The word hypnosis may conjure up images of magicians or stage shows. However, in healthcare, hypnosis—or hypnotherapy—is a therapeutic technique. Mental health providers use it to treat a variety of conditions. Its application ranges from pain management to changing behaviors, such as quitting smoking or losing weight. If you’ve considered hypnosis for weight loss, start by learning the facts and what to consider before you make your first appointment. Hypnosis is not mind control. In hypnosis, therapists use verbal repetition and mental images to put you in a relaxed, trance-like state. You are not asleep—quite the contrary! You become highly focused and able to concentrate in this state. You are also very responsive to ideas and suggestions. The therapist then helps you explore feelings, experiences and behaviors you want to change. Unlike Hollywood versions of hypnosis, you do not lose control of your actions and the therapist never controls your mind. Instead, your increased focus helps you learn to manage undesirable behaviors and cope with feelings and conditions. You remember what happens during hypnosis. In fact, being aware and receptive to ideas is what makes hypnosis effective. Weight loss hypnosis may help you lose weight when it’s part of a broader weight loss plan. Losing weight sounds so simple—burn more calories than you eat. The ideal way to accomplish this is to eat healthier and exercise more. Most people know this to be true. In reality, most people also find this to be a challenge. There are various reasons people have difficulty getting weight off and keeping it off. Counseling may help people identify subconscious thoughts and feelings that hold them back from their weight loss goals, such as: Eating for a sense of comfort and for dealing with feelings of anger, sadness or depression Identifying positive thoughts and feelings with others who are overweight Using food as a reward and associating it with good times Using weight to keep others at a distance and protect yourself and your feelings Hypnosis for weight loss may help you discover and explore attitudes you have about weight and food. Your therapist can offer suggestions and ideas for changing them. Your heightened responsiveness during hypnosis may allow you to overcome undesirable attitudes. Your therapist can also offer ideas about changing diet and exercise lifestyle habits. During a session, the therapist can help you visualize yourself accomplishing your lifestyle and weight loss goals. This approach does not work for everyone. What’s more, there are few scientific studies looking at hypnosis for weight loss. If you’ve tried to lose weight without success, hypnosis may be worth a try when you combine it with a complete weight loss plan. Hypnosis is generally safe with a trained therapist. Before starting a weight loss plan, talk with your doctor. This is especially true if you’re interested in hypnosis. Your doctor may recommend seeing a psychiatrist or other mental health provider before undergoing hypnotherapy for weight loss. While it’s usually safe with a trained therapist, hypnosis may make some conditions worse. Once you’re ready to start, find a therapist with specific training in hypnosis, specifically weight loss hypnosis. Ask your doctor for recommendations or search healthgrades.com for providers who practice hypnosis. You can also search professional association websites, such as the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis or the American Psychological Association. Once you find a hypnotherapist, ask lots of questions. Find out about their professional background and ask how many people like you they have successfully treated. Make sure the therapist views hypnosis as part of an overall weight loss plan with diet and exercise. Hypnosis alone is not likely to help you reach your goals.