The 93% hypnotherapy success rate claim

The claim is that the hypnotherapy success rate is 93%, and with less sessions (namely 6) than compared with other behavioural therapies and psychotherapy, (Barrios, 1969).

Does this sound too good to be true?

In a word, yes.

Quoted often by many (a cursory Google search will spew out this figure with monotonous regularity) – 93% as a hypnotherapy success rate seems like a very high figure – so it would only be proper and a real professional need to examine this claim in more detail.

How did Barrios actually ‘conduct’ his research?

Remarkably, he didn’t. It was written from mainly documentary evidence pulled together and written from the 50s, summarised as long ago as 55 years ago in 1969, where he drew upon other main research from just 3 sources long before,

Namely (Richardson, 1963) regarding frigidity, (Munn, 1966) regarding asthma, insomnia alcoholism, anxiety, states and impotence, and (Hussain 1964) regarding alcoholism, sexual promiscuity, impotence, validity, sociopathic personality, disorder, hysterical reactions, and so on.

As you can see, all these research papers are very old and Barrios idoes not really give any details of this methodology in merely academically pulling together these 3 main (and other) research papers.

Barrios then, oddly proceeds to refer to work done by (Walt 1958), and rightly, raises a question-mark over the efficacy of psychoanalysis (e.g. Freudian) at time when it was just beginning to be questioned as not been particularly effective and behavioural therapy, which has come along way, of course since then. He goes onto conclude:

Averaging the above figures, we find that for psychoanalysis we can expect a recovery rate of 38% after approximately 600 sessions. For Wolpian therapy, we can expect a recovery rate of 72% after an average of 22 sessions, and for hypnotherapy we can expect a recovery rate of 93% after an average of 6 sessions.”

There isn’t any evidence or rationale for how Barrios calculated these statistics (and I also suspect that his percentage conclusions are drawn from the comparative nature of the effectiveness to each of the interventions).

Psycho-neurotic? What is that, exactly?

In referring to Walpe’s comparison of psycho-analysis, the client group was broadly based on psychoneurotic conditions, which is a term simply would not be meaningfully used now today, and would these days cover things such as it refers to a mental disorder and involves symptoms such as anxiety, distress, including repetitive behaviour, anger, not feeling control of your emotions. In other words, an extremely wide range of symptoms anybody would be forgiven for thinking that they are psycho-neurotic (!) (Thanks, Dr. Google, take a bow!) . This is a phrase that I believe is extremely unhelpful and the ultimate conclusion is that hypnotherapy is apparently 93% effective in these conditions – without Barrios going on define what ‘effectiveness’ actually means.

To summarise, Barrios’ 93% hypnotherapy success rate can be taken with a huge pinch of salt and should not be relied upon, by anyone, in the practise of modern hypnotherapy.

Yet, it is often quoted by those who need to promote hypnosis, of course. So where does this leave us with trying to establish what is an accurate indication of just how effective hypnotherapy can be?

So, is there anything we do we know what the real evidence base for indicating the true hypnotherapy success rate? Yes, there is, and it’s based on, to name but a few criteria.

  • Most crucially, the condition or symptoms examined
  • Their definitions
  • Defining ‘improvement’ and/or success
  • The date of publication
  • The soundness of the methodologies used
  • Who conducted it
  • Whether it’s been peer reviewed

So, what is the true hypnotherapy success rate?

Thankfully, there is amore reliable more modern evidence out there for specific conditions and better conducted studies to find out the efficacy rate of therapy.

The table below goes to show an example of how we can get a more accurate picture of hypnotherapy success rates – based on more recent and reliable research, and i have added comments and other annotations to help you make more of an accurate informed decision. Even here though, there are 2 main caveats:

  • Research evidence is still evolving and should be read with a ‘critical eye’, some of which I hope I’ve given you a heads up on there, and
  • if you do your research, you’re more likely to be more informed that most of the hypnotherapists you approach

I hope this article serves to provide information for you to dispel the 93% myth that is often banded around the web, and unfortunately, by some professionals who at worst intentionally quote it, or, are mistaken about it’s origin and authenticity – who really should know better.

I hope as well, that the additional information on current lines of research on the efficacy of hypnotherapy my serve to help you make more of an informed decision (less) about if it’s going to work at all, but rather more crucially, your decision on who is going to do it, since I’ve a very strong professional hunch that who your hypnotherapist is has more bearing on the hypnotherapy success for you than any quoted statistic.

