We are indebted to
Roy Hunter, MS, CHt, who has been instrumental in setting up this FAQ,
and for his permission to use it at abh-abnlp.com As you probably have
already noticed there is a lot of information here at abh-abnlp.com. We
also have information about:
audios and videos
about your questions about hypnosis. If
you really want to practice hypnosis with other people, there is no substitute
for reading about it, and taking trainings in hypnosis.
Enjoy these pages!
Official alt.hypnosis FAQ
This faq maintained by Roy Hunter. Roy Hunter, MS, CHt is a Certified
Hypnotherapy Instructor, Published Author and Professional Speaker/Trainer
Publisher: TranceNet Journal
Welcome to the
alt.hypnosis newsgroup! This posting contains my answers to some of the
most Frequently Asked Questions concerning hypnosis (hence the title,
"FAQ"). Note that the "alt.hypnosis" group opinions on advertising will
appear at the end of the FAQ. Many readers have praised earlier FAQ
versions (revised occasionally), so here is the first of four. This revision now contains
a valuable RESOURCE GUIDE prepared by Paul Bunnell. Before reading my
answers to some commonly asked questions, you may wish to read the personal
information I've provided about myself.
OF FAQ AUTHOR (Roy Hunter)
- What IS hypnosis?
- Does a hypnotized person
give up control?
- How does hypnosis feel?
- How do we induce hypnosis?
- How may I learn self-hypnosis?
- What is the difference
between hypnosis and hypnotherapy?
- What books and/or other
sources can you recommend?
- How can I choose a competent
- Which courses or instructors
come highly recommended?
- If I have a natural gift,
why should I seek training?
- What makes hypnotherapy
different than cognitive therapy?
- How can hypnosis be used
to quit smoking or manage weight?
- Can hypnosis be used to
reduce pain and/or suffering from illness?
- Is hypnosis dangerous?
- Who is the leading authority
COMMENTS REGARDING ADVERTISING
IN THIS NEWSGROUP
RESOURCE GUIDE (Prepared by Paul Bunnell)
book sources, computer sources
1. What IS hypnosis?
Opinions vary on the exact
definition of this natural state of mind. First of all, contrary to what
is commonly believed by many, hypnosis is NOT a "sleep" state even though
a person in hypnosis may appear to be sleeping. I prefer the way my late
mentor, Charles Tebbetts, defined hypnosis, so let me quote his exact
words as written in MIRACLES ON DEMAND (which is, unfortunately, no longer
in print): "There is no legal definition of hypnosis. Webster's dictionary
describes it incorrectly as an artificially induced sleep, but it is actually
a natural state of mind and induced normally in everyday living much more
often than it is induced artificially. Every time we become engrossed
in a novel or a motion picture, we are in a natural hypnotic trance (p.
I totally agree with the theory
Charles Tebbetts taught: ALL HYPNOSIS IS SELF-HYPNOSIS, AND THE POWER
IS IN THE MIND OF THE PERSON BEING HYPNOTIZED. So, in reality, the hypnotherapist
is more like a guide who facilitates the hypnotic process. Myron Teitelbaum,
M.D., author of HYPNOSIS INDUCTION TECHNICS, came to the same conclusion--as
is evidenced by what he wrote in the last two pages of Chapter 3: "The
hypnotist is merely the guide who directs and leads the subject into the
trance (page 18)."
Additionally, the common belief
evidenced by research is that a person experiencing hypnosis slows down
his or her brain waves from BETA into ALPHA--although some people believe
that we may actually enter THETA during deep trance states. (THETA is
normally the "dream" state we pass through on the way to and from DELTA--or
deep sleep.) Be aware that since we must all pass through ALPHA on the
way to and from sleep, we could easily say that all of us experience hypnosis
at least twice daily. But in working with clients, I keep the explanation
as simple as possible.
