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There are a lot of books on hypnosis out there, but there is a wide variation in the quality of the information available in those books. Some provide the latest hypnotherapy techniques while others are simply a rehash of old and outdated information. This post will point you in the right direction for learning hypnosis from books by listing the best books on hypnosis that are currently available.
What type of hypnosis?
There are several types of hypnosis. I have provided a brief introduction to hypnosis with a focus on clinical hypnotherapy in another article.
The two main divisions of hypnosis, particularly for the sake of determining the best hypnosis books, are stage hypnosis and clinical hypnotherapy. While the underlying techniques are often very similar, these are two very different angles from which to view hypnosis, and so the recommended hypnosis books are different for each category.
What are the best hypnosis books for clinical hypnotherapy?
Clinical hypnotherapy, briefly, is hypnosis used as therapy to treat a disorder. On this site, the focus tends to be on mental disorders, but hypnosis can be used to treat pain, to lower blood pressure, and for other health conditions. There are three sub-categories of hypnosis books within the category of clinical hypnotherapy:
- books about traditional hypnotherapy,
- books about NLP (neuro-linguistic programming, a form of hypnosis described in more detail below), and
- books about self-hypnosis.
Books on traditional hypnotherapy
The books in this category are the books on hypnosis that should be on every clinical hypnotherapist’s shelf. These are books with modern techniques, and they are the main and most important books in the field. Some are pricey, but compared to taking hypnotherapy training, they are fairly inexpensive and you can get a basic education from the books. There really is no substitute for either live demonstration of the techniques or for seeing them on video.
By the way, if you want a complete package teaching you hypnosis on video from beginner to advanced and leading to certification, I highly recommend Gerald Kein’s OMNI hypnosis beginner to advanced training package. It might seem costly at $1250 USD (at the time of this writing), but it is actually a bargain when you compare it to the cost of getting certified in almost any other way, which runs between $2500 and $4000, depending on where you go. Also, it is good training. Live training is possibly better in that it allows you to practice and ask questions, but often live training is jam packed into a week or less of intensive training, so you might even learn more from the videos, which you can review as often as you like.
- Trancework: an Introduction to the Practice of Clinical Hypnosis by Michael Yapko. Michael Yapko is both an expert on mental health, particularly depression, and an expert on hypnotherapy. This is one of the best books on hypnosis out there and if you were to purchase just one hypnosis book, I would highly recommend this one.
- Handbook of Hypnotic Suggestions and Metaphors by D. Corydon Hammond, Ph.D. This excellent book is a number one bestseller on Amazon in the area of hypnotherapy. The author, D. Corydon Hammond, Ph.D., ABPH, is the past president and a fellow of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH), which honored him with a Presidential Award of Merit in 1989. He also received the ASCH Irving I. Secter Award in 1990 and the Thomas P. Wall Award for Excellence in Teaching of Clinical Hypnosis in 1994. This is a very practical book with scripts, stories, and suggestions that can be used in clinical practice.
- Hypnosis for Chronic Pain Management: Therapist Guide by Mark Jensen. As the title suggests, this book’s focus is hypnosis for pain reduction. There is also an associated workbook aimed at the client or lay practitioner.
- Hartland’s Medical and Dental Hypnosis. This is literally a textbook on hypnosis. It is geared towards medical and dental professionals.
- Hypnotherapy by Dave Elman. I was reluctant to put this book on the list because it was originally written a few decades ago. However, it is considered a classic in the field of hypnotherapy and I think it’s worth reading. I enjoyed reading it. I wouldn’t purchase this as your only book on hypnotherapy, but I would definitely include it in your library on the subject.
- Hypnosis for Change by Josie Hadley – An inexpensive and interesting look at modern hypnosis.
There are other books on hypnosis that focus on hypnotherapy, but I feel that it is better to provide a shorter list of titles that I really believe in and recommend rather than a laundry list of all the hypnotherapy books out there. In particular, Michael Yapko has some other good books on hypnotherapy. Also, there are hypnotherapy books that focus on a particular problem such as hypnotherapy for depression and anxiety, hypnobirthing, and so forth.
