Frequently Asked Questions About Hypnotism
Q: Does Hypnosis really work?
A: YES! Hypnosis REALLY works! In fact, it works so well that I actually quit a high-paying corporate job and made hypnotism my full-time career. I now devote my life’s work to the art and science of hypnotism.
When you go to see a stage hypnosis show, those aren’t stooges in the audience. They are real people! Some are acting, but most are actually hypnotized. When stage hypnotists pick up on the people who are acting or “social conforming” they will send them back to their seats in the auditorium.
By the way, that doesn’t mean the “actors” can’t be hypnotized. It just means they need a longer trance induction period that the stage hypnotist doesn’t have time for…but I do!
Q: What is hypnosis?
A: Hypnosis is NOT (exactly) sleep… even though you may hear me say the word, “SLEEP!” And even though the word hypnosis means sleep in Greek, that’s not exactly what it is… but, it’s not the waking state either… Neuroscientists don’t know even know what it is. I call it ‘hypnotic sleep.’
Hypnosis is a heightened state of awareness, usually guided by a hypnotist, in order to focus the subject’s attention inwardly, allowing easy access to the mind at the level below conscious awareness. Or the subconscious.
This focused state of concentration is also called the trance state. Hypnosis is the process by which we gain access to the subconscious mind to effect change at the deepest levels below conscious awareness, usually via the imagination.
The Subconscious mind is really the superhero of our lives. In fact, this is where all of our profound changes and healing occurs. Only where it occurs. Ever.
The Subconscious takes in millions of bits of information from all five senses, every moment; whereas, the Conscious Mind can only take in 7, plus or minus 2, bits of information per minute. The Conscious Mind is the typical waking state in which we live life, think thoughts, study, rationalize, judge, and analyze. The Subconscious mind is pretty much everything else. It can be divided into 3 main sub-sections.
1) The Subconscious. This where all of your experience and memories (from the time you were conceived to the present day) are formed and stored. This part of your mind is very protective of you and acts like a child since your Early Childhood Self created ego states to protect you around feeling highly charged emotions. In childhood, it put up walls of protection that no longer serve us as adults. These same “walls of protection” oftentimes become our “walls of prison” in adulthood. Sometimes we call it the Inner Child. (Thanks kid!)
2) The Unconscious/Co-Conscious. This is linked to the autonomic nervous system. It’s the part of you that makes your heartbeat without you having to think, beat, beat, beat. It makes all of your bodily organs work and function properly. It heals cuts and wounds without you having to think about it. When you cut your finger, you don’t stare at it all day and will it to happen. (If you do, you may seriously need a hobby). It produces and regenerates cells. It’s the very wisest part of you that knows how to deeply heal you. It can even work to influence your DNA structures at the molecular level.
3) The Super-Conscious. This part works at an even deeper level. Some say it is the Soul, Spirit, Higher Self, or simply the part that connects us to God or the Universe. Some believe this part of consciousness exists and others do not. I make no judgment. This part is especially useful when needing to learn a lesson about our deeper selves.
While in trance, you are not comatose or in a sleep-walking phase, but you are focused inwardly while allowing my suggestions to take root in your subconscious mind, by hyper-focusing on the sound of my voice, or allowing your mind to drift and wander as I talk, or by connecting with yourself on a deeper level emotionally.
As a matter of fact, you could get up and walk out of the room at any time. Of course, you won’t do that because you will notice how nice it feels to be in this deeply relaxed state of awareness, but you will have the knowledge that you could do it if you so choose.
You might even be surprised to know trance is a natural state that we go in and out of at least four times an hour. (Have you ever been driving and missed your exit because you were deep in thought, or couldn’t find something that was right in front of you…like your glasses on your head? You were in a state of trance!)
All hypnosis is consensual. An agreement between the subject (client) and the hypnotist or hypnotherapist. The subject either audibly or silently agrees to take in and apply the suggestions or gentle direct commands given by the hypnotist. Changes occur when you give the hypnotist permission to hypnotize you and are open up to the process. You take in the suggestions and gentle commands by agreeing to follow the instructions of the hypnotist.
