Hypnosis For Diet and Weight Loss

A PEERtrainer Review

At PEERtrainer we seek to identify the ideal forms of nutrition and exercise that lead to people being at their best. But we are always looking for things that will truly help people get to this point, the really practical stuff.

One tool that we observe to really help people is hypnosis. Hypnosis done right is simply a way to help your mind condition itself to do what you want it to. There are a ton of great approaches to losing weight, and we teach these all in our Tip Of The Day program as well as our Point Of No Return program. Both cover a broad array of things that simply work, especially when you combine a lot of proven tools together.

In the context of these programs, as well as the emails we send out to the general PEERtrainer membership, we get a lof of questions about using hypnosis for weight loss, and have done a review of some of the research into this.  In this article we also look at some of the options-- how to select a therapist, and review a home use program that has gotten some good feedback among members of the PEERtrainer community as well as elsewhere.

Two Important Points About Hypnosis

1) The reality of Hypnosis is much different from what we commonly have seen in cartoons or on stage. This is either "fake hypnosis or stage hypnosis." Modern hypnosis and the word itself is rooted in the work of a Scottish doctor in the mid-1800's. It is not an unconscious thing, but rather "a wakeful state of focused attention and heightened suggestibility, with diminished peripheral awareness."

2) It can be incredibly effective in helping to reinforce new patterns of behavior. Joshua recently wrote a great article titled "How To Change Anything." Step six in the process he outlined is to "reinforce, reinforce, refinforce." Hypnosis can help really make permanent all the great changes that we have embarked on.

The Research

First of all, the research is pretty clear that medical hypnosis supports weight loss, and more importantly supports long-term weight loss. There are three studies that presents some of the research into why this approach can work:

Study One:

Bolocofsky, David N.; Spinler, Dwayne; Coulthard-Morris, Linda (1985). Effectiveness of hypnosis as an adjunct to behavioral weight management. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 41 (1), 35-41.

The first study, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, divided 109 people into two groups for a 9 week study. The first group were treated with changes in diet and exercise habits (the approach we advocate and work to show how to do in a practical manner) without the addition of hypnosis. The second group was given the same diet and exercise treatment and was also given hypnosis for reinforcement.

After 9 weeks, not surprisingly, both groups lost weight due to the changes in diet and exercise while under supervision.

What happened after the 8-month and 2-year follow-ups was interesting. The group that did not have hypnosis did not lose any more weight and in fact most gained most of their weight back.

The hypnosis group, however, continued to lose weight during both intervals and the studies showed that far more people in the hypnosis group met their long term weight loss goals.

The take away is that the hypnosis group continued the eating and exercise habits learned in the experiment while the non hypnosis group did not.

As we say repeatedly, there is no magic pill for weight loss and you simply have to follow a healthy eating and exercise plan that works for you. But this study demonstrates that hypnosis supports diet and exercise adherence.

Study Two:

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

The next study, published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, investigated the effects of hypnosis in weight loss for 60 females at least 20% overweight and not involved in other treatment. The researchers interviewed each participant this time about their family background, educational background, and their belief as to their hypnotizability.

The group was split into hypnosis and non hypnosis groups with both groups being given weight loss behavioral treatments and counseling. The results were very interesting. The group using hypnosis lost an average of 17 pounds at the 6 month follow up. The group that did not receive hypnosis only lost a half of a pound. They also found that "hypnotizability" and social and educational backgrounds had nothing to do with the results.

Study Three:

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

In this meta-analysis, (which is when researchers look across multiple studies), the results of the two studies I just mentioned and other studies were confirmed.
In the studies of hypnosis versus no hypnosis the average short-term weight loss was 6 pounds for those not using hypnosis and 11.8 pounds with hypnosis.

Even more importantly, over the long term the average weight loss without hypnosis remained at 6 pounds, but with hypnosis it jumped to 14.88 pounds - indicating again that the effects of hypnosis seem to compound over time.

What is impressive about these results is that doing hypnosis under controlled conditions is extremely difficult, and to have the research indicate that people are losing anywhere from 2 to 17 times more weight under hypnosis than when they do not use it clearly indicates that hypnosis should be used by anyone who is serious about weight loss. 

The American and British Medical associations both recognize hypnosis as an effective therapeutic modality.

