Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Hypnosis.
What is hypnosis?
Hypnosis is focused concentration while deeply relaxed. It can also be thought of as guided meditation. Almost everyone has experienced hypnosis. It's the state of concentration you experience while reading an interesting book, watching your favorite television show, or listening to music. The noises of the house or outdoors fade into the background as you are "entranced" by your activities.
How many of us have driven to a familiar destination using our usual route only to wonder how we had arrived there. As we drove, we were daydreaming about our vacation, planning our day's activities, or concentrating on the audio book playing on the CD and somehow arrived at our destination on "auto pilot". However, if a child had darted into the road, or we heard the wail of a siren, we would have been immediately shaken out of our concentration and responded quickly. This is what hypnosis is like.
Another example is the football player who doesn't notice that his foot is broken until the play is over and he's limping off the field. While he was concentrating on the game, he didn't even notice his injury.
Does a hypnotized person give up control?
Positively not! All hypnosis is self hypnosis. The hypnotist is merely the guide. Just as the driver can immediately bring his or her focus back to the road when daydreaming, or the person engrossed in a thrilling TV show jumps to attention when the phone rings, a person under hypnosis can come out of it at any time.
People who have seen a stage hypnotist have the impression that the hypnotized person has given up control. This is not the case. The person who volunteers to work with a stage hypnotist knows what to expect and is a willing participant. I'm not saying that person isn't hypnotized, I'm saying that the volunteer has mentally agreed to do what is expected of him or her. And don't be fooled by movies that falsely portray hypnotized people as committing a crime when hearing a magic word or phrase. A hypnotized person will never do or say anything that he or she wouldn't do or say when not in hypnosis. No one tells their secrets or shares anything they don't want to.
How will I feel when I'm hypnotized?
People who have never been hypnotized before suspect that they will be asleep. You are not asleep when hypnotized, you are merely in a relaxed state. You will hear every word and be able to speak to the hypnotist while in hypnosis.
While hypnotized, some people experience a sense of feeling "light" or weightless. Others feel heavy as if they are sinking into the chair. Some people "see" various colors or light; others don't experience this. It's possible for a client to think they haven't been hypnotized, because the experience feels so natural. For this person, the proof comes from the effects of the experience, plus the compression of time. They will feel they've only been hypnotized for perhaps 20 minutes, when it's actually been twice as long. Time compression is a common experience.
In my practice, I routinely use a "Thought Stream" machine which interfaces with my computer and graphs the client's relaxation levels. This shows how deep into hypnosis a client went, and the client can track their hypnosis progress.
How do I know I can be hypnotized?
Many people upon hearing I am a hypnotherapist will remark, "I don't think I can be hypnotized". My response to them is "If you can understand the concept of completely letting go and relaxing, you can be hypnotized". If you want to be hypnotized, you can be. (Note: exceptions to this are the psychotic or mentally disabled).
Our first session is 1-1/2 hours, rather than the usual half hour, including a free half hour for consultation and testing for suggestibility. If the initial tests show a resistance to suggestibility, there are simple exercises that are given as "homework", and we can try again in about a week. This would happen rarely, as most people who visit a hypnotist are open to the experience and have no trouble becoming hypnotized. With each hypnosis session, people usually increase their depth of hypnosis. Hypnosis depths go from 1-6, with one being the lightest. Even people only at depth 1 or 2 are hypnotized sufficiently for most uses of hypnosis. The deeper depths are need such things as age regressions and memory retrieval.
Do I need a prescription from my doctor to be hypnotized?
For most uses of hypnosis, you do not. Exceptions would be for the treatment of symptoms associated with physical conditions such as chronic headaches, arthritis, etc. Most physicians do not hesitate to provide prescriptions when requested by the hypnotherapist.
You mention the term "hypnotherapist". What's the difference between a hypnotist and a hypnotherapist?
Although the terms can be used interchangeably, the hypnotherapist focuses on a client's self-improvement, goal achievement and problem solving.