy can have long-lasting benefits – up to a year after treatment! That’s according to research published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. But does real life match what the studies found? Let’s take a look at some real experiences with hypnotherapy to see if the benefits do stick around.

  • Enhanced Relaxation and Stress Relief: Hypnotherapy induces a deep state of relaxation and focused awareness, helping calm racing negative thoughts and enabling more positive mindsets. This heightened relaxation can lower stress and anxiety levels even beyond the hypnosis sessions.
  • Pain Management: Hypnosis techniques such as guided imagery or cognitive reframing can reduce the perception of pain in conditions like arthritis. Clinical trials confirm hypnosis can significantly lower chronic pain levels in older adults.
  • Overcoming Fears and Phobias: Specific techniques can target phobias and fears – from falling to being alone – that frequently affect older adults as they grapple with declining health or independence. Hypnotherapy helps confront and manage such fears.
  • Improved Sleep: Age-related insomnia is a common issue that hypnotherapy can effectively address through relaxation techniques and by reducing anxiety. Restful sleep ensures better cognitive functioning and emotional well-being.
  • Boosted Self-Esteem: By increasing confidence and self-esteem through empowering suggestions, hypnotherapy enables individuals to live their golden years to the fullest, pursuing hobbies, interests, and relationships.


Here is a pie chart showing the distribution of different phobias addressed through hypnotherapy that will walk you through the details in a better way.

A pie chart displaying a distribution of phobias.
Source: Patient records from a hypnotherapy clinic specializing in senior care

It is crucial to ensure you’re entrusting your mental well-being to the right professional. So, how do you choose the right hypnotherapist?


Choosing the Right Hypnotherapist 


  • Specialized Training and Credentials: Certifications from recognized professional organizations are crucial for hypnotherapists, as they validate their rigorous, specialized training and demonstrate their competence in utilizing hypnosis for therapeutic purposes, providing assurance to clients seeking effective and ethical hypnotherapy services.
  • Customized Approaches: Seek hypnotherapists using techniques tailored to your specific needs and goals, not just generic hypnosis scripts. Personalized sessions yield better outcomes.
  • Experience with Older Adults: Search for practitioners specializing in older adult issues like anxiety, pain management, and life transitions. Their experience leads to a greater understanding of your needs.
  • Comfort Levels: Schedule an initial in-depth consultation to gauge your comfort levels with potential hypnotherapists before committing. An open channel of communication is key.
  • Ongoing Support: Opt for a hypnotherapist who provides follow-up support even after the initial sessions have concluded to reinforce positive outcomes. Continuity of care is important.


Safety and Efficacy: What the Research Says

Safety is a top priority, especially for older folks, and recent research has some good news about hypnotherapy. The studies done so far show that it’s safe for older adults, and they rarely experience fatigue or headaches when the sessions follow the right guidelines.

Now, let’s talk about how well it works. Clinical trials suggest that hypnotherapy can help reduce anxiety in older people. It also gives them better ways to deal with health problems that come with getting older.

While we’re still learning more through research, what we know so far strongly supports hypnotherapy as a helpful addition to other treatments. It fits well with traditional therapies and medications, giving a more complete approach to tackling the unique challenges that come with aging.


Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How many sessions are typically required to see results?

For managing anxiety, 6 to 10 sessions are recommended initially, with follow-up sessions if needed. For pain, 8 to 12 sessions may be required.

  1. Are there any potential side effects or risks associated with hypnotherapy? 

When practiced by a trained professional, side effects are very rare. Those with psychosis, epilepsy, or severe mental illness should avoid hypnosis.

  1. Can hypnotherapy be combined with other forms of therapy or medication?

Yes, hypnotherapy often complements other treatments. However, this should only be done under the guidance of your doctor or mental health provider.

  1. Can hypnotherapy work for all types of stress in older adults?

Hypnotherapy has shown promise in addressing various stressors commonly experienced by older adults, including health concerns, life transitions, and past traumas.

