Common Myths about Hypnosis:

  • Hypnosis is mind control.
  • Hypnosis is supernatural or magic.
  • The hypnotist takes control over your mind.
  • You don’t have free will when you’re under hypnosis.
  • So if none of that is true, then what the heck is hypnosis?
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The Truth:

“Clinical hypnosis is a procedure in which a therapist suggests that a client experience changes in sensation, perception, thought, and behavior. The hypnotic context is established by an induction procedure that usually includes instructions for relaxation. Hypotheses about how this procedure might enhance therapy vary with theoretical conceptions of hypnosis (Kirsh, Montgomery, & Saperstein 1995, p. 214).”

Truth is, no one really knows for sure. what “hypnosis” really is, except that it’s pretty clear that we’re all in and out of this “altered state of consciousness” on a regular basis.  Like for example when you’re so absorbed in thought–reading, watching a TV program, or just daydreaming so that you don’t hear someone talking to you, or finding yourelf arriving at your driving destination without any awareness of the route you took.  Some believe that advertising is the suggestion and that television programming is designed to produce a state of hypnotic trace or attentional engagement that would make one more susceptible to the suggestions of advertising.

What is clear, is that hypnosis is a natural state.  There is nothing magical or supernatural about it.  And at no time does a person ever lose the ability to choose.  In fact, the most common truism repeated by clinical hypnotherapists is that “all hypnosis is self hypnosis.”  Even in those stage hypnosis cases where people appear to be doing things that are “out of character” for them, some part of them is choosing to go along with whatever the hypnotist suggested.

Here is what the American Association of Clinical Hypnosis has to say about it:

Hypnosis is a state of inner absorption, concentration and focused attention. It is like using a magnifying glass to focus the rays of the sun and make them more powerful. Similarly, when our minds are concentrated and focused, we are able to use our minds more powerfully. Because hypnosis allows people to use more of their potential, learning self-hypnosis is the ultimate act of self-control.

While there is general agreement that certain effects of hypnosis exist, there are differences of opinion within the research and clinical communities about how hypnosis works. Some researchers believe that hypnosis can be used by individuals to the degree they possess a hypnotic trait, much as they have traits associated with height, body size, hair color, etc. Other professionals who study and use hypnosis believe there are strong cognitive and interpersonal components that affect an individual’s response to hypnotic environments and suggestions.”

Still, it is important to distinguish between clinical hypnosis and lay hynosis.  Hypnosis is a tool that is not regulated by any state or federal licensing board.  Anyone can sign up for a class and learn to use the tool much the same way anyone can got to Home Depot and sign up for a class in how to use a rotary saw.  But that doesn’t mean that anyone can use this tool safely or effectively.

There are two national associations in the United States dedicated to the study and use of hypnosis in clinical settings.  Both require the person studying hypnosis to have attained the highest level of education and licensure in their field.  One is the American Association of Clinical Hypnosis and the other is the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis.  Only ASCH credentials professionals in clinical hypnosis.  There are two levels of credentialing–one is simply certified in clinical hypnosis and the other is approved consultant in clinical hypnosis.  DrSara is an approved consultant in clinical hypnosis.