Why be hypnotized?
Through hypnosis, or hypnotherapy, people enter trance state and become more open to suggestions that could help them improve their health. Sometimes people use hypnosis to quit smoking or lose weight.
Through hypnosis, people can sometimes learn how to better control anxiety. It also has been studied for pain management, hot flashes in breast cancer survivors and irritable bowel syndrome.
What happens when you're hypnotized?
There are a lot of different styles of hypnosis, so each hypnotist, or hypnotherapist, will do things a bit differently.
The classic version of hypnosis is done through progressive relaxation. Some hypnotists will use guided imagery, where the hypnotists will focus your attention on pleasant images that replace negative feelings.
At the beginning of your session, you and the hypnotherapist, or hypnotist, will talk about what your person goals are. For example, “weight loss” can mean a lot of different things.
Once you're ready, the hypnotist will help you enter a trancelike state of relaxation. You might lean back in a recliner, and the hypnotist might dim the lights. During the process, you make the decision about whether you're going to allow yourself to be in the state of mind to be receptive to suggestion.
Your hypnotist will start you breathing in a way that will relax you. If you're not comfortable once you arrive, you can leave before the process begins.
As you grow more and more relaxed, the hypnotist will begin making suggestions that will be targeted at curbing your behavior. At the end, you will be brought out of the trance state.
Each person is different in how much they remember. Most hypnotherapists will record your session using an audio recorder or a video camera. This recording is available for you in case you would like to know more about what took place. The session will usually take between 30 minutes and an hour.
Does it hurt?
It shouldn't. The only pain you might feel could be emotional pain if you're dealing with past trauma. It's not uncommon to cry a little, because you're releasing emotions and relaxing.
What are the risks?
Hypnosis is generally considered safe, if performed by a trained professional. There aren't many risk factors to hypnotherapy. It's rare, but you might headache, dizziness, nausea, anxiety or creation of false memories.
One risk factor is that it might not work. It's best to research hypnotherapists and hypnotists before using their services.
What's the follow-up?
The number of times people go back varies and is based on the severity of the case and the individual. For example, people going for weight loss who need to lose a significant number of pounds might go back five times. Others trying to quit smoking might go back fewer times. Sometimes after a year or so, people might want to go back for another session to refresh their minds.
Source: Charles Bender, hypnotist, chief financial officer and programs director at Chrysalis Institute in Moore; National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine; The Mayo Clinic.