  1. Is hypnotherapy safe for older individuals with medical conditions?

When conducted by trained professionals, hypnotherapy is generally safe. However, seniors with medical conditions should consult their healthcare providers before starting hypnotherapy sessions.


In Conclusion

In conclusion,  hypnotherapy can be super helpful for seniors dealing with stress, anxiety, and other mental health stuff. The techniques they use in sessions help you relax, be more mindful, and think about things more positively. For older folks facing new worries and feeling overwhelmed as they get older, hypnotherapy gives them a drug-free way to feel calmer and more peaceful inside. More research still needs to be done, but so far it looks like hypnotherapy can improve the quality of life and emotional well-being for a lot of seniors. So if you’re an older person looking for more natural ways to better handle stress and anxiety, hypnotherapy is worth checking out.

Take that first step and find a hypnotherapist who can tailor sessions to your unique needs. A more purposeful and fulfilling next chapter is waiting for you!


Author Bio

Name: Daniel Martin

Bio: Dan has hands-on experience in digital marketing since 2007. He has been building teams and coaching others to foster innovation and solve real-time problems. Dan also enjoys photography and traveling.


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Please also review AIHCP’s Clinical Hypnotherapy Certificate program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  These programs are online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification.

Conversational Hypnosis

By: Dominick L. Flarey, Ph.D, RN-BC, ANP-BC, CH-C
       Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist by the American Board of Hypnotherapy
       Executive Director, The American College of Hypnotherapy


Conversational hypnosis (1), also known as covert hypnosis, is a type of hypnosis that is often used by therapists, counselors, and coaches to help their clients achieve specific goals. This type of hypnosis is different from traditional hypnosis in that it does not require the use of formal trance induction techniques. Instead, conversational hypnosis relies on the use of conversation and rapport-building techniques to induce a state of relaxation and suggestibility in the client.

Conversational Hypnosis article Photo of a woman holding up a sign that reads HYPNOSIS

Conversational Hypnosis is a technique employed in order to get others to do as you direct them to, during everyday situations, without their knowledge of your influence. All forms of hypnosis, conversational or therapeutic, are based on very simple rules, steps that eventually lead a person into a state of hyper-suggestibility. According to John Kappas, founder of the Hypnosis Motivational Institute, 25% of the people you encounter during your lifetime will be naturally suggestible to you; the other 75% you will have to work on in order to exercise influence over their subconscious thoughts. Subconscious thoughts are those that exist below the level of conscious awareness. They are the product of the unconscious mind, which is constantly active, even when we are not aware of it. Subconscious thoughts (2) can influence our behavior, emotions, and decision-making, even though we are not aware of them. This is where knowing the basic rules and processes of hypnosis can come in handy, and give you the edge over the competition.

The Steps of Conversational Hypnosis

Step I

Step one is building rapport. Rapport is built on trust, and trust is based on the belief that whomever you are dealing with is just like you, or at least has your best interests in mind. In order to build rapport with someone you have never met, you must see yourself through their eyes, and experience a dialectical exchange from their point of view. Mimicking their posture, attitude, and affection can send strong cues to them that you are two of a kind. During this phase of the process, it is all about listening to what the other person is saying, and how they are saying it, then agreeing and affirming that what they believe is valid. Without rapport it will be impossible to exercise any type of influence.

Building rapport is important for several reasons. First, when we feel comfortable with someone, we are more likely to trust them and feel safe around them. This is important in both personal and professional relationships. Second, rapport helps us to feel more connected to others, which can improve communication and lead to better relationships. Finally, building rapport can help reduce stress and anxiety, and create a sense of well-being.

Conversational Hypnosis Photo of a pocket watch that is swinging back and forth with blurring images in the background

Step II

Step two is to create an overload in the conscious mind (confusion). Overloading the conscious mind (3) refers to a state where the level of information or stimuli in the environment exceeds the capacity of the individual’s working memory. In this state, the individual is unable to process all of the information and may experience feelings of confusion.

