The secret behind hypnosis is...there isn’t one.

Denna Shelton, a certified, Consulting Hypnotist through the National Guild of Hypnotists who has been in practice for over 20 years, explains and answers common questions about hypnosis simply.

Hypnosis is a method for helping a wide variety of conditions and personal issues. The techniques of hypnosis can be used on their own or with other forms of therapy. Because it works directly with the subconscious mind, it is a rapid and effective procedure.

Hypnosis can help the following conditions:

  • Stop smoking/smoking cessation
  • Insomnia
  • Stress reduction and relaxation
  • Excessive worry
  • Prolonged sadness
  • Self-esteem and Self-confidence
  • Academic achievement and test stress
  • Self-hypnosis training
  • Weight management
  • Apprehensions or Fears
  • Social stress
  • Stage fright or performance stress
  • Habit patterns and behaviors
  • Memory enhancement
  • Inner child work
  • Sports enhancement for peak performance

Can hypnosis be bad for your health? No.
I'd guess that all medical practitioners would agree on the health benefits of relaxation. Relaxation helps to bring about a homeostatic balance, a balance within the system of mind, body, and soul, both emotionally and physically. The problem is that a lot of doctors say to people, "You need to learn to relax," but they never really give them the tools for knowing "how to relax." Relaxation is extremely important for your health.

Can you get stuck in hypnosis and be unable to wake up? No.
No one ever gets "stuck" in hypnosis. Remember that hypnosis is a natural and normal state to be in from time to time. It's not a state which is completely alien to us. Of course, hypnosis is a subjective experience and everyone will experience it differently, but the worst that could possibly happen is that you drift into natural sleep, and after 5 or 10 minutes you wake up naturally. Some people may use hypnosis as a bridge into natural sleep. In my private hypnosis sessions, some people have been kept awake by their stress, and when hypnosis relaxes them, they have naturally fallen asleep. This is not a problem. But remember, you'll never get stuck in hypnosis and be unable to wake up.

Will I be asleep or unconscious when in hypnosis? No.
You're not asleep and you're not unconscious. You're fully aware of what's happening around you. Of course, everyone's experience is slightly different. Some people feel light, some feel heavy, but almost everyone feels extremely relaxed. Generally, when people are in a deep state of hypnosis, they feel as if their body has gone to sleep but the mind is still alert, awake, and aware. If you do fall into a natural sleep, then don't worry. It's fine.

Will I become dependent on the hypnotist?
Remember, you have a conscious awareness during hypnosis and are in full control. If the hypnotist were to ask a subject to do anything inappropriate, most people would pull themselves out of it spontaneously. The best, most professional and ethical hypnotists work in a way that makes the client feel empowered, rather than working in an authoritarian way where problems may result.

In hypnosis, will I be able to recall everything that's ever happened to me? No.
Some hypnotists use specific techniques that may help a person remember certain things from the past if that's going to be useful for them. This is called regression work. But, you will not recall all your memories.

What does it feel like to be hypnotized?
Hypnosis feels different to different people. Some people feel light and tingly, others heavy, and some people feel numbness. Some people find their eyes tear up or that they swallow more. But most likely, you will feel like you are deep inside yourself but still aware that you are in a room, in a chair, being guided into hypnosis.

Do hypnotists have special powers?
The thought that hypnotists have "special powers" originates from Hollywood movies. This is understandable, as there's a deep mystery surrounding hypnosis. The truth is that hypnotists don't have any special powers. They just have knowledge and experience in the skill of inducing hypnosis. With sufficient effort and practice, most people could probably induce hypnosis. Of course, the real skill is in what way you use it, and how you use the hypnotic state to help people.

Does hypnosis only work on certain people? No.
While it's true that hypnosis can be more useful for some people than others, I would say it mainly comes down to the person's motivation, willingness, and ability to concentrate. I believe everyone is suggestible to some degree. If you're interested in something and it's something that you want, generally you're open to its effects. It's the same with hypnosis. If you want it to work and you co-operate, then you'll reap the benefits.

Are people who get hypnotized weak minded? No.
It's quite the opposite. Without a doubt, it's the people who can concentrate well and have a creative imagination that are, if you want to use the term, the best 'hypnotic subjects'. These types of people go into hypnosis easier and deeper than anyone else. We're all susceptible to suggestion but to varying degrees. If someone is offering me something useful, then I will work towards achieving it. It would be really silly to work against something that will benefit you. So, it's really not true that people who are hypnotized are gullible or weak minded.

When in hypnosis, can I be made to say or do something against my will?
Hypnosis is a state of heightened suggestion. Generally, people won't do anything which goes against their personal values or beliefs. Hypnosis is not sleep. You're aware of everything happening around you. If someone tells you to do something that is really against your values, then you won't do it. You'll come out of the state of hypnosis, and in fact, you'd almost be shocked out of hypnosis.

I don't think I can be hypnotized.
Anyone can be hypnotized if they are willing and open. Sometimes a person might not realize that they are in a hypnotic trance because it does not feel much different from a normal waking state.

Will I remember the session?
Although some people do not recall all of the session, most people have memory of what happens in the session. When hypnosis is used for behavior changes, the person usually does recall what is important for them to remember.


Denna Shelton CH, RMP has 30 years’ experience in whole wellness: mind, body, & spirit as a fitness instructor, consulting hypnotist, and Reiki Master Practitioner. Connect with Denna on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIN.