How is Hypnosis different to NLP?

Written by Terry Elston

Featured image of Hypnosis Watches | NLP World

I get often get asked this question when I’m running my NLP and Hypnosis trainings around the world. The simple and most ‘chunked up’ answer is that they are the same, but have differences. In fact, some of the NLP you see and hear has come from modelling hypnosis techniques and then having the desire to find out how to get similar results with clients, yet with eyes open.

Where as in Hypnosis, you will be using mainly quite abstract language, guiding the client to their own ‘learnings’ and ‘integrations’.


In NLP you will be (mostly unless using the Milton Model or Quantum Linguistics), using very specific language that gives you access to the ‘control panel’ that encodes the clients reality of what they like, dislike and believe. In that way, with NLP, you can have a client reproduce the experience of a phobia in a way that allows the Practitioner to know exactly how the phobia is put together piece by piece (the exact strategy).

In hypnosis, I will be relaxing my client with words like “you may find your mind floating away like clouds on a windy day” or, even more abstractly “perhaps your unconscious mind can find the learnings, which will allow this issue to re-evaluate itself”. Either way, the client has to use the facility of the unconscious mind and the art of that, to make sense of the suggestions.

So what is the same?

In NLP, we use the Milton Model and also The Conscious use of Language to design whole worlds for clients to experience differences to the reality that isn’t working for them. We call that inductive language.

With inductive language, we can say things like “….perhaps you can already know how to make changes, haven’t you?” And the client will make sense of that language pattern, with eyes open and wide awake.

Or we can introduce ourselves to a group with an informed ‘mind read’, like “You may be wondering what you are doing here today, and that’s a good thing….” Or a cause and effect pattern, “….because you are here, means this will be one of the most informative and moving days training of your whole life…”

So that’s where hypnosis and NLP meet and also where they can be separate. Either way, I use both in every session with clients, whether on a corporate training or in a therapy session.