At this point the other person should feel comfortable with you. “Hey, this guy isn’t so bad; he understands where I’m coming from,” and of course, you do.  Now, what is needed is a statement that while affirming what the subject believes to be correct, also seems to contradict that which has already been established as agreed upon. These statements should include words that appeal to the subject’s suggestibility type. Physical people respond to words that describe concrete ideas, while emotional subjects respond more readily to inferences and words that describe states of feeling. Crowding the subject and making physical contact, if they are physical, can also help create an overload in the conscious mind. This leads to the conscious mind’s desire for an outlet, an escape from the state of disequilibrium, which is exactly what will be provided in the next step.

Step III

Step three is where influence is exercised by giving the subject a suggestion that allows them to gain a state of homeostasis, and at the same time is beneficial to the cause. Giving the subject a weakly phrased statement they can agree with provides the subject’s conscious mind with the escape it needs, thereby allowing direct access to the unfiltered unconscious. The last statement is then followed immediately with a more strongly phrased suggestion that is in accordance with the directive. While in this state of hyper-suggestibility, the suggestion is implanted directly into the subconscious mind. It then becomes part of the subject’s belief system, without the subject’s conscious awareness. Hypersuggestibility is a state of heightened suggestibility in which individuals are more responsive to suggestions than usual. This can occur in both positive and negative contexts, with people being more likely to either accept or reject suggestions depending on the nature of the suggestion. Hypersuggestibility is often associated with altered states of consciousness, such as hypnosis or sleep, but it can also be induced by drugs, trauma, or other forms of psychological stress.

Conversational Hypnosis and Hypersuggestibility

The benefits of hypersuggestibility are numerous. For one, hypersuggestibility can help individuals overcome negative emotions and experiences. Additionally, hypersuggestibility can help people learn new information more quickly and easily. Finally, hypersuggestibility can also increase creativity and imagination.

Conversational Hypnosis Overview

That’s it. That is all there is to it: Creating rapport; overloading of the conscious mind leading to a state of disequilibrium, thereby triggering the conscious mind’s need to escape; providing a means of escape for the conscious mind, creating a direct route to the subconscious. The subconscious mind is the part of the mind that controls automatic processes and is not accessible to conscious awareness. It has been described as a hidden reservoir of knowledge and feelings that influence our conscious thoughts and behaviors. The subconscious mind is not a separate entity but is a part of the overall mind system. Franz Mesmer, the father of hypnotism, understood this from the very beginning. However, just knowing the techniques will not guarantee you success. As in the case of every good hypnotist, personality goes a long way and determines in large part how effective these techniques will be for you.

Conversational Hypnosis Woman laying on a table with eyes closed being hypnotized

In Conclusion

In conclusion, conversational hypnosis can be a powerful tool to influence others. When used correctly, it can help you get what you want and achieve your goals. However, it is important to use it ethically and responsibly, as it can be easy to abuse. Conversational hypnosis must be used in ethical and legal ways. This means that the trained hypnotist should only use suggestion for good, and never to exploit or control someone. When used correctly, conversational hypnosis can be a powerful tool to help people make positive changes in their lives. It is often used in sales and marketing, but is also becoming increasingly popular in healthcare. There are many potential benefits to using conversational hypnosis in healthcare, such as helping patients to relax and feel more comfortable during procedures, increasing compliance with treatment plans, and reducing stress and anxiety levels. We see it being used in pre-op anesthesia to help patients relax prior to surgical procedures. It is also being used in dental practices to assist patients to relax and become more calm prior to dental procedures. There are a wide range of uses of this type of hypnotic technique that are being employed in health care practices today.

If you are a health care professional and are interested in expanding your practice in the area of Clinical Hypnotherapy, The American Institute of Health Care Professionals, Inc. (AIHCP) offers a full curriculum of continuing education courses with Board approvals, leading to Certification. Upon successful completion of the program, graduates receive Certification as a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist in the American College of Hypnotherapy. The American College of Hypnotherapy is a subdivision of the AIHCP. You may preview our Clinical Hypnotherapy Certification program here: access information here.


