Side Effects of Hypnosis

When people think of hypnosis they do not associate it with harmful side effects. It is considered safe in most circumstances. And this is often true. Why? Because when hypnotherapy is done with a certified hypnotherapist, in a therapeutic setting - hypnosis is a non-invasive approach to helping people with many conditions and behaviors. It does not include needles like acupuncture, or medication. In fact, this one study, titled, The Rate of Adverse Events Related to Hypnosis During Clinical Trials, found that the rate of effects associated with hypnosis was:

Serious adverse events: 0%

Other adverse events: 0.47%

That does not mean that hypnosis and hypnotherapy is a one-size-fits-all therapy or that there are not rare reactions to hypnotherapy.

First, let's look at if there is a difference between hypnotherapy and hypnosis. This will help with understanding the side effects of hypnosis as we take a close look at the side effects that have been identified as connected to hypnosis through scientific studies and reviews.

Are Hypnotherapy and Hypnosis the Same Thing?

When it comes to the side effects of hypnosis, some people head to Google to find out if hypnosis is the same thing as hypnotherapy. The two words sound similar. Both hypnosis and hypnotherapy help each other occur. But the two words, hypnotherapy, and hypnosis do not mean the same thing. For a full understanding of how the two terms differ read: The Difference between Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy.

The short and sweet answer is that hypnotherapy is a type of therapy - it is the form of treatment, whereas, hypnosis is the state of relaxation that a person enters to get the most out of a hypnotherapy session.

Can you Hypnotize Someone Against their Will?

Often times television and other forms of entertainment make it look like when a person is in a state of hypnosis, that they have no control over what is happening. Jessica Jones on Netflix and the villain Killgrave are good examples of this. Is it a true portrayal of hypnosis? No!

The side effects of hypnosis will not lead to you clucking like a duck or doing anything you do not want to do. When you choose to use hypnotherapy and hypnosis, you will always be in control. The hypnotherapist is a facilitator of holistic therapy aiming to help you achieve goals set during your first hypnotherapy session with them.

4 Short-lived Hypnosis Side Effects

According to this one review on unwanted side effects of hypnosis, there are four short-lived side effects that some people may experience:

  1. Headaches

  2. Anxiety

  3. Dizziness

  4. Lightheadedness

3 Adverse Side Effects Connected to not having the Right Hypnotherapist for you

This one review found that the adverse side effects of hypnosis do are not always directly connected to the process of hypnotherapy but with the hypnotherapist that is is chosen as the facilitator of hypnotherapy. The review concluded with the following findings as being associated with hypnosis:

  1. Traumatic insight: This side effect refers to a person after hypnotherapy having an awareness of repressed memories and ideas that disturb the present life of the person who underwent hypnotherapy. Why is this considered an adverse reaction? Because cause managing the emotions that come up from repressed memories and ideas can bring on a whole different set of challenges.

  2. Countertransference issues: This side effect refers to unresolved power fantasies and internal issues that they may have.

  3. Excessive dependency: Developing a high level of dependency can occur with a hypnotherapist.

Due to these three adverse side effects connected to not having the right hypnotherapist for your needs, it is important to take time to research and time when choosing a hypnotherapist. If you would like help with that process read: 15 Questions to Ask to Find the Best Hypnotherapist for you.

A Deeper Look At the Side Effect of Excessive

Dependency The reason why developing an excessive level of dependency on a hypnotherapist is not seen as an adverse side effect is of hypnotherapy is due to the short-term intention of hypnotherapy as a treatment option. Hypnotherapy from anxiety, PTSD to weight loss, and other health and behavior challenges can require a range of one to twelve sessions.

There are cases where more than twelve sessions of hypnotherapy will be completed but, this is not typical. Why?

Because a part of hypnotherapy involves learning self-hypnosis by your hypnotherapist. Which in turn builds the skills and tools you have assessable to you no matter where you are.

3 Unique Side Effects and Challenges of Hypnosis in Therapy

This one review also identified the following three unique side effects and challenges associated with the use of hypnosis in therapy.

  1. Anxiety: Challenges during the induction phase of hypnotherapy such as anxiety

  2. Awakening: Difficulty awakening and terminating the state of hypnosis a person is in.

  3. Legal proceedings: Although not therapeutic, challenges were seen when hypnosis was used for legal proceedings.

Mental Illness and Hypnosis

Although hypnotherapy has been shown to be helpful for mental illnesses like depression, PTSD, and anxiety - for a person who has a known mental illness, hypnotherapy may not be the best fit. Why? According to this review, the following mental health illness conditions may be agitated and become more prevalent in a person's life:

  • Depressive illness

  • Psychosis

  • Hysterical disorders

What this translates to is a need to have open communication between all health care providers and your hypnotherapist as well as being open with your experiences with mental illness. It is also a good idea to even discuss with your hypnotherapist any family history of mental illness even if you yourself are not living with any signs of mental illness yourself.

Why Discussing all Present, Past, and Family History of Mental Illness with a Hypnotherapist is Highly Recommended

Hypnotherapy can activate different aspects of the brain. If you want to know read: How Hypnotherapy Works. When it does, this one review found the following but are side effects of hypnosis may emerge to the surface if a person personally has lived with a mental illness or has a family history of the following:

  • Chronic psychopathology

  • Seizures

  • Stupor

  • Spontaneous dissociative episodes

  • The resurrection of memories of previous trauma

  • Age regression

  • The onset of the first episode of schizophrenia


Bollinger, J. W. (2018). The Rate of Adverse Events Related to Hypnosis During Clinical Trials. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 60(4), 357-366. doi:10.1080/00029157.2017.1315927. Retrieved January 30, 2019 from

Gruzelier, J. (2000). Unwanted effects of hypnosis: A review of the evidence and its implications. Contemporary Hypnosis,17(4), 163-193. doi:10.1002/ch.207. Retrieved January 29, 2019, from

Judd, F. K., Burrows, G. D., & Dennerstein, L. (1985). The dangers of hypnosis: A review. Australian Journal of Clinical & Experimental Hypnosis, 13(1), 1-15. Retrieved January 30, 2019 from