Brookside Center for Counseling and Hypnotherapy

 

Hypnosis: Frequently Asked Questions 

 

WHEN I AM HYPNOTIZED HOW AM I GOING TO FEEL? WILL I KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON? WILL I BE ASLEEP?

You certainly will not be asleep or unconscious. If you were asleep, you would not be able to have a dialogue with your hypnotist. As a matter of fact, during hypnosis you are even more aware of what is going on around you than you would ordinarily be but you can be selective about it (which you can’t do in the waking state). While under hypnosis, you are in a very relaxed and pleasant state.

IS HYPNOSIS SAFE?

Hypnosis is safe when a competent and qualified hypnotist practices it. (see Possible Dangers and Complications)

WHAT DOES HYPNOSIS FEEL LIKE?

Hypnosis is a term derived from the Greek word for sleep. Hypnosis is very relaxing. However, you never lose awareness during hypnosis. When you are hypnotized, you continue to be aware of your surroundings. Everyone has experienced hypnosis. For instance, you may be watching a commercial that you have seen many times and you find yourself very engrossed in it to the point that should a fly land on your nose you will feel lethargic and give yourself plenty of time to decide if you want it away from you. Daydreaming is also a hypnotic state.

IS HYPNOSIS IN YOUR OFFICE LIKE STAGE HYPNOSIS? WILL YOU MAKE ME DANCE LIKE A CHICKEN?

Hypnosis as used in a doctor’s office is a healing or investigative process. The client's welfare is the sole focus of the procedure and the work is geared towards helping the client. Stage hypnosis is a show where people perform acts that are used to entertain an audience. Since the purpose is usually to hold the audience’s interest and to entertain them, the subjects are carefully selected and screened before the stage demonstration begins.

WILL I REMEMBER ANYTHING AFTER THE SESSION IS OVER?

You will remember everything unless the hypnotist has valid reasons to delay the recall until he/she feels it is safe and beneficial to the client. (This would be particularly true of uncovered early memories of abuse or other traumas.) Usually, you will remember only what you are ready to remember. You may be asked to describe images or sensations or sounds as they come to you. You will be encouraged to avoid explaining or making any sense out of these impressions. You may report these impressions, but this is not the time to make any sense out of them.

WHAT CAN HAPPEN TO ME AFTER THE SESSION IS OVER?

There is a good possibility that after the session is over and in the days to come, images or memories will surface spontaneously to your awareness. These images could be upsetting, but remember you can always call your hypnotist.

WHAT IF I DO NOT COME OUT OF HYPNOSIS?

Everyone comes out of hypnosis. Remember that you went into hypnosis willingly. So, just as you decided to go into hypnosis, by the same token, you will decide to come out of it. There are, on few occasions, some people who enjoy it so much that they resist coming out. But all experienced and well-trained hypnotists have knowledge of many different ways to bring the person around. Since the hypnotist keeps the person under hypnosis, with the person’s realization that the hypnotist’s voice is no longer heard, the person will return to the present. I have been asked: what happens if anything happens to me during this period? After a while, the client will drift off into a natural sleep and reawaken.

IS ONE ASLEEP OR UNCONSCIOUS WHILE UNDER HYPNOSIS?

During hypnosis, one looks asleep but is not. One is relaxed, but mentally alert. The person retains at all times a level of awareness to the direct environment

CAN I BRING A FRIEND WITH ME?

Yes, you can bring anyone with you if you need the reassurance and if that makes you comfortable. However, you need to understand that, should your therapist suggest that it is best for you to be alone, you must respect his/her recommendation and have him/her clarify that decision. Keep in mind that you are in control and feel free to have your request heard.

CAN ANYONE BE HYPNOTIZED?

Everyone can be hypnotized provided that they want to be. Anyone who wishes to be hypnotized can be. Even people with short attention spans can be hypnotized but the procedure requires special skills on the part of the hypnotist.

UNDER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD SOMEONE NOT BE HYPNOTIZED?

There are some individuals who may run some risks if hypnotized. This is where the evaluative skills and clinical training of the hypnotist are essential. (see Possible Dangers and Complications)

I AM TOLD THAT I AM VERY BRIGHT. CAN I BE HYPNOTIZED?

Concentration is essential for hypnosis. People with a wide range of intellectual giftedness or limitations can be hypnotized. Almost anyone can be hypnotized, even children as young as three. Old people can also be hypnotized. The ability to enter hypnosis frequently depends on the training and expertise of the hypnotist.

DOES EVERYONE ENTER HYPNOSIS EASILY?