Research is ongoing

This blog post will be regularly updated and, if there’s any condition in particular you’d like me to inform you on based on the current level of the reliable research, just drop me a line.

Condition/SymptomsResearch type/year/referencesCommentsReliability & validity – overall online hypnotherapy rating (from 5)
Irritable bowel syndrome(Lee, Choi et. al, 2014); Systematic review and meta-analysis to estimate the efficacy of hypnotherapy for the treatment of IBS findings well considered and cautionary nature of participants and therapists affecting findings. Definite short term benefits
Stress LevelsAlizamar, Alizamar MPd, Kons; Ifdil, Ifdil MPd, Kons; Fadli, Rima P. SPd; Erwinda, Lira SPd; Zola, Nilma SPd†; Churnia, Elfi CH, CHt†; Bariyyah, Khairul MPd‡; Refnadi, Refnadi SPd†; Rangka, Itsar B. MPd, Kons§. The Effectiveness of Hypnotherapy in Reducing Stress Levels. Addictive Disorders & Their Treatment 17(4):p 191-195, December 2018. | DOI: 10.1097/ADT.0000000000000140
Good scientific methodologies used including Wilcoxon, SSR/DASS line phasing. Wide range of stress symptoms examined and measured; concluded hypnotherapy is very effective in reducing both mental and physical stress levels5
Insomnia(Lam, et. al, 2015)
They (rightly) summarise the previous research to be flawed in terms of e.g. randomisation (JADAD) and bias (Cochraine); they conclude the good effectiveness of hypnotherapy, as reported presently, should be taken with a lot of caution5
(NB not in the way you may think, this is a very good reliable paper that cast severe doubt on other research)
Smoking Cessation (compared with other interventions)(Luciano, 2016) review of 3 random trials post 2013. Dickson-Spillman and co-authors showed there was no significant difference in reported abstinence rates at the 2-week follow up (p=0.13) and the 6-month follow up (p= 0.73). In addition to the 2 week follow up, there was no significant difference between the mean number of cigarettes smoked in the past 7 days when comparing hypnotherapy to relaxation therapy (p = 0.69). 

In other words according to the research, nicotine replacement therapy and relaxation e.g. mindfulness-based, as effective as any other. HT only more effective according to one trial with already-hospitalised patients.


(5) How effective is Hypnosis? | LinkedIn. (n.d.). Retrieved 28 March 2024, from–ywuec/
Akers, L. (2023, April 22). What Is The Success Rate of Hypnosis? Release Hypnosis.
Barrios, A. A. (1970). Hypnotherapy: A reappraisal. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research & Practice, 7(1), 2–7.
Clinic, H. (n.d.). Dr. Alfred Barrios – Hypnotherapy: A Reappraisal. Clinical Hypnotherapy – Hypnosis Therapy Care Clinic. Retrieved 28 March 2024, from
Fuhr, K., Schweizer, C., Meisner, C., & Batra, A. (2017). Efficacy of hypnotherapy compared to cognitive-behavioural therapy for mild-to-moderate depression: Study protocol of a randomised-controlled rater-blind trial (WIKI-D). BMJ Open, 7(11), e016978.
Hasan, F. M., Zagarins, S. E., Pischke, K. M., Saiyed, S., Bettencourt, A. M., Beal, L., Macys, D., Aurora, S., & McCleary, N. (2014). Hypnotherapy is more effective than nicotine replacement therapy for smoking cessation: Results of a randomized controlled trial. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 22(1), 1–8.
How Many Hypnotherapy Sessions Do I Need? | MyHA. (n.d.). Retrieved 28 March 2024, from
Lam, T.-H., Chung, K.-F., Yeung, W.-F., Yu, B. Y.-M., Yung, K.-P., & Ng, T. H.-Y. (2015). Hypnotherapy for insomnia: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 23(5), 719–732.
Lee, H. H., Choi, Y. Y., & Choi, M.-G. (2014). The Efficacy of Hypnotherapy in the Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, 20(2), 152–162.
Luciano, D. (2016). Is Hypnotherapy an Effective Treatment in Smoking Cessation In Comparison to Alternative Methods? PCOM Physician Assistant Studies Student Scholarship.
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About Oliver Grantham

Founder and Practice Manager of the online virtual clinic. With a background in professional teaching and training management and advanced hypnotherapy and life coaching, I lead the team members of clinical practitioners and associate members that contribute to the resources and live therapy, counselling and life coaching services that that are provided in this virtual private clinic. Quals: LL.B (Hons), (Solicitors), PGCE, D.Hyp (NCH)