1. Convert Hypnosis. Wikipedia. access here.

2. Subconscious Definition: The Hidden Power of Your Mind. Matt Coates. Mindvalley. November 27, 2018. access here.

3. The Role of the Conscious Mind. Kendra Cherry. Very Well Mind. September 1, 2022. access here.

4. Franz Mesmer. Wikipedia. access here.

Suggested Readings

1. Efficacy of Conversational Hypnosis and Propofol in Reducing Adverse Effects of Endoscopy. Azra Izanloo, Anesthesia Pain Medicine. October, 2015. access here.

2. Weaning and Extubation Assisted with Conversational Hypnosis: A Systematic Review. Johan Wormser, Research Square. July 6, 2021. access here.

3. Nurses’ perception of integrating an innovative clinical hypnosis–derived intervention into outpatient chemotherapy treatments. Danny Hjeij, Canadian Oncology Nursing Journal. Vol. 32; # 3:2022. access here.

4. Hypnosis for pain and anxiety management in cognitively impaired older adults undergoing scheduled lumbar punctures: a randomized controlled pilot study. Pauline Courtois-Amiot, Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy. 1: September, 2022. access here.


Is Hypnotherapy an Effective Treatment for Panic Disorders?

Many people who suffer from panic disorders are reluctant to treat the disorder with prescription drugs. At least some of that trepidation is justified; the mood-altering medications used to treat depression, anxiety and panic disorders can have some very troubling side effects for some people.


Perhaps that is why so many people are turning to alternative treatments like hypnotherapy to treat their panic disorder. Some patients use hypnotherapy alone, while others use this natural treatment as an adjunct to medication, therapies and other traditional approaches to the problem.


If you are thinking about seeking treating for your own panic attacks with hypnotherapy, it is important to understand how the process works. During the typical hypnotherapy session, the hypnotist will guide the patient to a relaxed state of mind. Once the patient is feeling calm but still alert, the hypnotherapist draws their attention to the behavior they want to change. That behavior can be virtually anything, from smoking and overeating to succumbing to stress and panic disorders.


Research has shown that hypnotism can be particularly well suited to treating stress, anxiety and related conditions. Hypnotherapy has been shown to be one of the most effective treatments for getting rid of phobias, and there is evidence to show that it can be just as good at treating panic disorders.

What is Panic Disorder?

Panic disorders have been found to be a strong presentation of the “flight or fight” reaction of the sympathetic nervous system. An over exaggeration of this reaction that occurs suddenly for no apparent reason or due to a mild stressor. There tends to be a genetic component to the disorder as well. It is believed that the problem lies within the amygdala in the brain. A key to treating the disorder is to calm down the amygdala and thus the flight or fight reaction.  Calming the sympathetic nervous system is key to treating this disorder.


Panic attacks tend to come with triggers. Triggers can be anything that brings on a panic attack for the patient.  They may include a sudden stressor, a memory or anticipation of a stressor. Or, in this disorder, an attack or experience may occur out of nowhere, for no apparent reason at all.


Panic attacks often involve feelings of being out of control, feels of extreme anxiety, fear, feelings of impending doom or death, feelings of “losing my mind.” Many physiological feelings and symptoms are also experienced such as rapid heartbeat, nausea, shacking, blurred vision and other symptoms of an over active sympathetic nervous system.



Hypnotherapy for Panic

A good hypnotherapist can guide the patient and help them recognize the triggers that bring on a panic attack and teach the patient how to induce immediate relaxation to overcome the sympathetic flight or fight reaction.  That in turn can help the patient control the trigger, which can help sufferers avoid or lessen their next panic attack. The hypnotherapist teaches the patient how to do self-hypnosis as well.  This is so the patient can master self-relaxation on an ongoing basis and train their nervous system to be in a state of more calm and relaxation and thus lessen over activity of the sympathetic nervous system. Over time this can significantly assist in reducing the number of panic attacks and the severity and the intensity of the attacks.


