Hypnosis and hypnotherapy: are you curious?

Apr 18, 2023Hypnotherapy Information and Advice

Hypnosis and hypnotherapy: are you curious?

Are you curious about hypnosis and hypnotherapy? Have you got lots of questions? Maybe you are considering having hypnotherapy but need to find out more.

I have often heard the same questions as a practising hypnotherapist for over 17 years. But I also know that some people may be curious about hypnotherapy and want the answers before committing to seeing a hypnotherapist.

This blog will answer the ten most frequently asked questions about hypnosis and hypnotherapy so you can decide if hypnotherapy is right for you.

But before I start, I want to say that the words hypnosis and hypnotherapy are often interchangeable.

Frequently asked questions

What is hypnosis?

Let’s start by clearing up some confusion surrounding the definition of hypnosis.

Hypnosis is a natural state of focused attention and concentration. We all go into that daydreamy state at various times of the day. You may have experienced this when reading a good book, being engrossed in a film, or driving on the motorway. You know what you are doing during these times, but your mind drifts off to think about other things. Hypnosis is similar to these feelings.

Hypnotherapy aims for the hypnotherapist to guide the person to a hypnotic state to make the positive changes they want. During hypnosis, the conscious mind becomes quieter and more focused so that the person can pick up positive suggestions to help them make changes. Many people feel very relaxed, but it is not necessary to be relaxed to be hypnotised.

The American Psychological Society dictionary definition is 

the procedure, or the state induced by that procedure, in which suggestion is used to evoke changes in sensation, perception, cognition, emotion, or control over motor behavior. Subjects appear to be receptive, to varying degrees, to suggestions to act, feel, and behave differently than in an ordinary waking state. The exact nature of hypnotic suggestibility, and its possible therapeutic uses, are still being studied and debated. As a specifically psychotherapeutic intervention, hypnosis is referred to as hypnotherapy.

Hypnosis can be delivered in many ways. It can be a classical process where the hypnotherapist goes through a step-by-step process. People usually close their eyes, but they can open them if they wish and move more if they want to, but many people feel too relaxed to bother. Hypnosis can also be delivered more informally, where the hypnotherapist uses conversation to help you access thoughts and feelings and make changes. People usually have their eyes open but may decide to close them at some time. Evidence shows that both delivery methods work.

It is worth mentioning here that hypnotherapy and stage hypnosis are different. You may have seen shows where people do crazy things like bark like a dog, which may concern you. Stage hypnosis uses the tools of hypnosis with comedy because the intention is entertainment. People volunteer to go onto the stage, so they know that the session is about fun.

However, hypnotherapy uses hypnosis and therapy techniques to help people think and feel better. For example, a hypnotherapist may use Cognitive Behavioural therapy with hypnosis. The intention is to help people feel better and to achieve their goals.

Is hypnosis safe?

Hypnosis is not for everyone. If you have mental ill health such as psychosis, hypnotherapy is not a suitable therapy.

There are small risks. For example, occasionally, you might feel dizzy for a few moments after hypnosis, or have a slight headache, or feel anxious, but these are less likely to happen if you choose a trained practitioner who listens and understands your problem.

So yes, hypnosis is safe if practised by a qualified practitioner. You can check if they are qualified by checking any professional memberships.

Some hypnotherapists have other qualifications, such as a doctor, nurse or psychologist, in which they follow a code of conduct.Hypnotherapy is safe in qualified hands

Also, look for recommendations from professionals and friends. Testimonials may also help. Don’t rush into choosing the therapist for you.

But you need also to use your gut feelings. If the room or person is uncomfortable, choose another person.

The rapport must be good for you to feel trust and confidence in the person carrying out the hypnosis.

How does hypnosis work?

We do not know precisely how it works. However, neuroscientists using fMRI scans know that different brain parts are activated when someone is hypnotised.

There are many theories about how hypnosis works, and there continues to be a lot of research exploring hypnotic phenomena; it is not just a placebo effect.

Here are some places to find more information about hypnosis and look for a practitioner.

The National Council for Hypnotherapy

The National Hypnotherapy Society.

The General Hypnotherapy Register

The British Society of Clinical and Academic Hypnosis

The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis

What can hypnosis be used for?

