The following FAQ is for informational purposes only. Hypnosis is not a replacement for medical or psychological/psychiatric care.
What is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a profound state of relaxation, focused mind (concentration), and heightened sensory awareness. It is a receptive state characterized by openness to suggestibility, relaxation, and heightened imagination. It's not like sleep, because the client retains their conscious state during a session. It is most often compared to daydreaming or the feeling of "losing yourself" in a book or movie. You're conscious mind simply takes a step back and defers to your inner mind as you tune out most of what goes on around you. You focus intently on the subject at hand, to the near exclusion of any other thought. Under hypnosis, you cannot be made to do anything you do not truly desire to do or anything which violates your moral or religious convictions. When under hypnosis you are in total control.
Can anyone be hypnotized?
A very high percentage of people are hypnotizable. The rate of induction and trance level will vary from client to client - some people relax very quickly while others may take a little more time - but a trained professional hypnotist has the skills and techniques to guide their client to the appropriate level of relaxation to ensure a productive and beneficial session. In many cases, a light trance is sufficient to bring about transformational change. Anyone who has read a book and watched TV or been to the movie theater has been self-hypnotized (all hypnosis is self-hypnosis). This is because when reading, watching TV, or seeing a movie (or driving your car or mowing your lawn for that matter) you are intently focused on the subject at hand. This focused mind and concentration is a hypnotic (or trance) state.
How does hypnosis work?
Hypnosis taps into the realm of your inner mind. For example, unlike your conscious mind which deals with your "rules" and "logic", your inner mind stores stores "files" which trigger behavior at the conscious level. To change a habit or behavior, we need to reframe the mind's reference points to bring about the desired change. This can be done by working with the inner mind which stores files on your mind's hard drive. During the hypnosis session, the client's old files (old reference points) are updated with new files (new reference points) which then work to support the client in achieving their positive goals. This is why "willpower" which is a conscious mind activity, often fails when people try to stop smoking or lose weight. It's because the conscious mind does not store or manage the files - the inner mind does. And because hypnosis works directly with the inner mind it is far more effective in helping clients to quit smoking, release weight, etc. Therefore, your inner mind is where your true power to change exists.
Is hypnosis safe?
Yes, very safe. Hypnosis is a natural relaxed state of mind. Contrary to how hypnosis is depicted on TV, movies, and stage acts, you can not get "stuck" in hypnosis (you would simply fall asleep and wake up rested) or made to do anything against your will. It simply does not work that way. Your conscious mind never leaves the session, is always on standby and you are in control. Hypnosis is a safe and enjoyable experience.
What can hypnosis help me with?
Hypnosis can address a broad spectrum of client wellness goals like confidence along with strengthening performance and motivation in areas such as school study habits, career building, athletic prowess, smoking cessation, weight management, exploring your spirituality and so much more.
Is hypnosis a "silver bullet"? Is it a cure-all?
Hypnosis is a very powerful resource in which to make changes in your life. However, it is not a magic wand. There are many variables that affect our ability to maintain a healthy mind/body dynamic.
At the end of the day, the client must be 100% committed to making the change they are seeking. And that change may require shifting away from physical and/or mental environments and variables that are fostering or contributing toward undesirable feelings, emotions and behavior.
For clients in the Raleigh/Durham area seeking professional guidance on natural medicine and nutrition we recommend Dr. Jack and Melissa Weber of the Carolina Clinic of Natural Medicine.
Is hypnosis a replacement for medical or psychiatric care?
Hypnosis is not a replacement for medical or psychological/psychiatric care. We do not practice medicine nor do we prescribe drugs or related treatment. Hypnosis is an alternative approach to well-being focusing on the mind, body, and spirit aspects of health and is a unique and separate profession. Hypnosis or the term "hypnotherapy" is not counseling or psychotherapy. The term "therapy" if applied within the context of hypnosis (e.g., "hypnotherapy") is defined as a non-medical, non-chemical, non-psychiatric, non-invasive holistic alternative to promote change, health, and wellness.
What is the difference between "traditional" and "transpersonal" hypnosis?
Both traditional and transpersonal hypnosis utilizes advanced hypnosis methods and techniques to resolve client issues and inner conflicts. The traditional approach typically operates within the context of the client's immediate perception of mind/body awareness. Transpersonal hypnosis on the other hand expands the state of consciousness beyond ("trans") the immediate sense of identity (self) and taps into the higher realms of existence. This approach often expands the possibilities for resolving client issues or conflicts. Said another way, the transpersonal approach looks to integrate the deeper or higher aspects of the human experience to bring about wellness. These deeper and higher aspects are commonly referred to as our expanded consciousness or our spiritual connectedness. For simplicity, we can define “spiritual” as that realm of the human spirit, that part of humanity that is not limited to just the bodily experience. Transpersonal hypnosis, therefore, extends beyond the immediate mind/body or clinical experience in search of solutions for client well-being and awareness.
What is "spiritual" hypnosis?
