Hypnosis FAQ

In this section you will find answers to the most commonly asked questions about hypnosis. This list is quite long so please be patient - you will probably find the answer you are looking for.

The popularity and prevalence of stage hypnosis has, for many years, been largely responsible for some extremely distorted views about hypnosis. In the same way that it is unrealistic to believe it's possible to saw a person in half with no ill effect, based on observations of a stage magician, it is questionable whether you should take seriously any notions that it is possible to distort someone'se reality so much, that they their free will has gone. Of course, this is the "magic" of stage hypnosis; the idea that you can control someone so much that you can make a person do something which would normally cause extreme humiliation. It simply is not true.

This distorted view of hypnosis give rise to two basic problems for clients and therapists who use hypnosis for the betterment of the client. Firstly, if it's true that someone could magically control you, then you don't have to make and effort to change something which has been causing you some difficulty. Further, it absolves you of any responsibility for making your own changes. This appeals to the child mind - the part in all of us that we carry from childhood. In short, you can be lazy and irresponsible. Even shorter, you can be childlike and still get what you want. Instinctively, everyone knows deep down this is unrealistic and yet, some play this game in hope someone else can do something for them in this way.

Stage hypnosis causes another problem. For every person who sees hypnosis as a quick and easy path where you don't need to make and effort and someone else can take responsibility for your issue, there will be five more who take fright, and rightly so, at the false idea that someone might be able to "control them", or take their mind over. This of course results in many people being frightened away from a mode of therapy which has so much to offer in very powerful and constructive ways.

So there is it. If you are reading this, you are a short step away from the truth and if you objectives are realistic, a short step away from your goals.

How old is hypnotism?

Since the beginning of recorded history hypnotism has been used across all cultures under a variety of names and guises to effect healing and change. In the 19th century hypnosis emerged as a science, becoming the first western form of mental therapy. Hypnotism was crucial to the work and thought of Sigmund Freud, Ivan Pavlov and numerous other figures in the history of western psychology and medicine.

Is the use of hypnosis approved by my religion?

Most mainstream religions approve of the use of hypnosis by their members for therapy and self-help. A few do not. However, it is useful to know that trance states occur commonly in all religious cermonies and "sermons". Trance states occur all day in everyones' lives anyway.

The difference in therapy is that with a trained therapist present, you will only experience suggestions that are useful to your mind and you will not experience potentially damaging suggestions, such as those sometimes presented by zealous or insensitive clergy.

Is hypnosis supernatural or magical?


Often the results obtained by hypnotherapy are little short of miraculous. While hypnosis often works like magic, it is not. The use of hypnosis in therapy is a science and an art.

Does a hypnotherapist have special powers?


But he or she has had special training on how to hypnotise and methods of therapy. With hypnosis all the power is within the client, always.

I don't believe in hypnosis.

Not all human beliefs are correct. Modern scientific hypnotism is a recognized and respected science. Hypnosis is an indisputable and self evident characteristic of the human mind and it's study is universally recognised throughout the civilised world. Any tendency toward doubt or skepticism is unrealistic and unwarranted. Just because you don't believe in something doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

On the other hand, ther assertion "I don't believe in hypnosis" can be an indication of the belief that "I can't be made to do something I don't want to do", in which case you are completely correct, or possibly the idea; "I am uncomfortable with the idea that someone can control me". Me too! I'm very glad no one can do that to me, either!

If you want to control people, learn how to motivate them, or learn how to scare them. Don't bother with hypnosis.

What is hypnosis?

Hypnosis is a natural state of mind with special identifying characteristics. They are:

  • An extraordinary mental and physical relaxation.
  • Heightened and selective attention.
  • Temporary passivity of the analytical part of the mind.
  • An intense and emotionalised desire on the part of the hypnotised person to satisfy the suggested behaviour.
What does the subconscious mind do?

The subconscious is the largest and most dominant part of the mind-the level you are generally unaware of. It is the seat of our memories, dreams, emotions and habits and it automatically regulates all of the functions of the body.

What did you have for breakfast today? The answer to that question was not in your conscious mind before you read this passage, and now it is. The information came from your subconscious.