If at any time you decide a particular suggestion or gentle command is not right for you, that’s okay, because you have complete control to reject it. That’s why all hypnosis is really self-hypnosis and completely safe.
Depth of trance does not matter. The gentle commands and suggestions for your health and well-being will take root as long as you allow yourself to be comfortable and open to learning something new and wonderful.
Some people go into a light state of trance, while others go into a deeper state we call somnambulism, which is a misnomer since we do not actually sleep in trance, even though the hypnotist may say the word “sleep.” The people who seem to go very deep usually have been formally hypnotized before, or they were naturally born that way. These are people who usually have great imaginations and daydream constantly, like children. But depth of trance can be learned.
Even I, myself, had to lean how to go deeper and teach myself how to use my imagination again, since I tend to have an over-analytic mind. Folks are welcome to analyze it all they want, but they will get the most benefit from it if they will wait to do that after the session. Each time someone is hypnotized, either by a stage hypnotist or a hypnotherapist, they tend to go deeper with each subsequent session.
Hypnotherapy utilizes hypnosis in such away to help clients achieve goals that subconscious resistance prevents them from achieving on their own.
Q: Can you make me dance on a table, bark like a dog, or cluck like a chicken?
A: That depends… I can’t make you do anything that goes against your core beliefs and values in this context. If dancing on a table goes against your values, you will not do it in my office. However, if I was performing a stage show and if you have secretly always wanted to make people laugh by clucking like a chicken, even though you may be shy, then yes, I can get you to do that in trance. (Remember it is a consensual practice.)
Now, would I do that to you? Only if I were doing a stage show and you volunteered to come up on stage. In private practice, however, that would be stupid and unproductive so I would not make you do anything silly or humiliating.
Q: Is it possible to be hypnotized without my consent? Can you hypnotize skeptics?
A: Not only is it impossible for me to hypnotize you without your consent, but you must have a willingness to be hypnotized in order for the suggestions to even take hold in the first place. You can accept or reject at will any suggestion given to you. There is a saying, coined by Charles Tebbets, that goes “All hypnosis is self-hypnosis,” meaning you essentially hypnotize yourself under the guidance of the hypnotist. Furthermore, you don’t have to believe that hypnosis works in order for it to work. Hypnosis generally works on believers and skeptics alike as long as you are open to the process and follow the instructions of the hypnotist.
Q: What is the percentage of your success rate?
A: Most hypnosis websites report a 95% success rate, but I’m not sure how accurate those results are measured. Hypnosis typically yields high success rates, but I have no way of accurately measuring it either. It certainly feels like 85%-95%. Most of the client feedback I receive is very positive and I simply continue working with people who report less than stellar results until we resolve their issue. It may be determined that a client might need a referral to someone else who can more effectively help them with a different approach. (This rarely happens.) For each client testimonial I have, I’m guessing there are approximately 12 more people who had just as successful results who did not turn in a testimonial.
Because everyone is different, the hypnotic process is not the same for everyone. And where one person may only need one session to (quit smoking, etc.) someone else may need a few more. I recommend 3 sessions for optimal results. And while I can’t always guarantee a “one-and-done” session, I CAN assure you 100% that I will do my absolute best and you will have a wonderful therapeutic experience no matter what.
Q: I don’t think I can be hypnotized, because I tried it before and was aware of everything going on around me. In fact, I could have just stood up and walked away at will. Are there people who cannot be hypnotized?
A: You were most likely hypnotized. Only the tiniest percentage of the population, like people with severe mental disorders, actually cannot be hypnotized, and I’m not so sure about that either. I bet they can! Some people can be super-hypnotized and fall easily into deep states of trance, while others only go into a very light state of hypnosis. The lasting effects tend to be the same no matter how deeply one goes into trance. The conscious mind is allowed to be present during hypnosis if it wants to, or it can go into a daydream state. Either way works. I would advise you to look at the results afterward to know that the hypnosis was successful, and not how you felt during the process or how “aware” you were, because that truly does not matter. Your Subconscious can hear and comply with the hypnotists when you are aware or unaware.
