Hypnotherapy & Common Misconceptions

There is no relation between the capacity to be hypnotized and gullibility, education, or intelligence. To be hypnotized, people must be willing and active participants.

Hypnosis is a state of altered consciousness, much like any activity in which the person's concentration is narrowly focused, such as meditation. Clients are aware of sounds, smells, and other sensory stimuli, as well as where they are.

Hypnosis is not a form of mind control or brainwashing. Clients are in full control throughout hypnosis and will not be receptive to suggestions that contradict their values.

Everyone, without fail, comes out of a hypnotic state. If a person were to refuse to emerge, he or she would eventually fall asleep and upon waking would no longer be hypnotized.

There is no evidence to suggest that hypnosis weakens the mind or makes a person more susceptible to suggestions, advertisements, or trances.

There is no precise connection between the hypnotic state and accurate memories of past experiences and, in fact, false memories can occur. Therefore, in cases where clients seek to uncover childhood or traumatic events, most hypnotherapists recommend that clients seek the services of a licensed professional.

Hypnotherapy is not a cure. Instead, it is a technique used to facilitate a specific short-term change or outcome. It is appropriate for many self-improvement goals but is not appropriate for all conditions.

Hypnosis is a skill that is learned, enhanced, and developed with time and experience. Anyone can learn this skill. A client can be trained by a hypnotherapist to hypnotize him- or herself. This is called self-hypnosis and is a recognized form of hypnotherapy.

Each person experiences hypnosis differently because each person's mind processes information uniquely. People experience time and physical sensations differently. Some hear and remember every word from the session, while others remember only parts of what the hypnotherapist said. Some people report having very vivid images, others have vague images. Some people experience nothing unusual at all.

Meditation is a type of relaxation in which individuals empty their minds of other thoughts and then focus on a particular image or idea. Hypnosis uses relaxation to enhance suggestibility and to induce a hypnotic state in order to achieve a goal.

Although everyone can experience daydreams, not everyone can or wants to experience hypnosis. Hypnosis is the act of facilitating an altered state of consciousness—either by a hypnotherapist or oneself—in order to make subconscious suggestions that promote specific, short-term objectives. The person being hypnotized must voluntarily choose hypnotherapy and must actively participate in the act of hypnosis in order to receive and act on the suggestions from the hypnotherapist.

Researchers are not certain how exactly hypnosis works. Some argue that the hypnotic state results from physiological mechanisms, and others maintain that it results from psychological mechanisms. Others suggest that both processes are involved in inducing the hypnotic state.

Those who support the theory that hypnosis relies on psychological mechanisms believe that the usual critical state of the conscious mind is temporarily suspended and that a more passive state of mind is created. When the hypnotist communicates images of the desired goal or makes a posthypnotic suggestion, the client passively receives and acts on the information.