Frequently asked questions
- What is hypnosis?
- What is hypnotherapy?
- How does it feel to be hypnotised?
- How do you hypnotise people?
- Is hypnosis "mind control"?
- What about those stage hypnotists that make people do strange and silly things?
- How much will I remember?
- How deep will I go?
- How do I know if I can be hypnotised?
- Can I "get stuck" in hypnosis?
- What if I'm pregnant, under a doctor's care, or taking medication?
- In what areas can hypnotherapy be beneficial?
- How quickly will I experience results from hypnotherapy?
Hypnosis, or "trance", is a very normal and natural state of consciousness, one we all experience from time to time in which the mind remains clear, alert and focused on something. Have you ever "become really absorbed" while watching TV? Or driven to work on "auto pilot?" That is a form of trance. It is not the same as sleep. It is not an unconscious state.
Contrary to popular misconceptions, hypnosis is not something that is done to you, rather it is something you do to yourself. Indeed all hypnosis is actually self-hypnosis - a skill you will learn during therapy. The job of the "hypnotist" is merely to guide the client into that particular state of awareness that is a trance state.
Sometimes people ask if they've really been hypnotised, just because it feels so normal and they were maybe expecting something very strange. The zombie like states seen in movies and on TV shows are pure fantasy. Unfortunately much of this popular perception of hypnosis is reinforced by what appears to happen in stage hypnosis shows, but the reality is far less dramatic than Hollywood likes to portray it!
Hypnosis itself is not a therapy and does not relieve symptoms, whatever those symptoms might be. It is the therapy carried out within hypnosis that makes the difference. There are two basic approaches to hypnotherapy:
This clinical form of treatment is ideal
for helping to cope with such things as self-development,
phobias, smoking, some habits, some weight-control problems,
stress, hypno-healing and so forth.
This is used for the more fundamental or
deep-seated problems or issues. This approach aims to find
and eliminate the underlying cause of such things as
irrational fears, emotional problems, relationship
difficulties, psychosexual problems, lack of confidence,
personality problems, sleeping difficulties,
stuttering/stammering, anxiety, inferiority complex,
unhappiness etc. and most other cases where there is a
psychological factor at work.
It is very hard to answer this question, because it does seem to be a slightly different experience for every individual. Many of us experience a "trance-like" state while hearing a good sermon, listening to some good music on the radio, reading a book, or while watching TV or a movie. Some observed or reported "signs" of hypnosis include the following, and they do go some way towards giving an indication of what hypnosis "feels" like:
- Physical relaxation (Body muscles feel relaxed).
- Mental relaxation.
- General feeling of drowsiness as if ready to doze.
- Jaw muscles relaxed and teeth unclenched.
- Desire to scratch an itch, but not sure of doing it.
- Twitching or jerking in any part of the body.
- Feeling of well-being.
- Tingling or numbness in any portion of body.
- Heavy feeling in any portion of the body, or entire body, or.....
- Feeling of lightness.
- Feeling of floating.
- Partial body detachment as if part of the body is not there.
- Lack of desire to open eyes.
- Body warmth or chill.
- Time distortion (minutes seems like hours and vice versa).
For most people, hypnosis is a pleasantly relaxed state combined with a sense of focus, usually on the feeling of relaxation itself. There is often a heightened awareness of sounds, and temperature but a pleasant distracted feeling that the sensations are irrelevant to the sense of well-being which is being experienced.
Waking naturally from sleep in the morning, we pass through a similar state. There is an awareness that the body and mind are no longer asleep, yet not quite fully awake either! Hypnosis can feel very much like that.
The client is guided into trance using language only; softly spoken words aimed at distracting and relaxing the conscious part of the mind, allowing the subconscious part to become more available and accessible. There is no need for swinging watches, guttering candles or any form of physical contact between therapist and client.
Certainly not. It is not possible to make anyone do anything against their will or against their personal beliefs and values.
If at any time you want to emerge from the state of hypnosis, for any reason, you will instantly, naturally open your eyes and become fully alert. No one can keep you in hypnosis against your will.