To me, the most accurate way
of defining hypnosis is to simply call it "guided meditation." Since many
of us enter a meditative or "trance" state while listening to music, watching
TV, listening to a good speaker or a good sermon at church, or even while
reading, you could say that the hypnotist does not even have to be a live
person. So if hypnosis were ever outlawed, it would be virtually impossible
to enforce, because we would have to stop the freedom of speech and freedom
On the other hand, if all hypnosis
is--as Charles Tebbetts firmly believed--really Guided self-hypnosis,
then that truly makes the hypnotist an artist! This is why I chose THE
ART OF HYPNOSIS as the title for the first volume of my major work based
on the teachings of my late mentor.
2. Does a hypnotized person
give up control?
Do we give up control of
our minds during a movie? When is the last time you got so involved
during a movie or TV show that you actually felt emotion? You were literally
in a hypnotic trance, although you still have the power to emerge from
that state if desired. Your mind may be guided by a movie, TV show,
self-hypnosis tape, or hypnotherapist, but YOU still have the power
to resist. Even though there are some people who seem to at least partially
give up control of their minds, that is because of misunderstanding
who has the power. Certainly one can be TRICKED into believing that
he/she has "given up control" in some forms of stage hypnosis or other
experiments--but does that make it right? I am part of the NEW ETHICS
of hypnotherapy, perpetuating what my mentor taught me to disclose:
"ALL HYPNOSIS IS SELF-HYPNOSIS." Once people really understand this
fact, they may enter deep states of hypnosis while still retaining the
power to resist unwanted suggestions.
I proved this myself several
years ago during a profoundly deep trance when the hypnotist suggested
that I shave my beard. I brought myself right out of hypnosis and gave
her a lecture on ethics that hopefully she will always remember.
Let's start informing people
where the real power is--within THEIR OWN MINDS! And we can begin by
no longer referring to people in hypnosis as "subjects." My own students
are asked to use the following definitions for people in hypnosis:
CLIENTS = People hypnotized
for self-improvement, etc.
PARTICIPANTS = People hypnotized
for practice, demonstration, stage hypnosis, etc.
PATIENTS = People hypnotized
for medical applications of hypnosis.
SUBJECTS = Those who are
the subjects of someone experimenting with hypnosis (whether for scientific
research, or parlor games done by untrained hypnotists). Please AVOID
using this word to refer to clients or patients experiencing hypnosis
for a beneficial purpose! In my opinion, the very fact that the scientific
community has used the word "subject" for so many decades is part of
the reason why people still fear hypnosis today. This very word implies
giving up control... and while there are those who wish to still use
"disempowerment" hypnotic methods by tricking people into giving up
control, I believe it's time to teach the truth about where the power
3. How does hypnosis feel?
Since hypnosis is a natural
state of mind, clients are often surprised that they hear every word.
Unless one enters a deeper state, or at least a medium state, he or
she may not "feel" any different than when relaxing in the favorite
easy chair with a good book. One may feel quite mellow, and may feel
light (or weightless), or very heavy as if sinking into the chair. If
one enters a really deep state, the feeling may be euphoric for some,
or almost like being intoxicated without the side effects. In a light
state, it is entirely possible for a client to believe that he or she
was not hypnotized; so it is important for a hypnotherapist to know
how to competently handle the pre-induction discussion as well as the
discussion after hypnosis.
There are certain abilities
which are enhanced during the actual hypnotic process itself: (a) the
ability to IMAGINE, (b) the ability to REMEMBER, (c) the CREATIVE abilities,
and (d) RESPONSIVENESS TO SUGGESTIONS. Naturally, it is this last ability
which creates the appeal of hypnosis to some and the fear of hypnosis
to others. And before you go experimenting with hypnosis, be advised
to seek competent "hands-on" training--or at the very least, invest
in a quality Home Study course! Simply reading is not enough if you
plan on facilitating hypnosis.
4. How do we induce hypnosis?
My late mentor believed that
virtually all techniques of hypnotic induction could be categorized
into six main induction categories, which he called INDUCTION TYPES.
