Common Questions About Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy

Hypnosis is a procedure through which a person experiences changes in sensations, perceptions, thoughts, and or behavior. The hypnotic context is generally established through an induction procedure. Although there are different hypnotic inductions, most include suggestions for relaxation, calmness, and well-being. Instructions to imagine, think, or visualize pleasant experiences are also commonly included in hypnotic inductions.

On a daily basis, we all experience environmental hypnosis. Environmental hypnosis is a ‘state of mind’ resulting from overexposure to conscious, subconscious, physical, and or environmental overload. Environmental hypnosis frequently occurs when driving our car on long straight highways, reading a good book, or watching a captivating movie. It is also more likely to occur during times involving overexposure to emotional or physical stress.

Common Questions: Hypnosis

What is Hypnosis?

Hypnosis is a natural and very normal state of mind in which the body experiences deep physical relaxation while the mind remains clear, alert, and focused. In this altered state of awareness, the subconscious mind becomes highly suggestible.

A person naturally enters this state many times during a normal day. Most of us are not aware that this is even happening.

For example, how many times have you been thinking about something while driving your car and suddenly you realize that your exit was 3 miles back? Most of us go to the movies and get so involved in the drama of the story that we forget we are only watching a movie. Most of us daydream from time to time. All of these are examples of a natural state of hypnosis called "environmental hypnosis."

What's the difference between Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy?

Hypnosis is a procedure through which a person experiences changes in sensations, perceptions, thoughts, and or behavior. The hypnotic context is generally established through an induction procedure. Although there are different hypnotic inductions, most include suggestions for relaxation, calmness, and well-being. Instructions to imagine, think, or visualize pleasant experiences are also commonly included in hypnotic inductions.

At the same time, we experience what I refer to as environmental hypnosis. Environmental hypnosis is a 'state of mind' all of us contend with on an almost daily basis.  It involves hyper-suggestibility resulting from overexposure to conscious, subconscious, physical, and or environmental overload. Environmental hypnosis frequently occurs when driving our car on long straight highways, reading a good book, or watching a captivating movie.  It is also more likely to occur during times involving overexposure to emotional or physical stress.

How can I tell when I am hypnotized?

It depends on the individual. Some people are more aware of changes felt in their bodies than others are. It also depends on how deep into the hypnotic state the person allows himself or herself to drift. You may experience sensations of feeling very light or floating, very heavy, tingling sensations, dry mouth, or just an awareness of being pleasantly relaxed.

Can anyone be hypnotized?

Any person of at least average intelligence and the ability to focus and concentrate can go into hypnosis. The better one is able to concentrate, focus, and engage the process, the easier it is for him or her to enter into a hypnotic state.

No one can hypnotize you if you do not want to be hypnotized. Your natural psychological defenses will prevent this from happening. This of course refers to structured hypnosis as opposed to environmental hypnosis.

When hypnotized will I be asleep, or will I know what is going on around me?

You definitely will not be asleep. However, to an observer, your body may appear to be in a sleeping state, because you are in a state of deep physical relaxation. The fact is that are completely aware of your surroundings. You hear everything. Since all your senses are magnified, you are actually more alert and aware while you are in hypnosis than you are in your normal waking state.

What Happens in hypnosis?

People respond to hypnosis in different ways. Most describe hypnosis as a normal state of focused attention, in which they feel very calm and relaxed. Regardless of how and to what degree they respond, most people describe the experience as very pleasant. Most people are very responsive to hypnotic suggestions.

A person's ability to respond to hypnotic suggestions can be inhibited by fears and concerns arising from common misconceptions.

Contrary to some depictions of hypnosis in books, movies, or television, people who have been hypnotized do not lose control over their behavior. They typically remain aware of whom they are and where they are, and unless amnesia has been specifically suggested, they usually remember what transpired during hypnosis. Hypnosis makes it easier for people to experience post-hypnotic suggestions, but it does not force them to have these experiences.

Hypnotherapy is not a therapy like psychoanalysis. It is vocational and avocational (self-improvement) counseling. Additionally, it has medical applications when a client is referred, by a dentist or physician. Only credentialed professionals, who have been trained in the use of hypnosis, and are working within the scope of their professional expertise, should use hypnosis.

