Writing great hypnotherapy essays - The Hypnotherapy Site

Writing great hypnotherapy essays


Please note that if you copy a significant amount of work from books or the Net without giving credit to the writer it is a serious matter.

You would be taking the person's work without giving them the recognition they are entitled to (a book may be the culmination of decades of their life's work), and you are liable to give a false impression of your knowledge and commitment.

In the end if you do this you are setting yourself up for failure.

You produce written work not for the benefit of a Marker or training organisation, but for yourself. Please concentrate not on passing, but on learning so well that you can easily pass AND help others and yourself as a good, knowledgeable Therapist .



The Plan

You need to make a simple plan before going through this page.Usually you need to just think of the key points you wish to make, and then allot a paragraph or two to each one. When you have done this...


Show that you know

The main task when writing an essay is to, “Show that you know.”

Essay-writing can be made a lot easier if you enjoy it. Yes. Enjoy it! It can feel good when you achieve something of which you can be proud, and by learning some of the techniques for good essay writing you can get improved marks and greater enjoyment. So here goes…

It can help if you first sort out the main topics that you intend to cover… An essay such as, “My first understanding of hypnosis” might include:


Your early impressions
How your ideas are now about the subject
The history of hypnosis
The nature of hypnosis
Hypnosis - its uses and applications
The role of the Hypnotherapist
How you might benefit from hypnosis

This list is not necessarily comprehensive, but an essay containing many of these things would get good marks for content. 



An essay that you could have written without your being on the Course will not get good marks.

So please don't write 2000 words solely about your trip five years ago to see a Hypnotherapist and how you had trouble parking, but the Therapist's chair was nice, and he had a lovely green carpet in his office! Such an essay won't tell the Marker whether you are accumulating the knowledge and understanding to become a good Therapist.


Get it down!

Once you have a structure an important thing is to decide that the quality of what you write at this draft stage is unimportant (you can deal with that later).

So, just start typing! That's it - don't even bother with grammar or spelling mistakes (unless they are so severe you can't understand the essay when reading it later). The main thing is:

JUST GET IT DOWN. Type and then keep typing - you'll be surprised how easy it is when all you do is to type what you want to say - no worries about spelling or layout.

JUST GET IT DOWN. This is what most professional writers do - and they should know!



An effective way to write a paragraph is to write the main point in the first sentence or two and then elaborate on it. You can use linking words for some subsequent sentences. As you can see, this is what I am doing in this paragraph – the first couple of sentences tell you the main point, the others develop the idea. Linking words make things so much clearer. However, you should not use them without some thought. In the last sentence I used the linking word “however” - this told you I was about to say something that went in some way against or qualified what I’d previously said. Furthermore, you can use words like “furthermore” which tell the reader you are going to add another idea or point to the earlier one. Again, this makes it easier to read. The word “again” is another good linking word! (Re-read if you’re confused!).

Remember: ATFQ - Answer The Question.

Each paragraph should be checked to ensure that it does answer the question. If you have an essay title about stress, the essay should be about stress.


Critical Skills

Show good critical skills. This means taking what you have learned and analysing it: “Does this idea have any evidence to support it elsewhere?” “Is this idea challenged in another book?” “Does it sound logical?” “If this idea is true then why…?”



Good style is important. Some of the above ideas will help, but also read it aloud to yourself or someone else; you might get someone to read it for you. Other students are ideal for giving you feedback.


Show that you know!

The main task of an essay is to show that you know. If you copy the headlines from, say, the Code of Ethics it does little for your marks. Much better is to be able to talk about some issues of ethics (in your own words) and thereby show you really do know.


You need to determine an order for the topics – you might, in the above example, start the body of the essay with the history of hypnosis, then your early impressions of hypnosis, and then move on to your more recent understanding.