Once understood, a competent hypnotist can use them as building blocks
for creating almost limitless induction techniques. They are summarized
a. Eye fixation (or
"fixed gaze" methods) were primarily used during the 1800's, and are
the ones usually used by Hollywood. Many people (including myself) do
not respond to eye fixation inductions; thus, people who might respond
quite well to other induction types could easily be mislabeled as "insusceptible"
by a hypnotist employing only this type of induction. Several of my
clients who have successfully responded to other induction types were
erroneously told by an M.D. or psychologist that they could not be hypnotized
after failing to respond to a fixed gaze induction.
b. Progressive relaxation
(and imagery) methods are frequently used on self-hypnosis tapes, as
well as by some who facilitate meditation. Facilitators often use a
relaxation induction (or guided imagery) to have someone imagine being
in a safe or peaceful place, and then awaken to full consciousness.
Often those who actually use hypnosis inductions of this type will deny
their use of hypnosis--and some facilitators of such meditations have
even told me that they don't believe in hypnosis! A trance is a trance
-- is a trance -- is a trance -- and is a form of hypnosis -- regardless
of what name it is called.
c. Mental confusion methods
are designed to confuse the conscious mind, so that it simply becomes
easier to just relax and "let go" into hypnosis. Do not attempt this
type of induction until you understand it, and know what to do when
a client enters hypnosis.
d. Mental misdirection methods
employ active use of the imagination, coupled with response, to hypnotize
through responding to suggestions.
e. Loss of equilibrium:
most of us seem to have an inherited desire to be gently rocked, as is
evidenced by the millions of rocking chairs available. How many mothers
"hypnotize" their babies to sleep by rocking them at night?
f. Shock to nervous system:
the paternal "rapid" inductions frequently used by stage hypnotists are
examples of this induction type, employing a sudden emphatic command given
in a surprising manner. The participant or client will experience a "moment
of passivity" during which he or she will either resist the trance, or
"let go" and drop quickly into hypnosis. Although I very rarely use this
induction type, there seems to be a time and place for it once in a while.
When you understand these induction
types, you may combine two or more as "building blocks" for techniques
which are as limitless as your imagination. For more detailed explanations
of these basic induction types, as well as sample techniques, order my
book THE ART OF HYPNOSIS from The National Guild of Hypnotists by calling
1-(603) 429-9438. It is the first volume of a 500-page major work based
on the teachings of Charles Tebbetts. The second volume, THE ART OF HYPNOTHERAPY,
may be ordered from Kendall/Hunt Publishing at 1-(800) 228-0810.
5. How may I learn self-hypnosis?
The best way to learn self-hypnosis
is by asking a qualified hypnotherapist to teach you, and to give you
post-hypnotic suggestions to reinforce what you learn. Additionally, you
may find it helpful to read a good book on the subject. The one I like
best is: SELF-HYPNOSIS AND OTHER MIND-EXPANDING TECHNIQUES by Charles
Tebbetts (Westwood Publishing). A former member of British Parliament
told me that, in his opinion, the above book was one of the two best books
ever written on self-hypnosis. He also recommended my own self-hypnosis
book to his students, which I've re-written and re-titled SELF-HYPNOSIS
FOR EMPOWERMENT (originally published as "Success Through Mind Power"
in 1987 by Westwood Publishing). It is available from me on-line for $7.00
(US$); e-mail me if interested.
Also, SELF-HYPNOTISM by Leslie
LeCron is very good, as well as HYPNOTISM & MEDITATION by Ormond McGill
(Westwood Publishing). I personally enjoyed CREATIVE VISUALIZATION by
Shakti Gawain (Publisher: New World Library). Additionally, there are
many good self-help books on visualization that are really recommending
self-hypnosis techniques even when the author does not disclose that the
techniques are forms of self-hypnosis.
6. What is the difference
between hypnosis and hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is the use of
hypnosis for self-improvement and/or the release of problems. All hypnotherapy
employs hypnosis; but not all hypnosis is hypnotherapy. Additionally,
mastering the art of hypnosis does not necessarily mean one is qualified
as a hypnotherapist. Contrary to what many might believe, there is more
to helping someone overcome an unwanted habit than simply giving hypnotic
suggestions. If a person's subconscious resists positive suggestions for
goal achievement, the competently trained hypnotherapist is far more likely
to be of service than those with minimal training in hypnosis, or who
are simply self-taught. And a background in counseling is NOT a substitute
for adequate training in hypnotherapy when hypnosis is used to help people.
