Common questions, misconceptions & misunderstandings about hypnosis

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ImageJerry Uelsmann

Hypnosis is so misunderstood and it is such a frustration working with such a gentle, inspiring and wonderful therapy!

Hypnosis would be rebranded if there was a modern day PR exercise.  Just think if people say, meditation or mindfulness based practice, many people can accept this in ways that hypnotherapists only wish they could communicate, in perceptions of being open to this therapy!  Yet it is not so different to meditation.  It is guiding people into states of relaxation, acceptance and change.

Hypnosis has a misunderstood image and is rarely what people think it is.  It is a process of allowing yourself to go into relaxation, like guided meditation, always doing so under their own volition and control.  The altered state comes from focussing the attention inwards and allows the experience to be more open to learning, the subconscious and to challenge what the client wants to challenge.  Hypnosis without therapeutic input is not hypnotherapy and is just a trance.  It works well alongside CBT, mindfulness and compassion based therapies in my work.

Below are are few commons questions asked:


Would I benefit from hypnotherapy?

Almost all people can benefit and gain from hypnosis.  Indeed, an increasing knowledge of hypnotherapy and relaxation techniques are now integrated into a wide range of psychotherapeutic disciplines.  At last misconceptions are being challenged and hypnotherapy is being celebrated as a mainstream psychotherapy.  Hypnosis facilitates therapy and a range of therapeutic applications.  Indeed the increase of relaxation and learning techniques to relax can be therapeutic on their own.  Additional strategies seek to deal with a range of client presenting issues, from anxiety, to phobia, poor self-image, addictions, traumas and many other therapeutic goals.

Where hypnosis is not suitable, or is outside of my training remit or where other therapy would clearly be more beneficial, unlike unscrupulous practitioners, I will always refer in the rare cases where I feel an individual will not benefit from hypnotherapy.  I will seek to help that individual make an informed choice in a referral.

Can anyone be hypnotised?

People can be hypnotised if they allow themselves to go into a state of hypnosis.  People can resist hypnosis, but in therapy would be doing themselves a disservice as they always remain in control.  As a therapist, I seek to reassure confidence in the individual and their own control.  To resist and to fear limits progress that can be made in a session.  Remaining aware and in control does not.

Some people are more easily hypnotised than others and there are debates as to whether this is genetic or culturally dependent.  Often this depends on the mood, emotions, personality, rapport and trust in the therapist, as well as not having unrealistic expectations.  Some people are often surprised how normal hypnosis feels having had misconceptions given to them from different sources.  Others are surprised at how wonderful it feels to be so relaxed, or if they are creative how they can enhance their imaginative experiences.  Certainly hypnosis is a very individual experience.

Hypnosis, as explored elsewhere on this webpage is a natural process and should not be feared or over hyped.  Therapies offer strategies for change with willing individuals who are motivated and desiring life goals.


Will I have my mind taken over?

If hypnotists did have control over other people then the success of all therapies would be guaranteed and all hypnotherapists would be substantially richer!

You are forming a collaborative partnership with your therapist. The object of this partnership is to help you attain as deep a trance as you need in order to achieve your aims.  Because you are in control, you will only accept suggestions that you are in agreement with first, even if that means not changing for the better yet because other issues need to be resolved first before one is ready for later changes to take place.  Hypnosis is a joint venture and involves effort on the part of both the hypnotherapist and the client.

Will I forget what happens to me?

Since hypnosis is not about being ‘unconscious’, you will therefore hear everything said, and you will therefore be able to respond to what you have heard.  Amnesia is a part of hypnotic and altered state experience but you will always remember what it is important for you to remember.  I also include in the price of the therapy, a recording of each session on CD or MP3.

Can I get stuck in hypnosis?

No you cannot get “stuck” in hypnosis. You are always aware of all the sounds around you. The sub conscious is aware at all times and can bring your mind back to a conscious state at any time. Hypnosis is not sleep.

Will there be any side-effects or personality change?

The side-effects will be pleasant ones, e.g. relaxed, detached, calm, confident, focused, or enjoying a ‘hypnotic high’ (a consequence of being in the alpha state and in touch with your inner self).  Also, there is usually intense dreaming after a session of hypnosis as your brain continues to process, re-evaluate and update its old ways and strategies of getting your needs met.

“Hypnosis is like forcing someone to sleep”

Hypnosis facilitates trance and people can be quite mentally active and communicate in trances.  Simply, when we are asleep, we are not learning, rather we are simply unconscious.  However, hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness, where unconscious resources are in a more accessible state.

Unfortunately due to stage hypnosis, people really believe that they will experience feelings such as a drug high, have an unmoving sedation where a spell is cast over them by the powerful hypnotist.  This simply is not the case.  Confusion begins when hypnotists use the word sleep to increase relaxation, but total sleep is not desirable in hypnosis.  Hypnotists facilitate trances only when people are willing, but cannot force someone into it.

Is hypnotherapy like stage hypnotists?

Hypnotherapy is not the same as stage hypnosis, indeed many hypnotherapy organisations work to contest stage hypnotists as legitimate entertainment.  Stage acts, use tests to find the most suggestible people and rely on finding exhibitionists to manipulate people into acting in ‘bizarre’ ways for entertainment.  With an audience there is increased conformity, increased exhibitionism and often a loss of control, even more so with other substances like alcohol.  In a therapeutic setting these factors do not exist.

The only suing case in hypnotherapy in the UK was when a stage hypnotist chose a member of the audience who had been severely sexually abused and brought back these memories while the audience at first ridiculed her.  The stage hypnotist rarely conducts checks on his audience’s past, mental state or background.

The real shame here is that hypnotherapy historically received a bad press.  The reluctance of individuals to try hypnotherapy as a psychotherapeutic method has often been marred by the negative images of stage hypnosis, where there could be real benefits.  In hypnosis there is always the ‘critical factor’, which means the person is in control and cannot be forced to do what they do not want to do or strongly disagree with.

If hypnosis is so good, why is it not used more often?

Increasingly hypnosis is gaining medical support and having the negative image of the stage hypnotist overturned.  Increasingly psychotherapies are integrating with hypnosis.  With the recent approval of the British Medical Association, hypnotherapy is gaining momentum, though prejudice still exists.  The increased Parliamentary strategy towards proving standards in registered psychotherapy bodies are a move towards removing inadequate and sometimes unscrupulous practitioners.  My training hypnotherapy provider is registered with the UKCP and remains a secure choice.

What about these guarantee’s for ‘cures’?

Unfortunately any guarantees of cures, 99.9% success rates and miracles are deceitful marketing.  The success rates of therapies which the NHS researches and benchmarks by trained psychiatrists and medical professionals rarely exceed success rates of 65 – 70% in terms of symptom improvement.  Here hypnotherapists, NLP practitioners and short term therapists often exaggerate and market unfounded claims.  Hypnotherapy integrated with psychotherapy techniques can improve and help people with many symptoms.  There are many therapists who will attempt to hoodwink people and have limited training that the European Union is hoping to address in setting standards for alternative therapies (to which the NRHP adhere).

Adam Prince | Counselling | Psychotherapy | Hypnotherapy | Manchester | 0161 2355187 | 07722405823 |

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