Article – Hypnosis FAQs

Lady HypnotistMagical Hypnosis…
Hypnosis IS surprising AND amazing! However, hypnosis is *also* a safe and natural process. In reality, hypnosis is simply a deep relaxation of the physical body and the conscious mind, which brings about a slight relaxing of one’s usual inhibitions. The subconscious mind remains clear, alert and focused. Hypnotic subjects are in no danger at any time. Their minds do not “check out” or enter an “alternate dimension.” At all times during a performance, the volunteers are aware enough, at the conscious level of their minds, to reject a suggestion or even to leave the show, if they so desire. Hypnotists do not have any magical power over their subjects. The truth is, what hypnotists have is knowledge and skill. Good hypnotists also have a quick sense of humor, strong intuition, powerful stage presence and soothing, rhythmic voices. Mix those skills with the power already inside the minds of the volunteers and that’s magic enough…

What exactly is hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a natural state of deep, physical relaxation, in which the mind remains clear, alert and focused. Hypnosis is not mind-control, brainwashing or in any way harmful or dangerous. We all naturally enter in and out of the hypnotic state, on a daily basis, often without being aware of it.

Will I know what’s going on around me while I’m hypnotized?
Yes. You will hear every word that the hypnotist says. Your body will be very relaxed, but your mind will remain conscious and aware the entire time. Think about it: your subconscious mind uses the same set of ears that your conscious mind hears with! How effective would it be if, once you entered the trance state, you suddenly lost all ability to hear the hypnotist’s words?

How do you put people into hypnosis?
With a big watch, of course! Actually, today’s hypnotists generally use words, a soothing tone, mental imagery and various exercises (such as deep breathing) to induce a pleasant, lethargic state.

You’re holding a pocket watch in some of your photos. Do you use it on stage?
No, I don’t. In the past, hypnotists often used a “focus” item for their subjects to stare at. This could be a pendulum, a candle flame, a spiral drawn on a piece of paper, or, because they often carried them, a pocket watch swung to-and-fro. While some hypnotists today still use a focus in their acts, such as a bright light, I do not. No reason for or against either method, simply a different style of induction. My primary tool is my voice, as in the answer above. However, because people still associate hypnotists with pocket watches, I use one in my publicity photos. It tells you instantly what I do, without your having to read a caption.

What does it feel like to be hypnotized?
It feels great! Hypnosis is a natural state that feels similar to that blissful feeling you get right before you fall asleep at night. It’s extremely relaxing. When you awaken, you feel refreshed and revitalized. Everyone who volunteers in a hypnosis show has a blast! Experiencing a live hypnotherapy session or listening to a hypnosis recording is also very enjoyable and profoundly rejuvenating. Participants often awaken feeling pleasantly “buzzed” and the peaceful contentment can last for days afterward.

Can everyone be hypnotized?
Yes. Anyone of at least average intelligence can be hypnotized. However, the subject must first be willing. Hypnosis is not something that the hypnotist does to you. Hypnotists are guides. It is up to you, the subject, to allow yourself to enter the trance state.

I volunteered in a show once, but “it didn’t work on me”—why not?
If you volunteered in a hypnosis show once and were asked to step down, don’t let that stop you from volunteering again. There are lots of factors that will affect your success as a show volunteer. Some people are too excited at the time to relax. Maybe the audience size is overwhelming or the event is very emotional, such as a Grad Night. Some people feel more comfortable around strangers. (It works for them at a comedy club, when they’re on vacation, but not at the company Christmas party, for example.) Others feel more comfortable around friends. (Vice-versa.) I find that the level of “team spirit” at a particular corporation or school has a lot to do with whether its members feel comfortable “letting go” in front of each other. Another important factor is EXPECTATION. If you have never been formally hypnotized before, you may be expecting “fireworks.” When that doesn’t happen, you think, “Oh, it’s not working on me,” and you STOP PARTICIPATING, open your eyes and sit there waiting to be let off the stage. The people who will do well as volunteers are the people who do not expect to be transported to another realm. They understand that they will still “know what’s going on” and still “hear everything the hypnotist says.” They stay with it and follow the hypnotist’s instructions, even when they’re not sure if it’s working. You cannot simultaneously BE the show and SEE the show! You have to pick one and stick with it!

How does someone wake up after hypnosis? What if the hypnotist leaves while they’re still in trance?
How do you awaken from hypnosis…? Open your eyes! After hypnosis, the participant awakens naturally, just as they do after sleep. It is impossible for someone to be “left in hypnosis.” If the hypnotist were to leave before counting them awake, the subject would eventually realize that the session had ended and would awaken on their own. During a show or hypnotherapy session, if there were an emergency, or the subject no longer wished to participate, they could easily awaken themselves at any time and simply walk off the stage.

