Perhaps you’ve heard of hypnosis before, and maybe you’ve even been hypnotized before. While learning about different approaches to therapy, you may have come across eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, often known simply as EMDR therapy, and thought that it seemed quite similar to hypnosis.

Many people who have a passing familiarity with both hypnosis and EMDR assume that two methods are essentially the same. You may have hesitated to pursue EMDR because of this, especially if you or someone you know has had a negative or unsatisfactory experience with hypnosis in the past. However, the idea that EMDR is just another form of hypnosis is a misconception. There are two completely different processes. Let’s explore the key differences between hypnosis and EMDR.

EMDR Is Focused on Memory Processing

People do turn to hypnosis for help with behaviors that can negatively affect their mental health, such as quitting an addiction. However, EMDR is explicitly intended to support people in processing traumatic memories.

While people may seek EMDR therapy for a variety of mental health issues, it may not be effective if these issues did not develop as a result of past trauma.

Broad Applications for Hypnosis

Hypnosis has fairly broad applications. In the mental health field, many people who are interested in hypnosis are hoping to treat an addiction.

Hypnosis is not typically considered a “first-line” treatment for mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. However, people might try it if they have not had success with traditional therapeutic modalities.

Some people also turn to hypnosis as a short-term solution for relaxing before a stressful situation, like a medical procedure. Additionally, hypnosis is occasionally used for entertainment with willing participants at public events, while EMDR would never be used in such a fashion.

Conscious Awareness During EMDR

During EMDR sessions, the client maintains a state of conscious awareness at all times. An EMDR therapist is not attempting to heighten their suggestibility.

Instead, the therapist will use bilateral stimulation, such as guiding the client’s eye movements with finger motions, to assist them in targeting and processing specific traumatic memories. The client is completely aware of the process throughout the entire session.

In a hypnosis session, the client still remains relatively aware of their circumstances, but they are deeply relaxed and unguarded, making them open to positive suggestions and new beliefs that will ideally shift their behavior for the better in the long run.

No Standard Approach for Hypnosis

Hypnosis does not involve a specific, standard approach. Practitioners who use hypnosis to assist people dealing with various issues may apply different styles or methods.

On the other hand, EMDR has a strict, eight-phase approach that is standardized for all those who pursue it. Therapists must earn a specific certification in EMDR in order to use it in their practices.

EMDR Involves Bilateral Stimulation

Why do so many people associate hypnosis with EMDR? It’s partially because people often envision a hypnotist swinging an object in front of the person being hypnotized, while telling them they are becoming relaxed and sleepy. Therefore, people might assume this is simply a form of bilateral stimulation, and that EMDR sessions look just like hypnosis sessions.

But this conception of a hypnotist is drawn from outdated media, not reality. Hypnosis does not always involve a swinging pendulum, as this can be distracting for the person being hypnotized. EMDR, on the other hand, always involves some type of bilateral stimulation.

Are you curious about the benefits of EMDR? It might be time to reach out to a therapist. Contact Us to learn more about our EMDR therapy services.




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