They are hundreds of ways hypnosis can be used.

As discussed, it can be used in entertainment, but this blog is about hypnotherapy, so let us start there.

Hypnotherapists do not claim to cure things, but there is evidence that hypnotherapy can help people in many ways.

  1. To improve communication with self and others.
  2. For personal development. For example, increasing motivation and self-confidence.
  3. To stop or reduce unwanted behaviours. For example, habits, i.e. nail-biting, hair-pulling, smoking, and overeating chocolate.
  4. To help medical conditions. For example, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), some skin conditions, allergies, primary hypertension (high blood pressure), and anxiety disorders. Hypnosis can also help to optimise the immune system, reduce swelling and bleeding, regulate hormones and help lift depression.
  5. To help with performance issues. For example, stage fright, public speaking and improving sports performance.
  6. To help people unlock their creativity. For example, stopping writer’s block and improving creativity.
  7. Management of past trauma.

How long does a hypnotherapy session typically last?

This will depend on the hypnotherapist and the issue, but most sessions last up to one hour. People will often need more than one session, though.

Stop smoking sessions can be two hours, depending on how the hypnotherapist works.

How many hypnotherapy sessions will I need?

This is difficult to say as everyone is different.

Three, four or five one-hour sessions are not uncommon for many issues. Some long-standing conditions can take more sessions. The number of sessions should be discussed with the hypnotherapist before starting hypnotherapy.

You may only need one session to stop smoking, but this will be longer, perhaps two hours. Some hypnotherapists in the UK give two sessions as there is some evidence that this may be better.

Can everyone be hypnotised?

In theory, everyone who can listen, understand and focus and wants to be hypnotised can be hypnotised. So very young children or those people with severe learning difficulties are unlikely to be hypnotised by a therapist. However, some people who come to see hypnotherapists are considered highly hypnotisable, and others have low levels of hypnotisability. Everyone else is in the middle level.

Researchers are often interested in the levels of hypnotisability, so they use some scales to assess this. Some clinical hypnotherapists calibrate hypnosis levels, but the trance depth doesn’t always indicate how successful the therapy will be.

Only people who want to be hypnotised by a hypnotherapist can be, although others who worry or are uncertain about the therapist may find it more difficult.

Find out if you can be hypnotised by answering a few simple questions.

What does it feel like to be hypnotised?

Hypnosis differs for everyone, but the most common feelings are being relaxed and calm, lightness or heaviness, visualising colours and focusing only on the hypnotist’s voice rather than other noises. Sometimes time gets distorted, and people think they have only been hypnotised for a few minutes when it could be 40 minutes.

At the end of the session, they can feel like they have had a good night’s sleep. People often feel happier and more optimistic. If hypnosis has been used specifically to help pain relief, the pain could have subsided or reduced.

Can I be made to do something against my will under hypnosis?

No. If something sounds like it’s against your moral code, you won’t do it.

How do I find a qualified and reputable hypnotherapist?

It’s worth mentioning here that in some countries, we say hypnotherapist and in others, people say hypnotist.

Many hypnotherapists also qualify in other professions, such as counselling and psychotherapy, psychology, nursing, medicine, and dentistry.

Hypnotherapy is regulated voluntarily, so the training and education standards will vary.

You can find hypnotherapists in the following ways.

  1. Check hypnotherapy directories
  2. Ask for recommendations.
  3. Check professional bodies that have lists of practising hypnotists.
  4. Do an online search and explore different practitioners’ websites.

Hi, I’m Linda for Awaken the Change. Linda Witchell helps people with exam stress and anxietyI’m a qualified and experienced hypnotherapist. I have also trained as a nurse, counsellor, psychotherapist, and psychologist. I am an ethical practitioner. I help clients from around the world, so please get in touch with me. For a free initial consultation, book an appointment on my website. 




Awaken the Change is about Focusing Minds for Positive Results

Awaken the Change is a self-help service providing education and information.

Linda sees clients at her practice in Bournemouth, in the UK. She is also happy to provide online help via webcam for hypnotherapy, counselling and supervision. Counselling and supervision can also be provided by telephone.

Linda is an accredited trainer and supervisor.

Linda Witchell
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