What is hypnosis used for?

Hypnosis has been used in the treatment of pain, depression, anxiety, stress, habit disorders, and many other psychological and medical problems. The decision to use hypnosis as an adjunct to medical or psychiatric treatment can only be made in consultation with a qualified health care provider. In addition to its use in clinical settings, hypnosis is used in research, with the goal of learning more about the nature of hypnosis itself, as well as its impact on sensation, perception, learning, memory, and physiology. Researchers also study the value of hypnosis in the treatment of physical and psychological conditions.

Hypnotherapy has proved effective with phobias, anesthesia, and especially attitude behavior modifications. It can create the all-important positive attitude necessary for everything from attaining one’s goals to speeding healing. It can enhance learning, develop motivation, build confidence, and improve relationships.

A highly competent hypnotherapist, working with a client-subject of average suggestibility, can bring about significant achievements. Relaxation can be induced to relieve the pressures of stress at home and at work, or to alleviate insomnia. Additionally, problem habits can be brought under control. Examples of typical problem habits include smoking, overeating, and unwanted mannerisms.

Hypnotherapy has been emerging as an exceedingly valuable discipline in helping people achieve their goals and objectives.

The following provides an easy to understanding analogy about how hypnosis can be used to change behaviors that my be limiting ones capacity to achieve goals and objectives.

How does the hypnotist put someone into hypnosis?

In that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis, the hypnotic state originates from within the mind of the person being hypnotized. The hypnotist is in essence a guide who directs and leads the person into the hypnotic state. The hypnotist induces the hypnotic state by using certain words and phrases that the subconscious mind understands. As well, the hypnotist uses various techniques like deep breathing, imagery, and cadence and tone of voice.

Is hypnosis dangerous?

Hypnosis is not dangerous. It is a natural state of the mind utilized by the hypnotist for purposes of entertainment (as in stage hypnosis), or to help the individual change certain habits or patterns of behavior (as through hypnotherapy). It is important to note that the mind has natural defenses, which will automatically reject any suggestions it deems harmful.

Is hypnosis "mind control"?

Hypnosis is not mind control. All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. The hypnotist cannot make you do or say anything you ordinarily would not do. You always remain in control, and as such, you will not do anything that violates your morals, ethics, or values. Your mind will automatically reject any undesired suggestions.

How much will I remember when I come out of hypnosis?

Most people remember everything that went on while they were in hypnosis. Certain individuals will occasionally enter a particularly deep state, wherein they seemingly “tune out” portions of what happened. At the same time, these individuals most often piece things together when told about what happened.

How deep into a hypnotic state will I go?

This depends in part upon the individual, how willing they are to enter the hypnotic state, and to what degree they are willing to “let go” and engage the process. At the same time, the effective communication abilities and skills of the hypnotist play an important role. Some people are naturally able to enter a deeper hypnotic state (somnambulists), while others are capable of entering into deeper states, because the have been hypnotized in the past, practice yoga, or engage in meditation. How deep you go in hypnosis is not that important, except for in instances where hypnosis is being used, for example, for analgesia or anesthesia, by way of medical referral. The fact of the matter, which may come as a surprise, is that light hypnosis appears to work best for smoking cessation and a number of other issues.

Will I easily come out of hypnosis, and what will happen if I do not wake from hypnosis?

The majority of people who are hypnotized will come out of the state when brought out by the hypnotist or hypnotherapist. On occasion, someone will choose to remain in the hypnotic state because either they entered a particularly deep state, or because the state feels so good, they want to remain in hypnosis. In either instance, even if a person falls asleep, they will wake themselves naturally, wherein they will be in a fully conscious state.

What uses are there for hypnosis?

Hypnosis can be utilized in many ways, though the hypnotic state not always called "hypnosis." Hypnosis is used for entertainment purposes (stage shows) or in a clinical setting, such as in hypnotherapy, where it can be used to make positive changes in a person's life. Hypnosis is also used in the medical and dental fields. Some psychologists, other categories of licensed therapists, and psychiatrists use hypnosis as an adjunct to their treatments. Self-hypnosis is an integral component in yoga, biofeedback, and meditation. Top athletes may also use self-hypnosis, when they focus during competition to "get into the zone."