Although when you submit your essay you obviously need to have your Introduction first and your Conclusion last, you can write the components (Introduction, Body, and Conclusion) in any order. I recommend you write the Body of the essay (i.e. everything except the Introduction and the Conclusion) first - this is because the Introduction and the Conclusion merely refer to what is in the Body of the essay. Then write the Introduction, and finally, write your Conclusion.

So let's look at them in this strange order:

The Body of the essay

Imagine that only this part of the essay is going to be marked. Which relevant topics would you include? The smart answer is all of them! Why would you leave any relevant topics out? You would only lose marks. Of course the whole of the essay will be marked, but you should still put all the topics in the essay body.

In a sense this IS the essay - the Intro is just saying what you are going to do in this part, and the Conclusion is just summarising what you've said in this part.

Don't forget, though, ATFQ - Answer The Question! Before you write make sure that you have a plan and check this against the essay title: are you answering the question?


The Introduction

'Say what you are going to say.' A simple way to understand an Introduction is to imagine that someone has noticed that you are writing an essay and they have asked what will be in it. You therefore list the topics you will cover. E.g.

"This essay will look at the nature of hypnosis, its history, and its role in society. It will also examine the need for an ethical code for practitioners, and support the idea that hypnotherapy is a treatment with an important role in the mental health and well-being of the public. Blah, blah, blah...."

In addition, define terms. Assume that your reader is reasonably intelligent (a big assumption!), but that he/she has no special knowledge of the subject. Therefore you might want to try to define, for example, the word “hypnosis” (good luck!).



That is it. You don't need to do any more. Done. Finished. The end. Finito. However, you may wish to start your essay with a couple of sentences of broad introduction:

"Hypnosis is believed to have been used for thousands of years in differing cultures around the world. However, only recently in this country has it started to gain wide acceptance from both the public and the medical profession."

Just a couple of sentences like this will do to give the reader a “feel” for the subject. But this is optional.

All you need to do in an Intro is “Say what you are going to say/do”, and define terms that may be unclear to the reader. If you are still unsure do talk to other students.

The Conclusion

The Body of the essay should carry all the facts and criticism, while the Conclusion should summarise your work. The Conclusion should therefore have no new topic in it.

The best way to write the Conclusion is to go through the body of the essay and pick out a few of the most important issues.

Here's an example of part of a good Conclusion:

"We can conclude that a practitioner needs to act ethically and with great awareness of his/her client's needs at all times. One reason for this is that hypnosis seems to be a powerful tool and so must be handled with great care. Further, hypnosis has, as the history of hypnosis suggests, a problem of image; so a practitioner needs to be acutely aware of the client's possible need for reassurance. Finally, an effective practitioner will act empathetically towards the client."

In addition to summarising the Body of the essay, your essay will get an improved mark if you can put forward some suggestion, recommendation or idea that stems from what you have written. E.g.

"If hypnotherapy was more widely accepted and used by those in the Health Service the benefits in terms of reduced costs and improved patient care could be considerable."

OK, so a Conclusion is primarily a summary of what you have written in the body of the essay, and it draws conclusions from the essay.


An essay shoudn't be just a bunch of opinions. You need instead to show that you have explored the topic using the Module and the set books (and any others that may help).

So if you think that, say, more people die from weight problems than from smoking, then that's fine - you are entitled to your opinion.

But if you want to get good marks you would need to find the evidence to support this (and since the opposite seems to be true, you opinion will count for very little).

So whatever you are writing on, the most important thing is that you are relying mainly on what you learn rather than simply spewing out opinions. And when you write anything that isn't your own idea, you need to give references.

So if you have just found an interesting point in one of the books you have studied, then you need to be able to say something like:

"Although Hartland (1971) refers on page 135 to the use of hypnosis as a '…medical process' there is certainly little evidence to support..."


"The use of hypnosis in pain relief has a vast amount of research to validate it (Hartland 1971, p. 37)."


At the end of your essay you need to give a list of these references. Marks may be “added” early in the year for good references. After that it is taken for granted that you will do good ones, and so marks are lost if you don’t.