Stage hypnotism is a totally different scenario, an entertainment setting where the vast majority of people in the audience have already "bought into" the idea that silly things are going to happen. Stage hypnotists pick their "victims" with great care. They have no interest in the shy, quiet types, they want the extroverts, and they also want people who are quite convinced of their "magic" powers, using so-called "suggestibility tests" to reinforce the belief. Curiously, people are still willing to believe in this even if the performer, like Derren Brown is open enough to admit that his "mind control" power doesn't exist and that he is only using a combination of illusion, misdirection and showmanship!
Mind control by stage hypnotists is no more real than a magician "sawing a woman in half".
Memory retention is the same as it would be for any conversation or interaction. You remember some parts, others you don't recall - but that doesn't mean they weren't remembered, just not recalled as easily!
The real question here is "can anything be done to me without me realising it?" and the answer is simply that your subconscious mind protects you from any suggestion that is not in your highest and best interests. So even if you don't remember every word said (and who remembers every word of every conversation anyway?) nothing can be done to your detriment in any way whatsoever.
Depth of trance varies according to the individual, and the type of work we are doing. In some cases, simply having the eyes closed and the mind engaged in visualisation is sufficient. For suggestion work, a deeper trance can be helpful, as there is no need for the client to actively interact or speak to the therapist, so they can really enjoy a deep experience.
With the exception of some mentally handicapped people, and those who are drunk, everyone can be hypnotised, because all hypnosis is actually self-hypnosis. The job of the "hypnotist" is simply to guide you there. It is a perfectly normal and natural everyday state and if you are willing to let go, you will find it is very easy and pleasant.
Hypnosis is a very natural state and no-one can be "held" there against their will. If you were to go so deep as to enter a truly unconscious state (i.e. fall asleep), you would simply awaken when rested. It is impossible for anyone to be `left or lost` in hypnosis.
After hypnosis, a person "awakens" naturally, just as they do after sleep! Even if the hypnotherapist were to leave the room, the subject would eventually realise that the session had ended and would return to the fully conscious state on their own.
During the session, if there were an emergency, or if you no longer wish to participate, you can easily awaken yourself at any time and simply stop.
Hypnosis is suitable for everyone with the exception of the mentally handicapped and people suffering from "psychotic" conditions, such as bi-polar disorder or schizophrenia.
Epileptics should consult their doctor before therapy, not because of any inherent danger from the hypnotic procedure, but rather because any therapy can be an emotional process, and the GP will want to consider whether there is an increased risk of seizure. Pregnant women should also consult their doctor before undertaking any kind of therapy in which strong emotions are being explored.
The list is probably endless, but here are just a few areas in which hypnotherapy has shown beneficial results.....
Smoking, panic attacks, nightmares, exam nerves, confidence, concentration, weight management, slimming, stress, phobias, sexual problems, public speaking, memory, relaxation, headaches, nervousness, feelings of guilt, independence, addictions, eating disorders, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, pain control, twitching, fetishism, inhibitions, self esteem, anger management, shame, allergies, migraine, asthma, claustrophobia, motivation, frustrations, depression, decision making, dental anxiety, tinnitus, enuresis (bed wetting), fears, compulsions, obsessions, some skin disorders, excessive drinking, insomnia, creativity enhancement, travel fear, impotence, erectile dysfunction, vaginismus, sports motivation, nail-biting, stuttering or stammering, shyness, blushing, sales improvement, procrastination, pre-menstrual tension, fear of childbirth, fear of flying, high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, goal setting, general health improvement, emotional problems, bullying, self esteem issues, post-abortion trauma, relationship issues
The speed with which results are seen depends on the symptoms. Most smokers are treated in just one session. Simple phobias usually take one or sometimes two sessions, most weight loss clients will be seeing results after four sessions. Clients having underlying anxiety issues are treated in an average of eight sessions (usually between 6 and 10) and depressed clients usually require seven sessions. Occasionally a couple of sessions of regression work may be needed to deal with any residual anxiety after depression has lifted.
A lot depends on the client's willingness to "let go" and partake fully in therapy. In the vast majority of cases, clients are also given CD recorded sessions to use at home. This accelerates the process considerably. My aim is to have you reach your personal therapy goal in the fastest possible time consistent with good patient care.