Monday, March 22, 2004, Letter to the Editor – Stockton Record

The Record’s recent article on hypnotherapy sparked interest in a good number of readers, many of whom have called our office. It is our policy to begin each session with an explanation of hypnosis, which includes dispelling the misconceptions that arise from entertainers who use it for fun. The edited version of that explanation in print left callers somewhat confused. For clarification purposes, the following information may help other readers make better sense of it.

An entertainer will usually do some preliminary steps with the audience to find people who are highly cooperative, or will ask for volunteers. With the select group on stage, the hypnotist will then send a few back to their seats. The assumption becomes that these people “cannot be hypnotized,” which is not necessarily the case. (The only people who cannot be hypnotized are those with very low intelligence, with brain damage, with some types of serious mental disorder, and those who are not willing to cooperate.)

Because no one likes to be rejected, the people remaining onstage become more highly motivated to follow important instructions, to avoid also being sent away. A stage hypnotist wants to work only with those who are fast, easy , responsive to a single technique, and visually impressive.

In a clinical setting also, some hypnotherapists use just one technique; and not everyone will respond to it. When a client doesn’t have success, the therapist will often indicate this person “cannot be hypnotized,” rather than taking responsibility for his or her own limited skills.

Even when a person has, in fact, drifted into the safe and natural brainwave pattern associated with hypnosis, they may not realize it. It doesn’t feel the way it looks on TV or at the fair; and many changes that result from hypnotherapy simply feel normal so, again, a person may not believe they were hypnotized. Sometimes a person in hypnosis will not accept suggestions for a variety of reasons, so their desired change may not happen. The more highly motivated a person is to make those changes, the higher their odds of success.

Human behavior is complex, however. This is why we have found that one out of every thirty clients needs more help. We send a hypnosis CD home to reinforce each session, and to ensure lasting success in the face of changing circumstances that occur over time.

We hope this letter will help your readers better understand a therapeutic modality that is highly effective and too often misunderstood.

Frank & Ginny Lucas