Myth #1: Mind Control
Thanks to movies such as “Svengali” (a John Barrymore film where a deranged old man hypnotizes women to go out and commit crimes), it is a common belief that the hypnotist has control over the client’s mind during a hypnosis session. This in fact could not be further from the truth. When under a state of hypnosis, one is actually more in control of their thoughts and emotions. The client is fully alert and has control over what he or she is thinking and what he or she decides to share with the hypnotist. Some believe that they can only tell the truth while under hypnosis. This also is not true. You will only answer questions that you want to answer and you will only disclose information that you want to disclose. Any suggestions that the hypnotist makes will only be followed through with if the client wants to do it. For example, during hypnosis comedy shows, the hypnotist picks people that he knows will willingly act silly in front of a group of people. The only reason that person is clucking like a chicken is because they want to. A reserved person that would not normally act like that in front of a crowd would not do it under hypnosis as well.
Myth #2: State of Hypnosis = Unconsciousness
Many people believe that they will not remember what occurred during the hypnosis session once they “awake”. This is also a false belief. One is completely aware during hypnosis and their memory is actually enhanced rather than suppressed. One is also able to move freely during hypnosis and can open their eyes at anytime and leave the hypnotic state whenever they desire to do so. Some people are afraid that they may “get stuck” in a hypnotic state. There has never been a case of this happening to anyone because it is not possible. The client always has the ability to exit and enter a state of hypnosis at will.
Myth #3: Hypnosis is like magic
Hypnosis is not like magic at all. A hypnotist cannot put someone under hypnosis and tell the client not to smoke anymore and then he or she will “awake” and never smoke again. Hypnosis doesn’t work that way. The hypnotherapist will utilize hypnosis to provide counseling at an accelerated pace. Together, the hypnotist and the client will discover the root of the problem and work together to resolve any misconceptions and events that have led to the client’s dependency on cigarettes. It is true that most clients quite smoking after one or two sessions, but it is not magic. It occurs because both the hypnotist and client work together to create a change.
There is also a misconception that hypnosis is mystical and related to evil forces and black magic. I’m not sure where this misconception came from, but I can assure you that there is nothing evil about entering into a hypnotic state. In fact, in most countries, hypnotherapy is in the curriculum at psychology schools and is well regarded in the world of evidence-based therapy.
The Benefits of Therapy Through Hypnosis
Utilizing hypnosis allows me to provide accelerated therapy to my clients. Issues that would have taken months to work through with conventional therapy are often resolved in a few sessions through hypnotherapy. The reason this occurs is that the client is able to recall events and experiences that they may not recall in a non-hypnotic state. Also, when the client is in a hypnotic state, any misconceptions that he or she has been unknowingly carrying can be resolved. The client will notice positive changes in their behavior once these misconceptions have been addressed.
Any thing that can be worked on through conventional therapy can be worked on through hypnotherapy. Anxiety, stress reduction, relationship problems, chronic pain control, smoking cessation, weight loss, self esteem issues, sexual problems, and test anxiety are just some of the examples of issues that can be helped with hypnotherapy.
What to Expect During a Session
The first session is typically one and one half hour. I begin by describing hypnotherapy in detail and answering any questions you may have. We will then discuss what you would like to achieve with the therapy. To enter into a hypnotic state, one must be very relaxed. If you are having difficulty relaxing, we will work on relaxation exercises. Some people are more difficult to hypnotize than others, but everyone is capable of entering a state of hypnosis. It is something that you do naturally throughout the day without realizing it.
During the first session, I provide my clients with the knowledge to perform self-hypnosis so that they can enter a state of relaxation and concentration whenever they desire to do so. The following sessions are typically one hour long, but may go longer. I do not schedule client’s back-to-back because I want to ensure that I can spend as much time as needed with them to resolve whatever comes up during the session. Most people resolve their issues with 4-5 sessions and experience permanent changes in behaviors. However, other individuals need additional reinforcement and come in periodically for “tune-up” sessions. Since everyone is different, I will come up with a hypnosis plan that is specific to you and your needs.
Please remember that hypnosis does not replace psychiatric or medical treatment and one must follow their doctor's recommendations. However, it can improve one's quality and perception of life. I work in communication with your other health care providers to ensure that you receive the necessary care.