Even if you haven’t heard of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, or NLP before, you may have heard about Hypnosis.

When Cory (my husband) and I were dating, I asked him what he does…

He said, “I write Ads… And for 25 years, I’ve worked for big companies like Direct TV, Nestlé and ProBar. It’s my superpower to sprinkle ads with magical words, powerful questions, and rhythmic phrases. It’s why I am leading the industry in subliminal messaging and conversational hypnosis.”

I had never heard of conversational hypnosis before.

Because I’d seen a hypnotist show in high school, I imagined a magician on stage pulling a rabbit out of a hat.

Hypnosis Is as Ancient as MagicNeuro-Linguistic Programming and Hypnosis

The history of hypnosis is as ancient as sorcery, magic, and medicine.  And it has been a technique for all three. Its scientific beginning began in the late 1700s with Franz Mesmer, a German physician who used hypnosis to successfully treat his patients.

Did Freud, the Father of Modern Psychology, Use Hypnosis on His Patients?

(Art Credit: Sigmund Freud Portrait – Oil on Canvas by Wilhelm Viktor Krausz)

Freud By Wilhelm Viktor Krausz

Yes, Sigmund Freud initially began his sessions with hypnosis.  Years later he began to encourage his patients to share their random thoughts of “whatever comes to mind.” He then became famous for his psychoanalysis with talk therapy and strategies like transference, free association and dream interpretation.

Though hypnosis in therapy has always been controversial, it gained popularity in the 1970s.

The Foundation of Neuro-Linguistic Programming is Conversational Hypnosis

Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton H. Erickson

One of the most well-known proponents of hypnosis was Milton Erickson.  He was a masterful storyteller.

With Metaphors, Stories, and Language-Patterns, he quickly and easily put his patients into a trance.

Unlike Freud – who believed our subconscious holds our deep, dark, repressed desires…

Erickson instead said – Your subconscious holds the resources you need to heal yourself.

All the Answers to Your Challenges Are Inside of You…

Perhaps his optimistic view of human nature came from his own experience.

As a teenager, he contracted polio.

One day, he overheard the Doctor telling his mother he wouldn’t make it through the night.  He asked for the mirror to be turned to the window, so he could watch his last sunset.

He was angry at the Doctor for saying it.  Angry for the grief it must have caused his mother.  Though a tree was blocking his view, he recreated the view and memorized every detail of his “perceived” sunset.

He would look back on this imaginative state as his beginnings in the healing process through an altered state, or “trance…”

He lived to see the next day…

Then again, he proved the doctors wrong when they told him he’d never walk again.

The Founders of Neuro-Linguistic Programming

Richard Bandler and John Grinder are the founders of (NLP) Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Conversational Hypnosis.

They believed the sentence and grammatical structures of words, questions, and phrases (as well as the metaphors) of Milton Erickson (and other talented hypnotherapists of their day) were the great secrets of their success.

Leaning on the research of the brilliant and famous linguist, Noam Chomsky, they attempted to understand the power of these word patterns. They were eager to learn; because they wanted to duplicate the trance inductions and the miraculous healing benefits of these talented psychiatrists.

Is Neuro-Linguistic Programming Scientifically Proven to Be Effective?

If you read online the answer seems to be, “No” for two reasons:

1.  Some question the scientific-ness of the studies which have been done. They want more accurate studies – to quantify, and to show these results can be replicated.

2.  Others question the financial bias of the NLP testimonials and success stories.

Richard Bandler and John Grinder also seem to have changed the goal of their project.

After they published what began as “research,” they changed their focus of learning about traditional therapy, to starting a “Self-Help,” Leadership Development Company.

Instead of being observational and reporting the evidence as scientists, they became marketers…

Yet, as a marketer myself, I can tell you –

Marketers do test their ads.

Because they want results…

And successful marketers always rely on a practical understanding of psychology.

The Foundational Principles of Neuro-Linguistic Programming

Many of the foundational principles of NLP are taught in the best psychology courses:

Read “Miracles on Demand” to learn more about NLP’s foundational principles.  

The golden question is – can we change our beliefs and programming?  Especially if we’ve picked up beliefs that no longer bring us happiness?

While modern psychologists avoid specific claims about “healing,” NLP asserts that change is possible.

NLP Language Patterns Induce a TranceWhether it’s depression, anxiety, phobias, quitting smoking, weight loss, or achieving financial goals –

It’s all possible for you.

At a scientific level, is this reproducible?

