Myths about hypnosis
Updated: Aug 20
What's your first reaction when someone mentions hypnosis - uncertainty? apprehension? Many people have misconceptions about hypnosis and this creates unhelpful fears and concerns. So I’d like to address some hypnosis myths:
Myth 1: A hypnotist has a superpower against which I am helpless. He or she can hypnotize me with just one word or look.
You are likely to believe this if your idea of a hypnotherapist comes from the movie Now You See Me, where illusionists put people into a deep trance with a simple touch. While hypnotherapists do use language in an intentional way and may at times use basic touch (as in touching a hand) to deepen a person’s trance, they do not have magical powers and their goal is never to overpower a person. Everything in hypnotherapy is done for the client’s benefit and with the client’s permission. Additionally, the state of hypnosis is not a state of sleep or unconsciousness. When in hypnosis, the client simply experiences a deep and comfortable state of relaxation, in which the client is aware of what is happening.
Myth 2: A hypnotist can make me do things that I don’t want to do. Unlike stage hypnosis, where the goal is to put on a show and demonstrate how people can seemingly lose control and do silly things, hypnotherapy is focused on empowering the client and increasing his or her sense of control. Throughout the session, the client remains in control, and the success of the therapy depends on the client’s willingness to participate in the process. At all times, the client has the ability to stop the session or to not follow the therapist’s suggestion.
Myth 3: In hypnosis, I will reveal information that I don’t want to share.
Unlike psychological counseling, hypnotherapy does not seek to discover and analyze the details of the past in order to provide emotional relief and healing. The focus of hypnotherapy is on releasing the hurtful and negative bonds of the past and empowering you to become your whole, powerful self in the present. This can be accomplished without the hypnotherapist ever knowing the details of your past events. You will not be required to share anything you don’t want to share in order to achieve your desired outcomes. Also, as mentioned before, when in a trance state, you will remain in control and can choose what information to share and what to keep to yourself.
Myth 4: In hypnosis, I will access things in my subconscious mind that I don’t want to know (that should stay hidden). Our subconscious mind is not a dark evil place that hides scary secrets. It is part of who we are, and it holds within it the memories of all the traumatic events as well as all of the successes and strengths that we have accumulated throughout our life. Hypnotherapy is a targeted process. We focus on a specific issue and deal with it so that at the end of the session you leave feeling more positive than when you came in. Anything that does not need to be remembered or uncovered will stay in the background, and whatever memories or knowledge we do access is always meant to heal, uplift, and encourage. We don’t just open the door wide open so that everything that is there can spill out.
Myth 5: If I want to clear away trauma and move forward in my life, I have to remember all of the blocked and suppressed details of my past.
Blocking and suppressing of memories is a coping mechanism of our mind when dealing with trauma. Reopening old wounds and unleashing blocked memories can potentially be more traumatizing than healing. In addition, in unskilled hands, poorly-phrased hypnotic suggestions can turn into “implanted memories” or freshly visualized images believed to be memories of actual events. Hypnotherapists use a variety of therapeutic tools to bring relief, emotional healing, and life improvement to the client without reawakening traumatic memories.
Myth 6: Some people (including me) cannot be hypnotized. Trance is a natural state that all of us experience on a daily basis. All people are hypnotizable, although every client chooses (sometimes subconsciously) whether to follow the therapist’s hypnotic suggestions or to resist them. People process information and respond to suggestions in different ways. A skilled hypnotherapist assesses the client first and then delivers hypnotic suggestions in a way that is the most appropriate and beneficial for that client.
I hope that dispelling these common myths will help you see hypnotherapy for what it is - a powerful therapeutic tool used to create profound positive change