Hypnotherapy FAQ’S & Myths

Dr. Russell K. Kawakami is a practicing licensed and National Board Certified Professional Counselor, a National Board Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, an author, and a media personality – but more importantly, he is someone who is humbled that he has been chosen to help heal you!

Frequently Asked Questions

“The American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association have approved (hypnotherapy/ hypnosis) for use by professionally responsible individuals.” Further, the American Medical Association and the American Dental Association both recognize and accept hypnosis as a very valuable tool (modality) in making desired beneficial changes within the mind-body-spirit connection. Thus, because hypnosis is safe and a valuable wellness modality, many leading medical and dental schools are currently teaching hypnosis courses. Halting habits such as thumb sucking, stopping smoking, or chewing ice are great benefits clients received from hypnosis. Hypnosis can be very valuable for surgical procedures: promoting calmness and confidence, halting fears, and improving bleeding control, post-surgical procedure.

There is a very, very strong possibility that you have experienced being hypnotized or in a trance sometime in the last month or so… …absolutely, without a doubt, you have been in a trance (hypnotized) many, many times in your lifetime! Have you ever driven somewhere and ended up at your destination and then thought, “How did I get here so quickly, or when did I make that turn?” You were in a road trance… Or, have you ever been so engrossed in reading a book, listening to music, or watching a movie and someone says, “Hey I know you hear me calling you!” You were in a trance… Or, perhaps you are the type of person who has sat somewhere, maybe a classroom or at a coffee shop, and found yourself in another place and time, lost in thought, imagining yourself in some other awesome, enjoyable place. Yes, you were daydreaming and that is also a form of a trance. Indeed, whenever our mind wanders, daydreams or is highly focused on something, such as reading a book, driving a familiar route, or watching a film, we are in a state of hypnosis. These very focused states of attention are, in fact, everyday experiences of what is called hypnosis.

Hypnosis is a state of inward attention and focused concentration. It is often referred to as trance or as an altered state of consciousness. When the mind is concentrated and focused, people are better able to tap into and utilize their inner resources, to make personal changes, and learn how to better govern their own lives. In fact, because hypnosis and self-hypnosis allow people to use more of their potential, they gain more self-control (it is a myth that people lose control during hypnosis).

It is a trance state characterized by extreme suggestibility, relaxation and heightened imagination. It’s not really like sleep, because you are alert the whole time. It is most often compared to daydreaming, or the feeling of “losing yourself” in a book or movie. You are fully conscious, but you tune out most of the stimuli around you. You focus intently on the subject at hand, to the near exclusion of any other thought.

Given most people reading this will have agreed that at some point in their life (based upon the above scenarios) they have experienced being in a trance, the question is: did you give up control of your mind to someone else when you were listening to music, reading the book, watching the movie, or daydreaming? Of course you did not; you were in control of your mind the whole time. In situations like this, you are in a hypnotic trance and you still have the power to emerge from that state if wished. Whatever or whomever hypnotizes you; you always have the power to resist.

When you realize that you are the one in control, when you decide how deeply into hypnosis you wish to go, then you become aware of what hypnosis is. A hypnotherapist is a guide and helps you on a journey, but the change can only be made by you.

Often the realization that you are in control, and that you can make change yourself is very empowering. You’ll find that the more often you going into hypnosis, aware that you doing it, the more you realize how easy it is to let go, secure in the knowledge that you can always stop a session if you feel uncomfortable.

Some hypnotherapists use the knowledge that actually we are always in hypnosis and will have an open discussion with you, just altering their language patters, using suggestions relating to your goal and the changes you wish to make, without taking you into a ‘trance state’ at all.

Hypnosis is a natural state of mind; people are often surprised that they hear every word and could get up and walk out of the room at any moment. Unless you enter a deeper state, you may not seem any different, just very relaxed.

It’s similar to drifting off to sleep at night, that stage when you are not quite awake and not quite asleep, you may feel a sense of weightlessness or you may feel heaviness as all your muscles relax. Everyone experiences it differently, and your therapist will be able to reassure you and help you relax and enjoy the experience.

Most people are surprised at just how relaxing it is.

