Frequently Asked Questions About Hypnosis
This is a short list of my most frequently asked questions about hypnosis. If you have a specific question you would like me to answer, call or text me at 510-813-8004 or fill out the form below.
1. What is hypnosis?
Many people compare hypnosis to meditation or a daydream. Others think of it as like being caught up in a novel or a movie. It’s something you experience on a regular basis—like when you forget to get off at your exit on the freeway.
In other words, hypnosis is a deeply relaxed, focused state where you are able to make positive changes to how you see, feel and act in the world. It often gives you AHA moments that help you see why you do what you do, or how or what you need to do in order to accomplish your goals.
2. What can hypnosis do for me?
Hypnosis is an effective way to deal with a large variety of issues, including:
• Smoking cessation
• Fears and phobias
• Weight loss
• Stress relief
• Anxiety (including test anxiety, panic attacks, OCD and agoraphobia)
• Managing or ending chronic pain, as well as a variety of conditions ranging from IBS to high blood pressure, diabetes, gout, arthritis, neuropathy and fibromyalgia
• Sexual Issues
• Lack of confidence
• Improving performance at school, at work or in sports or hobbies
3. What does it feel like to be hypnotized?
Hypnosis simply makes you feel deeply relaxed. It can be similar to the hazy, daydreamy, way you feel when you’re closing your eyes, but not quite falling asleep in front of the television or when you’re resting in bed just before you get the energy to start your day. Not only are you able to hear each word, you also are answering questions and describing what you are experiencing. Though hypnosis feels different for everyone, every client we’ve had has enjoyed the restful feeling they had during sessions.
4. Can anyone be hypnotized?
A Stanford University study found that 95% of the people they studied were able to go into a hypnotic trance. A trance is a natural state—it’s part of everyday existence. If you’ve ever missed your exit on the freeway because you were lost in thought, or laughed, cried, gotten scared or angry for the characters in a novel, a TV show or a movie, you can be hypnotized.
5. Will I give up control under hypnosis?
No. As mentioned above, it’s just like getting lost in a book or a movie. You can return to reality at well. The truth is that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. We provide the suggestions, but you are the one who is choosing whether or not to implement them in your mind.
You will find that you feel incredibly safe. You are the one who is in control. You are the one who is actually making the changes. You will experience hypnosis as deeply empowering.
6. Will I Recall Everything That Happens During Our Appointment?
You are fully conscious and aware during hypnosis. You’re simply more relaxed, so you get a better sense of the deeper levels of your experience. You’ll remember your session with as much detail as you remember any other activity—most of it, but probably not every detail. The good news is that we often take notes for you. You can also record the session if you like.
7. How can hypnosis, which focuses on your mind, affect the health of your body?
If you think about it for a minute, you’ll realize that our minds have a profoundly noticeable effect on our bodies. We blush when we’re embarrassed; we tremble when we’re frightened; our hearts race when we get excited; our breath gets short and shallow when we’re anxious. And we get hot under the collar not just when we’re angry, but also when we are sexually attracted to someone, which is why we call that person “hot.”
We don’t choose these responses. They happen automatically, initiated by a reaction in our nervous systems to our thoughts. As hypnotherapist Timothy Trujillo, who specializes in working with clients with immune disorders says, “Every idea is a chemical action within our body. That chemical reaction is going to influence every other chemical reaction within the stew that we call ‘ourselves.’”
But just as thoughts related to fear, anger, anxiety and stress have harmful effects on our bodies, there are other ideas that can send out elements that heal and harmonize them.
Hypnosis takes advantage of that fact and there is a great deal of scientific research that demonstrates that it offers relief to people with a variety of illnesses and conditions. And recent brain scans, from a Stanford University study reported in Time Magazine, show that hypnosis enhances the parts of the brain that deepen the connections between the mind and the body.
8. How can hypnosis help with pain?
First of all, all of the above applies to pain. But there are more brain scans that explain how hypnosis works for physical discomfort. Pain doesn’t work the way you probably think it does. The cause of the hurt sensation isn’t where you’ve been injured. Your brain is actually where all pain is processed. Without it, you might not feel anything. Brain imaging studies show that the sensory cortex, where you register the initial wave of pain, has less to do with how much you hurt than the parts of your brain (like the prefrontal cortex and the thalamus) that process your emotional reaction and give the meaning to what has just happened. In other words, how you feel about your pain has a lot to do with how much pain you feel. Mark Jensen, a University of Washington School of Medicine psychologist has performed brain scans on clients who were under hypnosis to control pain. “During hypnosis, “ he told livescience.com, “you can ask people to imagine that the sensation that usually induces extreme pain is minor that it isn’t bothersome and you immediately see a decrease in activity in the prefrontal cortex and those other parts. In other words, my patients change the meaning that their brains give to the pain.”
Penn State psychology professor William Ray, who has also done EEG brain studies, summarizes how hypnosis works with pain quite well in the Penn State News:
“ . . . hypnosis removes the emotional experience of pain,” he says, ”while allowing the sensory sensation to remain. Thus, you notice you were touched but not that it hurt.”
9. How do I find studies on the effectiveness of hypnosis for what I’m interested in making better?
If you are the type of person who wants to see the results of the studies for yourself, just go to https://scholar.google.com/ and search under “hypnosis” and whatever it is you want to find out about—for example, “IBS” or “allergies.” You can also search on Google the traditional way.
As you look at the results of the studies, keep this in mind: Though a study could have good results, with, say 75% of arthritis sufferers having a decrease in pain, the results probably would be even higher in a non-scientific-study environment.
Here’s why: The nature of a scientific approach means doing the exact same thing with each person—sometimes even using recordings for the hypnosis—and typically just throwing a person in front of a hypnotist without giving them time to build rapport.
Hypnosis works much better when hypnotists take the time to get to know their clients, build trust, and customize the sessions to each person they are seeing, rather than doing the exact same thing for everyone. Hypnotherapy is an art rather than a science. That’s why the results from the cookie-cutter approach required for scientific evidence skew lower than the results a good practitioner will have.