In this blog post, it is my intention to answer the most frequently asked questions about hypnotherapy that I have encountered during my time working as a hypnotherapist. There are 17 in total because everyone likes a list…

One of the most important aspects of any hypnotherapy session, especially in the initial consultation, is addressing any questions or concerns that the client may have.

Hypnotherapy has many misconceptions surrounding it. Making sure that the client understands and is comfortable with going into hypnosis can be the difference between a positive outcome or a waste of time and money.

What is Hypnosis?

This is the most frequently asked question in regards to hypnosis and hypnotherapy. Hypnosis is a state of altered awareness and focused concentration. It is a natural and relaxing state that we all experience each day. It is very similar to daydreaming or being absorbed in doing something enjoyable.

Hypnotherapy is a therapy that uses hypnosis to help clients make lasting change. This is done by working with the unconscious mind. For a more detailed answer have a read of our Beginners Guide to Hypnotherapy.

What does Hypnosis feel like?

The experience of hypnosis is very much a subjective one. The experience of hypnosis varies greatly from person to person and it can be affected by many different elements. The level of trance that a client experiences can play a big role in this.

Hypnosis is often described as being like a daydream or like when you become absorbed in a good book or film. Those of you that drive will have had an experience where you drive a familiar route only to arrive at the destination without remembering much of the journey. Unconsciously you drove the car, but consciously you were elsewhere absorbed in thoughts.

Whenever I talk to patients about what it will feel like I usually say the following. You may wish to try this for yourself now.

  1. Take 3 long deep deliberate breathes, in through the nose and out through the mouth. As you exhale for the third time allow your eyes to close
  2. Focus on the breath for a few moments as it settles into a natural rhythm. Do not try to change it in any way, simply observe the breathe
  3. Count backward from 5 to 1. With each number choose a different colour to experience. You may see the colour in your minds eye, maybe see the number in that colour or simply know which colour you are thinking of. For example, 5 red, 4 purple, etc.
  4. Once you reach one you can open your eyes.

For many clients, especially those who experience a light trance, that is what hypnosis feels like. They are in control and focused internally.

Does Hypnotherapy work for everyone?

No, unfortunately, it doesn’t. There is no one therapy that works for everyone and due to the subjective nature of human beings there likely never will be.

However, I believe that there is an answer for everyone and it is about finding the right answer for you. The more therapy options we have available, the more likely it is that a client will find the answer for them.

There are many reasons why hypnotherapy may not work for a client. These include:

  1. Unresponsive to suggestions – It is estimated that around 10% of the population is unresponsive to suggestions. Whilst hypnotherapy may be useful for most clients due to the therapeutic approaches utilised, it may be that they simply do not respond to the suggestions.
  2. Not the right time – Sometimes there are other things going on in a clients life. Take a smoking cessation client for example. A smoker that smokes when they are stressed may not be in the best place to get a positive result if they are going through a particularly stressful time in their life. It would be better to let this time pass and tackle the smoking issue at a more relaxed time so that they can adopt new ways of dealing with the stress.
  3. Wrong hypnotherapist – We are all different and the approach used by one hypnotherapist will differ from another. It might be that the client does not like the method used by the hypnotherapist or simply because they cannot build sufficient rapport with them.
  4. Expectations – Many clients have an unrealistic view of hypnotherapy and believe that hypnosis is something that is done to them. As a result, they expect a miracle cure and do not take responsibility for their part in the therapy. It is not a magic cure, it is not a silver bullet. Clients need to engage in the process. Any hypnotherapist will discuss expectations with the client before commencing a session and make sure that the client fully understands their role in this therapeutic relationship.
  5. Deeper issues – Mant clients come for hypnotherapy to tackle the smoke and not the fire. For some, they may not know what the fire is. It may be that a weight loss client attends for hypnotherapy to lose weight, but eating is actually a protective mechanism. A rather extreme example of this would be an individual who was bullied or maybe even sexually assaulted who then uses food to deal with those emotions and to protect themselves. Ironically, the bigger an individual becomes the more invisible they become to society. Being overweight may protect them from potentially reexperiencing their trauma. It might be that they do not wish to deal with the deeper issue.

