Questions people ask about hypnosis.
- Will I be in control? This is a biggy for many folks. If you came for help, e.g., you can’t give a speech in front of a crowd of ten, YOU’RE not in control of your fear. It depends how you define control. The hypnotist allows you to be in control of your problem. She’s guiding you.
- Will the hypnotist make me do something stupid like quack like a duck or imitate Elvis? If you go to a hypnotist stage show, you’ll see those behaviors because it’s entertaining. It wouldn’t be interesting to tell someone to stop biting their fingernails. The audience wouldn’t know if it worked or not. But to see someone walk and quack like a duck whenever the hypnotist said, “Duck,” that’s funny. Having someone act like a cheerleader when the hypnotist mentions a football team is funny, too. I’ve had clients who attended such shows and became nervous that I might make them do something silly. If you go to an ethical hypnotist, you won’t have to worry.
- How long will the hypnosis last? This is a great question. Here’s an example of NOT knowing when hypnosis stops and the new behavior takes over.
Anxiety is a problem for many basketball players when shooting free-throws. Why? Because the game stops, no one is guarding you, all eyes fasten on you, and your brain says: “I should make this easy shot.” Anxiety is the rascal, and it makes your muscle memory go haywire, and you miss more than you should. After all, you made 80% in practice but only 60% in the game.
Now you go to a hypnotist and, while in a trance, you’re told “Picture yourself about to shoot a free throw. You are relaxed and confident. You enjoy everyone watching. No problem.”
The result? You make 80% or a higher percentage in a game. So, JJ, hypnotized as a sophomore, now hits 85% in games. When he was a senior, he made 87%. Did hypnosis last two years? Well, hypnosis helped him not be nervous, so when he made such a high percentage, his success might have lessened any anxiety. The person who no longer chews her nails (six years) has developed a new habit in one session. So, it’s difficult to say how long the hypnosis was still in effect. Sometimes the new behaviors and emotions take over.
- Will I need more than one session? Sometimes. I believe the toughies like smoking cessation and weight control are those that need a thorough analysis and excellent suggestions. Other problems, too, may need a booster. Hypnosis stopped a mother from yelling at her kids when they frustrated her. She could redirect them. After a year, she came back and asked for a booster. She was fine again.
One problem I see with being a professional hypnotist is they help people so quickly they run out of patients. They need to keep marketing. But, consider psychological therapy; it’s typical to have a client come in for 6-12 sessions. With hypnosis, they could be out the door with one meeting. That’s bad for business; it’s excellent for word-of-mouth advertising.
- Can I improve on tests with hypnosis? Some researchers don’t think hypnosis helps memory; others believe it does because the relaxation allows you to study more efficiently. I’ve used it with students, and it’s incredible how they remember. They go from D’s to B’s, and A’s even in subjects they don’t like.
The problem I’ve run into is students asking me to hypnotize them to get better grades, but they don’t want to study. Hypnosis can’t help them but motivate them to study and remember what they’ve studied—excellent.
- Does hypnosis always work? No. As I mentioned above, the toughest areas are those that involve addiction-type behaviors such as smoking, weight loss, and drug addiction. Many hypnotists specialize in these areas—I didn’t. I dealt more with anxiety issues, overcoming habits, and motivation, e.g., goal setting.
- Can everyone be hypnotized? I don’t think so, but some hypnotists disagree. Perhaps I’m not a great hypnotist. I believe the following client traits are helpful: open-minded, motivated, imaginative, and the ability to relax. It’s also a plus if they believe hypnosis can work, although that’s not always necessary. If you have some of these traits, you can do well with hypnosis—even self-hypnosis.
I’ve had patients who wanted to see what hypnosis “felt like,” but didn’t go into a trance. Months or years later, when these individuals were motivated to change, they went under quickly. Motivation is important.
- Can I hypnotize myself? Yes—and no. Some folks can put themselves in a trance. It is much easier to get hypnotized by a professional first, but it’s not always necessary. Read my book review of Rick Smith’s How to Master Self-Hypnosis in a Weekend under “Books and Book Reviews.” It’s a great book, and you can download hypnosis scripts to help you go into a trance.
See my other blurb on hypnosis: “Some interesting problems I treated with hypnosis.” (Link)