You are sure to have questions if you’re considering hypnosis to help you quit smoking, lose weight, manage pain or improve your game. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation online about what hypnosis is, how it works, and what it can and cannot do. If you’re interested in hypnotherapy, you need to know the facts about hypnosis so that you can make an informed decision. Let me help you understand what hypnosis is—and is not!
Q. What is hypnosis?
Hypnosis has been described as a powerful state of focused awareness and as a state of altered awareness or consciousness, like meditation. During hypnosis our subconscious mind is more open and receptive to suggestions that are given. We drift in and out of different levels of awareness many times a day, absorbing information on a subliminal level as well as a conscious one. Hypnosis is a natural experience, when we become absorbed in something like driving, daydreaming, reading, rhythmic exercising or watching a “screen” of any kind. In fact, each of us enters such a state – sometimes called a trance state – at least twice a day: once when we are falling asleep, and once when we are waking up. That kind of fuzzy, timeless state between dreaming and awake is a trance state. When a nine-minute snooze-button seems to give you enough time to have an-hour long dream, that’s a trance state. There are many other times that people enter a natural state of trance. Driving, watching TV, listening to music, working on a favorite hobby or activity in the “flow” state. These are all “altered states of consciousness,” and all are various levels of trance. Trance is normal, natural and common.
Think of the two parts of our mind like an iceberg. The 10% of the iceberg above the surface represents the conscious mind, which guides us when we are awake. The 90% below the surface represents the subconscious mind, where one’s entire life is recorded.
The subconscious mind is the control center for the mind/body connection and regularly sends messages (habits) to the conscious mind, telling it what to do.
As you enter into hypnosis, you bypass the conscious mind and access information in the subconscious mind.
Hypnosis allows you to access all the healing resources inherent within the subconscious mind, promoting natural healing from within. Hypnosis is used to help people discover the subconscious reasons for their symptoms, behaviors, or habits. When they are discovered, certain tools and techniques are used to help release them and relearn a new positive way of thinking, subconsciously. The use of hypnosis gives you the opportunity to make changes that last.
In life we are either highly alert, asleep, or somewhere in the middle; there is nowhere else for the brain to go. While it is true that in the process of clinical hypnosis we will alter the level of high alertness to a more relaxed pace, this is not a “6th dimension” or some magical place or out of body experience or any such strange thing. It is simply relaxation, something you can experience at any time.
Hypnosis has been sanctioned and used by the medical community since 1958 to help patients overcome chronic pain, create anesthesia, and heal psychogenic illnesses.
Some people leave their first hypnotherapy session saying, “I wasn’t hypnotized – I knew what was going on the whole time!” Well of course you did! Hypnosis is not a state of amnesia or of no awareness. Just the opposite true, in fact: hypnosis is a state of very heightened awareness and focus.
Hollywood has perpetrated many myths about hypnosis, and not remembering anything from the hypnosis session is one of those myths. Only under special circumstances would a person forget everything from a session.
Much more can be accomplished when the person undergoing hypnosis remembers everything.
Q. How does it feel to be hypnotized?
Every person is unique and different. Some people say that their body feels like a lead weight, others say they feel as though they’re floating away. Most people will agree that it’s a lovely feeling because they are more relaxed that they have ever been before.
Q. When I am ‘under’ will I be asleep?
You will be aware of everything that is happening and being said the whole time; however you will be so deeply relaxed that you may find yourself drifting into different levels of awareness. Remember, your subconscious mind is active throughout, and it is this that your hypnotist is working with.
Q. Will I remember everything afterwards?
That depends how deep in hypnosis you are, but generally most people do remember either everything or certain parts of the experience. You will find that suggestions which have been given to you in hypnosis will resurface in your conscious, thinking mind after your hypnosis session and these will be the thoughts that produce changes in your behavior or way of thinking and feeling.