Q: Will I lose my control under hypnosis?
A: Contrary to popular belief, you will not lose your control when in trance. This is probably the most common misconception about hypnosis. In fact, you might be surprised to find out that you could actually get up and walk out of the room any time. Hollywood has made people believe that trance is something completely different than it actually is. You are not knocked out, drunk, or unconscious. You are actually in a more controlled and focused state of deep concentration and a heightened state of awareness. You are more focused inwardly and allow outward surroundings to have little effect on you during this time.
You actually accept or reject any suggestions given to you the entire time you are in trance. This happens because you have a part of your brain that is called your “Hidden Observer.” This is a cute name for the part of your mind that protects you even while you are asleep. It’s the part of the mind that wakes you up when you sense danger or hear your baby crying in the middle of the night. So you can trust that part to protect you while the other part is in trance and taking in suggestions. Some people don’t remember parts of the session once they emerge—but you are in full control the entire time!
Q: Why does hypnosis seem so mysterious?
A: The brain is mysterious! Fact is, we go in and out of hypnotic states naturally, every day. Our brain remains in the Beta wave state while we are alert and active, and moves into an Alpha wave state (and lower) once we start to relax. If you have ever laughed or cried from watching a movie or reading a book, missed your exit while driving, or had an inspirational thought suddenly come to you in the shower, you were in a natural trance.
The most intelligent and prosperous people in the world tend to be the ones who go into trance the easiest and deepest. Tiger Woods is a prime example. He frequently uses hypnosis to stay on game, since golf is really a game of mind over matter. Look at how successful, intelligent, and wealthy he is! (He just forgot to use hypnosis for self-control around women!) In fact, television commercials work so effectively, generating mega millions, by bombarding you with messages over and over, (even if it doesn’t make sense, just so long as you will have good feelings about a company’s particular product), so that when you go out shopping your subconscious mind will be influenced to buy that product because it has been programmed to do so.
The television show you watch and “get into,” puts you into a light state trance, and once your mind is nice and relaxed, the commercials give you direct commands about how you should feel about their product. And this is done on a massive scale, reaching millions of people every hour.
Politicians use similar techniques (let’s not forget about them!)
Q: What happens if I don’t wake up from a deep trance or something happens to you before bringing me out of the trance?
A: I will always bring you out of trance. But for argument’s sake, should anything happen to the hypnotist like in the movie Office Space (I love that movie!) when the hypnotist has a sudden heart attack and dies before emerging his subject, you can be assured that you will be safe and come out of trance naturally. In fact, you would do one of two things. Either you would come up out of trance on your own (suddenly and immediately) when you sense something wrong. Or you would naturally fall asleep and, upon awakening, your brain would cycle back to the Beta brain wave state of full alertness.
Although a part of your brain is ultra-relaxed and open to suggestion, remember that another part that watches over and protects you at all times, even when you are sleeping, called the Hidden Observer. That is why hypnosis is completely safe! Hollywood likes to make hypnosis seem more mysterious than it actually is, and I imagine most screenplay writers have no real knowledge of hypnosis, but they do have a great talent for writing drama! So take everything you see in the movies about hypnosis with a grain of salt.
Q: Can you get me to reveal my deepest secrets that I wish not to disclose?
A: Nope. Your hidden observer won’t allow me to do that either. If we could pull out secrets, we hypnotists would rule the world and have lots of power over people, if that were the case. So I can’t do that to you. However, what I can do is unlock repressed memories (without you having to emotionally relive them as other therapists get their patients to do) if they need to be brought out in therapy to help you get over a block. But if you don’t wish to share this memory with me, that is totally up to you. Your rational mind works just fine in trance!
Q: Why do hypnotists tell you to sleep? Do you actually go to sleep during the session?
