Frequently Asked Questions About Hypnosis

What is hypnosis and how does it work?

What is hypnosis image

After conducting workshops in both Basic and Advanced levels of hypnosis for 35-years, these have been the most frequently asked!

For full details on our comprehensive guide for Hypnotherapists, click here: HEALING WITH HYPNOTHERAPY

The Questions

  1. How much money can I make as a Hypnotherapist?
  2. How many sessions do clients need?
  3. Must I be certified and what about qualifications?
  4. Where can I set up my office?
  5. What is hypnosis?
  6. Does a person become unconscious, asleep, or fall into a zombie-like trance?
  7. Will I reveal my innermost thoughts and secrets?
  8. Can I be hypnotized against my will?
  9. Is it true that only adults can be hypnotized?
  10. Can a person be made to perform an immoral or anti-social act during or after hypnosis?
  11. Are weak-minded people easy to hypnotize?
  12. Do I have to be in a deep trance in order for suggestions to be effective?
  13. Can a person get stuck in hypnosis?
  14. How can hypnosis help in daily life?
  15. What are the conscious and the subconscious?
  16. Are there any religions that disagree with the use and practice of hypnosis?
  17. Will a person submit to sexual seduction while in hypnosis?
  18. Can one become emotionally unstable as a result of being inducted into a trance?
  19. Will a subject become dependent upon hypnosis or the hypnotist, similar to a drug?

The Answers

1. How much money can I make as a Hypnotherapist?

One of the very first questions you want answered when thinking about becoming a professional hypnotherapist is the potential income. And, rightfully so. No one enjoys working for nothing.

There are two ways to approach your career as a hypnotherapist. It matters not whether you operate as a  hypnotist, a marriage and family therapist, or a psychologist. You might intend to work part-time or full-time. Those who chose to work as licensed counselors are frequently overcome by ‘burnout.’ Often, burnout is caused by not having a hobby or distraction when not in their office.

Let me give you an example. I was doing as many as six sessions a day in the early 1980s. I’d reached a point where I was tired of counseling clients. As soon as I realized what was happening, I took a course in massage therapy and, within a year, I was teaching it. What a tremendous relief that was!

My suggestion? If you decide to become a hypnotherapist, enter the field on a part-time basis at first. In no time, you’ll know if you want to do it full-time. In either case, here are the numbers. You can work it out for your locale. Just call around and ask what therapists charge—per hour or per session.

If you choose to work part-time: Holding 5 sessions per week (one a day or all 5 on one day). At  $90 per session that equates to $450 a week.

Full-time: Doing 20 sessions per week (4-per-day) would provide an income of $7,700 per month. To be honest, few therapists can sustain that number of clients per week, while providing emotionally high-quality therapy. It is far too draining. However, sticking with only 10 clients a week, would you have trouble living on $3,600 a month, for part-time work?

My suggestion is that you find a happy medium between full- and part-time. For me, teaching massage therapy one week and doing hypnotherapy sessions the next worked out very well. I needed an outlet that had nothing to do with the emotional distress in others’ lives.

2. How many sessions do clients need?

The majority of clients require 4 – 8 sessions in order to alleviate or overcome unwanted habits or behaviors. While some people believe that it only takes one session to make their world perfect, you must teach them how the mind reacts to change. In reference to the first question, 20 sessions a week does not mean you’ll be working with 20 new clients. Half of them will be clients already on your schedule.

3. Must I be certified and what about qualifications?

At the present time, no State or organization requires that individuals doing hypnotherapy be licensed or certified.  It is a misconception, perpetuated by those who do not understand that hypnosis is a normal, everyday state of mind. There are a number of hypnotism training schools who advertise that you will be ‘certified’ upon completion of their training. Such certification is an in-house certificate or diploma and means nothing to your potential clients. In that vein, how often have you been impressed by your doctor, dentist or therapists’ school or class standing? As long as they’ve alleviated your pain, or otherwise helped you, do you care?

Likewise, your scholastic education is of little value if you wish to be a hypnotherapist. In all my years of teaching hypnosis, I’ve been impressed more by one’s life experience than by how many letters they have after their name. The best therapist is that wise man or woman who shares a cup of coffee with you when you are down in the dumps. I’ve personally known many people who have a wealth of knowledge, yet never graduated from high school. I had an uncle who had only finished Eighth Grade and, upon his death 20-years ago, left an estate of $11 million; this, after going broke twice in his life! If you’ve learned from life, you would be a successful hypnotherapist.

4. Where can I set up my office?

This question is answered in detail in my textbook, Healing with Hypnotherapy. You can set up your office anywhere you’d like. Many professional and lay therapists operate out of their own home. The great psychiatrist/hypnotist Dr. Milton H. Erickson, worked from his home in Phoenix for the last several years of his life. For many years, I did, also. I’ve known a few who share an office with other therapists. Nearly everywhere you look, companies have unused classrooms and extra space available for minimal rent. A title company once allowed me to use a large training room for $25 a day. And, I rented an office in a building owned by a bank, for $250 a month. That’s cheap! 