Can hypnosis help me?

Hypnosis can be very useful when it comes to making positive changes in your life. Some examples are: smoking cessation, weight loss, improvement to self-esteem, confidence building, improving sales ability, and memory retention. Practically any negative or counter productive habit or behavior can be modified or eliminated through hypnosis. Hypnosis can help ease fears, phobias, and even improve relationship dynamics and communication.

How do I know that I can be hypnotized?

If you are of average or above intelligence, are able to focus and concentrate, desire to be hypnotized, and engage the process, you can be hypnotized.

Why use hypnosis, when I can simply use my willpower?

Willpower or desire alone is often not enough or sufficient to change a long standing or deeply ingrained habits or behaviors. All habits, learned behaviors, and attitudes reside within our subconscious mind. Will power, along with logic, reasoning, and decision-making, are functions of our conscious mind. By contrast, willpower, logic, reasoning, and decision-making, are not functions of our subconscious mind. This is at the core of understanding why hypnotherapy is such an effective tool. In short, hypnotherapy allows one to bypass flawed logic, flawed reasoning, flawed decision-making, and impaired willpower.

Though I have not seen evidenced based studies to support an exact percentage, for well over forty years it has been estimated that our conscious mind accounts for some 12% to 20% of our brain mass. The remaining 88% - 80% of our brain mass, is our subconscious mind, inclusive of the autonomic nervous system and our library of all habits, learned behaviors, and attitudes. I refer to these as our “Known’s”

If we use the 12% example, which of the two seemingly will have greater influence of our habits, learned behaviors, and attitudes - our 12% conscious mind or out 88% subconscious mind? The numbers answer the question, which make the answer patently obvious.

If a negative behavior or undesirable habit is deeply rooted in your subconscious mind, or you have exhibited a behavior or undesirable habit for many years, then will power alone will not be strong enough to change or eliminate the behavior. This is why so often people fail to achieve New Years’ resolutions. Will power or sheer determination can help you to accomplish a goal, but in many cases, will power can be detrimental. This is because our conscious mind frequently sabotages will power thereby obstructing change.

There are many reasons why we behave the way we do. Case in point is that most of us become comfortable in our own skin. Change can be intimidating because it alters the status quo (the way things have always been). The way things have always been is known as our homeostasis. It is who we know ourselves to be, as to our both strengths and weaknesses.

Most frequently, the conscious mind will sabotage you to keep you where you are, so you remain in your comfort zone – even if your comfort zone includes undesirable qualities.

However, hypnosis, when used by a trained hypnotherapist, can effect change directly within the subconscious mind where all habits, learned behaviors, and attitudes reside. Consequently, hypnotherapy is a very effective, relatively quick, and an easy path to success. You may even want to think of post hypnotic suggestions as being analogous to software patches downloaded to a computer program or to the operating system of a computer.

Common Questions: Hypnotherapy

What is hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy is the use of hypnosis by a person trained in hypnotherapy. The goal of hypnotherapy is to help an individual make positive change, and to achieve goals and objectives in their life. Hypnotherapy involves avocational and vocational counseling, except as otherwise administered based on a referral from a psychologist, dentist, or medical doctor.

The use of hypnosis allows the hypnotherapist to bypass the critical area of mind, which is a filter between the conscious mind and subconscious mind, thereby providing direct access to the subconscious mind.

All of our learned behaviors and habits whether positive or negative, desirable or undesirable, are stored in the subconscious mind. Hypnotherapy accelerates the process of desired change, because the hypnotherapist is working directly within the subconscious mind. Undesirable patterns of behavior can be modified or replaced relatively easily with behaviors that are more desirable.

What is the difference between hypnosis and hypnotherapy?

Hypnosis is a natural state of mind in which the critical area of mind (a filter between the conscious minds) is compromised, and the subconscious mind becomes hyper-suggestible to new ideas and patterned responses to environmental stimuli. Examples range from the reactions of subjects during a hypnosis stage show to environmental hypnosis, where someone is seemingly unaware of what has been going on around them while driving their automobile.

