Frequently Asked Questions about Hypnosis
Q. What does it feel like to be hypnotized?
A. Some people feel nothing. They open their eyes at the end of the session and insist they were not hypnotized. Some people experience a deep, spiritual feeling and are moved to tears of wonder. Others finish the session and say they feel as if they just had a massage. Here’s the thing – none of this matters. Your subjective response to hypnosis does not correlate with the results you will achieve. The words that become embedded in your mind and direct your actions are there even if you felt like nothing happened.
Some people can quickly go into a very deep trance state while others take longer and never go quite as deep. But the latter group still sees results. The former group, though, are the ones who routinely have dental work with no anesthesia and usually excel at competitive sports. Most Olympic teams have an in-house hypnotist who helps players concentrate on crowning glories.
Q. What makes a good hypnotist?
A. The best hypnotists have a background and advanced education in mental health. But that’s not enough. They also need to know physical health. They need to know when not to use hypnosis. If you come to my office and ask me for hypnosis to eradicate the pain in your leg, I need to be smart enough to refer you to an orthopedist. What if the pain is from a broken bone? If I hypnotize you not to feel the pain you would walk on the leg and do serious damage. If you call me and ask for hypnosis to permit you to enjoy ice cream instead of getting a stomach ache after you eat it I might be helping you eat a food that could harm you.
A hypnotist also must know how to use words well. It’s necessary to figure out which words are consistent with the client’s world view and which might alienate the client. When sports enthusiasts show up in my office I use phrases like, you will step up to the plate and do your best, no more fumbling, you can be in a league of your own, don’t get blind-sided, you will roll with the punches. Recently I hypnotized a plumber who wanted to find new and better ways to relate to his wife. While he was hypnotized I told him a story that included the phrases, your love will leak out when you least expect it, sometimes there will be an overflow of emotion, it’s okay for feelings to run hot and cold. It is important that your hypnotist knows how to match words to your life experiences.