5. What is hypnosis?

At the present time, no one can adequately define hypnosis. Perhaps the legendary Dr. Erickson best described hypnosis as “a narrowing down of one’s field of vision to a fine point, to the exclusion of all other distractions.” It’s not unlike attempting to define electricity. All we can say is that it works. Why does it work as it does? Therein lays the mystery.

Trance, though, is a learning process. In trance, one’s senses are greatly heightened and the subconscious mind becomes dissociated from the conscious. Though fully aware of one’s surroundings, a client’s only concern is the suggestions and ideas given by the hypnotist. No two people experience hypnosis the same way and, quite often, clients will not go into a trance the same way each time. In sum, it is a state of total mental and physical relaxation, to the exclusion of any distracting, external stimuli.

6. Does a person become unconscious, asleep, or fall into a zombie-like trance?

One becomes much more alert and discriminatory when in a hypnotic trance, then when one is not. This is due mainly to the narrowing down of their field of vision. Even in the deepest state, a person is quite aware of his environment, and will accept or reject suggestions of his choosing. However, the subject is rarely concerned with his/her surroundings.

7. Will I reveal my innermost thoughts and secrets?

Very few people speak while in trance, unless specifically asked to do so. Even then, due to the fact that the subject can still hear, think, and make decisions, one does not reveal any personal secrets. The subconscious mind always protects the conscious from harm.

8. Can I be hypnotized against my will?

This intimidating misconception has been perpetuated in dozens of movies and books. Trance cannot be induced without consent. A person must give permission before being hypnotized or it simply has no effect. This prompts the question; if your client is defying you to hypnotize him, then why is he in your office? It is a fact that one’s attention can be diverted to such an extent that he can be put into a trance-like behavior. This is similar to listening to a boring sermon or lecture? few hypnotists are clever enough to pull it off.

For example: many years ago, I was conducting a workshop in Salt Lake City. A psychologist was one of my students. He swore that many of his peers had tried to hypnotize him, to no avail. Near the end of the 4th class, I suggested that he be my ‘practice subject.’ He was the typical recalcitrant client. After the session ended, he smiled and said, “I was resisting until about half-way through; that’s when I knew you had me!”

Now, you should realize the kind of training I offer.

9. Is it true that only adults can be hypnotized?

Actually, most children between the ages of 8 and 18 are very good hypnotic subjects. They have not yet formed opinions about such things, nor have their minds become cluttered by misconceptions regarding hypnosis. They are usually very curious about the concept. Children under 8 do not need a formal technique, as they are in a trance most of the time. It isn’t until about the age of 8 or so, when concrete thinking begins to set in, and they begin making value judgments.

10. Can a person be made to perform an immoral or anti-social act during or after hypnosis?

There has yet to be one recorded instance when anyone has been able to prove that hypnosis induced someone to do anything which they would not normally do. However, if a person is inclined to commit immoral, criminal or anti-social acts, a hypnotist could amplify that desire. A normal person’s conscience will override or reject any adverse suggestions. Remember, this idea comes straight from movies, where an actor is placed into a trance upon hearing a special code-word, thereby making him commit a crime. It makes for great entertainment, but it is not realistic.

11. Are weak-minded people easy to hypnotize?

To the contrary, the more intelligent a person is the easier they are to hypnotize. This is due to their ability to concentrate intently, plus their desire to always learn new things. Those who are mentally disabled, are in a depressed state, or if one is suicidal, are already in a profoundly deep trance. In each case, it would be hard to focus their attention for the time necessary to produce trance.

At the other end of the spectrum, if a subject is too intellectual, he may try to analyze everything the hypnotist says or does. This makes it more difficult to comfortably respond to suggestions. With such individuals, a different technique is required.

12. Do I have to be in a deep trance in order for suggestions to be effective?

This was once thought to be the case. However, researchers have found that even in a light to medium trance, positive suggestions can be highly effective. Often, a client will say, “I don’t think I was hypnotized because I heard everything you said.” This is a true statement. If one is unable to hear the suggestions, then it would have been a waste of his time and money.

Even when in the very deepest state, a subject may deny being hypnotized. Yet, they respond to suggestions, post-hypnotically. It is frequently a waste of energy attempting to achieve deep levels of hypnosis. These states are generally reserved for age-regression, or in preparation for surgery.

13. Can a person get stuck in hypnosis?

If a subject is left alone after being inducted into hypnosis, only one of two things will happen. Should the hypnotist become incapacitated in some way, the subject will;  1) either drift off into a natural state of sleep and awaken fully rested or, 2) he will spontaneously rouse up out of the trance. Both conditions occur because the rapport which developed between hypnotist and subject was broken. Since the state of hypnosis is created by words, there can be no trance without the sound of the hypnotist’s voice to keep it going.

