How Hypnosis Works and Other FAQs

Hypnosis is a focused state of relaxation where your mind opens up to accept new, positive ideas about yourself and your life. Although theorists debate what hypnosis exactly constitutes, they agree that hypnosis is a powerful phenomenon that can help people to make substantial changes.

When you’re in a state of hypnosis, many people report feelings of heaviness or lightness. Some people feel their eyes begin to blink more rapidly, even behind their closed eyelids, and there’s a sense that you are having all of your cares and concerns float away. 

For most people, hypnosis feels like a deep physical relaxation but also a level of mental relaxation, where your mind is more open to new ideas and you come out feeling refreshed and relaxed.

In our normal lives, it’s difficult to make big changes because we cling to old thinking patterns, even when they no longer serve us. We’d like to be able to change our habits or ingrained ways of being, but it’s tough because there’s always something that tries to bring us back to them.

By utilizing hypnosis, we loosen the glue of those old patterns of thought and behavior, and bring in new resources so that you are able to act in a new and better way. Through hypnosis you’re able to set free a part of you that has been saying “no” to changes, even if another part of you really wants to make them.

It depends on who you ask. Hypnosis and hypnotherapy are mostly synonymous. Hypnotherapy uses hypnosis as a way to achieve therapeutic aims, and specifically it’s used to describe hypnosis done for psychiatric issues. However, many people who do hypnosis call what they do hypnotherapy because they feel it is therapeutic.

I call what I do hypnosis (and coaching) because the services I provide are not healthcare. In many instances people find that hypnosis services are a quicker and faster route to solving challenges (typically between 3 and 8 sessions) than to go to a therapist. This is because hypnosis works with the subconscious mind. If you need a psychotherapist, I have a long list of referrals in the DMV area and even beyond.

People are often surprised when I tell them that stage hypnosis is real and that the people on stage are not play acting or shills. However, there are certain tricks which make this possible, and if we end up doing sessions together I will break the “magician’s code” and tell you about some of these tricks.

In an office setting, it is different. When you book a session, it’s to improve your life, not to do funny things to make the audience laugh. While both methods use hypnosis, stage hypnosis is a performance art and involves entertainment. The most important characteristic of a stage hypnotist is that they are entertaining. The most important characteristic of a hypnotist working in an office setting is that they are able to produce healing and results.

No. You will retain control at all times, and in fact hypnosis is an exercise in increasing self-control, not reducing it. The myth that people lose control has been with us for over a hundred years, back when hypnosis was thought to be a mystical phenomenon. Now that we know much more about it and how it works, we understand that you will retain control of yourself and your choices while you are hypnotized.

Yes and no. Every “normal” person can be hypnotized. Normal means that you are able to follow instructions, that you meet certain intelligence thresholds, and that you do not have any contraindicated disorders.  Most likely, you can be hypnotized. That is not to say that every person can be hypnotized equally, however.

In the body of hypnosis research, scholars describe “high hypnotizables” and “low hypnotizables.” You may not know which you are until a professional hypnotist gives you a series of tests – called a hypnotic scale. This is something you may request in our sessions together. A skilled hypnotist can take even someone with low hypnotizability and help them to create results they would like to see in their lives. 

Your first session may depend a lot on the reason you are coming to see me. I’ll ask questions about your history with hypnosis and what has and hasn’t worked. I’ll guide you through imagination games which will show you how hypnosis works, and I may share with you exercises that I’ve found have worked for people with similar challenges.

Hypnosis happens on the first session. You’ll be guided into a relaxing state of hypnosis which can be a light introduction of the state, or a deep exploration of themes and patterns. This is dependent on you and what you are working on. You’ll walk away feeling refreshed and relaxed, and we’ll schedule the next session.

Yes. I follow the Code of Ethics of the National Guild of Hypnotists which requires for me to keep your session material confidential. This confidentiality is different from that granted by a therapist or a lawyer, and I take it just as seriously. You will be provided a Client Bill of Rights which details the confidentiality that you can expect during our sessions.

Man does hypnotherapy sessions with a hypnosis client and takes notes