7. What books and/or other
sources can you recommend?
When I studied hypnosis back
in 1983, Charles Tebbetts required all his students to read HYPNOTISM
TODAY by LeCron & Bordeaux (Wilshire Book Co.). Although it was written
almost a half-century ago, it stood for many years as the leading book
recommended by my mentor, along with another book entitled HYPNOTHERAPY
by Dave Elman (Westwood Publishing), which I strongly recommend that any
serious student of hypnosis purchase and read, as well as John Hugh's
HYPNOSIS: THE INDUCTION OF CONVICTION (available from the National Guild
My own two-volume major work
based on the teachings of my late mentor is already resulting in many
praises from my peers: THE ART OF HYPNOSIS (National Guild of Hypnotists)
and THE ART OF HYPNOTHERAPY (Kendall/Hunt Publishing). You may order the
latter by calling 1 (800) 228-0810.
An OUTSTANDING resource list
was compiled by Paul Bunnell, which deserves to become a permanent part
of this FAQ. It appears in "FAQ 4 of 4" after the answer to Question 15,
along with a partial list I of other books highly recommended by my peers.
To avoid duplication, my list (which previously appeared here) now appears
in the RESOURCE GUIDE section of this FAQ, along with Paul Bunnell's list
of books and other valuable resources.
8. How can I choose a competent
Rather than simply telling
you where to go, allow me to share my own views regarding instruction
itself. My opinions expressed here are my own; this is NOT written in
behalf of any hypnosis association. However, my response is from the point
of reference of a combination of factors: my professional experience,
my national involvement with several hypnosis associations and other leaders
in the profession, my awareness that there are some who would like to
control who can legally practice hypnosis, and that there are legitimate
concerns raised about the inadequate training programs that are all too
Many 3-day to 5-day training
programs provide "certification" representing that a participant is a
qualified or certified "hypnotherapist" who can work with almost any client
walking through the door. I'll quote sections from pages 6-10 my own book,
THE ART OF HYPNOTHERAPY:
"Charles Tebbetts said numerous
times that there is no substitute for practice to develop confidence and
competence with the art of hypnosis. In my opinion, this is even more
true for those who wish to teach the art of hypnosis. [portions deleted]...how
can you determine whether or not your prospective trainer is your wisest
choice? First of all, ask your prospective hypnotherapy teacher whether
or not he/she practices hypnotherapy on a full-time or part time basis,
and for how many years. This is far more important than his or her academic
[snip]..."I would far rather
see someone teaching basic hypnotherapy with five years' experience in
the profession than an instructor with a doctorate degree who only occasionally
uses hypnosis in his or her practice of medicine or psychology--except
for medical and/or other specialized applications of hypnosis. " (I believe
specialty courses should be taught by those who specialize in those applications
It is also my opinion that
newly certified hypnotherapists who jump right into teaching hypnosis
a few weeks after their certification course are jeopardizing the credibility
of our profession. Pay your dues and get your experience first!
SECOND: Find out the length
of the training. Is it a one-weekend certification course? If so, forget
it unless it is a specialized application of hypnosis for those who are
already using hypnotherapy professionally. There is increasing support
from around the United States towards having a 100-hour minimum training
requirement before one may be considered a "certified hypnotherapist,"
even if said person has counseling experience.
THIRD: Find out whether or
not the techniques taught are client-centered and the classes student-centered.
Will you learn hypnotherapy techniques that you must use on every single
client? There is no hypnotic technique I know of that will work on all
of the people all of the time. Charles Tebbetts taught what I call diversified
Also, my teacher exclusively
taught subject matter that was directly related to the art of hypnotherapy.
He did not believe we needed hundreds of hours of classes on theories
or on topics that have nothing to do with the practice of hypnotherapy.
