National Hypnotherapy Society | Frequent Questions People May Have…

Despite having been around for thousands of years, hypnosis is still steeped in mystery for many of us. Within the last couple of centuries, hypnosis became enmeshed with the realms of science and has been brought out of ancient Greek and Egyptian temples and into the modern world. Unfortunately, hypnosis has also become a spectacle of the performing arts which has marred the reputation of hypnotherapy as a powerful and respectable practice. Here, we hope to reassure the worries that someone may have when considering hypnotherapy to help with an aspect of their lives that they want to improve. Below we have the answers to some common questions that you may have before your first session.

Does it work?

There are hundreds of academic and clinical studies that highlight the incredible potential that hypnotherapy has to help someone take back control of their lives, from smoking cessation to fighting off phobias, to helping with weight management. There is also the word of mouth; ask people who have tried it before and see what their experience was. Some hypnotherapists will also have reviews on their websites if you have a particular therapist in mind.

It is important to look into the different types of hypnotherapy and see what suits you best. If your hypnotherapist’s style of hypnotherapy isn’t compatible with you, you may also not respond to their suggestions as well as you’d like to. For example, some styles of hypnotherapy use permissive suggestions, some use metaphor, some focus on the present and some on the past. It is important to communicate your wants and needs, as well as to shop around and look for a type of hypnotherapy that compliments you.

What can I expect?

There are different hypnotherapy approaches out there, and different ways to hypnotise someone. However, the experience of hypnosis itself is often very peaceful and relaxing no matter the method of getting there. There are a great many of us that experience trance-like states every day, so the experience won’t be unfamiliar and unsettling. First, you’ll talk to your hypnotherapist to discuss your goals and agree on what methods of hypnosis and induction your therapist will use. After this, your hypnotherapist will lead you into a deeply relaxed state, which many people find to be pleasant and refreshing. The hypnotherapist will then use your previously agreed upon methods to guide you towards your goals, be it reducing anxiety or quitting smoking. Finally, the hypnotherapist will gradually and gently bring you out of hypnosis, leaving you feeling refreshed and relaxed.

Can it make things worse?

For the vast majority of people, hypnotherapy cannot worsen a problem. There are some people who are highly resistant to hypnosis so they may only experience limited benefits from the session. Worst case scenario, you may come off feeling a bit disappointed when you’re still smoking as often as ever a month after treatment. In some instances, hypnotherapy can sometimes create unexpected changes that may present challenges. For example, if someone smokes to deal with a past trauma or life stress, simply stopping the habit without taking into account what is causing the stress reaction can result in finding another harmful habit to lean on or feeling less able to cope with current stress, such as work. Therefore, it is important to talk openly with your therapist so that they can help you to make lasting and beneficial changes without causing an imbalance in other aspects of your life.

Is it safe?

It is important to understand that you are fully in control of your thoughts and actions when under hypnosis. If necessary, such as if you felt uncomfortable or there was an emergency, you can absolutely bring yourself out of the hypnotic state at any point during the session. This also is true for any self-hypnosis that you may undertake following your initial therapy. You can’t get stuck into a hypnotic trance at any point, although you may be reluctant to as hypnosis can be very relaxing and pleasant. If during a session, you had to suddenly get up and drive to pick up a poorly child from school, you would be safe to do so.

If you do not want to be hypnotised, it is not possible to be put into a hypnotic trance. At all. You are not, at any point, at risk of someone hypnotising you against your will. Furthermore, you cannot be made to do anything that you do not want to do. If you don’t like the suggestions of the hypnotherapist, you simply do not have to take them on. For example, you cannot be forced to commit a crime, spill your secrets, or act against your moral values. Cooperation and positive communication are central to the effectiveness of hypnotherapy, and without these things then it simply will not work.

There are two exceptions to the safety of hypnotherapy that should not be ignored: it is not recommended to use hypnotherapy if you have psychosis or certain types of personality disorder, as it could make your condition worse regardless of the goals that you are seeking.

Overall, hypnotherapy is a very safe and often effective form of therapy. It is usually short term, doesn’t interfere with medication, and can often complement and even be more powerful when combined with other therapies. The most important takeaway is that you are in control of what you want to work on and how you want hypnotherapy to help you improve your life. It is a tool of empowerment that allows you to draw upon your own strength and resources so that you can make effective and lasting changes to your own life. The possibilities are endless!