Any method that allows the reader to know what you are basing your arguments on is acceptable. However, I would suggest you use the Harvard system shown in www.chrysaliscourses.co.uk

Hartland, J (1971) Medical and Dental Hypnosis and its Clinical Applications, 2nd Ed, London: Bailliere Tindall.

In this J. Hartland is the author; 1971 is the date published; Medical etc is the name of the book; and London: Bailliere Tindall is the name of the publisher and place of publication.

You can find all of this by looking at the first couple of pages of the book.

This enables the reader to go from the lines you have written to find details of the book or research paper from which you have drawn. The important thing is that, without having to read a whole book to do so, the marker should be able to find the actual words.

If this isn't clear, then do go to the essay examples where you can see references being used.

A little bit better

Ideally leave the essay in a drawer for a few days so you return to it with "fresh eyes". Either way, read through the essay and imagine that you are going to mark it - what are you looking for?

Clarity is vital - if spelling eorrrs ar os baddd thet you cant reeed thwords and mak sense of it then neither can the Marker!


It's really important that what you write can be understood and that you convey your meaning well...
These are letters to Bassetlaw Council from tenants:


From 'Letters to the council'

"I want some repairs done to my cooker as it has backfired and burnt my knob off."

"I wish to complain that my father hurt his ankle very badly when he put his foot in the hole in his back passage."

"Their 18 year old son is continuously banging his balls against my fence."

"The lavatory seat is cracked, where do I stand?"

"Will you please send someone to mend the garden path. My wife tripped and fell on it yesterday and now she is pregnant."

"I request your permission to remove my drawers in the kitchen."

"Can you please tell me when the repairs will be done as my wife is about to become an expectant mother."


Clarity is important!

Some people write essays and ask friends to read them and they like doing this. Hmmm, that last sentence is not clear, is it? Who likes doing it? The writers or their friends?

If the Marker doesn't understand what you mean he/she can't give you credit. So spend time re-writing, polishing, and generally making the essay something of which you can be proud.


What else?

What else would a Marker look for? The easy way to find out is to go through the Marking and Grading Guide, and to use this and the other pages on this site that relate to essays - including Great Essay Planning.

If you write your essay on a computer take advantage of this by knowing how to use the basic editing tools - e.g. how to drag material, to cut and paste, etc. This will make it a lot easier.

When you have read your essay and feel really happy with it, get someone else to read it - ask them for feedback. A great question is: "How could I improve this?"


To get the best possible marks use the following while you are writing and also after you have finished - just to make sure you`ve covered everything.



Have I shown that I know? .....

Am I breaching copyright by copying big chunks of others` work? .....

Is this essay showing that I am learning from the Course? ... (or have I written something that doesn't show I'm learning from the Course?)

Am I writing a lot on things other than the Course whilst side-lining what I am supposed to be learning?... (I.e. there is no problem with your talking about, say, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, but an essay that's solely about this - which is not part of the Course - isn't showing that you are learning from the Course.)



Does this start with a couple of sentences that set the scene? (Remember, this is optional.) …..

Does this define any terms a non-specialist might be unsure of? …..

Does this say what I`m going to do/say in the essay? …..



Does the essay use techniques as talked about above? ……

Is my essay showing that I have learned from the Course (opinion is fine, but you are on the Course to learn)

Have I used references so that points I make can be looked up by the reader? …..



Does this summarise the key points? …..

Does this make a point that pulls the essay together well (e.g. advocating that the NHS uses Hypnotherapy more frequently)? …..



Have I put them at the end of my essay? …..

Do they follow the Harvard system? …..

Have I referenced in the body of the essay any point I make that's not my own view? (Don't worry about quoting the Module)....



Have I covered this/these in my essay? …..



(Re-read the essay title and the special instructions to help you decide whether you have succeeded) ……










The following articles may be of interest to you:




Alan Davidson: hypnoad@yahoo.com

UK:  01202 423111   (Outside UK: 44 1202 423111)