Clinical hypnotherapy can be used in various ways. For one, guided mental imagery is very powerful in a state of mind such as hypnosis. The mind responds to imagery to assist in bringing about personal changes and desired outcomes. A client with an unwanted behavior may be encouraged in hypnosis to vividly imagine acting differently and more appropriately. The unconscious mind then has a tendency to bring about the imagined change. Another client, with a fear of some sort, might be invited to imagine being a supportive advisor to herself, and as a result, find the fearful response no longer troubles her. Athletes, teachers and business people are currently being taught to use hypnotic mental imagery to enhance their performances.

Another basic hypnotic approach that is often used by Hypnotherapists, is to offer hypnotic and post-hypnotic suggestions to the client. Suggestions given while in hypnosis are more likely to be accepted by the client’s unconscious. When hypnotic suggestions are given that encourage beneficial changes, they can dynamically influence the client’s life into the future.

Clinical hypnosis can also be used to better understand underlying motivations for emotional or behavioral difficulties. Hypnosis provides a safe and secure state of mind in which to both examine the roots of problems and explore promising alternatives. The Hypnotherapist can then help the client select from the alternatives and make healthier choices.

Mental health applications include but are not limited to: Addictions; allergies; anger; anxiety; phobia; stress management; post traumatic stress; bed-wetting; depression; sports performance; smoking cessation; obesity and weight management; sleep disorders; stress related high blood pressure; self image; sexual dysfunctions; concentration, test anxiety and learning disorders; interpersonal communications; fitness; marriage and family issues; undesirable behaviors and habits; abuse.

Medical applications include but are not limited to: Childbirth; gastrointestinal disorders; skin problems; warts; pain; relief of nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy and pregnancy.

Your hypnotherapist will take detailed history and with some conditions may request permission from you to write to their doctor, to let them know you are having hypnotherapy.

They will then discuss your goal(s) and what you would like to see or feel at the end of your sessions.

Using a range of different techniques, your hypnotherapist will relax you, make you feel comfortable, and work with you towards achieving your goal(s).

After a session you may feel uplifted, lighter and very relaxed. Often change is very subtle, as your hypnotherapist will be working with your subconscious mind, and you may just notice a very positive shift in how you are feeling.

When the Health-Care Professional is well trained in both the utilization of hypnosis as a specialty or sub-specialty and is qualified as a healthcare professional to treat any specific problem, clinical hypnotherapy can be utilized successfully for a variety of mental health and medical issues. Some people seem to have higher initial hypnotic responsiveness, while others may need more training to reach useful levels of hypnosis for hypnotic therapy. However, according to Milton H. Erickson, M.D., who is considered the world’s leading authority on hypnosis, everyone is hypnotizable and can benefit from hypnotherapy.

Of course, hypnosis is most effective when the client or patient is motivated to change. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that hypnotherapy, like any other therapeutic modality, can benefit some people more than others.

Many false beliefs about hypnosis are based on what people read in novels, see in the movies or stage hypnosis shows. People are also concerned that being hypnotized means loss of control or that only weak willed people can be hypnotized. This too is a falsehood and, in fact, the opposite is the case. Learning to experience hypnosis and to use self-hypnosis provides more self-control for the client. The idea that people will do out of the ordinary things is perpetuated by stage hypnotism shows. Stage hypnotists select people from the audience who are willing to be responsive, but more importantly, may have exhibitionist tendencies and go along for the show. Novelists and film writers create works of fiction and are also in the entertainment business. Unfortunately, these hypnosis stage shows and entertainment portrayals help create myths about hypnosis which sometimes discourage people from seeking genuine hypnotherapy and the help they need.

Another myth is that people “go under” and experience a loss of consciousness while in hypnosis. As a result, they mistakenly think they will be “knocked out” and won’t remember what happened during their hypnotic session. In fact, hypnosis is state of heightened awareness. However, because there is an inward focused of attention, some extraneous external happenings may not be noticed. Nonetheless, people usually can remember everything that occurs in hypnosis. It is important to note that in everyday living we tend to forget a lot. Just think of how many times two people can argue about what was said within the last few minutes.

Finally, in hypnosis, the client is not under the control of the hypnotist because hypnosis is not something that is imposed on people. The Hypnotherapist merely serves as a facilitator or teacher helping the client discover that hypnosis is a natural, safe and useful state of mind they allow themselves to experience. Modern hypnotherapy is often referred to as a co-active, or collaborative approach. The Hypnotherapist assists the client to discover their own inner resources and path to well-being.

