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  • Writer's pictureLinda Campbell

Misconceptions About Hypnosis

Understanding hypnosis can significantly enhance its effectiveness and help build trust and rapport between the therapist and the client. However, many people have misconceptions about hypnosis that can create resistance and hinder the therapeutic process. It’s crucial to address these misconceptions with your clients, especially during an initial consultation, to ensure they feel safe and informed. Here, we debunk some common myths about hypnosis and provide factual information to counteract these misunderstandings.

Misconception 1: Hypnosis is Sleep

Fact: Hypnosis is not sleep. This misconception often stems from stage shows where individuals appear to be asleep due to deep relaxation. The term “hypnosis” itself, derived from the Greek word for sleep, contributes to this confusion. However, scientific studies using electroencephalograms (EEGs) show that people in a hypnotic state have brainwave patterns in the Alpha or Theta range, indicating they are awake but deeply relaxed, rather than the Delta range associated with sleep.

Counteraction: Explain to your clients that hypnosis is a heightened state of awareness where they will be conscious and aware of their surroundings. Use examples of natural trance states, like zoning out while driving, to illustrate that they are not asleep in these moments. Reassure them that they will hear everything you say and will be able to remember their thoughts during the session, which would not be the case if they were asleep.

Misconception 2: Only Weak-Willed People Can Be Hypnotized

Fact: Hypnosis is not a matter of willpower. Everyone has the capacity to be hypnotized if they are motivated and open to the process. Determination and willingness to address an issue are more important than so-called “willpower.”

Counteraction: Emphasize that motivation and determination are key factors in the effectiveness of hypnosis. Offer a free consultation to gauge the client’s readiness and commitment to achieving their goals. Explain that those who are genuinely motivated to make changes are more likely to experience successful outcomes.

Misconception 3: Only Unintelligent People Can Be Hypnotized

Fact: Hypnosis is unrelated to intelligence. The ability to be hypnotized depends on a person’s willingness and ability to concentrate, not their intellectual capacity. Hypnosis often involves emotions and imagination, which are accessible to people of all intelligence levels.

Counteraction: Ask your client if they believe they have at least average intelligence. When they affirm, explain that only individuals with very low intellectual functioning, which inhibits concentration, might struggle with hypnosis. This reinforces that they are fully capable of being hypnotized.

Misconception 4: I Can’t Be Hypnotized, I’ve Tried Before

Fact: Everyone who is willing can be hypnotized. Previous unsuccessful attempts could be due to various factors, such as lack of rapport with the hypnotist, unsuitable techniques, insufficient motivation, or inadequate session time.

Counteraction: Investigate the client’s past experiences with hypnosis and explain potential reasons for their lack of success. Highlight the differences between stage hypnosis and therapeutic hypnosis, and reassure them that, with the right approach and personalized techniques, they can achieve a hypnotic state.

Misconception 5: The Hypnotist Can Make Me Violate My Will

Fact: Hypnosis cannot make someone act against their deeply held values or will. Numerous studies have shown that individuals will not perform actions under hypnosis that they find morally or ethically unacceptable.

Counteraction: Reassure clients that they will maintain control during hypnosis and that the subconscious mind’s protective mechanisms will reject harmful or unethical suggestions. Explain that cooperation between the hypnotist and the client is essential for successful hypnotherapy.

Misconception 6: I Might Not Wake Up

Fact: Hypnosis is not a sleep state, so there is no risk of not waking up. Occasionally, a person might linger in hypnosis because it feels relaxing, but they can easily be brought back to full awareness.

Counteraction: Explain that hypnosis is a state of focused awareness, not sleep, and clients will always return to full alertness. If doing self-hypnosis, they may simply drift into natural sleep, from which they will wake normally.

Misconception 7: The Hypnotist Has Mystical Powers

Fact: Hypnotists do not have mystical powers. Hypnosis is a natural state that people enter and exit throughout their day, often without realizing it.

Counteraction: Educate clients that they are in control of their hypnotic state and can enter and exit hypnosis willingly. Emphasize the scientific basis of hypnosis and its everyday occurrences.

Misconception 8: Hypnosis is Related to the Occult or Black Arts

Fact: Hypnosis has no connection to the occult or black arts. It is a scientifically validated practice with roots in medicine and psychology.

Counteraction: Discuss the historical use of hypnosis by medical professionals and the endorsements from the British Medical Association and the American Medical Association. Highlight the extensive scientific research supporting hypnosis.

Misconception 9: Results Will Be Magical and Instantaneous

Fact: While hypnosis can produce significant results, it is a therapeutic process that involves understanding and addressing underlying issues. Instant results are rare, and meaningful change typically requires time and effort.

Counteraction: Manage expectations by explaining that hypnotherapy is a process that involves exploring the client’s history, beliefs, and patterns. A thorough intake and ongoing sessions are crucial for achieving lasting results.

Misconception 10: What if We Open Pandora’s Box?

Fact: Clients with trauma may fear that hypnosis will flood them with overwhelming memories. However, hypnosis allows for the controlled and safe processing of traumatic experiences.

Counteraction: Reassure clients that only relevant information will surface during hypnosis and that the process is managed to ensure they can handle it. Use the beach ball analogy to explain how hypnosis can help them gently bring repressed memories to the surface for healing.


Addressing and debunking common misconceptions about hypnosis can help build trust and rapport with clients, making your hypnotherapy sessions more effective. By providing clear, factual information and offering reassurance, you can help clients feel more comfortable and open to the transformative power of hypnosis.

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