The next two sections discuss books on hypnosis that focus on NLP and self-hypnosis respectively.
Books on NLP
NLP stands for neurolinguistic programming. According to Wikipedia, NLP is “an approach to communication, personal development, and psychotherapy created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in California, United States in the 1970s”. In my experience, that is a fairly good definition, but it leaves out the key fact that the foundational concepts of NLP come from Milton Erickson (1901-1980), an American psychiatrist and psychologist who specialized in medical hypnosis and family therapy. Anthony Robbins, the motivational speaker and writer, uses NLP extensively in his work.
NLP is a form of hypnosis and sometimes it is considered “waking” hypnosis although when one is in hypnosis, one is not actually asleep regardless of the hypnotic technique being used. NLP is very interesting and can be a useful tool for therapists. These are some suggestions for books on hypnosis that are about NLP:
- Uncommon Therapy: The Psychiatric Techniques of Milton H. Erickson, M.D. by Jay Haley – I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in NLP and hypnosis. Milton Erickson was a genius and he did author and co-author several books. However, his own books are very challenging to read and to grasp. Jay Haley does a good job of making Erickson’s work much more accessible. If you do want to venture on to read Erickson’s work, I would recommend beginning with a book such as this one before diving into those waters.
- Richard Bandler’s Guide to Trance-formation: How to Harness the Power of Hypnosis to Ignite Effortless and Lasting Change – I enjoyed this book. By one of the founders of NLP, it was relatively easy to read and understand and had several interesting ideas. Also, it is a fairly inexpensive book.
- Richard Bandler and John Grinder wrote a number of books together in the late 70’s and early 80’s while developing NLP. Unfortunately, intellectual property disputes led to a falling out between the two. The book, “The Structure of Magic, Vol. 1: A Book About Language and Therapy” is one place you could start. It says it was published in 2005, but it was actually originally published in the 80’s.
- NLP Coaching Cards – I have a set of each type of the Jamie Smart “Salad” card set. These are standard playing cards that each have an NLP tool written on them. You can use them in a number of ways to help you to remember your NLP training. There are also Ericksonian hypnosis cards, irresistable influence cards, and others. I love them! (But I have no idea why they are called Salad cards.) These (particularly the Ericksonian hypnosis cards) are a reboot of the old zebu cards, which appear to be out of print.
- Taproots: Underlying Principles of Milton Erickson’s Therapy and Hypnosis – This is an extremely interesting book. It focuses on classical NLP (i.e. the work of Milton Erickson). In my opinion which I think I have already stated Milton Erickson was a genius. He was a psychiatrist, a modern hypnotist, and a forward thinker. I think that we can learn a lot from his work and this is one of the books that does an excellent job of boiling it down and making it accessible.
- The Weight, Hypnotherapy and You. Weight Reduction Program: An NLP and Hypnotherapy Practitioner’s Manual [With CDROM] by Judith Pearson. A well-reviewed weight loss program via NLP and hypnotherapy.
- Hypnosis for Smoking Cessation: An NLP and Hypnotherapy Practitioner’s Manual [With CDROM] by David Botsford. A well-reviewed program for smoking cessation via NLP and hypnotherapy.
Books on self hypnosis
Self hypnosis is exactly what it sounds like. It is also known as auto-hypnosis. It is hypnotizing yourself. Some people say that all hypnosis is actually self hypnosis. You can learn to hypnotize yourself in a number of different ways. Personally, I like to listen to self hypnosis audio mp3’s or CD’s by famous hypnotherapists such as Paul McKenna. However, you can also hypnotize yourself by using various techniques and by making your own self hypnosis audio.
In a way we are always hypnotizing ourselves. We decide what we believe and what we do not believe. However, we do not consider this to be a conscious process. Self-hypnosis helps us to realize that altering our belief system is something that is within our grasp. For example, if you have a low self-esteem, what are you telling yourself about you that has led to this view of yourself? What are some different messages you can replace the old messages with?
