Story: Alternative health therapies

Page 4. Psychological therapies

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Hypnotherapy is the best-known psychological alternative health therapy. It is the therapeutic use of hypnosis, which is the induction of a very relaxed mental state. A person under hypnosis is not asleep or unconscious, but is more receptive to suggestion than in normal consciousness. Hypnotherapy is predominantly used to treat health conditions which involve behaviour and thought, including depression, insomnia, addiction and phobias.

Hypnosis has been used for therapeutic purposes in New Zealand since the 19th century. Some medical doctors used hypnosis, but many practitioners were not medical professionals. This remained the case in the 21st century.


In 1986 the New Zealand Police drew up a policy and guidelines for police use of hypnosis. Only registered medical doctors or psychologists could hypnotise, and only witnesses could be hypnotised – not suspects. However, by the early 2000s the police deemed it a risky technique.

Hypnotherapy is unregulated. In the 2010s there were several professional organisations representing different strands of hypnotherapy which maintained codes of ethics and practice. The New Zealand Hypnotherapy Federation was the umbrella organisation. The New Zealand Hypnotherapists Registration Board was a self-regulatory agency which maintained a list of registered practitioners.

Other forms

Other forms of alternative psychological therapy include Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), which is based on the connections between language, negative thoughts, health and well-being. People are taught how to think positively and proponents claim that this promotes healing and good health. NLP also studies successful people and identifies how their strategies can be used by others.

Journey therapists help clients to resolve problems by exploring and resolving underlying emotional causes of anxiety or problematic behaviours. This is often seen as going on a mental journey.. Users say this has a positive impact on mental and physical health.

Rebirthing takes a client back to their birth mentally and emotionally, with the aim of resolving issues and problems.

  1. ‘Investigative interviewing – the literature.’ New Zealand Police, (last accessed 30 April 2010). Back
How to cite this page:

Kerryn Pollock, 'Alternative health therapies - Psychological therapies', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 14 June 2024)

Story by Kerryn Pollock, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 6 Apr 2018