How, or why, does hypnosis work?
How do stage hypnotists control their subjects?
What’s the difference between a hypnotist and a hypnotherapist?
My son/daughter needs to stop smoking (or get better grades, overcome a fear, etc.). Can you help?
I don’t know if I can be hypnotized.
I don’t know what I want. Can hypnosis help me discover what I want?
Can hypnosis make me forget a person or event?
What happens inside hypnosis?
Can I bring a friend or family member?
How many sessions will I need?
What are your hypnotherapist’s qualifications?
How long have you been in business?
What is your success rate?
Where can I learn more about hypnosis?
Q: How, or why, does hypnosis work?
Think of it this way. Our mind is made up of two parts: a conscious mind and a subconscious (or unconscious) mind. Milton Erickson, a psychiatrist who became famous for his work with hypnosis, described the relationship between the conscious and the subconscious as a horse and rider.
The rider thinks that he’s in control because he’s sitting in the saddle and holding the reins. And that’s true—as long as the horse follows his directions.
But what happens when the horse becomes startled and bolts off in a different direction? At that point, it’s the rider who’s going along for the ride.
If your thoughts, feelings or habits are out of control, it’s because your subconscious mind is “bolting off” in a direction that is different from where you consciously want to go.
The way to “tame” your subconscious mind is through hypnosis.
Q: How do stage hypnotists control their subjects?
Like stage magic, stage hypnosis relies largely on illusion. There are several factors at work during a stage show:
The subjects who end up on stage at a hypnotism show are the most responsive individuals in the entire audience. That’s because the hypnotist first asks for volunteers—effectively selecting only the subjects who want to entertain the audience—and then performs a suggestibility test to narrow the selection.
What’s more, the context of the stage show enables subjects to act in ways that they normally wouldn’t. Not only can they place responsibility on the hypnotist for their actions, but they also feel tremendous peer pressure to perform.
The powerful responses you see on stage (e.g. positive and negative hallucinations) are hypnotic skills demonstrated by the subjects. If the power were in the hypnotist rather than the subject, the initial selection process would not be necessary.
Outside the context of a stage show, the “control” a hypnotist has over subjects becomes apparent as an illusion.
Q: What’s the difference between a hypnotist and a hypnotherapist?
While some practitioners make a distinction between the two titles, we use them interchangeably, and in many cases we prefer the term “hypnotist” because it encompasses a broader scope of practice. Even though we may sometimes use the term “hypnotherapist,” we do not claim to practise psychotherapy, which is an entirely different profession. The title “Consulting Hypnotist” has become popular in recent years, especially among hypnotists who want to differentiate themselves from psychotherapists.
Q: My son/daughter needs to stop smoking (or get better grades, overcome a fear, etc.). Can you help?
We would be honoured to help your child. However, from prior experience, we have determined several things you need to know as a parent before asking your child to undergo hypnotherapy:
- We are in the business of empowering individuals, not forcing them to do things against their will. Your child will need to phone us directly and express his or her decision to start hypnotherapy, without any pressure from you.
- Regardless of who is paying for the session, our client is the person undergoing hypnosis and his or her wishes come first. If our client indicates that he or she does not actually want to stop smoking (etc.), you would be spending your money needlessly.
- Anything your child says during a consultation or session is confidential and cannot be revealed to you.
If you can abide by these conditions, please phone us or ask your child to phone us. Young people often respond better to hypnosis than adults, and have the imagination necessary to make the process work well. You will need to come to the first session so that we can arrange payment and you can sign the informed consent form as a parent or guardian.
Q: I don’t know if I can be hypnotized.
If you are able and willing to follow instructions, you can be hypnotized. In fact, hypnosis is a natural state of mind we all enter at various times throughout the day, such as when we’re daydreaming or watching a movie. However, sometimes fears or apprehensions about hypnosis inhibit clients from entering the state of hypnosis. During your consultation, we can help you determine whether or not you respond to hypnotic suggestion.
Q: I don’t know what I want. Can hypnosis help me discover what I want?
We are still trying to develop a method that lets you discover your life purpose. Unfortunately, both times we took such cases, we ended up refunding the client’s money (we were happy to do it, but it didn’t help the client). Hypnotherapy is much more effective when you know exactly what you want, and you need help attaining it. There are other approaches that might be more effective for discovering your life purpose.
Q: Can hypnosis make me forget a person or event?
In theory, it’s possible to induce amnesia inside hypnosis. In practice, it’s not a helpful response to a real part of your life. Instead of making you forget a memory, we will help you change your present-day perspective on the memory so that you can learn and grow from it, without necessarily forgetting it.
Q: What happens inside hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a completely natural and common state of mind. In fact, we go into a hypnotic trance many times during a typical day. If you’ve ever been absorbed in a good book or movie, then you’ve experienced a light state of hypnosis. It’s relaxing and feels great. Most likely, you’ll emerge from hypnosis feeling like you’ve had a good night’s rest.
When you see a hypnotist, they will help you enter this pleasant state of mind, removes the negative programming you’ve accumulated over your lifetime, and install new beliefs that will lead you in the direction you want.
You will be aware of everything that happens, remember everything (except in rare cases) and be able to accept or reject any suggestions offered by the hypnotist.
Q: Can I bring a friend or family member?
If you feel more comfortable with a friend or family member attending your consultation or session, we encourage you to bring somebody for support. However, please keep in mind that the session might no longer be confidential with somebody else in the room. If you are reticent, you might have an easier time expressing your thoughts one-on-one with your hypnotherapist.
Q: How many sessions will I need?
For the average person, and for most issues, hypnosis will make a difference in three to five sessions. Our standard smoking cessation program is two sessions (for a pack-a-day smoker of average suggestibility or better). Weight loss usually takes at least five sessions. During your initial consultation, your hypnotherapist will be able to perform an assessment of your suggestibility and provide a better estimate of how many sessions you might need.
Q: What are your hypnotherapists’ qualifications?
We are members of ARCH Canada, which requires us to complete 325 hours of training, pass the exam and a background check, and carry professional liability insurance.
Q: How long have you been in business?
We have been operating at the same location and under the same name since September 1, 2006.
Q: What is your success rate?
We can get almost all of our clients (98%+) into hypnosis; in fact, if we can’t hypnotize you, we don’t charge you for the session. When you hear hypnotists claiming an extremely high success rate, this is usually what they’re talking about.
It’s trickier to measure results a month, a year or a decade after the sessions are over, mainly because clients only provide feedback when they’re extremely pleased (resulting in a testimonial or referrals) or extremely unhappy (resulting in a refund under our guarantee policy).
The most straightforward answer is that we don’t know, because our clients are not signing up to be systematically followed in a rigorously controlled, long-term scientific study. However, we do track client dissatisfaction through our refund policy, and our refund rate is less than 3%. We believe that this speaks volumes about the results that the vast majority of our clients achieve.
Q: Where can I learn more about hypnosis?
On the Internet, there are several directories covering hypnotherapy. This Wikpedia article on hypnosis is very comprehensive. (Links open in a new window.)
If you have any specific questions we haven’t answered here, please contact us and we’ll be happy to answer them.