Last reviewed: 4th Apr, 2013
Q. What is hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a state of altered awareness during which our subconscious mind is more open and receptive to suggestions that are given. We drift in and out of different levels of awareness many times a day, absorbing information on a subliminal level as well as a conscious one. Your hypnotherapist will work with your imagination to help you to achieve your goals.
Q. How does it feel to be hypnotized?
Every person is unique and different. Some people say that their body feels like a lead weight, others say they feel as though they're floating away. Most people will agree that it's a lovely feeling because they are more relaxed that they have ever been before.
Q. When I am 'under' will I be asleep?
You will be aware of everything that is happening and being said the whole time, however you will be so deeply relaxed that you may find yourself drifting into different levels of awareness. Remember, your subconscious mind is active throughout and it is this that your therapist is working with.
Q. Will I remember everything afterwards?
That depends how deep in hypnosis you are, but generally most people do remember either everything or certain parts of the experience. You will find that suggestions which have been given to you in hypnosis will resurface in your conscious, thinking mind after your hypnosis session and these will be the thoughts that produce changes in your behaviour or way of thinking and feeling.
Q. What is the difference between psychoanalysis and hypno-analysis?
Psychoanalysis gives a complete explanation of a complicated behaviour pattern. It deals with the material of the unconscious mind, which, through special, time consuming techniques, is brought into the patient's consciousness so that they can deal with it.
Hypno-analysis reveals the cause of a patient's particular reaction to a given set of circumstances. It deals with awareness below the level of consciousness. Hypno-analysis is a speedier method of therapy. It is the difference between a broad plateau and a pin point. A complete psychoanalysis takes time, years in some cases. Hypno-analysis can takes hours or less.
Q. Do I have to remember things from my past in order to recover from my problem?
Not necessarily; different therapists have varied approaches, but if the cause of your problem is a repressed memory (one that you are unable to remember consciously), then bringing it back into conscious awareness can help you to view the problem from a different perspective and so feel differently about it. If you find the idea of revisiting old memories painful then your therapist can help you to dissociate from them so that you can remember the experience without experiencing the emotions associated to them.
Q. Will I give away any secrets whilst I am hypnotized?
No, you won't say or do anything at all that you don't want to. If you were given suggestions that you didn't morally agree with you would come out of hypnosis or disregard the suggestions.
Q. How do I know I will wake up from hypnosis?
No-one has ever remained in hypnosis indefinitely. Even if something were to happen to the hypnotherapist halfway through the session, you would still 'come out' of the trance state once rapport had been broken.
Q. Are there any side effects from hypnosis?
The only side effects are the beneficial ones of feeling more relaxed afterwards and feeling more positive about whatever it was you sought hypnotherapy for. Hypnosis is a perfectly natural state.
Q. Can I be hypnotized against my will?
Anyone can resist hypnosis during a session and it won't work, however the question remains as to why someone would seek hypnotherapy if they didn't want it to help them. Hypnosis requires cooperation between two people - your therapist will show you the way and you can choose if you want to go there or not.
If you are not prepared to accept that hypnosis could benefit you then your best option would be to seek alternative treatment - (however - in my own experience - sceptics are very often the best subjects).
There is documented evidence however that some unscrupulous people can covertly hypnotize others into doing something they wouldn't normal dream of. They are not using hypnosis to help someone (they are only interested in helping themselves). Because they are using covert hypnosis they are extremely unlikely to be advertising their services as a qualified Hypnotherapist.
Q. How can I check if a Hypnotherapist is qualified?
Hypnotherapists must belong to a professional association (e.g. The Professional Hypnotherapy Practitioner Association) in order to be eligible for Professional Indemnity Insurance. Often you can check on their website to see if your Hypnotherapist is listed on their members page or use their contact form or telephone number to request verification.
Q. I went to a hypnotherapist once before and it didn't work. Does this mean I'm not able to be hypnotized?
The most common reason for failure to induce trance is lack of rapport. To overcome this problem, make a few free initial consultations with different therapists and choose one that you instinctively trust.
Q. Can I be treated for different problems at the same time?
You can - if they are related issues, however because hypnosis requires a complete focus of attention it is far better to concentrate on one problem at a time. People wishing to stop smoking (for example) who are afraid of doing so in case they gain weight can be helped with the correct approach. This is because many of us experience 'symptom substitution' - we can substitute one addiction for another. Your therapist should have the skills to recognize if this is the case and deal with the issue at its core.
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