A: “Sleep!” is just a cool term that hypnotists like to use to suggest to your mind to deeply relax. We don’t actually want you to fall into a deep snoring sleep, but we do want you to get to the point where you are in between the sleeping and waking states, or in a light sleeping state. In neurology terms, this is called the Alpha wave and Theta wave brain states, and it’s where hypnosis takes effect best. Don’t worry…if you do fall asleep I can still talk to your subconscious mind via ideomotor responses and muscle testing. And if I need you to speak to me with your voice, I’ll gently wake you up while keeping you in trance.
A: For most people, yes! (For some, it only takes 1 session!) Hypnosis is not about bringing up a bunch of stuff from your past and analyzing it (although we could do that and sometimes do it when absolutely necessary). It’s about figuring out what is not working for you right now and reprogramming your brain to function better. The length of time depends on the client and the nature of the problem. In fact, I recommend a 2 session minimum for all of my clients, then we evaluate how much progress was made and decide together if you need more sessions and how many.
Q: Is hypnosis the playground of the devil? Are Christians allowed to use hypnosis?
A: There are some people who are scared that Hypnosis is the “playground of the devil.” This is due to the misconception that hypnotists have total mind control. Also, hypnosis focuses on the subconscious mind where many believe the soul or the spiritual realm resides. I am respectful of that belief. Before I began using hypnosis on myself, being of Christian faith, I checked with church authorities to make sure it was okay. The official statement of my particular church made it clear that it is absolutely okay to use hypnosis in a productive way, such as for health purposes, but that it cannot be used to trick people or for evil. (Since it is impossible to hypnotize people without their consent, then we’re pretty safe there!) Of course, I only use my hypnosis for good! I took an oath before graduating to use my hypnosis honestly and ethically. Most hypnotists and all hypnotherapists are required to take an oath. Check with your own church affiliation if you have any spiritual reservations about it.
Q: When I book a hypnotist for a session, what can I expect?
A: I don’t know about all hypnotherapists, but with me, in the first session we go over what is blocking you, or what it is you want to get out of the sessions. I might have you do a couple of simple tests for me to find out how suggestible you are, the type of direction you prefer, and what your primary modality is so that we can maximize the effectiveness of our sessions. Then I lead you through the induction process, which is simply guided mediation, to get your body to relax. It’s actually very nice. Once your body is completely relaxed, I’ll do what is called a deepener on you (which is still guided meditation but it gets your mind to relax as deeply as your body has relaxed.) Once you are in a nice state of trance, I give direct and indirect suggestions for your health and well-being. Then I emerge you from trance and get your feedback on how you thought the session went. That’s it. Simple!
Q: Can’t I just hypnotize myself?
A: You can absolutely hypnotize yourself, especially if you have had the proper training. I hypnotize myself frequently although I would rather just relax and let someone else do all the work! If you can get yourself into a light state of trance, you can embed your own positive suggestions. Self-hypnosis is great for all kinds of things, but if you find it not working as well as you hoped, it may be because you have a secondary gain for your problem, (an underlying issue that’s been suppressed and needs to be addressed) so it helps to have a trained hypnotherapist to guide you through the process to by using Conflict-Resolution or “Parts” Therapy to help figure out what the secondary gain is so you can get past it. Plus, it just feels better when someone else does it to you. Have you ever tried giving yourself a massage?
Q: Can I surreptitiously get my spouse to do whatever I want by using hypnotic techniques?
A: Yes…and no. Your spouse has to agree to it on some level or it won’t work. I know people who have set anchors and hypnotic suggestions in their spouse so when they touched them in a certain area, like the back of their neck, they would immediately want to have sex with their partner. (You just have to remember not to touch them in that place when you have a headache!)
Q: Can you regress me into a past life? Or project me into a future life?
A: I can regress and project you; however, I cannot tell you whether or not it is actually a past life or future life, or simply a created memory. What I can assure you of is there is always a lesson to be learned that you can take back with you and examine in your waking state. It is your body telling you something about yourself that you may not have known consciously, like how a phobia got started, or how to solve a problem you may have had for years.
