The Official Division 30 Definition and Description of Hypnosis

In 2014, the Division 30 Executive Committee prepared the following official definitions related to hypnosis:

Hypnosis: A state of consciousness involving focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness characterized by an enhanced capacity for response to suggestion.

Hypnotic induction: A procedure designed to induce hypnosis.

Hypnotizability: An individual’s ability to experience suggested alterations in physiology, sensations, emotions, thoughts, or behavior during hypnosis.

Hypnotherapy: The use of hypnosis in the treatment of a medical or psychological disorder or concern.


While there are substantial variations in theoretical understanding of these phenomena, the above definitions were created with an interest in simplifying communication regarding hypnotic phenomena and procedures within and between fields of research and practice, and so are intentionally largely atheoretical. This page will be updated to include additional discussion of the theoretical perspectives which allow greater insight into the nature and functioning of hypnosis.