Can hypnosis be used for…?
“Improving my golf game?” “Helping me relax during exams?” “Curing my insomnia?” “Helping me get past my fear of public speaking?” Etc. Let’s put it this way: think for a moment about any issue in your life that you’d like to improve and ask yourself, “Does my mind interact with this issue/activity in any way? Do my thoughts/beliefs affect my performance? Do my feelings contribute to my experiences in this area? Have I had past experiences that are reinforcing my beliefs/thoughts/emotions in a negative way? Is it my expectation that I will NOT get the results I desire?” Are you getting the picture? The mind, body and emotions are all connected. Therefore, I’m not aware of ANY issue that can not be at least significantly improved/relieved through the regular use of hypnosis.

Can I really go into hypnosis with cds or mp3s? Do they really “work”?
Of course—why wouldn’t they work? Hypnosis is not about something that gets done *to you*—it’s about something that you allow yourself to experience. The hypnotist is a *guide*, not a puppeteer. This means that you really have about the same chance of going into hypnosis in almost any situation that you’re reasonably comfortable in—be it on stage, in a hypnotherapist’s office, or while relaxing in your easy chair at home. Most hypnotists use their voice and their spoken patter to lead their subjects into trance. Using a recorded audio program to enter trance is virtually the same as sitting next to a hypnotist and listening to them speak, especially once your eyes are closed (plus, with my mp3s, you also get some nice music). Yes, a live session would be more interactive, more custom to your specific issues, and potentially better paced to your individual responses. However, you’d spend more money for an in-person session, would have to go somewhere else to experience it, and wouldn’t have the privacy and convenience that you enjoy in the comfort of your own home. Use in-person sessions when you have an issue that requires interactive work with a qualified hypnotherapist and use audio programs (tapes, cds or mp3s) for repetitive programming and conditioning, relaxation, entertainment, and for simpler, less interactive hypnosis sessions. It’s like the difference between meeting with a private exercise trainer and using store-bought workout videos at home. Why not make the best use of both? Use hypnotherapy on those occasions when it’s called for, but also take advantage of the convenience and lower expense of prerecorded hypnosis audio programs on a more regular basis.

Do you offer telephone hypnosis sessions? Do they really “work”?
First, see my answer to question #9 above (do hypnotic recordings really work?). Telephone sessions certainly “work” and, yes, I offer these. The dynamic behind these is about the same as that of prerecorded hypnosis audio: you don’t have to be in the same room as the hypnotist in order to enter trance, you simply need to be able to hear their voice and follow their instructions. The upside of telephone sessions is that you get a more personalized and interactive experience (than in a recording), yet you’re still able to enjoy them in the privacy and comfort of your home (as opposed to going to a hypnotherapist’s office). A couple of tips for phone sessions: do some conditioning with recordings (mp3s) first, and get yourself a telephone headset. (You’ll have a much easier time relaxing if you don’t have to hold a phone to your ear).

Can you recommend a good hypnotherapist for me? How do I find one in my area?
Please do not write to me and ask me to suggest a hypnotherapist in your area—I do not keep a worldwide directory of hypnotherapists. There is no possible way for me to read an email and know where you are, what your issues are and who is a “good” hypnotherapist in your area to recommend. How you find a good hypnotherapist is *you look for one*. First, start with your local yellow pages. If there aren’t any listed, go to the YP of the nearest large city. When you find some that interest you, see if they list web sites that you can visit for more information. Call them on the phone and chat with them for a few minutes, if possible. (Don’t waste their time with idle chitchat—ask specific questions about their training, experience, methods and specialties.) It may benefit you to find a hypnotherapist who specializes in the issue you want to work with. Theoretically, this gives them more experience and a few more “tools in their toolbox.” (Scripts, techniques, etc.) Ask them if they will be willing to make you a recording (tape or cd) of the session/s to listen to for reinforcement. Plan on at least several sessions for most issues. While speaking to the hypnotherapist, ask if they offer an initial *consultation*. (Many will speak with you for free—but don’t expect to be *hypnotized* without a charge.) The main point of speaking to them beforehand is to determine if they are someone that you feel comfortable working with. (If you don’t like or respect them, what they say will have no impact for you.) If you meet with the hypnotherapist and feel uncomfortable with him/her, keep looking until you find someone you do like. (Remember, a good hypnotherapist will probably help you uncover a “home truth” or two, so don’t expect the whole process to be totally comfortable. The issue is whether or not you feel safe and whether or not you respect the skill and expertise of the person you’re working with.) Finally, if the hypnotherapist gives you any “homework,” such as self-hypnosis training or listening to self-hypnosis recordings, DO IT. There is no point in paying for sessions if you are unwilling to do the work.