Spiritual hypnosis allows the client to explore their expanded consciousness. With a spiritual session, the client connects into their spiritual realms (e.g., past lives, between lives, etc). This connection allows the client to experience the spirit or non-physical world where they can interact with their spiritual families, soul groups, guides, teachers and elders. This interaction and experience often results in renewed (and many times profound) awareness of our divine nature as we receive wisdom and understanding to help us better navigate our current life path.
Do all hypnotists apply the same techniques or approaches?
Like any other profession, there will be a wide array of approaches and methods practiced.
What do I need to do to prepare for a hypnosis session?
All that is required is an open mind and a willingness to make positive changes. It's best to wear clothing and footwear you feel very comfortable in. Avoid consuming caffeinated drinks two hours before your session since caffeine can interfere with the body's ability to relax (e.g., coffee, energy drinks, caffeinated colas, etc.).
Will hypnosis work in a single session?
There are times when one hypnosis session can be effective in achieving your goal. However, hypnosis is a process and it may be unrealistic to expect lasting results in just one session. Therefore, multiple sessions may be required to achieve your desired objectives.
Will hypnosis work if I don't want to change or resist change?
Like many other ventures in life, your success rate diminishes when you are not committed to your goals. Hypnosis is highly effective when the client is highly motivated. When a client truly wants to make a change then the probability of success exponentially increases. If a client is not making the change for themselves, but to satisfy someone else's desire for them to change, then the odds of long-lasting change and success will likely fall short.
What is the success rate for smoking/vaping cessation?
The success rate is directly linked to the client's level of commitment. Therefore, for clients who are personally committed to quitting the success rate can be 100%. The hypnotist facilitates the session but the client is responsible for their personal commitment and dedication to make the change. If a client is coming in to quit because they are being pressured by a spouse/partner to quit smoking, motivated by future dates (birthdays, New Year's resolution, etc.), or simply have not convinced themselves it's time to change (i.e., client subliminally resists change) then the odds of quitting diminish considerably.
Vaping (e-cigarettes) can be harmful to your health. Please watch this 2.5-minute video to understand the issues.
Will I really lose weight with hypnosis and how long does it take?
Hypnosis can be very effective in helping clients to release weight. This is because with hypnosis we are working with that part of the mind which is responsible for creating the eating habits. How quickly weight is released is specific to the client - i.e., amount of excess weight, body structure, metabolism, exercise levels, age, etc. Therefore, some clients will release the extra weight fairly quickly (a few weeks) while for others it might take a bit longer (a few months). Success is very much linked to the client setting reasonable and achievable weight goals for themselves. For example, if you are 50 years of age and decide you want to weigh what you weighed when you were 18 and running track - well, that might be a tough order to fill and could lead to disappointment. The objective is set reasonable and achievable goals for yourself and focus on a weight which you feel most comfortable at. This is what we commonly refer to as our ideal natural body weight. By approaching your weight objectives in this fashion, you will dramatically increase your rate of success.
Can hypnosis help with alcohol cessation?
It depends. If the alcohol issue is alcohol abuse (e.g., periodic "binge" drinking) then hypnosis can be effective. If the client's situation is alcohol dependency (i.e., addiction or alcoholism) then hypnosis is typically less effective. With alcoholism (dependency), it is highly recommended the client seek appropriate medical/specialized counseling and treatment (please see the next FAQ question on substance/drug addiction). The following WebMD link contains additional information on the difference between alcohol abuse versus dependency: Alcohol Abuse and Dependence - Topic Overview. Here is an interactive screening tool to help assess your level of interaction with alcohol: Alcohol Screening Questionnaire. Additional information is also available at the Alcoholics Anonymous® website.
Can hypnosis help with substance (drug) addiction?
We do not recommend hypnosis as an initial intervention to address substance or drug addiction. With many substance or drug addictions, there is a mental health component that needs to be assessed by a qualified medical professional first (e.g., a doctor, therapist or counselor). It is possible, with a written referral from your doctor or therapist, to incorporate hypnosis into an established recovery program. Also, many drugs have withdrawal symptoms which require medical attention. For example, someone who has an addiction to pain killers can find withdrawal to be very unpleasant. Symptoms and effects will vary depending upon the length of the addiction, the amount of drug used, and the frequency the narcotic was abused. Withdrawal from narcotics should always be done under the close supervision of medical personnel. We strongly recommend anyone with a substance or drug addiction contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline which is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental health and/or substance use disorders. The telephone number is 1 (800) 662-HELP (4357).
I have suicidal thoughts or ideation - can hypnosis help me?
Hypnosis is not a treatment for suicidal thoughts or behavior. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or ideation you need to contact your physician, therapist, or qualified medical professional or call 911 immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline telephone number is 1 (800) 273-8255.
Can hypnosis help me remember misplaced items?
Yes, but you need to be the very last person to have touched or moved the item. For example, a client loses a ring. They come in for a hypnosis session where they regress back and recall exactly where they placed it - in an old jewelry box in the attic. But afterward, and unbeknownst to the client, their spouse cleaned the attic and moved the box containing the ring to the garage. The client's recall under hypnosis is 100% correct but since the box was subsequently moved without their knowing, finding the ring still remains a mystery. This is because the client was not the last person to handle the item. Hopefully, the client's recall will help their spouse remember their part in the puzzle and together they locate the ring!