Q. Do I have to remember things from my past in order to recover from my problem?
Not necessarily, different hypnotist have varied approaches, but if the cause of your problem is a repressed memory (one that you are unable to remember consciously), then bringing it back into conscious awareness can help you to view the problem from a different perspective and so feel differently about it. If you find the idea of revisiting old memories painful then your hypnotist can help you to dissociate from them so that you can remember the experience without experiencing the emotions associated to them.
Q. Will I give away any secrets while I am hypnotized?
No, you won’t say or do anything at all that you don’t want to. If you were given suggestions that you didn’t morally agree with you would come out of hypnosis or disregard the suggestions. The U.S. Government tried this in the 1970’s, reportedly without any success.
Q. How do I know I will wake up from hypnosis?
No-one has ever remained in hypnosis indefinitely. Even if something were to happen to the Hypnotist halfway through the session, you would still ‘come out’ of the trance state once rapport had been broken.
Q. Are there any side effects from hypnosis?
The only side effects are the beneficial ones of feeling more relaxed afterwards and feeling more positive about whatever it was you sought therapy style hypnosis for. Hypnosis is a perfectly natural state.
There are few risks in hypnosis, a process the Mayo Clinic calls “benign.” Although a very small percentage of people report feeling ‘groggy’ after a session (sometimes referred to as a “hypnotic hangover”), the majority of people report feeling invigorated, energetic, relaxed and happy.
If you are being treated with psychotropic medications or have certain psychiatric diagnoses, you will want to share this with your hypnotist, but hypnosis in generally viewed as a safe process with no side effects.
Myths about hypnosis, perpetuated by Hollywood movies, urban legends and fiction books lead people to think all kinds of things about hypnosis, including that it is somehow dangerous. Some people have heard that you can go into trance and not wake up. Or that the hypnotist can make you do things you don’t want to do. These things are untrue. You are always in control, always able to “come back” to full waking state at any time if you want or need to. The number one job of the subconscious mind is to protect you, and it is always on the job.
Of course, you will want to choose a hypnotist that has been well trained and that is trustworthy. Select one that gives you confidence. Hypnosis is a safe and beneficial procedure when facilitated by an ethical and trained professional.
Always keep in mind that hypnosis is not a treatment or cure for mental illness, and people suffering from psychosis, suicidal depression, or that are on medications for psychological stability should only be hypnotized by their doctors or psychiatrists or by an experienced hypnotist with the client’s doctor or psychiatrist consensus.
Q. Will I bark like a dog or cluck like a chicken?
Not unless you want to. If this is something you would like to do, please tell your hypnotist (there is an extra fee for this). But seriously, hypnosis cannot make you do something that is against your morals or ethics. All hypnosis is self-hypnosis, in truth, and no hypnotist can make you do something that you really don’t want to do. That’s why some people can be hypnotized to stop smoking and yet they still smoke. You have to want the change, agree with the change, and then hypnosis is an instrument for helping make that change better, faster, and permanent.
Q. Can I be hypnotized against my will?
Anyone can resist hypnosis during a session, and it won’t work, however the question remains as to why someone would seek therapy style hypnosis if they didn’t want it to help them. Hypnosis requires cooperation between two people – your hypnotist will show you the way and you can choose if you want to go there or not. If you are not prepared to accept that hypnosis could benefit you then your best option would be to seek alternative treatment – (however – in my own experience – sceptics are very often the best subjects).
There is documented evidence however that some unscrupulous people can covertly hypnotize others into doing something they wouldn’t normally dream of. They are not using hypnosis to help someone (they are only interested in helping themselves). Because they are using covert hypnosis they are extremely unlikely to be advertising their services as a qualified hypnotist.
Q. Am I under the control of another person?
No. A good analogy is that of the hypnotist sitting in the passenger seat of a car, reading map directions to the driver (the client). The driver can listen and follow the suggestions given by the passenger, or they can choose to go their own way, because the driver is always in control.