Additionally, has your instructor
been certified as a hypnotherapy instructor? Many hypnotherapy instructors
are self-appointed! While some self-appointed instructors may be competent,
others might be teaching courses that are not recognized by any of the
major hypnosis associations.
Last but not least, find out
whether the approach is self-empowerment or whether your instructor is
treating people as "subjects" which he/she dominates during therapy.
Realize that because hypnosis
is an art, there is probably no such thing as a perfect instructor. Be
willing to learn from him or her; but make certain you are also willing
to continue learning and grow beyond your instructor's viewpoints. DON'T
EVER make the mistake of thinking your instructor is the only person qualified
to be an authority in hypnotherapy. None of us has all the answers, and
I do not recognize anyone as the "leading authority" in hypnosis. We are
all still learning.
If the only program available
near you is a short one, be willing to refer many of your clients to those
who are adequately trained, and make a commitment to yourself to pursue
additional training ASAP. And if you are taking your first hypnosis course,
please don't let 3-day or one-week certification instructors dupe you
into thinking that is sufficient training to qualify you to use regressions
or other advanced techniques to deal with subconscious resistance to change!
(The National Guild's Code of Ethics FORBIDS the use of hypnotic regression
until you are trained in that area!) Don't get stung by the consequences
of their failure to respond to the light of truth: there is NO SHORTCUT
to learning hypnosis competently.
9. Which courses or instructors
come highly recommended?
The answer to this question
will vary based on who you ask. My earlier FAQ postings provided names
and phone numbers of organizations which I can comfortably recommend;
but due to incessant criticism and flames concerning organizations omitted
or critiqued in past posts, I have chosen to delete giving specific recommendations
in an informationalposting. (NOTE: If you are seriously contemplating
training, you may wish to refer to Paul Bunnell's RESOURCE GUIDE section
at the end of FAQ 4 of 4.)
I recommend you interview your
prospective instructor. Also, if you study from someone who teaches one
primary modality, be careful to avoid the trap of believing that your
instructor's techniques are the only ones that are valid. NO technique,
no matter how effective, will work for all the people all the time. Be
willing to fit the technique to the client rather than vice versa. This
requires width and depth of training! And it is absolutely impossible
to learn enough techniques to accomplish this in just one week--no matter
what your academic credentials are.
If a one-week course or less
is all that is initially available to you, please make a commitment to
both yourself and your clients to continue your training as soon as you
can afford to invest the time and money to do so, whether this is by investing
in a home study course as a supplement, or by traveling to work with a
Hypnosis is an art. I hope
your instructor teaches it as such.
10. If I have a natural
gift, why should I seek training?
Some people seem gifted in
the art of hypnosis right from the very first class, so it is possible
that you could be good at non-therapeutic aspects of hypnosis. But if
you EVER plan on using hypnosis in a therapeutic way to help people be
motivated, or to overcome bad habits, etc., you run two risks if you fail
to obtain "hands-on" training:
(a) First of all, and
of vital importance, you run a risk of someone being left with a negative
impression of hypnosis if he/she fails to respond to your attempts to
help. Even the best of us cannot help all the people all the time. But
the probability of helping a client is far greater if you have a good
understanding of a variety of techniques and disciplines, so that you
may fit the technique to the client rather than the other way around.
Even if you understand the importance of suggestion structure, some people
may have subconscious resistance to change. Frequently the failure is
not theirs; but rather, that of an inadequately trained hypnotherapist
who tried to make the client fit his/her technique or style. Believe it
or not, this sometimes happens with counselors or psychologists with little
or no training in hypnotherapy who use hypnosis because it is legal for
them to do so.
(b) Second, you will
simply not have the respect of hypnotherapists who have respected hypnosis
enough to invest in their own training. If you ARE one of those who learned
in only 3 to 5 days, do yourself a favor and seek additional training,
even if through a home study course. This is important to both you and
Additionally, our legal survival
as a profession is in danger because of the very fact that there are self-taught
people using hypnosis therapeutically, as well as "certified" hypnotherapists
who only completed "certification" courses lasting a week or less. We
as a profession simply must increase our own standards if we are to prevent
the A.M.A. and A.P.A. from dictating who may or may not use hypnosis.