Can regression lead to "false memories"?
False memories refer to recall which is not real but constructed thought. False memories are rare but can potentially manifest in one of two ways: 1) if the person conducting the session is inexperienced and asks the client leading questions (questioning under hypnosis should always be asked as open-ended questions - never leading), and 2) if a client is under the influence of drugs or alcohol they may experience distorted thought. No hypnotist should knowingly conduct a session if a client is suspected of being impaired. It is highly recommended that anyone seeking a hypnotist select a properly trained, certified, and experienced practitioner. At a minimum, the hypnotist should be certified by a major association like the International Association of Counselors and Therapists (IACT) or the National Guild of Hypnotists (NGH).
Are past life memories real?
The benefits to the client from a past life session can be very profound. When I facilitate sessions it is apparent to me that the insight and wisdom experienced by the client is streaming through a higher realm of consciousness. After a session, many of my clients comment on how their past life memories were free-flowing and spontaneous versus what is referred to as constructed recall. The spontaneity and "sense of knowing" aspect of the experience is a very common theme. The constructed recall is not spontaneous or free-flowing since it takes time for the mind to piece together or construct images, scenes, or events.
To illustrate - what if I asked you to tell me all about a single scene from a time, place, or era you have no knowledge of? You would need to stop, get oriented and think about how to construct that moment in time. For instance, what if I ask you to tell me what you were doing at a particular moment in a past life back in 1575 in Europe? For example, how old are you? Are you a man or a woman? How are you dressed? What color is your hair? Your eyes? Where are you located in Europe? Tell me about your surroundings? What do the buildings look like? Tell me about your family? Are you interacting with anyone? What's your profession? And so on. It would be quite challenging to construct a cohesive moment. Now what if I ask you to do that several more times during a session to describe other moments on the timeline of a life you have no conscious awareness of? It would be an exhaustive exercise indeed! But let's assume you're able to create all those scenes, and after you do, I then ask you to integrate all those events. That is, put it all together and tell me the purpose of that life and the lessons you learned from what you just constructed. It would be an extremely difficult task - if not impossible - to create a cohesive and connected storyline. But with a past life regression, that same exercise comes together effortlessly and spontaneously resulting in a seamless and integrated experience with the client being fully aware of the purpose and lessons from that past life and the connections into their current life situations.
In the end, the determination of "real or not real" is a question each individual client will need to decide on their own. In my opinion, it is far more meaningful to focus on the benefits a past life experience brings to the client in the form of expanded consciousness, higher self-awareness, greater insight, and new pathways to healing and opportunity.
How does hypnosis differ from meditation?
Both hypnosis and meditation bridge the inner mind / conscious divide, with meditation typically being without content and not goal driven. Hypnosis on the other hand is focused very specifically on the content and achievement of the client's goals. Unlike meditation, which is wonderful for relaxation and quiet time, hypnosis helps a client create new behaviors that lead to the goals they set for themselves.
How does hypnosis differ from Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)?
Many NLP coaches and practitioners work primarily with the conscious mind whereas hypnosis works with the inner mind (subconscious). Due to your conscious mind's filters and metaprograms, NLP behavioral change approaches must first get past the conscious mind's gatekeeping functions to implement the desired changes. This is not always easy and can be challenging. At Imagine Hypnotics we apply various NLP techniques and modeling (e.g., Milton Model) at the inner mind level where behavioral change can take hold by reducing the possibility of interference from the conscious mind.
How does hypnosis differ from psychotherapy?
Hypnosis uses trance, suggestion, and instruction to adjust and correct unwanted habits of thought, feeling, and behavior at the inner mind level. Psychotherapy is the diagnosis and conversational treatment of a psychological issue at the conscious mind level. In other words, a psychotherapist treats people by dialoguing and communicating with the conscious mind to affect behavioral change. Hypnosis on the other hand addresses habits by fostering change at the inner mind level. It should be noted that many psychotherapists embrace the benefits of hypnosis and will employ both traditional psychotherapies along with hypnosis to assist in improving their client's state of mental health and well-being. To accomplish this, psychotherapists may refer their clients to an experienced and certified hypnotist.
It's important to emphasize that hypnosis is not a replacement for medical or psychological/psychiatric treatment. Those under the care of a psychotherapist or doctor should not ignore their therapist's or doctor's advice or treatment for mental health / medical issues. Clients should always consult with their physician or therapist before making any changes in his / her prescribed treatment.
How does hypnosis compare to other forms of behavioral change?
Based on a 1970 study by Dr. Alfred A. Barrios, PhD which was published in "Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice" stated "... the average success rate for hypnotherapy was 93% after an average of 6 sessions. This was compared to a 38% success rate after an average of 600 sessions for psychoanalysis and 72% after 22 sessions for behavior therapy."
Is hypnosis recognized by the medical and health professions?
Hypnosis is recognized by many medical and healthcare professionals. The number of professionals utilizing hypnosis as part of their approach to comprehensive wellness is increasing as the benefits of the mind/body connection become more and more evident to both the practitioner and their clients.