A person who is hypnotized can awaken themselves at any time, and the hypnotist cannot make someone do something that they otherwise would not want to do.
Those who fear that the hypnotist has some kind of “magical” power or “mind control” ability simply do not understand how the mind works. These concepts are myths, not realities, in clinical and medical hypnotherapy. Although the results may seem amazing or miraculous, there is truly nothing ‘mystical’ about hypnosis.
Q. How do I choose a good hypnotist?
I would recommend talking with them over the phone and asking any questions you have. Any questions at all. They should be able to answer any questions you have in a friendly, informative, and understandable manner.
You should select a hypnotist that seems warm and friendly and is easy to for you to understand and follow. Their voice should be pleasing to you, especially since you will probably be listening to recordings with their voice on them many times.
If you are worried about qualifications, ask if they are members of any professional organizations, and why they chose to belong to the ones they do. Ask them about a code of ethics. It’s always a good bet to check your local Better Business Bureau to see if there have been complaints filed in the past on this person.
All in all, you should be comfortable with the person’s demeanor, voice, and instructional style. Typically, the first twenty minutes of your first session with a hypnotist will be an introduction to hypnosis and a bit of chat about the changes you would like to make. If you find the hypnotist rubbing you the wrong way after this twenty-minute chat, you should simply say that you don’t think you are quite ready to be hypnotized yet, and you would like to try another day. Then interview other hypnotists until you find one you like.
Q. I went to a hypnotist once before and it didn’t work. Does this mean I’m not able to be hypnotized?
The most common reason for failure to induce trance is lack of rapport. To overcome this problem, make a few free initial consultations with different therapists and choose one that you instinctively trust.
Q. What if I can’t be hypnotized?
Since hypnosis is simply a process of natural experience and learning, everyone can be hypnotized. It is a myth that some people cannot be hypnotized; everyone has the capacity to relax, to learn and to be creative.
If for some reason you are distracted or have concerns that keep you from using these skills, simply let your hypnotist know and they will be happy to guide you into a process of hypnosis that is more comfortable or secure for you.
Of course, mood altering drugs can affect your mind’s ability to follow directions, relax or experience hypnosis. For this reason, you should never use any mood-altering drugs prior to any hypnosis session, and you should report any medications you are currently taking to your hypnotist.
Q. My friend tried hypnosis to quit smoking and it didn’t work.
There is more to changing a serious habit like smoking than just a few hypnotic suggestions, I’m afraid. In the simplest terms, the person must want the change, and they may need a replacement for smoking. Hypnosis can be used to find a healthy, effective replacement, and then it can be used to help flip the subconscious over to the new, healthy habits.
While sitting in a room with 50 other people in a seminar or listening to a stop-smoking CD can work, it is usually much more effective to have a personalized session with a hypnotist, who can customize the approach, language and replacement suggestions to match your lifestyle and circumstances. Each person is unique, so a generic hypnosis recording is less likely to work for all people.
Q. Can I be treated for different problems at the same time?
You can – if they are related issues, however because hypnosis requires a complete focus of attention it is far better to concentrate on one problem at a time. People wishing to stop smoking (for example) who are afraid of doing so in case they gain weight can be helped with the correct approach. This is because many of us experience ‘symptom substitution’ – we can substitute one addiction for another. Your hypnotist should have the skills to recognize if this is the case and deal with the issue at its core.
Q. Does hypnosis really work?
This is one of the most common questions about hypnosis. There is so much research to demonstrate the efficacy of hypnosis that it is impossible to list it all here. Research backs hypnosis as a treatment for physical problems such as pain management, IBS and other gastrointestinal difficulties, as well as a demonstrated effective tool to assist with accomplishing personal goals (i.e. test-taking, sports performance enhancement, confidence and self-esteem building, getting over stage fright and public speaking fears), and habit change (quit smoking, lose weight, stop nail biting, etc.), and to help us relax (manage stress, overcome fears), as well as to increase intimacy, improve communication, and manage emotions such as anger, depression or anxiety.