Buyer Beware:  Choosing a Therapist

One important thing to note is that the quality of the person delivering hypnosis sessions varies widely. Because hypnosis is not regulated, it is important that you choose a licensed therapist who has a deep knowledge of weight loss psychology.

Over 99% of the “Clinical Hypnotherapists” (people with CHT after their names) you might find on the web or through the yellow pages don’t have any background in psychology.   Since the field is unregulated, anyone can take a course a two week course in hypnosis and use this title (they don’t even need to take a course!).

These people often have far less training in hypnosis or psychology than your barber or hairdresser. 

On the other side, psychologists and psychotherapists are usually required to study at least seven years post undergraduate and receive thousands of hours of mentorship in counseling therapy.  And ask anyone who has received a doctorate degree – doing a thesis and an oral examination is no walk in the park!

It is our opinion then that you want to make sure the therapist you do hypnosis with has a post undergraduate degree in psychology as well as a depth of experience and training in the field. (This is why we partnered with Joshua Wayne in the Point Of No Return Program and to develop theraputic content for PEERtrainer). The difference in experience is overwhelming and those of you in our programs on the site are experiencing this.

The Costs Involved for a Personal Session

Finding an effective therapist is going to cost between $150 and $400 a session depending on where you live and the quality of therapist you select.  You should expect at least six sessions in order to get long term results.  Make sure the therapist records these sessions as you will need to get some repetition.

For one on one sessions with a qualified therapist, be prepared to spend anywhere between $900 and $2,400 hundred dollars to get the sessions you need.

A Cost Effective Alternative:  Home Use Hypnosis Audio CDs

Because of the recent success of Matt Hoover’s (the season 2 winner of NBC’s, “The Biggest Loser”) success with a home use hypnosis program, there has been a big buzz on the internet about home use programs. We recently interviewed him and he talked about how he used hypnosis as a tool to train as a top collegiate wrestler and now uses hypnosis to maintain his weight loss and in his training for the 2012 Olympics and and upcoming Iron Man.

Home use programs of any quality at all are in the $90-$149 price range.
We have evaluated the some different sources and we observe that the actual program Matt is using is far superior to the competition, and one we have been recommending for several years.

We aren’t in the business of product bashing (as much as we'd like to from time to time), so we will not name names but with exception of the program Matt is using, the top 5 programs are created by people who lack a deep background in psychology.

Two of them put PhDs after their name, but it turns out they are mail order doctorates from some correspondence school in Hawaii.  Like anything out there, you have to really look under the hood. Often you can figure out for yourself the quality stuff.

The Program We Continue To Endorse

The program that Matt Hoover is using is called, “Enjoying Weight Loss”, and it was created by Dr. Roberta Temes. Roberta has written for PEERtrainer and we have known her for several years. From the converations that the team here at PEERtrainer have had with her, it is clear that she "gets it" in terms of long term weight loss. She is a huge fan of what we are doing here, and we note that she is getting tremendous results.

If you google her you will see that she is a well known psychologist who is the editor of the first textbook used in medical schools to teach doctors hypnosis.  More importantly, she is a weight loss psychology expert and is involved in investigating the data created by The National Weight Loss Registry at Brown Medical School. She has also authored several best selling books on Hypnosis. A strong track record of success.

Over 40,000 people have now used her program and according to independent research, her program works for over 9 out of 10 people who go through it.

We found the program to be straight forward, full of great suggestions, and surprisingly fun. More importantly, we see it working with people. Anything we see that helps people and is based in strong fundamentals we tend to write about.

A big plus is that it is eating plan agnostic – so it can help anyone on any plan – even a person who just wants to follow general rules.

How Roberta's Program Works:

The program has seven sessions that are all under 20 minutes, so they can easily fit into your day. Listening to programs like this works, and also can be very relaxing. We personally have used CD programs for different areas (like helping to build a company like PEERtrainer!) and find them to be very effective.

We have a good relationship with the publishers of Dr. Temes and they have agreed to discount the program by $20 to the PEERtrainer community for the immediate future – click here and give it a try. You can also read their pile of great testimonials by a broad range of people. And please let us know if this works for you, we want to hear stories directly from the PEERtrainer community.

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