Hypnosis 101


10 Things You Wanted to Know About Hypnosis

“And what do you do?” she asks me. Dawn the insurance agent – as she just introduced herself – and I are at a networking event at Clyde’s. I am holding the business card she just handed me and with my other hand, reaching in my pocket for mine.

“I’m a hypnotist.”

“Really!” she says. “Oh, I’d better not look into your eyes.” (I get that a lot.) But she is.

Dawn kind of screws up her face. “Is that stuff real?” she asks me.

“What stuff?” I reply, though I know exactly where she is going.

“You know – I’ve seen those shows, where people cluck like chickens, or have sex with a chair.”

“Well, that’s not exactly what I do – I’m a hypnotherapist,” I say, “but yeah, it’s real enough.” I briefly explain the difference between stage hypnosis and hypnotherapy.

“That’s really interesting,” she says.

We talk a little while; I tell her some of what I do. But it’s hard to say much, in this crowded bar space, with the decibel level approaching that of sitting next to the speakers at a rock concert.

So here, where it’s quieter and we have more space and time, are some of the basics about hypnosis and hypnotherapy – for Dawn and for you too.

1. What is hypnosis and how does it work?

What I usually say is, Hypnosis is deliberately using a trance state to bring about desired changes.When I say ”trance”, I mean a kind of altered state, like when you are daydreaming or you’re really engrossed in a book or a TV show. You are so wrapped up in your own thoughts or in the book or whatever that someone may speak to you and you don’t even hear them!

When I hypnotize someone, I guide them into a trance state. I don’t do anything to them.

2. Can I be hypnotized?

In my experience, anyone who wants to can be hypnotized – that is, guided into a trance state.

3. What are the benefits of hypnosis?

In hypnosis you are more open to suggestions for the changes that you want: changes in habits and in unwanted behaviors (I stopped cracking my knuckles, a habit of 50 years, in a single short hypnosis session!). You are able to make changes on the unconscious level, including many areas that are generally not within your conscious control: bodily sensations, blood pressure, pain, allergic reactions, bleeding, bruising, and healing. You can project yourself forward and experience what it is like to be your future self, after you have made the changes you want.

4. Who can benefit from hypnosis?

If you want to make changes in your life, to resolve issues that are holding you back, interfering with your life, you can benefit from hypnotherapy. It may be something specific, like a habit or a fear or controlling your weight, or perhaps you want to handle stress better or reduce your anxiety. Or get over a bad relationship.

5. What do people need to be aware of in choosing a hypnotherapist?

Look for someone who is well-trained and skilled. Some hypnotherapists are psychologists or social workers, or even physicians. But most (such as me) are certified, not licensed. Hypnosis professional organizations, such as IMDHA (International Medical and Dental Hypnotherapy Association) or NGH (National Guild of Hypnotists) have rigorous training standards for their certifications.

If you have someone in mind, check out their website. What kind of sense do you get about the person? What have they written? Do they talk about any of the issues you want help with?

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