Q. How does hypnosis work?
This is another popular question about hypnosis. There are three primary reasons hypnosis is so effective: First, hypnosis teaches you skills to become aware of your body’s physical response to stimuli, so you can handle it. In a way, it is similar to biofeedback. Second, hypnosis is a pathway to learning. Our subconscious mind has probably learned many negative behaviors over the years that can be re-learned during hypnosis. For example, after 20 years of smoking you have essentially trained yourself to light up after each meal. Or, when eating dinner out, you have been trained to eat all of your food, even though the portions are double the dietary guidelines. These destructive learning patterns can be relearned (healthy retraining of the subconscious) in the process of hypnosis. Third, our hypnosis programs create accountability and help you to attain goals and feel supported in your decisions for change. Your hypnotist is trained to provide you with the tools you need to make your desired changes. There are many other reasons hypnosis is so effective, and you will find your visit to be a professional learning experience that teaches you new skills to unlock new ways to live life.
Hypnosis works by achieving a level of focused awareness, and at the same time bypassing the analytical aspect of the mind. Another way to describe the analytical aspect of the mind is that it is a comparing mechanism. When new information is introduced to the mind, the comparing mechanism compares the new information to what it already believes is either true or false. This is a protective aspect of our mind. This is why changing habits by willpower alone is so difficult – we often already believe we cannot change, so thinking about making the change happen (using willpower alone) is ineffective. Hypnosis is powerful because with focused awareness the analytical aspect of the mind is bypassed, and new, healthy and beneficial suggestions can be made directly into the subconscious, without the comparing mechanism rejecting these new beliefs. So, the change we want to achieve in our life is accepted by the subconscious mind as true, and we see results quickly.
Q. Is it against my religion to undergo hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a totally natural state; it is safe, effective and has no side effects.
We have a natural ability to use our mind to create healthy bodies and make healthy decisions.
I can think of no religion that does not want us to use natural, safe, and effective methods of problem resolution to make our lives better.
It is important to realize that all “trance” phenomena or characteristics of hypnosis occur all the time. In ordinary life, we use the creative part of the mind, we accomplish tasks by utilizing the subconscious learnings of our mind, and we experience states of relaxation. In clinical hypnosis, we are simply using the ordinary mental processes of the subconscious mind in a systemic way to solve problems that are destructive in life.
Perhaps the confusion on this issue comes because some religious groups use trance for meditation or attaining “spiritual enlightenment,” but because a religious application of the methods of hypnosis can be utilized, does not make hypnosis a religious act.
Some people, who do not truly understand the nature of clinical hypnosis, are opposed to “opening the mind” or “turning the mind” over to outside forces. In hypnosis you are always fully aware, and never are you “‘controlled” by another. These beliefs come from a misunderstanding of what hypnosis is, probably based on Hollywood myths.
At Hypnosis for Health LLC we do not offer enlightenment training, help people recover repressed memories, charm snakes, find “past lives” or any other religious or non-clinical application of hypnosis not accepted by the medical and clinical community. We do provide structured direct suggestion and the tools necessary to live life to its fullest.
We simply use the natural functions of concentration, relaxation, and the natural abilities of our subconscious mind to resolve difficulties that have caused us problems in life. This is something any healthy religion would actually encourage people to do.
The owner of Hypnosis for Health LLC has several years of experience as a church pastor and pastoral counseling and will discuss religious aspects with you at your request but our professional policies ensure that all sessions are focused on you and making the healthy changes you desire with your full understanding and knowledge, separate of any religious belief systems.
Q. What is a hypnosis session like?
Hypnosis enables you to connect with the 90% of your mind that is subconscious, where your whole life is recorded. That’s where habits take hold. Think of it like riding a bicycle. When experiences, messages, and influences in our lives are repeated, they tend to result in the formation of habits. Habits can be very positive, very negative, or anywhere in between. Hypnosis can help you get rid of unwanted habits by removing them from your subconscious mind.
