Misconceptions, fears and myths about hypnosis

Hypnosis used by hypnotherapists is nothing like stage hypnosis, this being purely for entertainment. Many people can naturally get the wrong idea about clinical hypnosis and its use by therapists for positive change.

What if the hypnotherapist turns me into a chicken or something similar?

This is what stage hypnotists do, it’s their job to entertain. Some people are extroverts and enjoy doing this sort of thing as this behaviour is what stage hypnotists are expected to do and produce. A clinical hypnotherapist would never do this; he/she will only have the client’s goals in mind.

You are asleep when in a hypnotic trance.

This is certainly not the case: it’s a very out-dated image of a hypnotherapist. The hypnotherapist knows that only various levels of relaxation are required and even at the deepest level of trance, something very close to sleep is experienced. There’s no advantage at all for the hypnotherapist when the client falls into a normal sleeping state as nothing will be gained. In cases where the client desperately needs sleep he/she will then probably fall asleep and then the hypnotherapist’s discretion plays a part; maybe this is the client’s highest priority right now?

Only weak-minded people can be hypnotised.

As I stated above we are all going into hypnosis on a daily basis. The truth is that nearly everyone can be hypnotized; exceptions maybe with psychotic patients. A trance-like hypnotic state is experienced every time we use our imagination, when we get emotional, when we learn something, or whenever we focus on any subjective experience. Any ‘weak-minded’ or ‘strong-minded’ person who cooperates will be a good subject.

People sometimes become stuck in hypnosis.

Again this is simply untrue. The worst that can happen is that the client will fall asleep. On rare occasions a client may not want to come out of trance straight away. This is because hypnosis is a natural process; it’s no different to someone who doesn’t want to get out of bed in the morning, usually because they are enjoying their relaxing state so much they don’t want to come out of it.

What if something happens to the therapist and I get stuck?

Once again hypnosis is a natural process like sleep and how often do you get stuck from going to sleep? – never! You will just wake up naturally either when you get bored or when your unconscious has finished doing what it was processing. The hypnotherapist holds no special power over the client whatsoever; a good hypnotherapist knows it’s the client’s unconscious that does all the work, not the ‘special powers’ of the hypnotherapist.

How can I be hypnotised if I can hear the hypnotist?

Yet again quite untrue. We all have our own unique experience of hypnosis. Some of us can hear the hypnotist, others may not. It’s just a matter of choice whether you consciously listen to the hypnotherapist or not. Either way the unconscious mind hears everything, regardless of what the conscious mind is doing. Some people just love to drift away into their own magical world or journey as they gain so much relaxation and pleasure from it and that’s perfectly ok.

What if I’m made to reveal my deepest secrets when in a hypnotic trance?

This is simply not possible as our mind is fully aware and awake during a hypnotic session. No one can make you talk about something unless you want to. A client can easily lie if they want to, just as in the waking state. You are more likely to creatively tell the truth when in trance, as you don’t lose control in this state.

Hypnotherapists have special powers.

Only a stage hypnotherapist may assume hypnotic powers in order to create the required excitement or drama to their show, but they too are only human. They have just learnt the required techniques that they’ve developed with practice and experience and basically their job is to cause sensation, excitement or illusion – that’s what the audience expects to see. Clinical hypnotherapists are ordinary folk who just want the best for their clients without the “whistles and bells” approach.
For example, if a client comes to counselling to stop smoking and deep down he/she doesn’t really want to stop then there’s nothing I can do to make it happen.

What if the hypnotherapist can’t help me or makes my condition even worse?

Once again this doesn’t happen under hypnosis as the unconscious either accepts an idea or discards it. The absolute worst that can happen is that “nothing happens”. This is soon verified by the client anyway, who complains that they still have the same problem.

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