“Look into my eyes…” Frequently asked questions about hypnotherapy

Like spirals and pocket watches, the eyes of the hypnotist have no particular power, they’re just something to focus your attention on!

People often associate hypnosis with staring at spirals, or watching the swing of a watch. These techniques are fairly old-fashioned ways of getting someone to focus their attention – which is integral to the facilitation of the “trance” state. Today, few hypnotherapists will use such techniques, preferring instead to guide their client to focusing their attention within, rather than on an external device.

We are asked the following questions about hypnosis frequently. If your question isn’t answered here, please call or email us and we’ll be happy to help you. You’ll find information about how much it costs to have hypnosis with us on this page. 

Can anyone be hypnotised?

Yes, with very few exceptions. Very young children may have difficulty, and also people with severe brain damage. People may not be hypnotised against their will. Other than that, we find the ‘trick’ to hypnotising someone is spending time with them to find the best approach to working with them. We won’t do the same thing with everyone.

What if I’ve been hypnotised before and it hasn’t worked for me?

It’s quite possible that the person you saw did not give enough attention to the induction of trance – a most important element. Hypnotherapy is NOT relaxation therapy or guided imagery. Hypnotherapy involves the formal induction of a trance state, which needs to be maintained throughout the work.

You also need to have rapport with and confidence in the person you’re working with. Even the “best” hypnotist in the world isn’t right for everyone.

Can someone only be hypnotised if they have a good imagination?

The ability to imagine is unrelated to the ability to experience hypnosis. Change resulting from hypnotherapy requires only that your intent and willingness are in place.

I am strong-minded and strong willed, can I be hypnotised?

Only if you want to be, but not because of your relative “strength” of mind. We understand that there are parts of us that want to change, and parts of us that are happy with the way things are. While we accept that this is often the situation, we assume that if you’ve booked a session then you want our help. It would be a waste of your time and money if you were to resist that help. We’ll always tell you if we don’t think hypnosis is right for you.

I lack willpower. Does this matter?

Hypnosis is beyond willpower. Change occurs when your willingness aligns with your intent. By using hypnosis techniques to influence your subconscious mind, you can experience rapid and lasting change to habits and patterns of behaviour, even if you don’t know how you’re going to be able to achieve it.

Do people who are hypnotised lose control?

In hypnosis, you’re perfectly capable of saying no or terminating the hypnosis session. Just as you’d refuse to jump off a bridge simply because someone told you to, so too would you reject any suggestion made to you in hypnosis that you did not agree with.

Will I forget what happened in my session?

Very occasionally, spontaneous hypnotic amnesia does occur after a session, however this is uncommon, and most people will remember what is said to them during a session.

Will I be made to talk about things I’d prefer not to?

Absolutely not. A hypnotist cannot make you say or do anything that you don’t want to say or do. 

I have trouble relaxing. Does this mean I can’t be hypnotised?

Hypnosis does not require that you are relaxed, although it is more pleasant when you are, and relaxation may be a side-effect. But the hypnotic trance can be achieved when you are standing, running, angry, hurt, sad, in shock…you get the picture. Hypnotherapy is not relaxation therapy.

What’s the difference between hypnosis and hypnotherapy?

There is no difference really – hypnotherapy is just the therapeutic application of hypnosis, utilised to help people achieve personal change. All hypnotherapists are hypnotists, but not all hypnotists are hypnotherapists. We talk about this a little more in this blog post about Hypnosis vs. Hypnotherapy.

I’ve been hypnotised before. Will my experience be the same with different hypnotists?

Your experience of trance will probably vary from time to time, and different hypnotists work in different ways. There is no one “right” approach to taking people into trance. Having said this, it is likely that there will be similarities in your experience, even if the therapist you are seeing is working with you in a different way.

How do I choose a hypnotherapist?

It is important that you feel comfortable with the therapist that you choose. The person you call should be happy to give you information over the phone before you make an appointment. Ask questions! A good hypnotherapist will encourage their clients to be educated about the process.

Ask around – you’ll be surprised how many people have been to a hypnotherapist. A referral from a friend is a great way to know that the person you are calling is reputable. It is always advisable to choose a hypnotist who is a member of a recognised Association, as these have Codes of Conduct that must be adhered to, and members will have had to demonstrate their ability to practise with skill.

My hypnotist didn’t use “Direct Suggestions” much. It didn’t sound like we directly addressed my issue. Will the therapy still work?

The use of ‘direct suggestion’  (“You will no longer stutter” / “Stop Smoking!” / “You are a happy and relaxed person”) has to be done with care and thoughtfulness. A hypnotherapist trusts in the wisdom of your subconscious mind, and the subconscious mind does not interpret words in the same way that we do when we’re using our conscious, rational mind.

There’s a description of the way Milton Erickson understood the use of Direct and Indirect suggestion, which pretty much sums up our approach:

…[the therapist] notes that Direct suggestion . . . does not evoke the re-association and reorganization of ideas, understandings and memories so essential for an actual cure . . . Effective results in hypnotic psychotherapy . . . derive only from the patient’s activities. The therapist merely stimulates the patient into activity, often not knowing what that activity may be. And then he guides the patient and exercises clinical judgment in determining the amount of work to be done to achieve the desired results…

(Erickson, 1948, quoted in Hypnotherapy, An Exploratory Casebook by Erickson and Rossi).

It is the “reorganization of ideas, understandings and memories” that are going to help you make the change. In this way, suggestion is best when it is not an instruction or command but rather something of an ‘internal’ communication with your inner wisdom.

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