Q: When do the hypnotic suggestions take effect? When does it work?
A: It depends solely on the client, but hypnosis usually starts to work in the pre-talk before I induce the client. I set the expectations and suggestions for the brain to take in the positive results in advance, but it is really up to the client as to when it will kick in. It could kick in during the session, directly after the session, or within a few days of the session after it has had time to really set up in the mind. I always like to get feedback from my clients to see exactly when they noticed the positive changes in themselves.
Q: Can children, elderly people, depressed, or mentally ill people be hypnotized?
A: Some hypnotists believe that absolutely anyone can be hypnotized whether or not the subject believes they can be as long as the hypnotist really understands them. My belief is that everyone who is in relatively “normal” mental health (neuro-typical) can be hypnotized. I find it is difficult to hypnotize severely mentally challenged people, drunk or drugged people, or people experiencing schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, or other dementia. With people diagnosed with Autism, it depends on the individual, their age, and where they fall on the spectrum. I’m happy to work with people diagnosed with ASD, but I cannot guarantee results.
People who have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), the hyper form ADHD, OCD, or extreme phobias, neuroses, etc., absolutely can (and should) be hypnotized!
Severely depressed people can be hypnotized, but with a doctor’s consent. Many times people think they are depressed when they are actually still in the grieving process over the death of a loved one. This can be a lengthy process.
IF YOU ARE SUICIDAL GET HELP IMMEDIATELY FROM A DOCTOR OR LICENSED PSYCHIATRIST. FOR MORE ASSISTANCE, CALL THIS NUMBER: 1-800-273-8255.
Children are the easiest people to hypnotize because they mainly live in an Alpha-Theta brain wave (or trance) state. They are constantly walking around in a waking state of hypnosis. This, linked with brain plasticity, is why they can suck in so much information in such a short period of time, and it is why children have such great imaginations and retain every word you say (even when you think they are not listening). Personally, I would not do trance work on any child under school age, but I do watch my language around them because they are picking up everything you say and forming ego states. (And I don’t mean just refraining from swearing!) So if you say something like, “Why are you kids always acting up and fighting with each other?” Guess what? Your kids are going to always act up and fight with each other because you have programmed that in their little sponge-like minds. Instead, you should always say something positive like, “You are always such good kids! I don’t understand this behavior today because good kids—like you guys—really love and take care of each other.”
Q: How will hypnosis help me lose weight or quit smoking? I’ve tried other things and they have not worked. How is hypnosis different?
A: People often come to hypnotists as a last resort out of desperation only to find that it should have been their first move all along. Hypnosis will help you lose weight, stop smoking, etc., because a good hypnotherapist will first find out what the secondary gain for your problem is and work with that first. Your secondary gain is what is actually keeping you smoking, overeating, etc.
For instance, say a person really wants to lose weight and has tried all the diets, fads, etc., out there and have failed. Another part of this person’s mind actually has a positive intention for keeping him overweight and was developed to protect him in some way (probably in childhood). No diet plans fail. People fail to stick to diet plans. And most people have no idea what is causing their self-sabotage. A lot of overweight people have an identity with weight. They may have friends and relatives who are likewise overweight and if they were to become skinny, they fear they will lose a special bond with the other people in their lives. The fear is, what if people don’t like me anymore?
As an adult, when we recognize we have been holding this fear, we can say, “Oh my gosh! That sounds so irrational!” (Although we are never to judge our secondary gain. We just send it gratitude for trying to help.) We can now dissociate ourselves from it, and ask this ego state what could we do differently to get the same results with having to sabotage our body? It will tell us exactly what to do, in trance. Once we have the correct information for you personally, we will be able to embed proper suggestions and direct commands into your subconscious which works to reprogram old negative beliefs into new positive ones. We create new neuron pathways in your brain that connect to the happy positive channels of your mind and reconnect the old paths that were going nowhere (or in a sad place).