On the other hand, if you only address negative habits with the 10 percent of your mind that is conscious, the chances of success are significantly reduced. The conscious mind is where willpower resides. Willpower is like a rollercoaster: strong and weak, strong and weak. It’s difficult to maintain a strong will long enough to remove negative habits. Even if you manage to do so, the “roots of the habit” will still be connected in the subconscious mind. That means they might be triggered at any time, and the habit could then return.
Yo-yo dieting is a good example. People may, using their conscious minds and various weight-reduction programs, lose huge amounts of weight. But because their overeating habit still has subconscious roots, it could easily come back. The result: a re-gaining of the lost weight – and perhaps even more!
The most effective way to get rid of habits is to pull out those subconscious roots. As you enter the hypnotic state and bypass the conscious mind completely, you are able to access the information stored in your subconscious mind. Then you are ready to do the “four R’s” of hypnosis: Recognize, Release, Replace, and Reinforce. Once you completely Recognize why the habit took root, you can release its influence on you from that moment on. Then you Replace the released habit with a new, positive way of being. By repeating and reinforcing that “new you,” it becomes your lasting positive habit.
When you come to Hypnosis for Health LLC, we’ll talk about the issue you want to resolve, and explain all about hypnosis, so you get a good understanding of what it is, what it isn’t, and what it’s like to be there. Basically, it’s a very comfortable, peaceful state. Your body is deeply relaxed, like when you’re asleep, but all your senses are awake and alert. You are aware of everything and remember everything. You only say or do in hypnosis what you would say or do in the conscious state. You only accept suggestions that are acceptable to you. You are in control at all times and will return to full consciousness whenever you want or feel the need.
I may also teach you how to go into self-hypnosis so you can powerfully reinforce the new habit. I’ll provide you with a personalized mp3 recording for each session, which, when listened to in self-hypnosis, becomes the most powerful way of reinforcing the new habit and making it last.
Q. Why should I learn self-hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a powerful life skill for the modern person. There is a great deal of stress to be handled in today’s work environment, schools, and society in general. Self-hypnosis, at the most basic level, is wonderful for de-stressing, calming, and restoring a healthful energy to your body. It gives a sense of control and connectedness to your mind and body that supports confidence and success.
After becoming more skilled in self-hypnosis, you’ll find that it can help you maintain motivation and peak performance, as well as health and vigor. It can help you make clear decisions. It is incredibly powerful to be able to discover what your subconscious beliefs and patterns are and be able to change them at will. You can literally design your life! Cope with almost any problem. Remain calmer and more centered in day to day life. You can design your patterns and beliefs to propel you to your highest goals and to your vision of success.
Q. Are hypnosis sessions confidential?
Hypnosis For Health LLC will release no information about our clients or their sessions to anyone without the client’s express written permission, except as required by law. We treat your information just as any doctor’s office would – with strict confidentiality.
Q. Do you accept insurance?
We do not file insurance claims on behalf of our clients; however, we will give you a receipt for the services we provide, and some insurance companies may reimburse you for the cost of our services. Some employers may pay for certain programs, up front or through reimbursement, however, that is something you must work out with your employer.
All services provided must be paid in full, in advance, unless prior arrangements have been made. We accept cash, checks, money orders, credit cards, Venmo and PayPal.
Q. How much does hypnotherapy style hypnosis cost?
Of course, it varies from city to city and from professional to professional. The average seems to be somewhere around $125 to $175 per session, with sessions commonly being between forty-five minutes and an hour long. Hypnosis for Health LLC offers pay-one-price programs – for smoking cessation and weight loss, for example, where you pay $300 or $600 for all the sessions in the program. Rarely can just one session resolve an issue so significant discounts are offered for advanced multiple session purchases. This is a good approach to ensure that effective follow-up sessions take place.