Mental health and medical professionals practice hypnosis as a specialty or sub-specialty. As in choosing any health care professional, clients should make an effort to carefully assess qualifications when selecting a Hypnotherapist. Careful questioning can help you avoid choosing wrongly. Ask if the person is licensed in their field by their state. The exception may be a few states where a mental health profession is not yet licensed (ask about the professional association the practitioner belongs to in those cases). Association affiliations for health-care professionals include, but are not limited to, the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the National Association for Social Workers, the National Board for Certified Counselors, National Association for Drug Abuse Counselors, the National Association of Marriage & Family Counselors, the American Counselors Association, the American Dental Association, and the American Pastoral Counselors Association.

Check for certification by The National Board for Certified Clinical Hypnotherapists (NBCCH). NBCCH is the only nationally recognized certification organization for health care professionals using hypnosis). There are several levels of certification: Regular (NBCCH), Diplomate (NBCDCH), and Fellow (NBCFCH). If you have questions about any Hypnotherapist’s qualifications or credentials, contact the NBCCH office.

Hypnosis is most accurately described as a state of high mental focus. We might say that hypnosis consists of three types. First, stage hypnosis is a comical, entertaining show. Second, hypnotherapy can be quite beneficial in helping reduce unwanted behaviors and enhance wanted ones. Finally, self-hypnosis can be quite effective in helping people enter into the positive aspects of meditation.

In many ways hypnosis is simply deeply-focused meditation where awesome, life-chaning things can take place. The Bible is filled with injunctions for Christians to meditate upon the word of God. Twice Peter entered into meditative states and the Bible approved his “trances” both times. Isaiah, Daniel, Paul, and Jeremiah all experienced times of hypnotic trance and heightened awareness inspired by God to give them deep insights into his person and character.

No. Opponents of hypnosis turn to Deuteronomy 18:9-13. As the Israelites are entering into the Promised Land God gives them a warning not to enter into the practices in the pagan lands ahead. God said: “let there be found no wanted sacrifices his child in the fire; stay away from those who practice divination and sorcery, engaging witchcraft; cast spells… Opponents focus on the Hebrew term “cast spells” as being the same as hypnosis. Their interpretation is really a stretch; again, a clinical hypnotherapist is guiding you into a hyper-relaxed state where you will be able to access resources in your subconscious—resources that are often blocked by your conscious mind.

As mentioned earlier, hypnotherapy can tap the resources within us to help heal our hurts, cure unwanted or unhealthy behaviors and enhance our well-being. Hypnotherapy gives a person the power to use what he or she already possesses inside (resources), but has not been able to access or control. During hypnosis, many people gain control over bad habits, fears, phobias, and anxiety— just to mention a few areas.

Further, because hypnosis is all about an intense focus that removes peripheral distractions, it may be used as a tool for Christian meditation, which is ultimately helpful in allowing believers to experience the person and character of Christ. It is important to know how to quiet our minds on our own (self-hypnosis) and move into deep meditation focusing on a Bible story, event, person, verse or phrase, where we are able to receive a word or life-changing message from God.

What we are doing is understanding how we can experience Christ through the art of deep meditation, or what might be described as self-hypnosis.

First, it is important to get a proper diagnosis before beginning. A wrong diagnosis could be harmful.

Second, the therapist, or hypnotist, must be professionally trained and someone who you are able to trust. Indeed, it is important to ascertain that their character and values line up with yours. In this regard, I would certainly opt for a Christian therapist. Remember though, just because someone is a Christian does not mean that they are best to the exclusion of all others. In other words, a well-trained and experienced non-Christian therapist might be much more effective than a poor-quality-Christian therapist.

Third, you can simply invite a family member or close friend to sit in on the first session as a “safety” measure. The therapist is working with your brain and it’s important to have the safe back-up of a trusted companion to observe what’s going on and be certain that all is well.

In spiritual warfare it’s important to remember that every area of our lives that is not under the direct care and influence of the Holy Spirit is open to control by a demonic spirit. Notice the difference between control and influence. God intends for us to be free to make our own decisions. He will never take control of our minds. However, we are in influenced by the Spirit who lives within us.

