Cognitive Hypnotherapy is a brief form of therapy. It’s based on the belief that consciousness is divided into a conscious component and an unconscious component. During Cognitive Hypnotherapy the client doesn’t become hypnotised. Rather, the therapist leads the client to a concentration on a particular sensation, experience, feeling or memory. This state has been termed the ‘everyday trance’. The belief being that as humans we fall into this state frequently in the course of our everyday lives, as unconscious responses overtake conscious processes. The therapy is grounded in the discoveries and approaches of psychoanalysis and also evolutionary theory. It also uses the practices of Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). Pioneered by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, NLP grew out of the human potential movement of the 1970s. It offers Cognitive Hypnotherapy versatile techniques and linguistic approaches that help a client to reframe and re-programme problem thinking.


Cognitive Hypnotherapy understands experience to be purely subjective. What we take to be reality is actually a construct of our imagination, based on our memories of past experiences – what Trevor Silvester terms the ‘memorimagination’. According to evolutionary theory all behaviour serves a protective function. Our most basic impulses are to move towards pleasure and away from pain. Painful episodes that occurred during our formative years (at an age when we weren’t able to rationalise them or see them from another perspective) may have given rise to ‘closed loops’ within the brain. Every time we encounter a similar problem in later life, that bears any match at all to the original problem or its context, it will trigger the same undeveloped response. It’s our unconscious mind’s best attempt at keeping us from harm.


This is a client-centred therapy, which means that there is no stock solution to a client’s problem. Cognitive Hypnotherapy aims to be bespoke to the individual client. Uniquely, we work with the client in their reality, by taking into account their preferred representational system, their predicates, their language patterns, their neurological levels, their metaprograms and their trance phenomena. During a history take we would gather all this information. Additionally, our questions are focussed on the process, the context, the structure and the consequence of the problem; to establish just how this particular client does their particular problem. This is also solution focussed therapy. So, we look for information about what the client desires in terms of a resolution to their problem and how they would like their lives to be as a result of this positive alteration.


We then choose the appropriate intervention from a range of techniques and use targeted suggestions. This process will deliberately mirror the ‘everyday trances’ favoured by the particular client and aspects of their solution state. With the aim of opening up the closed response loops to new ways of responding. The interventions may be aimed at either the process, the structure, or the context of the problem. By causing new learning, or a new experience in any of these three areas the closed response loop may be opened up to the possibility of adaptation – a new way of doing things.


In this way, the client is encouraged out of a state of protection, into a state of growth. In the course of change-work the practitioner will ‘future pace’ the client, by asking them to rehearse or imagine the impact of this work on their future. This enables the client to integrate the new learning, or new response into their anticipated future. We can also use targeted suggestion patterns, or ‘Wordweaving’ ™️ to deepen the consolidation of positive change.


Lastly, Cognitive Hypnotherapy is founded on the belief that the client has all the resources and capabilities they need to resolve their problem – ultimately they will heal themselves of their problem. In the course of change-work we may act as guides in this process, but will ultimately lead them from a dependence on us to help solve their issue (External Locus of Control, or E-LOC), to a state of self-reliance (Internal Locus of Control, or I-LOC), whereby they take full ownership for fixing themselves.