Is Hypnosis Safe?

you should be cautious when getting hypnotherapy

I have answered many of the more common hypnosis questions on this website already but recently I have been asked a couple of times whether hypnosis is safe. The reason for these questions is mainly down to a case in the American courts relating to George Kenney, a former high school head teacher who supposedly killed three of his students.

He has been accused of causing their deaths by being an unregulated practitioner of hypnosis, a crime in America, and hypnotising them which killed them. The three students, Marcus Freeman, Wesley McKinley and Brittany Palumbo died some time after their teacher hypnotised them.

I would at this point like to express my deep and heartfelt sadness for the parents of these young adults. Trying to comprehend what losing a child must be is not something I wish to spend any time even considering, being a parent myself. My thoughts are with the parents, family and friends of the students.

Could Hypnosis Be To Blame?

It seems to me though that blaming their deaths on the fact that they requested to be hypnotised is incorrect. I can not imagine anything that the teacher did that could have caused their deaths. Marcus Freeman died in a car crash. Also in the car at the time of the crash was Freeman’s girlfriend and they were driving home after he had been to a dental appointment. Apparently Freeman “got a strange look on his face” shortly before he veered off the road and crashed.

Wesley McKinley was hypnotised to help him with auditions for music school which were causing him anxiety. He hung himself and was said to have been acting strange on the day of his death. Brittany Palumbo also hung herself, three weeks after McKinley.

All three students went to their teacher to get help at dealing with their anxiety and Mr Kenney said that he only acted in the student’s best interests and was trying to help them by helping them to be calmer and more in control. The teacher also hypnotised at least 75 other students and teachers in the school and they are all unharmed.

No Direct Evidence that Hypnosis Or Self-Hypnosis Was To Blame

The lawsuits seem to link being hypnotised to the deaths but offer no evidence for it being the direct cause of these tragic deaths. The death of Marcus Freeman was linked to hypnosis rather than the “painful” trip to the dentist. I would have thought if he was in pain that some kind of anaesthetic would have been used for the treatment he received which could have had an impact on his ability to drive safely.

In any school where there is a large number of students who are placed under huge pressure to perform there will be students who are unable to handle it. It is unfortunately not uncommon for students to take their own lives due to this pressure. The fact that Brittany Palumbo took her own life just 3 weeks after Wesley McKinley could suggest that she was influenced by him rather than the hypnosis they received.

The case is incredibly dubious and the facts just do not add up in my opinion. Some hypnotherapists and researchers in the field say that it is impossible to make someone go against their own moral compass and cause harm to themselves or others. Derren Brown did cast doubt on this claim when he hypnotised someone to assassinate Steven Fry. This seemed to suggest that people can be manipulated through hypnosis to do things that they would not normally do.

That being said, Derren Brown is incredibly experienced and skilled and spent weeks and weeks working with his subject to deliberately guide his subject towards acting as he desired. George Kenney taught himself some basic relaxation hypnosis through on line studying. He is hardly the master manipulator Derren Brown is.

Taking all that into account I would urge anyone reading this who is unsure about the safety of hypnosis to be assured that they are HIGHLY unlikely to suffer any undesirable side effects from hypnosis if they take sensible precautions.

Guidelines for finding a reputable hypnotherapist

  • Work with a hypnotherapist who is registered with a professional governing body like the National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH) or the General Hypnotherapy Register (GHR). If they aren’t registered with a governing body you have to ask yourself “why not”?

  • Work with someone qualified. The unofficially agreed minimum qualification is the Hypnotherapy Practitioner Diploma (HPD). This qualification is externally awarded which means a professional assesses a therapists understanding of various key techniques.

  • Is the therapist insured? A good therapist will have public liability and professional indemnity insurance. It is an overhead for the hypnotherapist but proves that they value your health and wellbeing. Do not be afraid to ask for proof of insurance from your hypnotherapist.

  • Where does the hypnotherapist work from? Do they use a room in their own home or do they have a private clinic? A therapist with a clinic is more likely to have a successful practise and be the more professional choice.