What is a suggestion?

A suggestion is simply an idea that reaches the mind and can originate from outside or within the individual. A hypnotic suggestion is a suggestion offered by the hypnotist to the client's subconscious mind for acceptance. Under certain conditions, the suggestion may be accepted. The criteria for acceptance are complex.

What is a post-hypnotic suggestion?

A suggestion given during a hypnotic trance designed to be carried out in the subsequent working state.

Does "suggestibility" mean gullibility?

No. Suggestibility is not gullibility. It is the measure of intensity with which the brain and nervous system accept and respond to incoming ideas. In hypnosis both body and mind are more suggestible.

What is a hypnotic induction?

Induction is the procedure the hypnotist uses to induce hypnosis. It is used to relax the client's body and clear his mind, preparing it for the hypnotic suggestions. It is always pleasant.

Can everybody be hypnotised?

Yes. Any person can be hypnotised. This mental state exists and you definitely can achieve it.As hypnosis is a conscent state, the client must actively desire to enter trance. There are exceptions which make induction difficult;

  • Butterfly Mind
  • Low IQ
I don't think I can be hypnotised.
Most people don't think they can be hypnotised, but once they try, they find it very easy. Any normal person willing to be hypnotised and wanting the results will be a good hypnotic subject. In truth, you have been in self induced hypnosis, thousands of time in your life already.
Can clients who are poor responders the first time become better hypnotic  subjects?
Yes, repeated conditioning improves the ease and quality of their response.
Are women more hypnotisable than men?
No. Men and women are equally hypnotisable.
Can hypnotherapy be used effectively with children?
Yes - definitely. Once children have acquired the ability to use and understand spoken language they can benefit. Children generally make excellent hypnotic subjects. Hypnotherapy can be used safely and effectively with many childhood problems including, bed wetting, sleepwalking, fears, school, and study problems, pain control, tics and nervous habits.
Is hypnosis rare?

No - far from it. Hypnosis is just as natural a state of mind as sleep or wakefulness. Most people go into and out of this natural state of mind several times a day without recognising they are doing so or knowing how to harness and use it.

If you are reading this now and have been reading this web page for a while, you are probably already in light trance.

Is hypnosis approved by the medical community?
Yes, in 1953 the British Medical Association ( BMA ) reported their approval of hypnosis for specific conditions (Psychoneuroses & Hypnoanaesthesia) . Physicians, dentists and psychologists have referred many of their patients to hypnotherapists for "prescription" hypnosis. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is now treated routinely with hypnotherapy in the UK.
Is hypnotherapy a substitute for my doctor's care?
No. While clinical hypnosis is intrinsically safe and often recommended as the approach of choice for many types of problems, it is not meant to substitute for more conventional health care, but to supplement it.
Will I be asleep?

No. You couldn't hear your instructions if you were asleep. You are not asleep during hypnosis-your body and mind are lulled into an extremely relaxed and passive state, allowing the power of your subconscious mind to take charge and to achieve the results which you find difficult during ordinary states of consciousness. The feeling of hypnosis is very similar to the way you feel just prior to sleep. You will hear your hypnotist's voice finding it very easy to do as his voice suggests.

Hypnos is the Greek God of Sleep and the word hypnosis mistakenly derives from this root!

Does hypnosis weaken the will making you a slave to the hypnotist?
Just the opposite. The purpose of the hypnosis is to help the person to have greater, rather than less, control. The idea that one can be made a slave to the hypnotist is another common myth probably coming from films and novels such as "Trilby" and TV shows such as those originally produced by Paul McKenna. Thankfully, McKenna's more recent work infers a much more accurate representation of hypnosis.
Do you lose control when you go into hypnosis?
No. Emphatically, no. In hypnosis you can't be made to say or do anything against your wishes. However, if you have a sincere desire to change, your subconscious motivations can be activated and enhanced to support rather than hinder your goals.
Can a hypnotised person be made to commit anti-social acts?
No. A person in hypnosis is not an automaton and will not violate any religious, ethical, moral, or even political values.
Can hypnosis be used as a "truth serum"?