Some with doctorate degrees have been ACTIVELY trying to legislate us
out of legality in a number of states. We must start insisting that hypnotherapists
seek adequate training before calling themselves "Certified Hypnotherapists,"
or we must create a new name for those trained in advanced techniques!
If we do not do so, there is a risk that hypnosis could once again be
controlled by an elite few.
11. What makes hypnotherapy
different than cognitive therapy?
Cognitive counseling deals
with issues at a cognitive level; and many of life's problems require
just that. When someone has to make difficult cognitive decisions, competent
professional help is absolutely essential! For example, hypnotherapy is
not a substitute for marriage counseling. But when it comes to changing
habits or behaviors regulated by the subconscious, there is nothing faster
than competent hypnotherapy to facilitate subconscious change. However,
hypnosis is NOT A PANACEA for all life's problems, and it should not be
advertised as such.
It's also important to realize
that a competent hypnotherapist recognizes that he or she is NOT licensed
to diagnose (unless trained and licensed to do so). While a physician,
psychologist, or licensed mental health practitioner may be qualified
to diagnose or "label" the cause of someone's problem, it is advisable
for the hypnotherapist to avoid doing so. Additionally, in my opinion,
even when a licensed mental health practitioner uses hypnosis, it is VITALLY
important to avoid projecting the preconceived opinion into the hypnotherapy
session. If that opinion is incorrect, it may taint the trance--making
it difficult to differentiate between repressed memories and false memories.
A diagnostician formulates
a professional opinion on the cause of a problem. A competent hypnotherapist
asks the client's subconscious mind to disclose the cause, and then either
proceeds or refers accordingly, based on the information disclosed.
Here's a good analogy: psychologists
and mental health counselors could be compared to the "hardware" experts,
whereas hypnotherapists are only trained to improve the software.
12. How can hypnosis be
used to quit smoking or manage weight?
There are many roads leading
from San Francisco to New York; likewise there are many ways to successfully
help someone quit smoking. But the KEY is simple: THE CLIENT MUST CHOOSE
TO CHANGE. If this is not so, long-term success is very unlikely.
I use a positive approach,
based on the client identifying the benefits of change. Hypnosis is used
to sell the benefits to the subconscious before any suggestions are given
to quit smoking or reduce.
Some people use substitutes
for old smoking triggers, and some do not. I recommend one deep breath,
as it has no calories and no side effects. It is far better for the CONSCIOUS
mind to choose the substitute than for the subconscious, as one addiction
might be traded for another. Furthermore, if there is still pleasure associated
with smoking, the client needs to make a conscious decision to choose
another way of having some pleasure in a healthy manner, or there is greater
risk of backsliding. Some hypnotherapists unnecessarily use regression
back to the first smoke, based on the premise that the original cause
must be removed. But with smoking, more recent causes usually far overshadow
the original cause, which has often faded with time.
With weight reduction, I also
start with the benefits approach. Often there is more work to be done,
however, as people may overeat as an adjunctive response to another unresolved
issue. Depending on the cause disclosed by the subconscious mind, I may
or may not be qualified to help the client resolve the issue.
If there is subconscious resistance
to the more positive approach for ANY type of goal, a client-centered
approach would be to ask the subconscious to reveal what the cause is
so that it may be released. (Without release from the cause, the problem
may return.) And before you do this, you are well-advised to have received
competent supervised training in such techniques!
13. Can hypnosis be used
to reduce pain and/or suffering from illness?