Hypnotherapy is the process of hypnosis being used by a trained hypnotherapist to help a person make positive desired life style changes, or other desired changes based on a referral from a psychologist, dentist, or medical doctor.

What are the areas in which hypnotherapy is helpful?

Hypnotherapy can be used to address fears and phobias, smoking cessation, weight loss, improved study habits, or make a myriad of life changes that afford one the opportunity to become more successful at achieving goals.

Does hypnotherapy work well?

Hypnotherapists frequently cite a comparison study, reportedly published in American Health Magazine (some cites refer to Health Magazine), stating that psychoanalysis results in 38% recovery after 600 sessions, behavior therapy results in 72% recovery after 22 sessions, and hypnotherapy results in 93% recovery after 6 sessions.

Obviously, this information is cited to imply that hypnotherapy is a superior approach through which to achieve “recovery.” I find no evidence based literature to indicate any research that supports these findings. In my professional opinion, the dissemination of such misleading information is irresponsible!

Hypnotherapy works very effectively in the areas of avocational (self-improvement) and vocational counseling. It also works very well as an adjunct to treatment by way of referral from a psychologist, dentist, or medical doctor.

Does hypnotherapy work for everybody?

This depends entirely upon the individual. If you are serious in your desire to work on an issue, and to improve certain aspects of your life, then hypnotherapy most often will work extremely well. If, for example, “secondary gain” undermines your desire to give up undesirable habits or to otherwise change; and if you are not being entirely honest with yourself, then hypnotherapy will not be as effective for you. You will most likely end up sabotaging yourself only to remain unchanged. Hypnotherapy cannot make you do anything and everything. You need to bring to the process desire and a willingness to change.

Generally speaking, individuals with an intelligence quotient is below 70 will likely not demonstrate the ability to engage the hypnotic process sufficiently well enough to benefit from hypnotherapy.

How soon will I see the results?

Certain results are most often observed after the first session. Infrequently it may take two sessions before you to begin to observe results.

How many sessions will it take to achieve my objectives?

The answer to this question depends entirely upon the nature of the problem(s) and your motivation, as hypnosis does not force anyone to do anything. In that we are all unique, the number of sessions it will take to accomplish your goals and objectives cannot be predicted. In fact, it would be irresponsible to do so.

Is traditional "talk therapy" just as effective as hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy is not a substitute for psychoanalysis or psychotherapy, sometimes referred to as “talk therapy.” You can expect to make changes while engaging in psychoanalysis or psychotherapy. In almost all instances psychoanalysis or psychotherapy are more time consuming. This is because in situations where diagnostic codes apply, the process is inherently more time consuming for professionally responsible reasons. At the same time, combining hypnotherapy, as complimentary to “talk therapy,” can most often accelerate the process.

Does hypnotherapy replace the need for more traditional practices, like seeing a doctor, psychologist, or psychiatrist?

Hypnotherapy is not a replacement for medical treatment, psychoanalysis, or psychotherapy. Hypnotherapy is used for behavior modification and life style improvements - like stopping biting one's fingernails, addressing a fear of public speaking, or stopping smoking. It may be an adjunct to traditional medical or psychological treatments, but again, it is not a replacement for medical treatment, psychoanalysis, or psychotherapy.

Can I still use hypnosis and hypnotherapy if I am taking medication?

In the majority of cases, the answer is “yes.” However, if the reason you are coming to hypnotherapy involves the reason for which you are taking prescription medication, then a medical referral is required. At the same time, if the reason you are coming to hypnotherapy involves a condition for which a medical doctor is otherwise treating you, then a medical referral is required. In my practice, securing medical referrals is relatively commonplace.

Why don't more people use self-hypnosis or engage in hypnotherapy?
Much of the public is not aware of the benefits associated with hypnotherapy. At the same time, there are many misconceptions about hypnosis based on what people have seen in movies or while attending hypnosis stage shows. Many people just are not aware that hypnotherapy is available to help them achieve their goals and objectives. During my many years in the field, it has been my experience that the majority of people who learn about the benefits of hypnotherapy are eager to try it.
Are meditation and yoga the same as hypnotherapy?