On the other hand, Satan desires to take control of our minds. That’s why Paul warns us to take every thought captive: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Paul says that we must be careful to guard what goes into our minds lest we open up an unprotected area where Satan can gain control.

So the question is, “Can hypnosis open my mind in any way that might allow Satan to get control of my thinking?” Unexpectedly for many of us, the truth is that during hypnosis, you often have more control over your mind than ever before. During a trance, your mind is no longer racing or full of confusion, anxiety, anger, or depression, etc… Just because you may be more susceptible to suggestions in no way means that you will lose control of your mind and do things that you never intended to do.


Myth #1: He will be able to control my mind

Fact: No one can control your mind. The Mind Doctor® will give you suggestions that you want to be given, based on the pre-hypnotic interview. At no point during your session will you lose control of your mind. If you hear a suggestion that you don’t agree with, or don’t understand, your subconscious mind will automatically reject it.


Myth #2: I will be made to perform embarrassing acts, such as bark like a dog, or quack like a duck.

Fact: This assumption is based on Stage Hypnotism in places like Las Vegas or in the movies. The truth is, these people volunteer to act on stage, and they allow themselves to participate in silly suggestions. Hypnotherapy is a serious process of self-improvement and emotional healing, not at all entertainment.


Myth #3: Hypnosis comes from “Black Magic” or is “Supernatural”

Fact: Hypnosis is a natural state that has been studied scientifically. Hypnotherapists are not Psychics or Palm Readers with “special powers”. Hypnotherapy is based on many years of clinical research by famous Psychologists such as Dr. Sigmund Freud and Dr. Carl Jung, and more recently, by Dr. Milton Erikson and Dr. John Kappas.


Myth #4: If I become hypnotized, I may not be able to snap out of it, or Hypnosis is dangerous!

Fact: Hypnosis is very safe and is in fact, simply a state of hyper-awareness. Any time there is an emergency, a person would naturally be able to come out of the hypnotic state by opening their eyes, and stretching or speaking.


Myth #5: I have never been in a trance or hypnotized, so it won’t work.

Fact: Every person naturally enters a state of hypnosis (trance) at least twice everyday: just before falling asleep at night, and upon waking in the morning. Most people easily enter ‘Environmental Hypnosis’ while at the movies, watching TV, driving on the highway, or while reading a good book.


Myth #6: Hypnosis is a “Miracle Cure”

Fact: While Hypnosis is a relatively quick and painless method of healing your emotional past or making permanent improvements in your life, there often isn’t a one-time session to solve everything! Every individual makes progress at his or her own pace, the right pace.


Myth #7: Hypnosis is a great tool to get someone to “confess” or share “secrets”.

Fact: Hypnotherapy sessions are kept private and cannot be used for court testimony. It is not an alternative to lie detector tests. Hypnosis cannot force anyone to “tell the truth” or to confess.


Myth #8: When hypnotized, I will lose all sense of my surroundings and will have no memory of the session.

Fact: No one can control your mind, unless you let them. The Mind Doctor® will give you suggestions that you want to be given, based on the pre-hypnotic interview. At no point during your session will you lose control of your mind. If you hear a suggestion that you don’t agree with, or don’t understand, your subconscious mind will automatically reject it.


Myth #9: Self-Hypnosis is safer, better, or more effective than going to a trained professional.

Fact: Self-Hypnosis can be detrimental when not taught by a trained professional, as a negative attitude or belief about oneself will be reinforced regardless of suggestions given. This can cause more stress and problems in the long run. Hypnotherapy directly accesses the subconscious mind, while Self-Hypnosis cannot. You should not try to perform self-hypnosis.


Myth #10: I can’t be hypnotized because my mind is too strong or disciplined.

Fact: This is an old belief that has, in recent times, been proven untrue. It was once thought that only 50% of the population could be hypnotized. Over the last 30 years, Dr. John Kappas developed methods to induce hypnosis in 100% of the population. During your first session, we will be able to determine what type of suggestibility you have, and hence, how to Hypnotize you. However, because it is your decision to use Hypnosis for self-improvement, your mind has already accepted the idea of Hypnotherapy.

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