Pain is a warning that something
is wrong with the body, and it needs to be diagnosed by someone qualified
to do so. Any competent hypnotherapy instructor emphasizes to his or her
students the importance of requiring a written referral from an examining
physician before ever using hypnosis to reduce pain or other physical
symptoms. The exception (for those who are not licensed to practice medicine)
is if the examining physician is physically present and/or is supervising
the hypnotic process. Since the time of a hypnotherapist is not nearly
as expensive as the time of a physician, hopefully there will be greater
cooperation between the medical profession and the hypnotherapy profession
in the future. A competently trained hypnotherapist should know, even
with a medical referral, when to simply use hypnosis for symptom removal,
and when and how to use hypnosis to search for subconscious causes of
the symptom(s). Hypnosis can make a difference even with major disease!
You might be interested in reading LOVE, MEDICINE & MIRACLES by Bernie
S. Siegel, M.D. (Publisher: Harper & Row), and/or ANSWER CANCER by Steve
14. Is hypnosis dangerous?
According to my late mentor,
hypnosis of and by itself is not dangerous. If it were, we would all be
in jeopardy every time we get engrossed in a good book, movie, or TV show.
But unwise use of suggestion may create the opposite of the desired results
if the person using hypnosis does not understand the disciplines of suggestion
structure. For example, a suggestion such as "You don't like candy" will
cause someone to imagine candy, and imagination is the language of the
What we say and how we say
it creates images in the subconscious, which does not know the difference
between fact and fantasy. (If you don't believe that last statement, hold
your arms out in front of you and close your eyes. Then imagine a bucket
in one hand and 100 helium balloons in the other. Imagine SEEING water
pour into the bucket. HEAR it splashing, and FEEL the bucket getting heavy.
After several seconds of deep breathing, open your eyes and notice where
your arms are. Most people will notice a difference!) An untrained hypnotist
often talks about the problems to be avoided; whereas most competent hypnotherapists
focus on results -- whether they use direct or indirect suggestions, or
There are some areas of
concern which I believe need to be addressed here:
a. AVERSION SUGGESTION:
In my opinion, the gross aversion suggestion given in many group hypnosis
seminars is very risky. If a person VIVIDLY IMAGINES major disease as
a result of smoking, and convinces himself or herself that the disease
will come if the smoking habit persists, then how can we be sure whether
the negative subconscious belief had anything to do with creating the
onset of the disease??? Suggestions must be kept POSITIVE, affirming the
desired results. Yet there are books written by people with doctorate
degrees which advocate the use of aversion suggestion when dealing with
tobacco and other addictions.
One of my former clients, desperate
to lose weight, bought a suggestion given by her psychiatrist to get sick
whenever she tasted or desired pizza; and she did so twice weekly whenever
her husband called for pizza delivery. After suffering for over a year,
she saw me to have the aversion suggestion removed. I am 99% opposed to
most uses of aversion suggestion, except very temporary and mild ones
in rare cases when all other techniques are resisted.
b. REGRESSIONS AND FALSE
MEMORIES: First of all, let's consider the fact that a COMPETENTLY
trained hypnotherapist might, in some cases, choose to hypnotize a client
with a hypnotic regression being one of the objectives to achieving therapeutic
results! This is perfectly acceptable if the hypnotherapist is trained
in the effective handling of client abreactions, understands the risk
of false memories, AND is also working within his or her field of competency.
But if you have not had "hands on" training in regression therapy, or
if you do not understand the difference between "leading" and "guiding"
questions or suggestions, you are advised to avoid causing hypnotic regressions.
Because of the increased ability to fantasize, it is all to easy for a
compliant client to fantasize a suggested sexual molestation that never
took place!!! Some mental health professionals have found themselves on
the wrong end of lawsuits because of this very problem. This is a glaring
example of the dangers of projecting your own pre-conceived opinions into
the trance state created by your clients; so until you know how to competently
facilitate a hypnotic regression, DON'T -- even if you are an experienced
c. PAIN MANAGEMENT:
Since pain is a warning that something is wrong with the body, the cause
should be discovered by someone who is licensed to diagnose. See my comments
for Question #13.
d. ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOR:
No ethical hypnotherapist would even consider trying to use hypnosis to
induce criminal or anti-social behavior, nor trying to deceive someone
into doing such. Furthermore, research seems to indicate that a person
would not knowingly accept suggestions to break the law unless he/she
is already inclined to do so.