This depends on how accurately Grinder and Bandler understood Erickson’s techniques. It also depends on how accurately Erickson portrayed his successes, and may even depend on simple variables like:

1.  The individual skill level of the hypnotherapist you choose.

2.  Perhaps, even your belief in your ability to change (yet Milton Erickson seemed to easily hypnotize the biggest skeptics…)

So, the Scientific Community says, “No…”

Yet, if you’re curious and want to find out for yourself –

Go ahead and look at these studies on NLP:

Some Scientific Studies on Neuro-Linguistic Programming


Here are the results of a comprehensive survey of psychological literature and data by Dr. Alfred A. Barrios, PhD. & Clinical Psychologist (UCLA) which revealed the following recovery rates:

Psychoanalysis: 38% Recovery After 600 Sessions
Behavioral Therapy: 72% Recovery After 22 Sessions
Hypnosis: 93% Recovery After 6 Sessions

Barrios, Alfred A. “Hypnotherapy: A Reappraisal,” Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice (2006)

Research on Hypnosis to Quit Smoking

90.6% Success Rate Using Hypnosis

Of 43 consecutive patients undergoing this treatment protocol, 39 reported remaining abstinent at follow-up (6 months to 3 years post-treatment). This represents a 90.6% success rate using hypnosis.

University of Washington School of Medicine, Dept. of Anesthesiology and Rehabilitation Medicine, Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2001 Jul;49(3):257-66. Barber J.

Freedom from smoking: integrating hypnotic methods and rapid smoking to facilitate smoking cessation. A comparison of hypnosis to quit smoking reported a 95% success rate using hypnosis.


A trial compared Hypnosis with biofeedback or a combination of both. All groups had significant reduction in stress. However, at a six-month follow-up only patients receiving Hypnosis had maintained the reduction.

1 Friedman, H. & Taub, H. (1977). “The Use of Hypnosis and Biofeedback Procedures for Essential Tension and Stress.” International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 25, 335-347
2 Friedman, H. & Taub, H. (1978). “A Six-Month Follow-up of the Use of Hypnosis and Biofeedback Procedures in Essential Hypertension.” American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 20, 184-188

Weight Loss

Hypnosis Is 30 Times More Effective for Weight Loss

Let’s investigate the effects of hypnosis on weight loss for 60 females, who are 20% overweight. The treatment included group hypnosis with metaphors for ego-strengthening, decision making and motivation, ideomotor exploration with individual and group hypnosis, and maintenance suggestions. The hypnosis group got much better results than the control group: The hypnosis group lost an average of 17 lbs. and the control group lost an average of 0.5 lbs. on their follow-up.

Cochrane, Gordon; Friesen, J. (1986). Hypnotherapy in weight loss treatment. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 54, 489-492

Two Years Later: Hypnosis Subjects Continued To Lose Significant Weight

109 people completed a behavioral treatment for weight management with and without hypnosis. At the end of the 9-week program, both interventions resulted in significant weight reduction. At the 8-month and 2-year follow-ups, the hypnosis subjects continued to lose significant weight, and those in the behavioral-treatment-only group showed little change.

Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (1985)

Hypnosis Subjects Lost More Weight Than 90% of Others and Kept it Off

Researchers analyzed 18 studies comparing a cognitive behavioral therapy such as relaxation training, guided imagery, self-monitoring, or goal setting with the same therapy supplemented by hypnosis.

Those who received the hypnosis lost more weight than 90 percent of those not receiving hypnosis and maintained the weight loss two years after the treatment ended.

University of Connecticut, Storrs Allison DB, Faith MS. Hypnosis as an adjunct to cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy for obesity: a meta-analytic reappraisal. J Consult Clin Psychol. 1996; 64(3):513-516

Hypnosis More Than Doubles The Average Weight Loss

In two studies by different authors, adding hypnosis to cognitive-behavioral treatments for weight loss, increased the weight reduction substantially over time.

Kirsch, Irving (1996). Hypnotic enhancement of cognitive-behavioral weight loss treatments–Another meta- reanalysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64 (3), 517-519

Hypnosis Shows Significantly Lower Post-Treatment Weights

Two studies decided to compare overweight smoking and non-smoking adult women in a hypnosis-based, weight-loss program. Both achieved significant weight losses and decreases in Body Mass Index. The follow-up study also showed significant weight loss and declines in Body Mass Index. The overt aversion and hypnosis program yielded significantly lower post-treatment weights and a greater average number of pounds lost.