How many sessions will I need?

This is another of the most frequently asked questions a hypnotherapist will encounter. It varies from person to person. During an initial consultation, the hypnotherapist will discuss with you how many sessions they think you may need.

We always suggest to clients that they budget their time and money for 3 sessions. Utilising this method has been invaluable for helping clients get results or making sure that they are not spending unnecessary money.

Hypnotherapy is a fast working therapy and if a client is not seeing any sort of change or result after 3 sessions then we will be looking at what can be done differently. There are many reasons why an individual may not get a change. See the “Does Hypnotherapy work for everyone?” question for more details.

common questions
Everyone is different. How you experience hypnosis and how many sessions you may need are personal to you and the issue you are presenting with.

The number of sessions needed will also depend on the issue the client is presenting with. Smoking can be tackled in a single session, where as weight loss may require more sessions and ongoing support. On average clients attend for between 2 and 6 sessions.

What happens during a Hypnotherapy session?

Again this varies depending on the clients needs and the chosen method of the hypnotherapist. A typical hypnotherapy session with myself would go as follows.

  1. Meet client and welcome them into the therapy room. Have a conversation with the client to find out their reasons for seeking therapy or if attending for subsequent sessions discuss what has happened in the meantime (any changes noticed, feedback).
  2. Discuss with the client their motivation and the goals for the session.
  3. Teach a technique or strategy that may be useful for the client if applicable.
  4. Conduct hypnosis
  5. Awaken client and set any tasks to be completed between sessions. Book next session.

How do I choose a Hypnotherapist?

Personal recommendations from friends or family and testimonials from previous clients are a good place to start. Reviews on google or facebook are also worth looking at.

Usually, a hypnotherapist will have an about them page on their website where they will talk about their experience and qualifications. If you are unsure then it is always best to ask if they can show their qualifications to you. Any trained hypnotherapist would be happy to do so.

It is also worth looking at websites such as the National Hypnotherapy Society, the Hypnotherapy Directory or the General Hypnotherapy Register. In order to be listed on these organisations websites, hypnotherapists have to submit copies of their qualifications as well as up to date insurance documents. These are checked annually.

Then it comes down to the issue you are presenting with. Hypnotherapists will see clients with a range of issues but they will have a particular area that they enjoy working with or specialise in. It may be that a hypnotherapist recommends a different hypnotherapist to you who they think would be better suited to your needs.

How much will I remember?

This is another very common question and again differs from person to person. The vast majority of clients attending for hypnosis will hear every word that is said.

Think back to a conversation that you have had in the last few days. How much of that do you remember? You probably don’t remember everything that was said but probably remembers key parts and the context.

Many clients drift in and out of the words spoken by the hypnotherapist and others (especially those who can go into a deep trance) may experience amnesia and remember nothing about the actual hypnosis. They will remember the beginning but then are re alerted without remembering anything that happened.

Crucially though it doesn’t matter how much you remember consciously. It is the unconscious mind that a hypnotherapist is talking to.

Can I get stuck in Hypnosis?

No, you cannot get stuck in hypnosis anymore than you can get stuck in a day dream. Eventually you reawaken.

The absolute worst thing that can happen during a hypnosis session is that the hypnotherapist has a heart attack during hypnosis. If that rather unlikely scenario where to occur then the client would simply reawaken in their own time, probably quite quickly as the instructions they are being guided by have stopped.

Do I lose control under Hypnosis?

No, at all times during a hypnosis session the client is in control. Hypnosis is not something that is done to a client, it is something that a client does to themselves.

A hypnotherapist simply guides the client, but the client is free to accept or reject any suggestions. It is also important to note that anything that is said to a client that they do not agree with is simply not accepted by the unconscious mind.

If this were to occur then the client would most likely come out of hypnosis as the trust has been broken between therapist and client.

Is Hypnotherapy safe if I am taking medication?

This is another question that is very frequently asked. The answer to this question is very much dependant on the medication that you are taking. If there are any concerns or doubts by either the client or the hypnotherapist then it is best advised to consult a GP before commencing with therapy.

A client who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol should not engage in hypnosis.

