美國心理學會(American Psychological Association)亦特別設有催眠分部（Society of Psychological Hypnosis, Division 30 – American Psychological Association）然而，因著某些電影及電視劇的渲染，舞台催眠的表演印象，再加上社會上充斥著不少偏頗不足的催眠治療課程，使很多人對催眠治療有著不少誤解。
American Psychological Association (APA) Division 30 美國心理學協會的催眠定義
The Official Division 30 Definition and Description of Hypnosis
Citation reference: Green, J.P., Barabasz, A.F., Barrett, D., & Montgomery, G.H. (2005). Forging ahead: The 2003 APA Division 30 definition of hypnosis.International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 53, 259-264.
Hypnosis typically involves an introduction to the procedure during which the subject is told that suggestions for imaginative experiences will be presented. The hypnotic induction is an extended initial suggestion for using one’s imagination, and may contain further elaborations of the introduction. A hypnotic procedure is used to encourage and evaluate responses to suggestions. When using hypnosis, one person (the subject) is guided by another (the hypnotist) to respond to suggestions for changes in subjective experience, alterations in perception, sensation, emotion, thought or behavior. Persons can also learn self-hypnosis, which is the act of administering hypnotic procedures on one’s own. If the subject responds to hypnotic suggestions, it is generally inferred that hypnosis has been induced. Many believe that hypnotic responses and experiences are characteristic of a hypnotic state. While some think that it is not necessary to use the word “hypnosis” as part of the hypnotic induction, others view it as essential.
Details of hypnotic procedures and suggestions will differ depending on the goals of the practitioner and the purposes of the clinical or research endeavor. Procedures traditionally involve suggestions to relax, though relaxation is not necessary for hypnosis and a wide variety of suggestions can be used including those to become more alert. Suggestions that permit the extent of hypnosis to be assessed by comparing responses to standardized scales can be used in both clinical and research settings. While the majority of individuals are responsive to at least some suggestions, scores on standardized scales range from high to negligible. Traditionally, scores are grouped into low, medium, and high categories. As is the case with other positively-scaled measures of psychological constructs such as attention and awareness, the salience of evidence for having achieved hypnosis increases with the individual’s score.
(This definition and description of hypnosis was prepared by the Executive Committee of the American Psychological Association, Division of Psychological Hypnosis. Permission to reproduce this document is freely granted.)