Lyonesse Therapies
Lyonesse Therapies

Hypnotherapy FAQs

Q. What can hypnosis do?

A. There really is only one correct answer to that question, an answer that surprises most people when they first hear it: nothing. That's right. Absolutely nothing at all - other than, in most cases, create a state of supreme relaxation. So how do people get better...? Well, many people are not aware that there is a specific difference between hypnosis and hypnotherapy... in fact it's not the hypnosis part of the equation that helps people to make changes in their life at all, but the therapy that is applied during the state of hypnosis. Of course, that's why it's called hypnotherapy.

Q. How does hypnotherapy differ from stage hypnosis?

A. The hypnosis is the same, though many believe it is not. But it is the 'therapy' part that is different - the stage hypnotist is out to entertain others. The hypnotherapist is out to make somebody's life more enjoyable to live.

Q. What's the difference between hypnotherapy and psychotherapy?

A. Usually, psychotherapy makes changes to the subconscious by using the understanding and imagery of the conscious mind. Hypnotherapy attempts to bypass the conscious mind to a large extent, working directly with the subconscious. For this reason, hypnotherapy is often quicker than psychotherapy. But it's 'horses for courses' - there are some clients who will respond better to psychotherapy and for them, this would probably be a better form of treatment.

Q. Does it always work?

A. No, no more than any other form of medicine, complementary OR orthodox does. A responsible therapist will soon detect when it is not going to and discharge that client so that they may seek the help they need elsewhere. Another hypnotherapist might produce the desired result where the first one could not, because of the different client/therapist 'mix'.

Q. How long does it take to produce a result?

A. It depends on far too many factors to make a bald statement about this. It can be as few as one session for a simple problem, to as many as... well, that depends on the ethics and skills of the therapist involved. A responsible, properly trained, therapist will not keep a client in therapy longer than necessary.

Q. Can anybody be hypnotised?

A. Pretty much. The exceptions are: those who are educationally subnormal or suffering from senility, very young children, hard drug addicts, anybody under the influence of large amounts of alcohol.

Q. How do you hypnotise somebody?

A. Usually by a voice induction, though there are various other methods such as strobe lights, rotating spirals, and even the classic swinging watch is still used by some. Usually the voice is used as well, though. There is no special way of speaking, no 'incantations' or magical words, and the accent is quite often on producing a very relaxed state of mind. I favour a slow and soothing approach but there are many therapists who use their normal speed of speech and may even step it up a bit or use a fairly 'crisp' delivery if they prefer the 'command' method of induction. Sometimes, too, they will employ - with permission - the use of touch in various different ways, commonly of the subjects hands or forehead. After hypnosis is induced (usually in a matter of a few minutes) a deepener routine might be used to deepen the state.

Q. I've heard about instant inductions - what are they and do they work?

A. Instant inductions usually rely on shock or surprise and more often than not involve a jolt or jerk to the physical body - usually to the arm or hand. It is not dangerous, but its intrusive nature probably creates a situation where the operator is dominant for a few fractions of a second. Since there is then no further reason for resistance, if the hypnotised individual wishes to be hypnotised (and s/he would not be if s/he did not want to be), the state tends to persist. Many therapists are uncomfortable with rapid or instantaneous inductions, while others scarcely use anything else. Stage operators often rely heavily on this type of induction.

Q. Can people be made to forget things, like suggestions or the session itself?

A. You cannot actually 'make' anybody do anything in hypnosis. Hypnosis gives nobody any power over the person who is hypnotised. Theoretically, you could suggest to a hypnotised person that they would forget the content of the session. But it is not reliable, by any means, and it is most unlikely that you could create a lasting and total amnesia, and certainly not of the session itself.

Q. Is it good for performance enhancement?

A. Hypnosis, with the right sort of adjunct work, excels at performance enhancement of all types! Here are just a few of the things with which it can make profound improvement:

  • Sporting performance
  • Career matters
  • Memory and Concentration
  • Stage performance
  • Study
  • Exams and tests
  • Presentation/speaking skills

Q. Is there anybody who should not be hypnotised?

A. To a large extent, it depends on the sort of therapy being employed. Care needs to be exercised with anybody suffering from epilepsy and also with anyone suffering from any psychotic illness, and regression/analytical therapy should most definitely not be employed with psychotic individuals. This type of therapy is also best avoided with pregnant women. I also will not use regression or analysis with heart attack/stroke victims.

Q. How does it work?

A. Although there has been much speculation and theory over the years, all that is truly known about the phenomenon of hypnosis is that it allows the conscious critical faculty to be bypassed, allowing a 'gateway' to the subconscious mind.

Q. What is hypnosis anyway?

A. The answer is very similar to the above question. Some people believe it is nothing more than 'social compliance' (doing what you believe you should be doing) while others insist that it is a state of altered consciousness. There is no scientifically measurable change in brain wave patterns during hypnosis, as compared with normal consciousness. An individual in the hypnotised state usually feels very relaxed, but this is not necessarily the case. They will often feel as if they are half asleep and at the moment they open their eyes at the end of a session there is sometimes an awareness, for a spilt second, that 'something' had been different.

Q. What does it feel like to be hypnotised?

A. Actually, it doesn't. For the vast majority of people there is actually no such thing as a 'hypnotised feeling' - the vast majority of people would insist afterwards that they had not 'gone under'. After a few sessions, though, most people start to become aware of how the state feels to them. It may be that they feel excessively heavy or light. Their arms and legs may feel rigid, as if they have been moved into a different position, or even absent. They can sometimes feel other strange phenomena, too - sensations of floating, whirling and/or spinning are not unusual, or of some part of the body being distorted in some way or as if they have become very small/big. Most people suffer some form of time distortion, usually in the ratio of around 2.5:1, so that after the session there is a feeling that it was much shorter than it actually was. Typically, a 50 minute session would feel like 20 minutes.

Q. How can you tell if somebody is hypnotised?

A. There are several external signs, though few people show all of them. Some of the most noticeable are: A facial flush, total immobility and relaxation, rapid eye movement, eyelid flicker, enhanced salivation (causing frequent swallowing), slowed respiration, drooping lower jaw.

Q. Can you make anybody do things they don't want to?

A. In my opinion, definitely not, but there is considerable conjecture about this. It is often said that hypnosis cannot breach the moral code, though there are therapists and hypnotists who claim otherwise - but of course, we cannot truly know what another person's moral code/values consist of. People will frequently do things they would not normally do, though this does not mean it is something they do not want to do; hypnosis lowers inhibition, so it could be just something that that individual was too inhibited to do in the normal way, even though he/she was not averse to it.

Q. Can you get 'stuck' in hypnosis?

A. No, you definitely cannot! If you were hypnotised and the hypnotist just walked away and left you, you would simply bring yourself out of the state whenever you wanted to.

Q. Is it dangerous in any way?

A. Not at all, in the hands of a properly trained individual. There are some circumstances that would be undesirable with a non-trained or poorly-trained operator, but nothing serious could happen, in any case.

Most of the FAQ's on this page were reproduced courtesy of (and with kind permission of) Terence Watts at his Hypnosense site (simply because I don't believe in re-inventing the wheel!).