Medications - frequently asked questions about hypnotherapy
Hypnotherapy is safe for most medications but there are some that it is not safe to conduct hypnosis whilst taking. ALWAYS check with your GP before commencing with therapy.

Also, clients with certain medical conditions such as schizophrenia or psychosis should not engage in hypnosis without the permission of their GP if at all. These conditions have the potential to be exasserbated by hypnosis.

What can Hypnotherapy help with?

Hypnotherapy works with the unconscious mind. The unconscious mind is in a basic sense an autopilot and runs default programs. It houses all of an individuals thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Therefore hypnotherapy can help with any issue relating to thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

Some of the most common applications of hypnosis include managing the following:

  • Smoking Cessation
  • Weight Management
  • Fears/Phobias
  • IBS Management
  • Pain Management
  • Habit/Addiction Support
  • Insomina/Sleep Issues

This is not an exhaustive list however and a more comprehensive list of the issues we work with at Wiser Horizons can be found here.

How is a person put into Hypnosis?

There are many different methods that a hypnotherapist may utilise to guide a client into hypnosis. A lot of clients are concerned about being shocked into hypnosis due to what they have seen in the media.

These rapid or instant inductions play a big role in stage hypnosis. However, in a clinical setting, it is very unlikely that you will encounter these shock inductions.

Most of the time the hypnotherapist will guide the client into a relaxed state. This commonly may include a method of ensuring eye closure, a progressive relaxation of the body and some sort of count down.

All hypnotherapists are different and have different preferences. It is important to note that there is no right or wrong here.

Each client is different and requires a unique approach. The hypnotherapist will always be looking for feedback through unconscious signalling to decide on the method or type of language to use.

For some clients, being guided into hypnosis can take a few minutes whereas others may take upwards of 20-30 minutes. Again there is no right or wrong. Clients attending for more than one session may find that they enter hypnosis quicker in subsequent sessions.

Is it suitable for children?

Hypnotherapy is very effective on children and we have worked with children as young as 4. Children actually respond better to hypnosis than most adults due to their active imaginations. This makes them more receptive to suggestions and making a change.

What if I say something I don’t want to?

Going back to the question on control, many clients are worried that they may say or reveal something to the hypnotherapist that they don’t want to reveal. During hypnosis the client is in control at all times and will not say or reveal anything they do not want to.

Is Hypnosis real?

Yes, it is and the evidence to support this is now starting to build up. A recent study has observed changes in the brain when an individual is in hypnosis. This shows the hypnosis is not a placebo and is in fact real.

The issue that hypnotherapy has had over the years is providing evidence of how it works. There are plenty of studies that show it’s effectiveness but it is only recently that we have had the technology to observe and document changes within the brain during a hypnosis session.

Can anyone be Hypnotised?

There is a debate on this but with the evidence, I have available to me at this time, I do not believe that everyone can be hypnotised. There are many reasons for this including:

  1. Level of suggestibility
  2. The willingness of the individual to be hypnotised
  3. Personal beliefs on hypnosis

What if I fall asleep?

This is another question that ranks high on my list of frequently asked questions about hypnotherapy.

It is not uncommon for a client to fall asleep during hypnosis. This can happen for a number of reasons including that the client was already tired before commencing hypnosis or they have not relaxed in a long time.

cat sleeping - frequently asked questions about hypnotherapy
Hypnosis is often associated with sleep but it is not sleep.

As hypnotherapy is a relaxation based therapy, those clients who haven’t relaxed in a while (let’s be honest, that’s most of us in the modern world) could fall asleep simply because they have become so relaxed.

If you do fall asleep then the hypnotherapist may just let you sleep for a while and then rearrange the session for another time. They may also alter their tone to rouse you back into the hypnotic state.

It is also not uncommon for clients to think they had fallen asleep when in fact they had simply entered a deep level of trance. A hypnotherapist is always observing the client during hypnosis and it is their job to maintain that delicate balance between the sleep and awake states.

Conclusion

So there we have it, 17 of the most frequently asked questions about hypnotherapy. If you have a question that has not featured on this list then please do ask it in the comments below. Or please do feel free to contact us with your questions.


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