People do not say things in hypnosis they do not want to say. A part of the hypnotised person's mind is always in contact with reality. When confronted with an embarrassing or incriminating question the subject will either refrain from answering or awaken in defence.

Simply, do hypnotised people always tell the truth? No.

Can people be hypnotised against their wills?
No. The hypnotist must have the cooperation of the client.
Is being able to be hypnotised a sign of a weak mind?
No. Most people who don't go into hypnosis are those who have the mistaken notion that hypnosis will hurt them. Weak-mindedness or strong-mindedness has nothing to do with the ability to experience hypnosis. A weak-minded person who resists suggestions is a poor responder. A strong-minded person who cooperates is a good responder.
Are persons in a trance physically defenseless and dependent upon the hypnotist?
In hypnosis there is no impairment of mental discrimination or the ability to detect threatening stimuli. The instinct of self-preservation does not leave the hypnotised person. If a fire broke out or some other threat developed while the person was in the hypnotic state, his reactions would be similar to those prior to the trance and he would do his utmost to save himself.
Can a person get "stuck" in hypnosis?
No. It is impossible to get stuck in hypnosis. It never happened and it never will. A person can come out of hypnosis anytime they desire to. Have you ever seen a credible news story or article where someone got "stuck" in hypnosis?
What if my hypnotist suddenly becomes seriously ill or dies while I am in hypnosis?
Should this happen, you would not remain in hypnosis. You would come out and take prompt action just as you normally would.
For how long a time can a person be kept in hypnosis in perfect safety?
A person can be kept in hypnosis in perfect safety from a few minutes to as long a time as it takes to complete the session in progress.
Can a person become addicted to hypnosis?
Not at all. A person can resist hypnosis any time they desire, no matter how many times they have been hypnotised. Hypnosis is not habit forming as some drugs are, nor are there any negative side effects. Hypnosis is good for your mind and your body.
Will I be groggy or drowsy after being hypnotised?
No. Because hypnosis provides you with a period of rest and relaxation, you will leave the hypnotist's office rested, refreshed, and fully alert and aware, and ready to do whatever comes next.
What must I do to be hypnotised and respond successfully?
To be hypnotised there are only three things you need to do. Concentrate your mind. Relax your body and imagine what the hypnotist suggests to you is absolutely true. Hypnosis is primarily a learning experience; a learning how to let go and let the suggestions take hold without any conscious effort to help or to hinder them.
What if my mind occasionally wanders during hypnosis? Will this effect the results?
No. Even if your mind wanders occasionally during hypnosis, it is only your conscious mind that is wandering. You will continue to subconsciously hear, understand and accept the suggestions of the hypnotist.
Do I have to be deep to be helped?
No. Usually a light to medium stage is more than sufficient for many purposes, but deeper trance is usually used for analytical or regressive work. The vast majority of all people can achieve levels of hypnosis needed to benefit from its use.
How do I know if I'm hypnotised?
The hypnotherapist knows because he has been trained to recognize the signs a person gives off when hypnotised. Initially, be content to simply feel pleasantly relaxed. You may not be consciously aware of the changes that take place when you go into hypnosis at first. Please do not bother yourself with whether or not you are hypnotised. If you follow your hypnotherapist's simple instructions you'll achieve the desired results. That is really the only important thing.
Will I remember the hypnotic session?
Yes. Some of the time you may remember, the remaining time you may experience amnesia either spontaneously or in response to a suggestion to do so. Amnesia is a natural phenomenon of hypnosis and it is a sign of a deep hypnotic state. Be thankful if you experience it. No matter how little or how much you consciously forget, your results will be equally beneficial.
I want to overcome a bad habit but I don't have any willpower. Will it work?
Hypnosis works even if you think you don't have any willpower. If you were able to use willpower you wouldn't need the hypnosis. Most people consciously accept the need for change. However, their subconscious mind, the source of automatic habits, continues the old ways despite their best conscious efforts to change. Hypnosis is a way to reach the subconscious so it can be directed to work for, instead of against, your conscious objectives. As a result, the need for conscious willpower is greatly reduced or eliminated entirely. You change naturally and easily without struggling with willpower.
What if I remember something I don't want to remember?
Some clients fear that hypnoses may allow some painful memories or unacceptable feelings to emerge. There is no need to be afraid of your own mind. If the material is too difficult for you to deal with on a conscious level, your own protective subconscious mind will keep part, or all, of the memory in repression. You will only remember what is helpful for you to remember.
What is clinical hypnosis?
Clinical hypnosis is hypnosis that is done for the purpose of resolving problems or for the purpose of helping a person achieve goals.
What does the hypnotherapist do?
The hypnotherapist first consults with the client to determine the nature of the problem or goal. Next, he prepares the client to enter hypnosis, then tests the client to determine the pattern and degree of the client's suggestibility. The therapist induces the hypnotic state in the client, then utilizes it to alter behaviour patterns or bodily sensations or to increase motivation depending upon the purpose of the therapy. The hypnotherapist may also train the client in self-hypnosis.
What are the general approaches used by the hypnotherapist?
Depending on your situation the general approaches are: (a) A direct and immediate attack on the problem as it exists in the here and now. (b) Deriving an understanding of the reasons the problem exists and then utilizing this knowledge in the work of changing the problematic behaviour patterns. (c) A combination of (a) and (b). The objective in all cases being the permanent alleviation of the problem. The approach is decided upon after all pertinent information is gathered and is adapted to the needs of the individual client.
I've heard that one or two sessions will be all that is necessary. Is this true?
The number of sessions needed depends on several factors and only a profile of your problem or goal can better determine this. For instance, what do you want to do with hypnosis? How long have you had the problem? How intense is the problem? Different people improve at different speeds. While hypnosis is not always a "one shot magic wand", it is actually the fastest and surest way known to make lasting positive changes.
Can hypnosis be used in groups rather than private sessions?
Yes. However, in private sessions we are dealing with your individual problem and not that of many people. It is usually most effective one-to-one, although comprehensive multiple session small groups like ours are generally the most effective type of group hypnosis.
I see many groups going around and they are in town for one night at a time. How effective are they?