When we are NOT in a trance, it is very challenging to accept new ideas and beliefs because our conscious mind is in the way. However, when we are in trance and have achieved critical factor bypass, our unconscious minds are more susceptable to accepting new messages and ideas. Anyhow, without further ado, here are my recommendations for some books on self hypnosis. I will also include a couple of suggestions for self hypnosis audio.
- Self-Hypnosis And Subliminal Technology: A How-to Guide for Personal-Empowerment Tools You Can Use Anywhere! by Eldon Taylor. This book appears to be an interesting guide to self-hypnosis.
- How To Master Self Hypnosis in a Weekend: The Simple, Systematic and Successful Way to Get Everything You Want by Rick Smith. Self hypnosis book written by a certified clinical hypnotist.
- The Art of Extraordinary Confidence: Your Ultimate Path to Love, Wealth, and Freedom by Aziz Gazipura. The link is to the audible form of the book. I’m not sure this is self hypnosis in the strictest sense of the expression, but it was extremely well-reviewed in terms of helping men in particular to overcome social anxiety and gain confidence.
I would like to recommend more books on self hypnosis. However, as I peruse the offerings on Amazon, one thing becomes clear: most of the books on hypnosis that focus on self hypnosis are really awful and scammy and I would not bother to purchase them and cannot recommend them. I recommend the titles above.
However, if you really want to get involved in self-hypnosis, what I would suggest is reading one or more of the books on hypnosis (way above) and then making an mp3 of your own voice doing an induction and a full hypnosis session and then listening to it and doing self-hypnosis that way. I am actually alarmed by how scammy some of the hypnosis books appear to be, particularly those on self hypnosis, so please beware of that.
What are the best books on hypnosis for stage hypnosis?
So, you wonder how to be a stage hypnotist? The techniques are actually very similar to those used by clinical hypnotists, but the purpose is entertainment rather than therapy. You can learn the techniques from the same books above, but there are books that are aimed directly at stage hypnotists. What I don’t like about some of these books is that they suggest that you can do “mind control” and other nonsense like that, which we know hypnosis is not.
I have therefore attempted to choose a few good books on stage hypnosis that I hope will explain the craft without suggesting anything silly. The problem with many stage hypnosis books is that they can tend to be scammy or use outdated techniques, so if you don’t find what you need below, as I mentioned, you might be better off learning about hypnosis from the books above and then learning about showmanship to make an entertaining stage show.
- The New Encyclopedia of Stage Hypnotism by Ormond McGill – Said to be the most comprehensive text ever to be published on stage hypnotism, this book covers everything from the history of hypnosis and how to use the power of suggestion to how to how to design, advertise, and perform a modern hypnotic show. It includes extracts from some of the most successful shows ever performed.
- The Instant Hypnosis and Rapid Inductions Guidebook by Rory Fulcher – Knowing how to do rapid inductions is not all there is to stage hypnosis, but it is an important part of what you need to know.
- Ronning Guide to Modern Stage Hypnosis by Geoffrey Ronning. According to some reviewers, this guide is useful for beginners only.
Probably the best way to learn about stage hypnosis is by first learning the basics using either the stage hypnosis books above or supplementing those with other training. Then watch video of great stage hypnotists performing and watch them over and over to learn what they are doing.
When it comes right down to it, the fundamentals of hypnosis are very similar whether you are reading books on hypnosis that focus on doing clinical hypnotherapy, NLP, self hypnosis, or stage hypnosis. However, despite having a similar foundation, the techniques and execution can vary quite a bit even to the point that a book that one person finds instructive might seem offensive to another person.
I have made every effort to suggest hypnosis books and hypnosis audio that are the cream of the crop. If you know of any excellent books on hypnosis or hypnosis resources that I have not included, please let me know in the comments. I am always happy to learn.
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