Why don’t more people use self-hypnosis or get hypnotherapy sessions?
Why don’t more people floss or exercise? We KNOW what’s good for us but that doesn’t mean we’ll do it. We’re busy. Most of us barely keep up with all the stuff we feel we HAVE to do, let alone all that stuff that seems “optional.” The other reason, I believe, is that hypnosis appears very simple. So simple, that when people first try it, they think it’s too easy to do any good. So they stop, thinking either it doesn’t work or they’re not doing it right. The truth is, an activity does not need to be complex in order to be beneficial. (Consider sit-ups and flossing and tossing down those vitamin pills!) Our society is very geared toward DOING. Most of us are not comfortable with just BEING. Practice sitting quietly on a daily basis for even 5 minutes. You’ll be surprised how challenging this is!

What’s the difference between self-hypnosis, “guided imagery,” “creative visualization” or meditation?
Truthfully, there’s not much difference at all. I believe that the prevailing misconceptions about hypnosis have made people afraid to call the process by its rightful name—especially in a business environment. “Guided Imagery” or “Previewing” perhaps sound a little less mystical than “Self-Hypnosis.” All of these processes are simply exercises to relax the body and focus the mind. The state you attain can feel the same for each—no matter what you choose to call it.

How quickly will I experience results from hypnosis?
How quickly do you WANT to see results? There’s a lot of factors at work here. First, and foremost, there’s your motivation level. If you’re “trying” to quit smoking because your spouse has put you up to it, you’re not really all that motivated yourself, now are you? My advice there: just quit wasting your time and money and be honest. There’s no such thing as “trying to quit.” You’re either ready to be a nonsmoker or you’re not. Same is true with just about anything. If your motivation level is HIGH, you’ll likely experience results very quickly. If it’s low, you may quit going to the hypnotherapist or stop listening to that new recording long before you see any results. Other factors that determine your success can include your comfort-level and respect for the hypnotherapist you’re working with, as well as the regularity of your hypnosis sessions. Hypnosis is NOT a magic pill. Sorry. You will actually have to do some WORK along the way, such as attending your hypnotherapy sessions or listening to your self-hypnosis program on a daily basis. If you are expecting to be “put to sleep” and awaken “never wanting to eat chocolate again,” you’re probably destined for disappointment. It just doesn’t happen that way. On the other hand, I’ve encountered a fair number of nonsmokers who tell me that they stopped smoking as a result of “just one hypnosis session many years ago.” I’d say that, when they had that session, “many years ago,” they were what I’d call HIGHLY MOTIVATED. Are you?

How can I learn more about hypnosis? Can you suggest some books?
Depends. What exactly do you want to learn? If you’re just curious about hypnosis, try reading a book on the subject or buying a self-hypnosis recording that will guide you through the process. An excellent place to start is my site, which is an online store featuring every current book on the subject and lots of audio programs, too. You can also try some of my own guided hypnosis mp3s, available on this site. For more in-depth learning, see below.

How can I learn to hypnotize others?
I get this question often and, because of its vagueness, I am unable to give a complete answer to it. First of all, are you wanting to become a hypnotherapist, a stage hypnotist, or both, or are you just wanting to hypnotize your partner for fun? If you want to become a professional, what country are you writing from…? The pertinent laws are different in various countries and I am only familiar with the laws here in the US. See what I mean? So let’s take this bit by bit… (See the following questions.)

I want to become a professional hypnotherapist. How can I do that?
Assuming you are in the US, (specifically in California,) you do not need a license in order to practice as a hypnotherapist. Hypnotherapy is technically “lay-counseling.” It is a self-regulating field that does not require practitioners to have a particular degree or to obtain a license. HOWEVER, thorough training in the field is an absolute necessity. Don’t shortchange yourself or your clients by thinking you can read a book and become a hypnotherapist overnight. Attend a reputable school of hypnotherapy (in person, not on video) and get your certification. After training, continue your education by reading current books on the areas you work in and by attending additional classes and workshops regularly.

How do I find a good hypnotherapy school?
If you are in a major city, chances are, you have at least one hypnotherapy school near you. Look in your local Yellow Pages. Also search the internet. I particularly like the techniques of Mr. Gil Boyne, and tend to prefer schools that are licensed to teach his materials. (Transforming Therapy.) Find a school that requires at least 200 hours of training to certify as a “Clinical Hypnotherapist.” TAKE THE WHOLE COURSE. “Schools” that offer “weekend certifications” or “at-home study by video” are not worth your money, in my opinion. Because of the nature of hypnosis, you need lots of hands-on experience, both to cement your skills AND to build your confidence. Lots of people who complete hypnotherapy training NEVER PRACTICE IT after graduating. Why? They don’t have enough confidence. Hypnosis is something you must learn by doing (and, btw, by experiencing it yourself—it amazes me how many so-called “hypnotists” there are out there who have never been able to go into trance themselves—would you take sex advice from a virgin?).