They are generally not very effective at all because there isn't any stability or reinforcement and again they are not geared to your individual situation.

This is also the problem with buying a tape or tape set that is supposed to be a cure-all. If you have reliastic expectations you won't be disappointed but probably the most disappointing thing is to see it work for someone else and you're left wondering WHY it didn't work for you. No it isn't your fault either.

What is self-hypnosis?
Self-hypnosis is hypnosis self-induced. The person may also make     suggestions to himself. This is called auto-suggestion.
Can I use self-hypnosis instead of hypnosis?
Some changes you can make without a hypnotist. Other changes require a hypnotist. You can easily move a chair alone. To move a large table you need someone else on the other end to help you.
Does it really work?
Yes! Absolutely, positively yes! Scientific research has solidly documented the effectiveness of clinical hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy works directly on the source of the difficulty to permanently resolve it. This is why hypnosis is highly effective with many problems that have stubbornly resisted all other helping approaches.
Why does hypnosis work?
Hypnotherapists are clinicians interested in getting results. While many theories exist, the clinical hypnotherapist has no need to know why hypnotism works, only how to use it for maximum effectiveness.
Do the changes brought about through hypnotherapy last?
Yes, because hypnotherapy involves retraining and reeducation. When new positive habits of thought and behaviour are firmly established they tend to be self continuing and self reinforcing just as the unwanted patterns were.
Why use hypnosis for habit control?
Once the conscious mind has mastered new learning, the subconscious comes into play allowing us to perform the task without conscious effort; freeing our conscious mind to attend to, and learn, other things. Habits are, for the most part, useful to us. In doing many things automatically, we save a great deal of time and effort. Occasionally we find ourselves with a habit pattern that we would like to modify of eliminate. We may try to change on a conscious level. However, our subconscious mind, the source that governs our automatic habit patterns, causes the habit to persist despite our best conscious efforts to change. Hypnosis is a way to reach the subconscious so it can be directed to work for, instead of against, your conscious objectives. Hypnosis works directly on the source of the problem with little or no need for using conscious willpower.