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Hypnosis FAQs

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Frequently Asked Questions about Hypnosis

What is hypnosis?

Hypnosis is a trance state characterized by extreme suggestibility, relaxation and heightened imagination. It is most often compared to daydreaming, or the feeling of "losing yourself" in a book or movie. You are fully conscious, but you tune out most of the stimuli around you. You focus intently on the subject at hand, to the near exclusion of any other thought.

Hypnosis is a relaxed, focused state of concentration. You may not be aware of it but you are in a natural state of hypnosis several times a day. Have you ever been completely "absorbed" in a book or TV program to the exclusion of everything else? Your concenration was completely focused so that everything else faded away from your consciousness. Have you ever arrived at your destination without consciously being aware of the actual process of driving? Your subsconscious is in charge of repetitious, learned behavior and you can drive safely while your conscious mind is otherwise engaged. 

So, you see, hypnosis is not an unusual state of mind. This is why some people undergo hypnosis successfully and yet think they were not in a trance or hypnotized. Most people simply feel deeply relaxed.

The Hypnotherapist guides you from the waking state (beta brain wave) to the alpha state (your brain changes to an alpha wave just before sleep, producing a very dreamy, pleasant state). You do not go to sleep during hypnosis. While you are in the alpha state your mind is very open to visualizations and creating a rich sensory experience. At this point you can directly access your subscionsious to make suggestions for beneficial and permanent change.  The more real the experience becomes in the subconscious mind during this state, the more effect it will have on your waking behavior. A professional hypnotherapist will use techniques of interactive guided imagery to help you achieve your goals by use of specific, agreed upon suggestions to the subsconscious. You will be able to access and heal painful memories, conquer irrational fears and obstacles to a happy life, and achieve your highest goals and aspirations by retraining your subconscious to work for you to reach your full potential. 

Hypnosis is also a commonly used for medical and dental procedures, including major surgery. Advantages of medical hypnosis include (but are not limited to) less bleeding, faster recovery time, and the need for fewer post-operative medications.

During hypnosis you will reach a natural, normal, relaxed and focused state of attention, characterized by feelings of well-being, increased muscle relaxation, and the ability to accept new ideas and beliefs about yourself, so long as they are not in conflict with your personal values. Hypnosis is a hyper-state of awareness and an interactive process. You will be completely aware of everything occurring in the surrounding environment as well as that which is happening in your inner mind. Many authors in the field feel that hypnosis is a state of consciousness somewhere between being awake and asleep.

How do I know if I can be hypnotized?

Most people can easily be guided into trance. There are two general guidelines:

1) You must be of average, normal intelligence (an IQ of 70 or higher).
2) You must be willing to follow instructions.

Of course there are other situations which could make it difficult to go into trance, but for most people, that's all you need.

Hypnosis is a very normal state of mind, one which most people go in and out of every day. When you are watching a movie that you are fully engaged in, when you drive down a long monotonous road, and even when you are listening to music that captures a mood or engrosses you, you are in hypnosis. We experience hypnosis every day and most people are completely unaware of it. 

Whether you are in a guided hypnotic trance, or  just driving down the road in trance, you have an observer self which is an actual part of you that is always aware and watching out for you. This observer self has been documented as a credible aspect of our mind, that keeps us safe, even when asleep. During hypnosis you can trust that your observer self will watch over you. This is not a guide or spiritual being, but rather a scientific discovery of normal brain function. During a hypnosis session you would instantly get up and leave the room if it caught on fire, even if  you had previously felt like your arms and leg were too heavy to move.

In fact, since hypnosis can help make us sharper and more mentally aware, it actually may help keep us safer by making us more aware of our surroundings during the day. If your perception of what is happening around you is better, you will notice things that are happening with greater clarity and perhaps make better decisions. 

How can I tell if it will work for me?

The only requirement to get therapeutic results from hypnosis is that you  have a conscious desire to change. Hypnosis will work for you if you have a conscious desire to change and if you are in agreement with the suggestions being offered. Your Hypnotherapist will work closely with you to develop a personal approach to reach your specific goals.  What your mind can conceive it can achieve!

Will I go to sleep or become unconscious?

No. Hypnosis is not sleep! In hypnosis, you are actually more consciously in control of your emotions, imagination, intuition, and your conscience. Hypnosis is a hyper-state of awareness. To fall asleep or become unconscious would be counter-productive, as your participation in the process is crucial. Hypnosis is an interactive process. The Hypnotherapist will gently put you in touch with your subsconscious using guided imagery. You will be completely aware of everything occurring in the surrounding environment as well as that which is happening in your inner mind. Many authors in the field feel that hypnosis is a state of consciousness somewhere between being awake and asleep.

Will I surrender my self-control to the hypnotist?

Absolutely not! Hypnosis is a tool to help you gain more self-control in your life.
And since hypnosis is a short-term, goal-oriented therapy, you need not worry about developing a dependency on the Hypnotherapist either. Some people  may develop this misperception of hypnosis from seeing or hearing about a stage hypnosis show, which, you must understand, is done for entertainment purposes only. Remember, the people you see on stage are volunteers and want to participate. Therefore, they open themselves willingly to the suggestions of the stage hypnotist, with the assumption that the suggestions given are temporary and are for entertainment and fun only, not to be abused. They are temporarily surrendering control as willing subjects.

Can I be made to do anything against my morals or beliefs? or will I reveal secrets?

Not at all!  You could never be made to do anything against your will or contrary to your value system. Neither will you unknowingly reveal your deepest secrets. If you wanted to you could even tell a lie under hypnosis, which is the reason legal testimony using hypnosis is not permissible evidence in a court of law. Your subsconscious will only accept and act upon suggestions which are beneficial and either serve you in some way or reinforce an expected behavior. If a suggestion is made against your morals or beliefs, your subsconscious will reject it. What's more, since you are actually in a hyper-state of awareness, you may be assured you would immediately become fully conscious and reject any inappropriate suggestion out-of-hand. Unfortunately, movies and TV tend to perpetuate the myth of loss of control.

Is hypnosis medically approved?

Hypnosis was first officially recognized as a viable therapeutic tool by the British Government through the Hypnotism Act in 1952. Then, in 1958 both the British and the American Medical Associations (AMA) sanctioned the official use of hypnosis by physicians. In 1958, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) also approved hypnotherapy for use by professionally responsible individuals.


Prestigious hospitals in the U.S. now use and teach hypnosis, such as Stanford University School of Medicine in San Francisco, the Beth Israel Medical Center in Boston, and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Since the AMA sanctioned the use of hypnosis it has become commonly accepted to use hypnosis for medical and dental procedures, including major surgery. More people are even choosing hypnosis over anesthesia for surgery. Some choose hypnosis simply because they fear not waking up from anesthesia. Fear-factor aside, however, there are definite medical advantages offered by hypnosis including less bleeding, faster recovery time, and the need for fewer post-operative medications.   

How can I learn more about hypnosis?

You can find many current articles and research studies concerning hypnosis on the internet as well as a wealth of books. Start with our Hypnosis Research Library where we have compiled a few key articles for your convenience. 

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