Weight loss for women: studies of smokers and nonsmokers using hypnosis and multi-component treatments with and without overt aversion. Johnson DL, Psychology Reprints. 1997 Jun;80(3 Pt 1):931-3

Hypnotherapy group with stress reduction achieved significantly more weight loss than the other two treatments

Randomized, controlled, parallel study of two forms of hypnotherapy (directed at stress reduction or energy intake reduction), vs dietary advice alone in 60 obese patients with obstructive sleep apnea on nasal continuous positive airway pressure treatment.

J Stradling, D Roberts, A Wilson and F Lovelock, Chest Unit, Churchill Hospital, Oxford, OX3 7LJ, UK

Hypnosis can more than double the effects of traditional weight loss systems

An analysis of five weight loss studies reported in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology in 1996 showed that the “… weight loss reported in the five studies indicates that hypnosis can more than double the effects” of traditional weight loss systems.

University of Connecticut, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology in 1996 (Vol. 64, No. 3, pgs. 517-519)

Weight loss is greater when hypnosis is used

Research into cognitive-behavioral weight loss treatments established that weight loss is greater when hypnosis is used. It was also established that the benefits of hypnosis will increase over time.

Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (1996)

Hypnosis Is “An Effective Way To Lose Weight”

A study of 60 females who were at least 20% overweight and not involved in other treatments showed hypnosis is an effective way to lose weight.

Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (1986)

(Credit for Compiling this list goes to – My friends at Sugarhouse Hypnotherapy)

As you can see, these studies seem very positive for NLP…

Yet, several of these studies have small sample sizes, and larger studies are needed to prove the results. So, we should investigate further – to see how well they follow the scientific process.

Perhaps NLP is an Art

NLP is an ArtWhen Cory told me about his skills, even though we were engaged, I paid $5,000 to have him train me.

Early on, with 1- or 2-word changes and simple patterns, I was able to double my sales results!

I was completely surprised by it.

Since then, Conversational Hypnosis has become my number one resource –

To become more persuasive.

Yet, Effective Communication is an art, as well as a skill.

Because I am human, sometimes my efforts don’t always get the results I want.

Most of the time, this is because I get in my own way…

By falling into my old patterns…

With so many factors the results you get with NLP are an inexact science.

Or More Accurately, An Art…

You Will Communicate More Effectively When You Learn Conversational Hypnosis

It’s important to remember NLP always works best – when you are in rapport with those you are persuading.

Meaning they must know, like and trust you…

While some of us are born with natural charm, all of us get better results in life – as we learn to communicate more effectively. Our level of communication is what gets us the job, our position in life, and the girl.  More than anything else!

Photo Credit Milton Erickson's Canoe Diary

Photo Credit Milton Erickson’s Canoe Diary

Erickson’s experience with polio led to his mastery of understanding others…

Though he couldn’t carry his own canoe by himself, his first summer from college, he set off on an adventure…

With a couple of dollars in his pocket, he went on a 1,000-mile adventure and River Tour!

He had to rely on others along the way.

Yet, by the end of the summer, he could swim a mile and pull his canoe out without assistance.

His ability to make fast friends on his trip may have started when he was ill.

With polio, he had to lay for hours, with nothing to do.

He paid close attention to the world around him…

He watched with intensity as his baby sister learned to walk, hoping he might learn to walk again…

He noticed when his sisters said, “Yes,” but really meant, “No.”

His ability to read people, helped him make friends quickly, and this skill played a major role in his ability to induce a trance and bring miraculous results to his patients.

(NLP) Neuro-Linguistic Programming is an Essential Tool – for Effective Communication

Neuro-Linguistic Programming Is a Great Communication Skill!Whether you think it’s a science or an art… NLP is the most effective communication skill you can have!

It even allowed me to better understand myself…

And look at the presuppositions behind the reasons I choose things… It’s given me the helpful examples and skills to understand others… 

To listen better and find out what really motivates those I want to influence.

It’s given me the tools I needed to communicate more effectively.

Because when I understand my audience, I can communicate directly to their hearts and minds.

And by using the NLP word patterns, I have a lot more influence in my conversations now.

Whether you see NLP as an art or a science, I think it’s a valuable skill.

I see the results every day in the world of advertising, and with my friends and family.

If you change your words – you’ll change your life…

That’s why I believe NLP is the most important skill you can have –

To be more persuasive!

Joni Molloy - President at Effective Advertising

Joni Molloy – President at Effective Advertising & Creator of The UPLEVEL Masterclass

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