Hypnotherapy for weight loss is one of the most popular requests for therapists. For people who find they don’t have the time or motivation to stick to a diet & exercise regime or find medication has too many side effects, hypnotherapy is often the answer. But how does hypnotherapy compare to other methods of weight loss?
Weight loss should always be done in a sensible way, and drastic measures are not the solution. However hypnotherapy, either as an adjunct to other approaches or as a treatment in itself, has a good evidence base.
Diet & Exercise
If you have been able to change your lifestyle, having now established a healthy routine of diet and/or exercise, then you need read no further. They key really is a lifestyle change so that healthy habits are adopted on an ongoing basis rather than having an unhealthy lifestyle punctuated by bouts of temporary changes (‘yo-yo’ dieting).
Medication can help but can have side effects. For example, Orlistat can help with weight loss but has unpleasant side effects (e.g. flatulence and oily stools). If you are thinking about taking medication, whether purchased online or the chemist’s shop, discuss it with your GP first.
This is a slightly drastic option (and expensive if done privately), and obviously, other alternatives should be considered first. If you are thinking about this option, discuss it with your GP first.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
This can certainly help. A meta-analysis of 18 studies found that CBT induced an average weight loss of around 10 lbs (around 5gk), most of which stayed off for two years (Kirsch et al, 1995). This is quite impressive until you see what happens when you add hypnosis…
In the review mentioned in the previous section, Kirsch et al (1995) found that adding hypnotherapy to the CBT intervention doubled the effect on weight loss: the average weight loss was around 20 lbs (about 10kg) all of which, on average, stayed off for two years.
Complementary Medicine (Including Hypnotherapy)
A systematic review by one of Nature’s peer-reviewed publications, The International Journal of Obesity, assessed which complementary medicine worked best for weight loss (Pittler & Ernst, 2005). The authors compared acupuncture, acupressure, dietary supplements, homeopathy, and hypnotherapy. They found that hypnotherapy, and dietary supplements/stimulants, were the most effective. However, the supplements had the disadvantage of side effects (such as insomnia, anxiety, palpitations etc.) which made hypnotherapy the best option.
This is just a very brief review of the evidence for various methods of weight loss, and each person should ask around – especially your GP – and do your own research. However, hypnotherapy for weight loss is – like with so many other issues – one of the most rapid, safe and effective methods known.
Kirsch, I., Montgomery, G., & Sapirstein, G. (1995). Hypnosis as an adjunct to cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy: A meta-analysis. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 63(2), 214.
Pittler, M. H., & Ernst, E. (2005). Complementary therapies for reducing body weight: a systematic review. International Journal of Obesity, 29(9), 1030.