Everything you ever wanted to know about hypnosis and hypnotherapy (but were afraid to ask)
When I talk about the fact I am a hypnotherapist to people from Sheffield and beyond the same kinds of questions keep cropping up every time. I love answering these questions! It means that I can give people accurate information to help them have a factual understanding of what I do and how it could help them.
There are many misunderstandings, fears and anxieties about what hypnosis is and is not. If I have missed out the question you most want to know the answer to you can drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will reply directly to you and will then add your question to this post. Over time I hope that this page builds in depth to help even more people just like you.
What is hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a perfectly normal frame of mind that the brain naturally enters many times a day for most people. Hypnosis is frequently associated with a deep sense of relaxation and the focusing of attention on appropriate suggestions made by the therapist.
These suggestions help people make the positive changes within themselves that they desire. In a hypnotherapy session you are always in control and cannot be made to do anything you wouldn’t do normally.
What is the difference between hypnosis and hypnotherapy?
Hypnosis is what happens in a hypnosis stage show. The hypnotic state is used to ‘make’ a person do things that are entertaining for the people in the audience. A hypnotherapist uses the same hypnotic state but uses it to help the individual to make changes to aspects of how they think, act or feel which are focused on improvement. The actual process of being hypnotised is pretty much the same in both cases.
Can everyone be hypnotised?
The metropolitan population of Sheffield is 1,569,000. How many of those do you think can go into trance? Half? Three quarters? Technically the answer is every single one of them.
You go into trance frequently. You call it ‘daydreaming’ or being ‘in the zone’ or ‘automatic pilot’ so you see, you are already an expert at being in a hypnotic state!
Doctor David Speigel from Stanford University School of Medicine did MRI scans on people with high hypnotisability and people with low hypnotisability. He claims that about a quarter of people can’t be hypnotised but the research I have read doesn’t show how people were categorised into high and low hypnotisability groups.
This research combined with the fact that everyone can imagine/daydream/zone out means that everyone can go into trance but some people do it quicker, easier and deeper than others. Even those who have a low hypnotisability level can still go into a trance and can still potentially benefit from hypnotherapy.
How long can the effects of hypnosis last for?
This depends on the degree of subconscious change that was initially brought about. The best and most long lasting therapy addresses underlying causes of the behaviour causing concern.
It depends on the individual, but there is always the possibility that a problem can be treated once and never troubles the client ever again. It is also possible that hypnotherapy will be successful but won’t last a lifetime and may need ‘topping up’.
Can a person be too strong-minded to be hypnotised?
What people mean by “strong minded” when they ask me this kind of question is never that clear but technically everyone is capable of going into a trance as it is a perfectly normal frame of mind pretty much every one of us experiences on a daily basis.
As I mentioned in a previous question, if you don’t want to be hypnotised then you can’t be. This means that you have every chance of going into a trance and benefiting from this if you are a willing participant.
Can hypnotherapy be used to reduce pain?
Pain is a warning signal to let a person know there is a problem within the body and where it is at. This is essential for survival. For example, if you touched an oven that was extremely hot you would instinctively and instantly move your hand away. If you have got the message that pain is being registered, for example while having a tattoo, the pain signal is not needed but can still get in the way in some cases.
It would be really useful to be able to turn off or reduce the pain signal in these circumstances. Hypnotherapy can in some cases help people to achieve exactly this.
Professor William Ray from the Penn State psychology department has said “We have done a variety of EEG studies, one of which suggests that hypnosis removes the emotional experience of pain while allowing the sensory sensation to remain. Thus, you notice you were touched but not that it hurt.”
“I’m not averse to anaesthetic – it’s just that my pain control is a hell of a lot better than the medical profession’s and I heal a lot quicker because my body doesn’t have to get rid of all the chemicals. The brain is a very sophisticated computer and if your press the right buttons it will do amazing things – if you press the right buttons it will switch certain things off.”
How frequent will the treatment sessions be?
At the beginning it is usually best to have each treatment session around 7 days apart. This gives the work done in each session the time to sink in and to be processed by the brain and during this time you may begin to notice your thoughts, attitudes or behaviours changing.
What issues is hypnotherapy most commonly used to treat?
Hypnotherapists are usually generalists rather than specialists. A generalist is like a GP/doctor. They see people for all sorts of different issues and are pretty good at helping most people to some degree. However, if you have a serious health issue and your GP said “I could have a go at treating you but to be honest I have never done this kind of procedure before” it wouldn’t exactly fill you with confidence would it?
Compare that to a specialist who says “The only field I work in is this one and I see people day in and day out with the exact issue you have and I know exactly what I am doing when I treat this.” Who inspires more confidence? The specialist of course!
The downside is that there aren’t many specialist hypnotherapists. As a result a generalist will probably be easier to find.
Is it possible to get stuck in trance?
This is a question which was fuelled in the last few years by a stage hypnotist who supposedly tripped mid show and knocked himself out. It was reported that his subjects were “stuck in trance” and a second hypnotist had to be called in to get the “stuck” subjects out.
This smacks of self publicity and the manipulation of the ignorant media by someone who wanted some national press! It is not possible to get stuck in trance. Think of it as being like going to sleep. When you sleep you might have a 10 minute power nap or you might have a super long 14 hours. However long you are asleep for there will come a point where you wake up. The same is true for being in a hypnotic trance. You will open your eyes eventually one way or the other.
Can a hypnotised person be made to cluck like a chicken?
A person in trance is more suggestible than someone who is not. The clucking like a chicken (or dancing like a chicken is a common variation on this question) is something that you might expect to see during a stage hypnosis show. It would be expected by a participant in this kind of setting as it is done for the entertainment of others at the expense of the subject’s dignity.
In a therapy setting however no hypnotherapist worth their salt would ever do this kind of thing as there is no audience to entertain.
Just out of interest … how DO you dance like a chicken??
Have your questions about hypnosis been answered?
If they have great! That was my hope. If not then there is no problem at all. There are a LOT of questions about hypnotherapy and this page answers the main ones. If yours isn’t answered here or if you have something of a more personal nature that you would like to discuss then click the box below to book a time for me to call you back.
I am happy to give you all the information you need, for free. This enables you to make an informed and educated decision about working with me.