You can actually create this yourself through repetition and positive self-talk now, but if you don’t know what your secondary gain is and how to overcome it, then much of that positive talk could be useless. Programming your mind through hypnosis is similar to basic computer programming. Over time, bugs, viruses, and spam get into the software and slow your computer down, so you have to run a run an antivirus program to clean out all that junk to make it run efficiently. Just think of hypnotists as and AV for your mind!
Q: Do I remain “me” after being hypnotized? Do aspects of my personality change? Can the hypnosis process be reversed if I later feel uncomfortable with it?
A: You stay you! Hypnotism does not change your core beliefs. In fact, it takes quite a while for even yourself to change your core beliefs and what makes you, well, you. It’s you (only happier) because it gives you the tools to change behaviors you don’t prefer to have anymore, without the use of drugs which can have harmful side effects.
Your “personality” was set from about the age of six. So who you were at six is who you are now, essentially. You can improve aspects of your personality using constant uplifting self-talk and putting an end to negative speech! In hypnosis, we create positive changes together, but if you find there is anything you feel uncomfortable with, we can “undo” (or reprogram) the changes we made using the same process. Remember, as stated earlier, your mind will not take in suggestions that you would not approve of normally so that is not likely to happen.
Q: Can a single word be used to trigger a hypnotic suggestion in myself?
A: Absolutely! It can be a word, a touch, a sound, a color, etc. I can set an anchor for you and you can use a word to trigger a response at a later date. This is called post-hypnotic suggestion and it’s very cool!
Q: Can hypnosis get me a job?
A: Not exactly, but it can give you a huge edge over your competition. Hypnosis can boost your self-confidence, take away anxiety, and help with your memory recall and focus. Hypnotists can teach you how to use body language techniques, verbal language techniques, suggestive powers, etc., which are all powerful tools that give you a huge edge over the other candidates! We can also teach you methods of how you can take control of the interview and turn the table so the ball always stays in your court for as long as you need. I’ve been using these methods myself since the mid-nineties, and have landed every single job I’ve ever applied for as long as I could get to the interview phase.
I also have tips to apply to your resume using hypnotic writing, and as of this printing, I am currently working on a book to help people secure a job using basic hypnotic techniques. So check my website for more information.
Q: Can hypnosis help with autism spectrum disorder?
A: This is a subject near and dear to my heart because my son has been diagnosed with ASD, ADHD, and OCD. While hypnosis can help some of the symptoms, it cannot cure autism at this time. In fact, my job as a hypnotist is to open the doorway to the inner mind, while most people lower on the ASD scale live exclusively in the inner mind and need those doors to be able to shut at will to function better in society.
Q: Can hypnosis unlock repressed memories?
A: Technically yes…but there’s a caveat. The subconscious mind represses memories for a good reason. To protect you. Re-vivifying old memories could be very emotionally painful, especially if the hypnotic subject was abused in any way. Sometimes the information retrieved is accurate and sometimes it’s false but feels like it is real.
If you opt for regression hypnosis, do your homework and make sure the hypnotherapist is well trained in both hypnotic regression and forensic hypnosis if you are after information. Most therapists I know won’t touch regression, but you can still find a few who do. I do regression when I feel it’s necessary, but I have been well trained in it and use it for emotional healing, perspective change, Inner Child, and forgiveness work–NOT to bring up evidence as I’m not trained in forensic hypnosis.
Make sure you see a hypnotherapist with a long testimonial list. A traditional therapist will not be as rigorously trained in hypnosis. Only a few psychologists I know and virtually no psychiatrists I know have adequate training with hypnosis. So it’s very important to work with someone who knows how to handle abreactions (deep emotional outbursts). Also, someone who is not trained in regression could inadvertently implant false memories into your brain that would feel real and could be very damaging. So, just use lots of wisdom and caution if you opt to pull up repressed memories.
Q: Can you change the personality of my spouse or child?
A: Nope. Sorry. But I can help you change the way YOU feel about their personality.