14. How can hypnosis help in daily life?

Hypnosis is a normal state. Hypnotherapy can dramatically alter or eliminate unwanted habits and behaviors. Stress and tension can be reduced, athletic ability increased, chronic pain reduced, fears and phobias alleviated, menstrual pain relieved, and impotence, frigidity, and other intimate dysfunctions improved upon. This is only the tip of the iceberg as to the myriad activities which can be improved, eliminated or modified. A well-known sub-modality of hypnotic conditioning is called Lamaze; a technique in preparation for childbirth. The two concepts are closely related.

15. What are the conscious and the subconscious?

Researchers estimate that the conscious mind (generally the left half of the brain) consists of approximately 12% of one’s mind. The rest is called subconscious or, to some, the unconscious. It is further postulated that of that 12%, many people use only half. So, in reality, over 90% of the brain is operating under its own power, so to speak.

Stored in the subconscious are one’s emotions, creativity, imagination, and his deeply ingrained habits and behaviors. One’s feelings of love, hate, envy, anger, and strong convictions live in the subconscious realm.

The right brain is similar to a video recorder, copying everything one sees, hears, feels, smells, and tastes. These senses form the memories upon which one thinks and acts. The subconscious contains our long-term memory. It also actively listens to our self-talk, when we either build ourselves up or tear us down, according to the words we say inside our head.

The conscious mind helps to reason things out, enables us to speak by putting our thoughts into words and makes important, life-saving decisions. It also contains the short-term memory which is limited to about 1.5-hours.

16. Are there any religions that disagree with the use and practice of hypnosis?

Nearly every religion accepts the use of hypnosis as an adjunct to conventional therapeutic techniques. Few have any problems, ethically, with its use as a method of alleviating traumas in one’s past, or overcoming undesirable habits. There are only a handful of religious offshoots that warn their members not to be involved in the practice or use of hypnosis.

Just as a car, knife, gold, or a psychological exam can be used for good or evil, dependent upon whose hands they rest, so it is with hypnosis. While it is extremely difficult for anyone to misuse hypnosis for personal benefit, some potential clients have been warned by overly-religious family members that they are delving into a satanic world. One’s logical reply should be, “If all good things come of God and hypnosis can only be used to improve a person’s life, then how can it be Satanic?”

Since it is used primarily for helping understand and then modify one’s unwanted and negative behavior, what can be objectionable about that? If helping others is bad, than what is good? Is it good to make anyone suffer until they hopefully find a more acceptable solution? Is that being kind to those we love? Besides, we do enough damage to ourselves with negative self-talk, so how could a hypnotist make us feel any worse?

17. Will a person submit to sexual seduction while in hypnosis?

There have been some cases in the past 100 years or so, whereby a person has tried to convince a court that they were sexually abused while hypnotized. In only a few cases (in the latter part of the 19th Century) were clients able to convince a jury that this was possible. Such convictions were due primarily to legal ignorance of what hypnosis can and cannot do. That was during a time when it was widely believed that a person was unconscious or asleep when in trance.

Since those days, the legal system has come to understand the limitations of hypnosis, and has rejected such false claims. The law now suggests that if a person submits to any sexual advances by a hypnotist, then (s)he must be a willing participant. No one is unaware of one’s surroundings while in a hypnotic trance. And, certainly, not unaware that someone is touching them improperly. This would be the same as saying that one is able to sleep through a sexual assault in the middle of the night: only possible if drunk or drugged!

18. Can one become emotionally unstable as a result of being inducted into a trance?

Occasionally, an unstable client may experience crying, hallucinations, amnesia, and fugue-like states. These may be so fleeting in nature that they evade the attention of the hypnotist, or even the client. Countering the idea that hypnosis might be harmful to some people is the following statement written by Dr. Ernest Hilgard, one of the nation’s foremost researchers on hypnotic phenomena at Stanford University. In his book, The Experience of Hypnosis, he wrote the following; “Out of every 1,000 inductions, only about 4 or 5 people endured some curious disruption or emotion…these adverse reactions to trance induction or after hypnosis were so rare that the experimenters had no evidence that experiments with hypnosis entail any more dangers than a variety of behavioral studies in the field of psychology.”

Noted psychiatrist Lewis R. Wolberg also writes; “More disturbing is the fact that from time to time, ominous admonitions about hypnosis are issued by a few respected members of the medical (and helping) professions. If a person lives on the edge of psychosis, he would presumably be influenced just as easily by an off-the-cuff remark, or by watching a television show or movie.”

19. Will a subject become dependent upon hypnosis or the hypnotist, similar to a drug?

   This assumption is absolutely false. There is nothing about hypnosis itself that exaggerates inherent dependency, nor creates it where it never existed. The real problem is not developing an addiction to it, but in getting a client to practice self-hypnosis regularly. No matter how much they are encouraged, most clients will give up their daily or weekly practice sessions as they begin to feel better about themselves. A person becomes no more dependent on the hypnotist than (s)he will on their family doctor or minister.