Hypnosis has long been a widely recognized and respected therapeutic tool for a wide range of issues. However, many myths and misconceptions still surround hypnosis when it is used within a therapeutic setting.
These misconceptions often lead to fear, skepticism, and misunderstandings about the practice of hypnosis, and as a practicing certified hypnotherapist, I address these with almost every new client. So let’s explore the most common myths and misconceptions surrounding hypnosis, separating fact from fiction.
1. Hypnosis is Mind Control:
One of the most common misguided beliefs about hypnosis is that it is a form of mind control. This is simply not true. Hypnosis is a collaborative process between the hypnotherapist and the client. The hypnotherapist cannot force the client to do anything they do not want to do.
The client always retains ultimate control over accepting or rejecting hypnotic suggestions in the same way that a patient can ignore a doctor’s suggestions and not take the prescribed medication.
2. Hypnosis is Dangerous:
Another misconception is that hypnosis is dangerous and has negative side effects. The perceived danger may come from the fear of being exposed to some suppressed traumatic memories or of being forced to become a different person. In reality, however, hypnosis is very safe when conducted by a trained professional.
No change is ever created within clients that they do not wish to have, and reopening suppressed trauma is always avoided in favor of other healing methods. The only side effect of hypnosis is usually feeling more relaxed, hopeful, and at peace.
3. Hypnosis Can Erase Memories:
Contrary to popular belief, hypnosis cannot erase memories. While hypnosis can help individuals access and process memories, it cannot make them forget something they experienced. Doing so would constitute mind control, and as we established in the first point, hypnotherapy does not do that.
What the hypnotherapist can do is desensitize a client to the experience if that is what they wish and help them move the memory into the background where it no longer bothers them. It means the memory will remain, but it will take its place among many other things to which the person doesn’t give much thought.
4. Only Weak-Minded People Can be Hypnotized:
Hypnosis is not reserved for the weak-minded or gullible. Suggestibility (a person’s ability to accept hypnotic suggestions) does not depend on the level of education or the strength of the will. It depends merely on how safe the client feels with the therapist and their willingness to relax into the process. In truth, every person can be hypnotized, and every person can block hypnosis. The only difference is the client’s willingness to go along with the therapeutic process.
5. Hypnosis is Like Sleep:
Although hypnosis is often described as a sleep-like state, it is not the same as sleeping. During hypnosis, the client is aware of the surroundings and can communicate with the hypnotherapist.
A hypnotic trance is just a relaxed state in which the person’s mind shifts its focus from the external stimuli to the images or thoughts relevant to the therapeutic session. This is a lot like being caught up in an interesting book or a movie while sitting in one’s living room. The person is aware of being in the living room, but their attention is on the story.
6. Hypnosis is a Quick Fix:
While hypnotherapy is a powerful modality for addressing various issues, and it usually achieves results faster than talk therapy, it is not always a quick fix. The process requires some time and commitment from the client. There is no pre-set time or number of sessions in which something can be addressed.
Just like with any other therapy or healing process, one’s progress depends on the underlying causes for the issue and the person’s response to therapy. Every client’s journey is individual, and while some issues may take one session to resolve, others may take weeks or months.
7. Hypnosis is Only for Entertainment:
Due to the popularization of stage hypnosis, people often believe hypnosis to be entertainment. However, hypnosis has been used as an effective therapeutic tool for over 100 years.
If you are afraid of barking like a dog under hypnosis, read the second part of this article to explore more myths and misconceptions about hypnosis.