There is a common ground, in that yoga and meditation involve focusing your mind and your energies. People use meditation and yoga to be able to focus, concentrate better, and relax. Yoga and meditation are directed inward, whereas hypnotherapy is orientated toward achieving external goals.

If people can accomplish goals on their own, why do I need to see a hypnotherapist?

You are in your current state because you have created it for yourself. Most of us would fix ourselves if we knew how. For most of us, if our car needs repair we take it to a mechanic. If our computer needs repair, we take it to someone who specializes in computer repair. Most likely, we would only make things worse if we tried to make our own repairs.

This is why we benefit most by going to someone who knows what they are doing, and has expertise and training to address the problem. Most of us may be aware we have an issue in our lives that we want to change, but we are not born with the knowledge of how to fix it.

You will benefit most by exploring hypnotherapy with a well educated and well trained hypnotherapist, who can help you address specific issues that need attention.

Is Hypnotherapy right for me?

Seeking out hypnotherapy is an individual and very personal choice. There are many reasons why people come to hypnotherapy. Most individuals are seeking to accomplish change in one or more areas, thereby increasing their potential for personal or professional growth and success. Working with a hypnotherapist can help provide support for all types of life challenges. Hypnotherapy can help address many types of issues including stress management and general life transitions.

Hypnotherapy is right for anyone who is interested in getting the most out of their life by taking responsibility, creating greater self-awareness, and working towards achieving beneficial changes in their lives.In that Hypnotherapists’ are vocational and avocational (self-improvement) counselors (California Business and Professions Code 2908), their services are most appropriate for the overwhelming majority of individuals. After all most everyone is seeking professional and personal self-improvement.

I can usually handle my problems do I really need hypnotherapy?

Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you have faced, there is nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. In fact, hypnotherapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand, which is something to be admired.

You are taking responsibility by accepting where you are at in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome the myriad of challenges we all face in everyday life.

How can hypnotherapy help me?

The benefits you achieve through hypnotherapy can be significant, provided you engage the process with commitment, practice basic relaxation and visualization exercises you are taught between sessions, and practice self-hypnosis following or during hypnotherapy. Some of the benefits available from hypnotherapy and your subsequent use of self-hypnosis include but are not limited to:

  • Achieving specific goals involving avocational and vocational self-improvement
  • Altering or eliminating undesirable behaviors in favor behaviors that are beneficial, desirable, and productive
  • Finding resolution to the issue(s) or concern(s) that led you to seek hypnotherapy
  • Learning new ways to cope with the stress associated with the demands of daily life
  • Improving communication and listening skills
  • Discovering new ways to address challenging problems at both home and work
  • Improving self-esteem and boosting self-confidence
  • Increasing feelings of calmness and relaxation in desired areas of your life, and
  • Achieving better quality sleep that is more recuperative and refreshing

Additional areas where hypnotherapy may be of benefit can be found here: Issues Frequently Addressed through Hypnotherapy

What is hypnotherapy like?

Every hypnotherapy session is unique and caters to each individual and his or her specific goals. It is common to schedule a series of weekly sessions. Hypnotherapy can be short-term, focusing on a specific issue, or longer-term, wherein more complex issues or ongoing personal growth issues are addressed.There may be times when you will be asked to take certain actions outside of the hypnotherapy sessions, such as keeping records to track certain behaviors. It is important to process what has been discussed and integrate it into your life between sessions. For hypnotherapy to be most effective, you must be an active participant, both during and between sessions.

People seeking hypnotherapy need to be willing to take responsibility for their actions, work towards self-change, and practice various structured exercises between sessions. These exercises involve only a few minutes each day.

Can I learn self-hypnosis?

Anyone can learn self-hypnosis since you naturally experience it anyway. Most of the time however, we are uploading negative suggestions (self talk) instead of positive, uplifting suggestions and thoughts. You can easily learn self-hypnosis from a trained hypnotherapist. The fact of the matter is that I teach self-hypnosis to all of my clients at the end of their course of hypnotherapy.

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