Ultimately, I realised hypnotherapy isn't what I am looking for but Richard nevertheless gave great advice and showed a real understanding of my issue. With his help I am confident in moving forward and thinking more about the future and less about the past!
Conrad Guiney
Conrad Guiney
16:15 06 Dec 18
Richard was very helpful in helping me understand what may be causing my recurrent nightmares. Even after the initial consultation on the phone and then in person just by talking about the issue and having his input I felt I could control them more effectively. The hypnotherapy was something that I hadn't tried before and I found relaxing and interesting. It has been helpful to go back over the recordings of the sessions again. Richard also had some very sensible suggestions for improving my work life balance and skills / tips to decrease the things that cause me stress to do with my work. Thank you very much Richard.read more
Jennifer-Jane Turner
Jennifer-Jane Turner
16:12 07 Nov 18
I had suffered from panic attacks regularly in the past due to anxiety, it got to a point where I felt like I couldn't cope anymore. I visited Richard for an initial consultation where he gave me some tips on how to cope until our first session and even that was an unbelievable amount of help. I have had only one session with Richard and I feel as if the anxiety has near enough disappeared from my life. I finally feel like my old self again. Highly recommend, such a lovely man and so easy to get along with, felt like I had known him for years.read more
Jordan
Jordan
14:56 19 Oct 18
An amazing experience of hypnotherapy, I cannot recommend enough. I am quite sceptical but this actually works and changed my life, so pleased. Thank you!
Lucie Behounkova
Lucie Behounkova
20:57 17 Jan 18
Brilliant I didn't know what to expect but from the minute I meet Richard I felt at ease.Iwanted help with diet issues I'd been dieting most of my life and I'd had enough of not eating proper food ,counting points felling fed up tierd hungry not even wanting to have food as I'd lost intrest it was boring to me.But not anymore after 4sessions with Richard Ive opened up a new chapter in my life no more points being normal in what I eat were and when it's a great feeling anyone struggling with their diet should try this , Richard makes you feel at ease comfortable and the best bit he dosnt judge you he helps Ive noticed a big difference in myself I'm happy enjoying my life without constantly thinking of my diet Ive really enjoyed my session so a big big Thankyou richard.read more
Amanda Jayne Greenwood
Amanda Jayne Greenwood
20:39 29 Aug 17
Richard was very professional and kind in offering his advice and support for my situation. He is the type of person who would go the extra mile for you. I would recommend his services to anyone.
Sarah
Sarah
18:54 20 Jul 17
My problem was weight loss and not having the motivation to do anything about it. I contacted Richard Hennessy and after one chat and one hypnosis session I was on my way. The actual hypnosis was nothing like I imagined. I thought I would go into a trance like in the movies!! I was totally aware of everything the whole time and at the end felt completely relaxed. Before hypnosis I would eat because it was meal time regardless of whether I was hungry, but after, I only eat when I am hungry and I can leave food on my plate instead of clearing it - a flashback to childhood days when you couldn't leave the table until your plate was clear. I had one more recording from Richard, because I couldn't get to another appointment, and don't feel I need anymore. If I feel as if I am slipping back into old ways I listen to the recording and feel fine again. Richard provides a recording of all sessions to take away with you so its not like he is pressuring you to going back again and again.I would fully recommend him to anyone. Thankyou Richard!!read more
Val Barnsley
Val Barnsley
12:55 02 Jul 17
Emetophobia - a fear of sickness or illness, It had a name and i never knew, but thanks to Richard it is now a name i don't associate with me and it is all down to the power of hypnosis .One session of just talking then 4 sessions of hypnosis and now i feel able to do things without having bad thoughts. Cannot thank Richard enough.I first saw Richard in March 2015 since then I have travelled abroad 6times(3 more to go ) something I wouldn't have thought possible especially as I travelled by coach, at the age of 65 a world of travel is something I really enjoy and as I have said before it's all down to Richard thanx againread more
Susan Simpkin
Susan Simpkin
17:16 09 May 17
I sought help from Richard with regard to anxiety and depression. I was looking for help to clear the 'chatter' in my mind so that I can more easily focus and make progress towards goals that are important to me. I found the deep mindfulness I gained from the sessions helped to clear my mind and give me tools that I can use in everyday situations. I am more able to calm myself for work presentations and better focus on what is needed for my family.I feel like I have tapped into the core of who I am and can now channel my inner energy for postive outcomes for me.The recordings of the sessions were great in helping me continue my practice after my sessions with Richard and his nuturing and assertive style made me feel very comfortable and at ease.read more
Eleanor R Reynolds
Eleanor R Reynolds
06:59 25 Apr 17
Richard may have saved my life! I was smoking 60 cigarettes a day and had no other way to quit. There was not a single thing I wanted to do without smoking and not a single emotion that I didn't associate with smoking. Richard sat with me and talked about all the triggers and issues that I felt, he spent a long time before the session started. Then in the session he made me feel relaxed about everything and confident that we were going to beat the habit. When I came out of the the session, I didn't smoke, and I haven't for over 7 months now. I had tried everything else previously, and he is the only person who has made me feel truly like a non smoker. I hang out with smokers, I go to smokey venues, and I just don't need it myself. He is truly a miracle worker and I am so impressed and grateful for what he did. Thank you Richard, please keep changing people's lives for the better. read more
suze collings
suze collings
18:07 27 Aug 16
I saw Richard during the course of four sessions to help me get my weight under control without going on some magic diet. Richard is a lovely, friendly, and knowledgeable person, who made me feel at ease from the word go. The sessions where highly enjoyable and allowed me to explore the inner knowledge and strength that I already possessed but wasn't aware of, by being nudged in the right direction. I immediately saw a change in my eating habits which have resulted steady loss of around 1 kg per week (16 kg in total so far) without much change in what I eat. Through the sessions, I have learn to regain control of my eating and to allow myself to enjoy food again. If you are serious about losing weight and need someone who you can trust to help you, I can HIGHLY recommend hypnotherapy with Richard! Many thanks :)read more
Gunnar Mallon
Gunnar Mallon
12:03 08 May 16
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