Frequently Asked Questions about hypnosis, clinical hypnosis, and hypnotherapy
A: Have you ever been so absorbed in a television show or a book that time just seemed to fly by? Have you ever driven from one location to another and when you arrived at your destination, you couldn’t remember driving most (or all!) of the route? These are all examples of hypnotic states.
Simply put, hypnosis is a deep state of awareness, focused attention, and inner absorption. A hypnotic process happens anytime your attention is focused and possibilities for change are offered.
A: Self-hypnosis engages our subconscious mind to reinforce positive thoughts, emotions, and behaviours and allows us to visualize a positive, healthier future.
A: Yes, it has quite an extensive research base, much of it evolving since the late 1970s (and expanding rapidly in the past two decades) with the emergence of focus on mind-body interactions among health professionals. The reference articles here include one in the Globe and Mail from June, 2017, including interviews and input from several of our CSCH (BC) executive.
It is entitled:
Hypnosis, grounded in science
Globe and Mail
by Adriana Barton
A: Hypnosis can be persuasive, but does not give the hypnotist control over your mind, morality, or judgment.
“Is Total Mind Control Possible?”
A: Many lay hypnosis practitioners try to utilize the terms hypnosis and hypnotherapy as if hypnosis tool alone would allow them to properly recognize and treat medical and psychological disorders and concerns.
However, Division 30 of the American Psychological Association defines “hypnotherapy” as “The use of hypnosis in the treatment of a medical or psychological disorder or concern.” What is significant in that definition is that, as a medical or psychological treatment, “Clinical Hypnotherapy” would require a healthcare license in almost all states in the U.S.
Currently no University, Government Hospital or Healthcare insurance company in Canada recognizes a hypnotherapist as a “CLINICAL HYPNOTHERAPIST” unless the individual is a clinician with a healthcare license and a University degree.
A: Hypnosis is a valuable technique in patient management. With appropriate training, general dental practitioners can widen the treatment options they can offer to patients, especially those who are dentally anxious. Using clinical hypnosis, a dental patient is able to achieve control of gag reflex, salivary flow, as well as complete control of comfort while achieving and maintaining a deep level of relaxation.
Myths about Hypnosis
by Dr. Anoosha Avni, Registered Psychologist, Kamloops BC
Truth: This is one of the most damaging myths out there about hypnosis and likely stems from stage hypnosis acts. Before volunteers are asked to go on stage, the hypnotist will first screen audience members in order to choose cooperative people who are responsive to hypnosis and have some exhibitionist tendencies. A stage hypnosis act is not legitimate hypnosis.
YOU are always in control during hypnosis. You will control how deeply you will go into a hypnotic state, which suggestions you will accept from the clinician, and how you will make sense of this process. Hypnosis is not forced on people, but something they can do for themselves. The clinician is a guide or a facilitator during this process.
Truth: You can’t be forced to concentrate or relax. Entering a hypnotic state is a personal choice.
The clinician is a guide for the hypnotic experience, but you hold the power and choice to enter a hypnotic state. The clinician can use their skills in communication to make acceptance of suggestions more likely, but there is no control over you other than the control you give to the clinician to allow you enter a more relaxed and open state. The clinician directs your experience, but only to the degree that you allow the clinician to. It’s a relationship of mutual respect and responsiveness.
Truth: The clinician does NOT hold any magical power over you and does NOT control your free will. Hypnosis is an interaction based on mutual consent that is shared between you and the clinician in order to help you attain a goal. If you choose not to go into a hypnotic state, then you won’t do it.
Truth: Remember that hypnosis involves focused attention. You control how deeply you focus your attention on something, including how long and how deeply you would like to be in a hypnotic state. It’s literally impossible to become “stuck” in a state of concentration. Can you imagine getting “stuck” reading a book or watching television?
You may have heard of people remaining in a hypnotic state after the clinician tells them to come back to the present moment. This person is not “stuck” in a hypnotic state. S/he has simply chosen not to end the hypnotic experience either because s/he feels really comfortable where s/he is or s/he is still working on completing the experience.
Truth: Hypnosis is not sleep. If you watch someone in a hypnotic state, s/he might look like s/he’s asleep, but s/he is not (e.g., minimal activity, muscle relaxation, slowed breathing, etc.). However, from a mental standpoint, the person is relaxed, conscious, and alert. They’re still alert on some level of what’s going on around them, even when in deep hypnosis.
Truth: There is a spectrum of responsiveness in people ranging from “low” hypnotizability to “high” hypnotizability. Remember that hypnosis is a deep state of focused attention and inner absorption. If you’ve ever lost track of time doing an activity you enjoyed, you were in a hypnotic state.
Truth: The majority of people remember what happens during the hypnotic process. A small percentage of people may forget parts of the hypnotic process. Remember: hypnosis is a tool that can be used to help you achieve a goal.
Truth: The mind does not take in experience and store it in exact form for accurate recall later. Memories are stored on the basis of perceptions and are subject to distortions. People can “remember” things in vivid detail that did not actually happen. Likewise, people can remember only selected fragments of an experience, or they can take bits and pieces of multiple memories and combine them into one false memory.
Hypnosis cannot be used to uncover the truth of what actually happened in someone’s past and a memory cannot be considered more reliable because it was obtained through hypnosis. Hypnosis does not increase the probability of accurate recall.