If you have had positive experiences with hypnosis, it will naturally facilitate your re-experiencing it. If you are concerned that under hypnosis you might reveal some deep personal secrets, you should not be. You will reveal only what you wish unless the hypnotist is using unethical techniques, such as using mechanical devices or drugs to unearth or implant suggestions.

WHAT IF I CAN NOT GO DEEPLY ENOUGH?

A light hypnotic state may be sufficient to accomplish the goals of the session. Most people can achieve a trance deep enough to allow for the process. Hypnosis is one of many tools and techniques used to uncover information or to work out problems.

CAN A PERSON FABRICATE EXPERIENCES WHILE UNDER HYPNOSIS?

Hypnosis is not a truth serum. There is no guarantee that all information obtained under hypnosis is accurate. Some people under hypnosis have been known to fabricate and lie. As a matter of fact, one can even lie after an injection of truth serum. The serum is a chemical administered to reduce inhibitions so that the subject reveals freely solicited information. However, if there is some deep information that the person chooses not to divulge or if it is information that is not consciously known, frequently, the subject will not reveal it. Hypnosis can bring back information that has been repressed or forgotten. The skilled hypnotist will have techniques to determine if the subject is lying.

HOW CAN I BE SURE THAT MEMORIES REVEALED UNDER HYPNOSIS ARE REAL?

Hypnosis is not a totally reliable way to recall accurately disturbing memories.

WHAT IF I AM NOT READY TO "KNOW" ABOUT MY EXPERIENCES? ISN’T FORCING THE ISSUE UNHEALTHY?

This issue should be left to the discretion of the therapist.

IS IT POSSIBLE TO HAVE THOUGHTS IMPLANTED IN MY MIND?

The capacity to influence people to do something against their will exists. There is no doubt that people can be manipulated into doing things against their will and even against their systems of value and belief. Although techniques of brainwashing exist, they are not in the realm of clinical hypnosis and the ethics as practiced in clinical situations. It is known that people have done things against their will when mechanical devices have been employed.

WHAT IS THE "FALSE MEMORY SYNDROME"?

The idea some people can be coaxed or fooled into "remembering" events that never happened has become the platform for some groups to diminish claims of childhood sexual abuse that surface sometimes during psychotherapy or hypnotherapy. It seems that the False Memory Syndrome Institute was created by parents facing charges of abuse by their adult offspring who had undergone therapy. These parents felt they had been falsely accused and claim that the accusations stem from ideas or suggestions implanted in their minds by the therapists.

ARE HYPNOTICALLY RECALLED EXPERIENCES REALLY THE SUBJECT’S OWN OR MERELY SOMETHING THEY HAVE READ ABOUT OR SEEN? IN OTHER WORDS, HOW MUCH OF THE SUBJECT’S MEMORIES MAY NOT EVEN BE THEIRS?

Hypnosis is not an omnipotent tool that guarantees the factual revelation of the experiences of hypnotic subjects.

HOW DOES HYPNOSIS DIFFER FROM SLEEP, MEDITATION OR GUIDED IMAGERY?

Hypnosis is best described as an altered state of consciousness, a changed state of awareness, concentration and perception. During the experience of hypnosis, the person remains in complete control and should they ever feel uncomfortable because of the experience, they can always reopen their eyes and terminate the intervention. Everyone at some point or another has experienced hypnosis. One experiences hypnosis when one misses an exit while driving or when one is so engrossed watching TV or reading a book that even a person talking will nor distract one from one’s activities.

Although some hypnotists use the word sleep as a suggestion to enter deep relaxation, hypnosis is not sleep. Sleep is defined as a "natural periodic suspension of consciousness during which the powers of the body are restored." During sleep, the individual is not aware of what is happening.

Meditation involves focusing one’s thoughts, engaging oneself in inner contemplation or reflection. Meditation techniques vary, but what most of them have in common is the relief of suffering and the promotion of healing.

It is generally known that there are four different kinds of meditation. One is based on body control in order to unite body and mind as in Yoga. A second technique of meditation is based on control of the mind and requires concentration, contemplation and visualization. Concentration is accomplished by focusing on an object. Contemplation is achieved through continuous repetition of a word or a syllable. A third approach to meditation is based on letting go of the body, using techniques to achieve relaxation of muscle tensions. The fourth meditative technique focuses on letting go of the mind. The mind remains open to whatever enters it thus obtaining insight.

There is a fine line between meditation and hypnosis. Meditation and self-hypnosis can be induced in similar ways. Both techniques may begin by the person being asked to stare at a certain point, breathe in a prescribed way or listen to chants or rhythms. Meditation has been most effective in changing behavior.

Guided Imagery is the use of mental images to bring about changes usually related to health problems.

All the above techniques share relaxation as part of the procedure, but that is where the similarities end.

 

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