Everything you need to know about hypnosis

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What exactly Is hypnosis?

Hypnosis (hypnotic trance) is an altered state of consciousness in which it is possible to communicate with the subconscious mind.

You may be surprised to know that it is a very common state which everybody automatically drifts in an out of from time to time.

You know how it is when you get thoroughly lost in a beautiful piece of music, or a good book, or a daydream. Your attention is completely captured and everyday reality fades into the background as your mind carries you away to a different world of the imagination.

You are still conscious, but your consciousness is temporarily altered. Well believe it or not, that is a form of trance.

In fact we all go through a similar phase just before we go to sleep.
When you are being hypnotised, you are guided by the Hypnotist into this same kind of trance state somewhere between being asleep and being awake, and this is called a hypnotic trance. It is a very pleasant feeling of calmness and deep relaxation.

Contrary to popular belief, when you are hypnotised you are not asleep or unconscious. You will normally have your eyes closed, but you can still hear and feel and even speak. Indeed, your concentration and awareness actually become heightened.

Different people can experience hypnosis in slightly different ways. Some people may notice that they feel rather heavy, whilst others may feel light and ‘floaty.’ Often the closed eyelids can flutter a little here and there, or there may be a slight tingling sensation in various parts of the body. However some people experience nothing at all, other than a feeling of deep relaxation. The experience of hypnosis is a very personal thing, but basically, it is just a very calm and pleasant feeling – rather like being in a daydream.

The main requirement to enter hypnotic trance is relaxation, and for most people this is a very gradual process.

Can every body be hypnotised?

It used to be thought that some people could not be hypnotised. We now know that anybody who wants to be hypnotised can be hypnotised. It is sometimes said that “all hypnosis is self-hypnosis”, in other words it is the client who decides whether or not they are prepared to be hypnotised. Some people may go into a hypnotic trance quicker, or more deeply, than others. It is usually found that the speed of going into a hypnotic trance increases with practice, as does the depth which can be achieved.

Are there any risks attached to being hypnotised?

The only risk is that, for whatever reason, the therapeutic goal may not be achieved. Clients usually find that a hypnotic trance is very relaxing, even euphoric, and they feel very good afterwards. A hypnotherapist is guided by ethical considerations, so the Wellbeing of the client will always be the first consideration.

Does a hypnotist control your mind?

You cannot be made to do anything which you consider to be legally or morally wrong as your mind would reject any such suggestion. The hypnotherapist and the client are working in cooperation to achieve a goal which has been agreed with the client. It is therefore a matter not of “control” but of help or guidance towards an agreed destination. The intended result is that the client is given back control of their own minds - and as a result their feelings and emotions.

What if a hypnotherapist was to die or be taken ill while his client was in a trance?

A hypnotic trance is a very natural (and comfortable) state. If the hypnotherapist was to die (or, to choose a more cheerful example, fall asleep) the client would either, after a while, emerge spontaneously from the trance or possibly fall asleep.

What does it feel like when you are in a hypnotic trance?

The hypnotherapist will ensure that you are sitting or lying down in a comfortable position before inducing a trance. After you have been in trance for a little while you will probably feel a heaviness in your arms and legs, as though you do not wish to move them (although you know that you could move them if you needed to do so). You may also have a similar feeling in your eyelids.

Each person is different, and some may feel a sensation of floating. Your mind will become quite focused on what the hypnotherapist is saying, although you may find that your attention drifts and you cannot recall everything that has been said to you. Do not be concerned by this because it is your unconscious mind which needs to receive the message. Sometimes you may feel slightly irritated when you are emerged from the trance, because it was such a relaxing state to be in that you wanted to remain there.

What is the difference between hypnotherapy and stage hypnosis

The most obvious difference is the purpose of the event. A hypnotherapy session is intended to be therapeutic and beneficial for the client. Stage hypnosis is intended to be entertainment for the benefit of the audience. The people who go up on stage are willing accessories to the performance, and they know that their behaviour will cause laughter and entertainment for others.

They are usually selected as being not only good subjects for hypnosis, but also because of their naturally extroverted personalities. In other words those that are more than happy to be a part of the entertainment. Once again, the Hypnotist cannot make someone do something that is against their will.

Can children be hypnotised?

Yes, children are usually very good subjects for hypnosis. Because they have active imaginations they respond well to imaginary games and stories which will help them with behavioural change.

What is self-hypnosis?