Hypnosis and hypnotherapy work with the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is the “master mind” so to speak and can significantly influence our body’s processes, including our nervous system. Our subconscious mind, through hypnotic suggestions, can be trained to reduce the incidence and severity of inappropriate exaggerated reactions of the sympathetic nervous system.


If you suffer from panic attacks or generalized anxiety, it is important to talk to your health care provider before embarking on a course of hypnotherapy. Getting a firm diagnosis from a doctor can help you choose the right course of treatment and get the help you need.


A growing number of medical professionals are open to alternative treatments for conditions like stress, anxiety, phobias and panic disorders. In some cases your doctor might recommend hypnotherapy as a first course of treatment to see if it will relieve the symptoms or at least make them less troublesome.


Other physicians may prefer to use hypnotherapy in combination with medication, talk therapy and other traditional treatments. The combination of traditional medication and hypnotherapy can be very effective for many patients, and many people have already seen great results.


Whether used alone or in combination with other treatments, there is reason to believe hypnotherapy is an effective treatment for panic attacks. If you suffer from these debilitating attacks, you owe it to yourself to talk to your doctor and see if hypnotherapy can help you overcome your fear.

Selecting a Certified Hypnotherapist

When selecting a hypnotherapist to see, it is advised that you seek out a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, one that has gone through an extensive training program and is duly credentialed and certified by an organization or association that provides for high standards for its members. The American College of Hypnotherapy is an Organization that provides an extensive education and training curriculum, as well as official certification for health care professionals seeking to achieve professional certification status as a Clinical Hypnotherapist. You may access information here for more information: Hypnotherapy Certification.

How to Become a Hypnotherapist

Become a Hypnotherapist

Have you thought about becoming a Hypnotherapist? Hypnotherapists utilize the state of hypnosis (deep relaxation) to treat their patients’ physical and psychological elements. Hypnotherapy has been effective at treating anxiety, depression, eating disorders, weight problems, sleeping disorders and addictions to alcohol and smoking. To become a hypnotherapist, you must undergo training in a solid and reputable hypnotherapy education program.

While there is not yet a central national organization that regulates the certification of hypnotherapists, you may become a certified hypnotherapist by meeting the certification requirements of bodies such as the American College of Hypnotherapy. This program provides for 220 hours of education and training. This includes a full practicum course where students practice inductions as well as using various hypnosis and hypnotherapy scripts. Once passed on this by the instructor, the students then work with actual subjects in conducting hypnosis and hypnotherapy sessions. Full faculty mentoring is provided. All courses are provided in online, distance education classrooms. Students complete a major online examination for each of the core courses that are provided in the curriculum.

 Training Costs

Costs vary depending on the program of education and training that you select. Costs are generally seen in the range of $ 1,500.00- $ 2,000.00. In some instances, some program costs are much higher. The tuition fees usually do not include required textbooks. Upon successful completion of the education program, those completing their education/training at the American College of Hypnotherapy are eligible for official certification. Certification costs are reasonable and provide certification for a three-year time period.


The American College of Hypnotherapy also offers a full “recertification” program. Re-certification comes due every three years. To apply for recertification the professional must complete a required amount of continuing education as well as have attained a defined number of hours of practice, within the time-frame that they are certified. Recertification is for another three-year term.

 What Does it Take to become a Hypnotherapist?

A hypnotherapy career may not be your best choice if you lack empathy and good communication skills. You should ideally be a people person; somebody who is able to connect with other people and their feelings, and have the will to assist them to overcome their problems.
In terms of qualifications, the American College of Hypnotherapy requires that one first be a licensed health care professional, in order to be considered for acceptance into the program. There are other programs available, and each have their own specific entry requirements.
If you feel confident about wanting to become a hypnotherapist, then you can begin you path to this career by enrolling in a course that meets your needs as well as the requirements of the state and those of the certification boards. To learn more about the American College of Hypnotherapy, click here.