By Tiffany Downing, Member of the Olathe Holistic Wellness Collective
I hear several recurring concerns and questions about therapeutic hypnosis from my clients, and also from people I meet at parties and so on. Many worry that they won’t ‘wake up’ after a session, or they’ve seen a hypnotist in the movies begin to control the mind of their subject.
That said, I’d like to discuss some of the most common myths and misconceptions and frequently asked questions about hypnosis and maybe help ease your mind and educate you about the benefits of this wonderful practice.
First, a definition of hypnosis... Hypnosis is a natural state of physical relaxation and focused concentration. In this state of lowered conscious brain activity that we all experience every day, we become highly receptive and open to positive suggestions. Hypnosis is not mind control, religion, magic, sleep, or unconsciousness. It is the science of lowered brainwave activity, a self-empowerment tool, a state of super-consciousness where a person becomes so focused on an idea, that it becomes a reality. What you believe, you can achieve! You've experienced it and not even realized it.
Some examples of hypnosis that you might not even be aware of would be highway hypnosis (when we drive from one point to another and not remember the drive), listening to or playing music, reading a book or watching a movie, meditation, praying, being ‘in the zone’ while playing a sport. We also pass through this lowered brainwave frequency as we drift off to sleep and when we wake up. These brainwaves can be monitored on an EEG machine, the same as if a person went to have a sleep study. However, hypnosis is that state between awake and asleep. It happens in the brainwave frequencies just above sleep.
5 Most Popular Myths and Misconceptions About Therapeutic Hypnosis
I’m afraid I’ll get stuck in hypnosis.
No one has ever gotten stuck in hypnosis. If you can go to sleep and wake up, you can come out of hypnosis. If I were to hypnotize someone and leave the room, after a period of time (5-10 minutes), the client would either realize nothing was happening and come out of hypnosis on their own, or they might drift deeper, into sleep, and then awaken later. The movie Office Space has come up several times, and I assure you, hypnosis does not work that way in real life.
Hypnosis is dangerous.
Hypnosis is one of the safest, most natural forms of therapy. As with any treatment or medicine used inappropriately by an untrained, unqualified person, it could be dangerous. However, with an ethical, well-intentioned Certified Professional Hypnotist, you can feel secure in the knowledge that hypnosis is safe.
Hypnosis is against my religion.
Hypnosis has nothing to do with beliefs, religion, or philosophy. It is the science of lowered brainwave activity. It works whether you ‘believe’ in it or not. Kind of like gravity. You don’t have to believe in gravity for it to work; it just does.
I don’t want anyone to have control over my mind.
Actually, hypnosis is a tool for self-empowerment. You don’t give control to the hypnotist. You learn to regain control over the part of your mind that has kept you from making the changes you want to make and being the best you that you can be. If a hypnotist were to give a suggestion that went against a person's morals or ethics, they would reject that suggestion and likely bring themselves out of hypnosis. The client is in complete control the entire time, and all they have to do is open their eyes if they want to emerge from hypnosis.
I don’t think I can be hypnotized.
Just like falling asleep and waking up, everyone can be hypnotized. The exceptions are people with an extremely low IQ and children under 2 years of age. The only way a person cannot be hypnotized is if they don’t want to be, or they try too hard. It isn’t something a hypnotist does to you; it is something they bring out in you with your permission as an active participant.
6 Frequently Asked Questions About Therapeutic Hypnosis
Will I remember anything?
Because everyone experiences hypnosis differently, some people will remember most, if not all of the sessions. Others remember bits and pieces, while others still, will remember nothing after a certain point. One person may also remember all of one session and only some or none of the next. Since hypnosis happens in that state between awake and asleep, it can be a bit like remembering or forgetting a dream after you’ve woken up. Whether you remember your sessions or not, you will still receive the benefits of your hypnosis sessions.
How long will my results last?
That all depends on how motivated, committed, and receptive you are. Hypnosis isn’t magic, and I can’t make you make the changes you want. My job is to help you shift perspective and create awareness and mindfulness around the things you want to change. The work of change is up to you.
How many sessions will I need?
Again, that really depends on how motivated and committed to growth and change you are and how many things you want to work on. Hypnosis is one of the most accelerated forms of therapy. My goal isn’t to keep you coming to me for months and years; it’s to teach you tools you can use to continue your growth and change after you leave my office. Some issues may resolve quicker than others. It really is different for everyone. If you’ve never been hypnotized before, it might take a couple sessions to feel as though you’ve gotten the hang of it, so I do like to see people at least two or three times to reinforce the progress they are making.
How do you know I’m not asleep?
Hypnosis can feel similar to sleep, however you won’t actually be asleep. Once the subconscious mind is engaged, which happens the minute we start talking before hypnosis even happens, it remains engaged. I’ve had many people tell me it felt like they were asleep and that they don’t remember what I said. Yet, when I counted them up and out of hypnosis and said the words ‘eyes open,’ they opened their eyes and were right back in a state of awareness and full consciousness. That’s because even though their conscious mind had found other things to think about or had stopped focusing on my words, their subconscious mind was still engaged and listening to everything I was saying.
Can I be hypnotized to forget memories?
No, the subconscious mind will always retain memories, so even if you didn’t consciously remember a traumatic event, you would still make decisions and have reactions to triggering situations. What we want to do is diffuse and neutralize the emotions connected to the memory of the event or trauma.
Is virtual hypnosis on Zoom as effective as in-person?
Yes, absolutely. If you have a quiet place where you won't be disturbed, you will receive the same benefits as being in my office. Some people like to relax in their own space, while others are better able to relax in my office. It's a matter of personal preference and location. My first hypnotist was in Hawaii, and I had amazing results with her virtually.
Have more questions? I'm here to answer them.
I hope I’ve been able to dispel some common myths and misconceptions about hypnosis and pique your curiosity about it. I would love to answer any questions you might have about the process, the conscious and subconscious mind, or how hypnosis might benefit you. Head to my page for more information about getting in touch or booking an appointment. Or email me at: email@example.com
Author: Tiffany M. Downing
Member of the Olathe Holistic Wellness Collective Owner, The Path Less Taken Hypnosis LLC
Certified Professional Hypnotist
Certified Subconscious Block Removal Specialist