Self-hypnosis is a perfectly safe, pleasant, non-toxic and often more effective alternative to tranquillisers or painkillers. Self-hypnosis allows you to rejuvenate your body and mind, leading to a greater sense of well being.
Many people have experienced a trance-like state many times in everyday life - although they may not have called it hypnosis. For example, if you've ever drifted off into a daydream, become totally engrossed in a book or project, or become absorbed in your thoughts while driving and missed a turning. The main difference between these sorts of trance and self-hypnosis are specific motivation and suggestions towards a goal. Self-hypnosis is deliberate and with a purpose.

Many believe that all hypnosis is self hypnosis as the subject or client always remains in control. The hypnotherapist is there only to guide the client into hypnosis, and in doing so teaches them a powerful tool they can use for themselves.

What does the medical profession think of hypnosis?

There are a number of doctors, dentists and psychiatrists who use hypnosis in their practice. This is perhaps more the case in the United States than in the UK. The British Medical Association confirmed 50 years ago that hypnosis was not only valid, but the treatment of choice for certain conditions.

Unfortunately, most doctors have received little training in the use of hypnosis. Also, GPs would find it difficult to employ hypnosis due to the short time which they are able to allocate to each patient. However, there appears to be growing acceptance of complementary medicine and some GPs will suggest that a patient should see a hypnotherapist if they feel that is the most helpful treatment. It is still unusual for the NHS to pay for such treatment.

The Royal Society of Medicine however does have a Hypnosis and Psychosomatic Medicine Section.

Are the benefits of hypnotherapy permanent?

Neither the therapist nor the client can know what events or influences there will be in the client’s future life. However, the intention is certainly that any desired change should be permanent. For example, smokers who wish to stop smoking will want to do so permanently. Because the hypnotherapist wants to help the client to achieve a permanent change for the better some work will often be done on ego strengthening, goal-setting and motivation in order that the client can reinforce the change themselves after the treatment has finished. The hypnotherapist wants the client to have a happy, independent life and not remain dependent on further sessions.

How many sessions will I need?

Until the problem has been defined and the goals of therapy set it is impossible to say how many sessions will be needed. It is sometimes the case that a client comes to talk about one issue and other problems emerge which are related and which require separate treatment. For example, a client might come to talk about overeating but discussion may reveal that the overeating is related to excessive stress at work, or to emotional issues, which need to be addressed before the task of changing eating habits can be tackled.

However, where hypnotherapy can help it can usually do so relatively quickly and treatment would almost certainly need less than 10 sessions, in fact generally speaking five or six sessions is the norm. Some simple matters, most notably smoking, can be resolved in a single session.

Past life regression

Past life regression involves taking a client back to a previous life while in a hypnotic trance. The client may or may not accept the truth of reincarnation. The life story which emerges comes from the client’s unconscious mind and may provide therapeutic benefits by revealing issues which the client may have difficulty discussing consciously. Because the client needs to know how to access their inner world the process of regression improves with practice. It is possible to carry out past life regression without the need for any particular therapeutic goal.

Do hypnotherapists have any codes of ethics?

Yes, all the main hypnotherapy bodies, such as the GHSC (General Hypnotherapy Standards Council) of which I am member, have a Code of Ethics.

Is there any statutory control over the practice of hypnotheapy?

There are a number of registers to which practising hypnotherapists may belong and each register sets standards for training, supervision, requires the maintenance of adequate public liability and professional indemnity insurance, and compliance with a code of ethics.

There are many Hypnotherapists, including myself, who are also registered with the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC), which is endorsed by the Department of Health, and which is intended as a means for providing a level of consumer protection.

Meet  Joel Cantor

Joel is a full time professional Hypnotherapist, Mindfulness-based stress reduction therapist and Trauma specialist.

He is professionally trained and insured and has spent well over a decade helping people just like you.

Joel helps his clients to stop smoking, reduce their anxiety and stress, overcome depression, phobias, fears and insomnia, increase their confidence, self esteem and lose weight.

He displays a relaxed and non judgemental approach and works with clients of all ages and genders, including children.

What our Clients Say



Saw Joel 3 weeks ago to stop smoking and have not touched a cigarette since. Don't even feel like smoking so that is all good. Well worth the trip from Bracknell
Paula - Bracknell


Walton on Thames

My 11 years old son is troubled with anxiety which at times has been very severe. With the pressures of SATs and a school trip abroad, Joel used hypnotherapy and relaxation techniques to prepare him. My son surprised his parents, teachers and friends with his calm, confident and mature approach to the challenges he faced.


Walton on Thames

Contacted Joel for my insomnia with great results after the second session. The techniques he gave me are incredibly effective. Thank you very much indeed

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