e. FORENSIC HYPNOSIS:
If you plan on using forensic hypnosis, perhaps you should read TRANCE
ON TRIAL (Scheflin and Shapiro) and then decide whether you wish to seek
additional training in that field first. And, unless you have a legal
background or background in law enforcement, make certain that the training
you receive is specialized and adequate. Even with all my years of experience
in hypnotherapy, I still avoid the use of forensic hypnosis.
f. DEPENDENCE: The dependence
issue should not be a concern with any client of a hypnotherapist who
seeks to help a client become self-empowered. And client-centered techniques
are designed to help clients use the power of their own minds to change,
while the hypnotherapist is simply the guide or facilitator of such change.
And since I'm a firm believer in the benefits of self-hypnosis, perhaps
you could say that I've become dependent on self-hypnosis because it works!
Furthermore, I'll put myself on the receiving end of hypnotherapy whenever
I require it. Self-hypnosis is like lifting a chair; but when I'm moving
a piano in my subconscious, it's much easier with someone on the other
end helping to lift.
15. Who is the leading authority
This is a difficult question
to answer. There are some who hold themselves up as such, but the longer
I'm in this profession the more I realize there is to learn about the
art of hypnosis.
Who is the leading authority
on music? Music is an art. Would you consider Barbra Streisand the leading
authority on music? Of course not... but she is a master artist! Would
you consider a music professor at Juliard a leading authority? In classical
music? In popular music? In country Western? And is there a difference
between an artist and an expert who is an "authority" on any one area
of music? It's only a matter of opinion. Whose opinion? And is the "authority"
also a good artist?
Hypnosis can be used to reduce
pain. Hypnosis can be used to quit smoking. Hypnosis can be used for weight
reduction. Hypnosis can be used to overcome phobias. Hypnosis can be used
to reduce stress or anxiety. Hypnosis can be used for entertainment. Can
any one person be an expert in all areas? It's only a matter of opinion.
I personally recognize the
late Dave Elman as a leading 20th Century pioneer of widespread acceptance
of hypnosis by physicians. I personally recognize LeCron & Bordeaux as
20th Century pioneers as well. I personally recognize the late Milton
Erickson, M.D., as the Grandfather of modern hypnotherapy. I personally
recognize the late Charles Tebbetts as the leading authority on diversified
client-centered hypnosis. I personally recognize Arthur Winkler, PhD (still
living), as the leading authority on spiritual uses of hypnosis. I personally
recognize Ormond McGill (still living) as the world expert on stage hypnosis.
Since medical applications of hypnosis is not my area of expertise, I
am not qualified to give my opinion on the leading authority of medical
applications of hypnosis.
There are some who give public
seminars for smoking cessation and/or weight reduction who represent themselves
as "authority" within the hypnotherapy profession; and the negative aversion
suggestions and/or disempowerment approach indicate to me their lack of
training. They frequently make promises of outrageous "success rates"
which are as unbelievable as they sound. If they knew half of what they
say they know about hypnotherapy, they would inform their audiences how
to wisely choose a hypnotherapist for the needed private followup sessions.
Success in marketing does not qualify that person as an "authority" in
There are some who feel they
are so much more qualified than others that they would like to have total
control over all who practice hypnotherapy. There is already an uphill
battle because certain psychologists would like to outlaw hypnotherapy
by defining it as part of the practice of psychology. Also, according
to information received from the O.P.E.I.U., there have already been attempts
made in at least two states to legally require hypnotherapists to belong
to the A.C.H.E. in order to practice hypnotherapy. In my opinion, NO ONE
GROUP nor any one hypnosis association should have total control over
hypnotherapy in this country. Be loyal to principles, and give your loyalty
in degrees to those who earn it--not those who demand it.
Let him or her who is considered
a "leading authority" be so designated by others and not by himself or
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FAQ (revised) submitted by: Roy Hunter, MS,CHt, Certified Hypnotherapy
Instructor Published Author and Professional Speaker/Trainer Publisher: