Myths and Misconceptions about Hypnosis

Some people believe hypnosis is a form of mind control or brainwashing. It is not. People change their minds and actions for many reasons throughout their lives. When such change occurs as a result of exposure to specific information, it is because this information has been presented in a persuasive or influential way. Hypnotherapists utilize communicative methods of persuasion and influence for therapeutic purposes. However, advertisers, marketing personnel, teachers, politicians, lawyers, entertainers, parents, ministers, and others also use communicative methods intended to influence thought or behavior for a variety of other reasons.

You are not immobilized during trance. You can adjust your position, scratch, sneeze, or cough. You can open your eyes and bring yourself out of trance anytime you wish. During trance, you can still hear sounds around you such as a phone ringing, but you do not have to pay attention to outside sounds if you do not want. You can alert yourself and respond to any situation that needs your immediate attention. You remain as oriented to the "here and the now" as you want to be.

Trance is not sleep, although some people get so relaxed in trance that they may fall into a sleep-like state. This is all right because some part of the mind continues to listen to the voice of the hypnotherapist. Experience has shown that “sleeping” clients can still follow instructions such as moving a finger, taking a deep breath, or awakening themselves when they are told to do so.

There is no "right" way to experience trance. One person may experience it as a deep, heavy, restful feeling, while another may experience it as a light, floating sensation. Some people hear every word spoken by the hypnotherapist, while others allow their minds to drift into other thoughts. Some experience vivid imagery, while others do not. Some people remember the suggestions they hear and some do not remember.

Every person's experience of hypnosis is unique. Hypnosis cannot cause anyone to do something against his or her will or that contradicts his or her values. You are working with a qualified mental health professional who is trained in hypnotherapy and who is ethically bound to do only those things which are in your best interest. Your therapist makes only those suggestions that support beneficial outcomes which you have agreed to. Receptivity is one of the important ingredients for success in hypnosis. Therefore, you would not be receptive to suggestions that go against your morals or values.

Remember: Even with hypnosis, it may still be necessary for you to do some conscientious planning and research about the types of changes you want to achieve in therapy. Hypnosis cannot solve every problem. You must still take action to get results. Hypnosis is not a cure-all. Although it is an effective treatment modality in many cases, there are no guarantees that hypnosis will work for you.

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