I want to become a professional stage hypnotist. How do I start?
I’ll admit, this is a sore subject with me—primarily because I’ve heard so many horror stories over the years from clients and agencies who have hired inexpensive “newbies” who then turned in horribly unprofessional performances and disappointed everyone (thus hurting the reputations of *all* stage hypnotists). Just because you’re an experienced DJ who has watched a couple of hypnosis shows doesn’t mean you can do just as good of a job as a pro— even after reading a book or watching a video or two. Yes, I know, “it looks so easy”, but that’s probably because you’re watching a trained professional with years of experience; they’re so good that they make it look easy. (Does owning a couple of cds qualify me to be a professional dj…?) “In the old days”, many stage hypnotists got no professional training at all; they learned their craft from other hypnotists, books and videos. While it’s still possible to do this, be aware that this approach takes *lots of practice and study* and, unless you are interning with a highly experienced professional stage hypnotist (not another dj-turned-hypnotist-overnight), you will miss out on a lot of important information. (Remember, every show is unique and *experience* is what helps a pro to deal with the unexpected challenges in a way that makes the performance *look easy*.) I tend toward recommending lots of training. My suggestion is that you follow my guidelines for hypnotherapy, AND THEN apply that training to stage work. (That’s what I did.) While, as a stage hypnotist, you may never use all the hypnotherapy techniques you will learn during training, (and you will also require some skills you won’t get in a hypnotherapy course,) it’s never a bad idea to have more “tools in your toolbox” than you think will be necessary. In addition, if you’re any good on stage, you’ll find you often get asked afterwards about hypnotherapy sessions and you’ll probably want to make these part of your business. If you will be conducting hypnotherapy sessions, I STRONGLY ENCOURAGE you to invest in professional training. I cannot overemphasize how important it is to represent yourself well as a stage hypnotist. The fact that it looks easy does not mean it is. Currently, the field is over-saturated with under qualified newbies who have little or no experience (I know, because my clients always come back to me the following year, kicking themselves for ever trying somebody cheaper and less qualified). Do us all a favor and treat this craft with the reverence it deserves: get well trained, study hard, practice more than you think you need to, memorize those notes, learn what to do when something unexpected happens, never drink alcohol on the job or show up drunk (a shame I even have to mention *that one*), dress professionally, work hard to put on the best possible performance, charge what you’re worth, and be willing to turn down any show that exceeds your qualifications or at which, logistically, you know you would be unable to turn in a first-rate performance. Pay your dues and strive to make your every show better than the previous one. *That’s* how you become a professional stage hypnotist worthy of “the big bucks”—*not* by buying a couple of our videos and attempting to imitate us.

Will you be my mentor and teach me stage hypnosis?
Absolutely not. I run a for-profit business—and maintain multiple web sites. This keeps me way too busy to “be a mentor” (read: provide free training) for a potential competitor. Besides, stage hypnosis is not something that I believe can be taught in a couple of emails or over the phone. Once you’re actually practicing the craft, if you have a specific question, I’ll try to find time to answer it. In the meantime, get some training, *practice*, and start paying your dues by actually *performing hypnosis shows* (I started out doing lots of free shows for schools and charities). Whatever you do, please do not buy a bunch of stage hypnotist’s videos and copy their acts—respect their hard work enough to come up with *your own* routine and promo material.

Can I try hypnosis on my girl/boy friend without professional training?
Good hypnosis is part natural intuition, part learned techniques, and part experience. Sometimes feeling safe and trusting enough to allow oneself to relax is half the battle. If you and your partner feel comfortable trying some hypnotic techniques with each other, I say, “Why not?!” In a nonprofessional environment, there is certainly no danger in doing so. Read a book, watch a video, listen to some tapes, take a class—something—to learn the basics. Provided you are not delving into deep psychological issues, hypnotizing each other—or going into trance together—can be a very relaxing, very bonding experience. However, I am not suggesting that you start advertising yourself as a “hypnotist” and/or lie about your experience or training. (Think of this like the difference between giving your lover a backrub and declaring yourself a “professional massage practitioner” without getting any training or experience.) If you are going to be hypnotizing others on a regular basis, please get professional training. Poorly skilled amateurs give us experienced professionals a bad rep, and nobody appreciates that.

The above information represents Lady Hypnotist’s beliefs based on her professional training and experience. Readers use all techniques at their own risk. Lady Hypnotist assumes no liability for any activity entered into as a result of reading this page.