What to Expect with Hypnosis... Your First Session
What You Can Expect… Before We Meet
By its nature, hypnosis is very personal. After all, you want to be comfortable with a hypnotherapist if you’ll be sharing thoughts, feelings, and experiences you may never even have shared with anyone else before.
Also, you may be new to hypnosis. And so it’s important to clear away common misconceptions because movies and stage shows are, quite possibly, a person’s only frame of reference.
(While I believe there’s a place for mirth and fun with the unconscious mind, when it comes to making positive life changes, Hollywood and Las Vegas offer us few insights into hypnotherapy-based hypnosis)
Our First Phone Conversation or Video Chat
In addition to asking you why you are interested in using hypnosis (and why at this time in your life), I’ll also make sure to:
- Explain what hypnosis is using examples from everyday life that any adult can relate to
- Debunk various myths so there’s no place for fear in the hypnotherapy process
- Set expectations so it’s clear once you are hypnotized, that you were, indeed, hypnotized
Another thing I encourage new clients to do is correspond with me in email before our first session takes place. It’s not a requirement. It’s just a suggestion with the intention of creating optimal conditions for a breakthrough more quickly.
There are several reasons why putting your thoughts in an email is a good idea. Writing, like reading, is a hypnotic interlude of sorts. When you sit down to write, you’ll think of your issue in a different light.
Thoughts which were fleeting or buried when you revisited the issue in your mind over the course of your daily comings and goings can surface in such a way as to provide you with new insights which will serve you well when we meet.
If you find writing challenging, here are some simple techniques for gathering your thoughts.
Technique 1: If You're Unsure Where to Begin with Hypnosis (Let the 4Qs Help)
This approach is good to use if you’re not entirely clear on what you want to address. Or, you are clear on what you want to address, but it’s something ambiguous or emotional and not a habit or some narrowly defined issue.
To get started, draw a big square on paper or create one in a word processor. Next, divide the square into 4 quadrants. Give a label to each quadrant: Spiritual, Mental, Emotional, Physical.
From this point forward, freely associate or brainstorm your issue. As thoughts come to mind, decide which quadrant the thought belongs to and jot down a word or two which captures its essence. By thinking in these terms, it helps not only reveal the issue, but to strengthen your understanding of the outcomes you’d like to achieve with hypnosis.
This is very important because the more you can tangibly define the results you want from hypnosis; the easier it will be for your unconscious mind to manifest them… more easily… with less effort… sooner.
Technique 2: If You Want Hypnosis to Address Something Specific (Use the 5Ws)
The 5Ws are: who, what, where, when and why. Let’s use overeating as an example.
- Who could include people who are present when you engage in the habit like overeating at family gatherings.
- What could be the act of the habit itself like overeating when already full.
- Where might be situational such as overeating while watching TV.
- When may be overeating after 7pm.
- Why could address motivations along the lines of feeling rewarded or preventing interest from the opposite sex. Why is something you can approach from many angles.
What You Can Expect… When We Meet
Before Hypnosis Begins
More often than not, hypnosis sessions follow a certain structure. Typically, it’s a conversational interview or dialog followed by hypnosis followed by a wrap-up. The conversation we have before hypnosis can run anywhere from 45 – 90 minutes. On our first session, there’s a questionnaire to fill out which covers a wide range of considerations.
For example, if a person is on prescription medications or has health issues which can influence their outlook on the situation, these are worth knowing. The questionnaire also inquires about whether there have been any major life events within the past 12 months and provides a list of possibilities to spur one’s memory. If a person is coming off of a divorce or the death of a loved one, these can have an influence. There are also some questions around spirituality so your preferred words are used during hypnosis.
While the questionnaire serves to begin our dialog, it also helps us transition into talking about the issue you’d like to address. Depending on the issue, your experience with it and your current understanding of it, our conversation is likely to be very fluid.
As you share your thoughts, I am taking notes. Lots of notes. And I’ll be asking questions designed to offer multiple ways of looking at the issue. If the issue or the angle we’re exploring is something I have firsthand or secondhand experience with, I may share a story of transformation that, in and of itself, has healing qualities, metaphorically.
As such, healing often begins before the hypnosis even starts. A major theme, time and again, is self-absolution. To stop blaming ourselves for the past because we lacked the perspective we’ve gained in the time since often empowers us to take charge in the now. My philosophy of hypnosis discusses this idea and related themes in more depth. And so, our conversation can be structured or it can be free form depending on what’s the more healing way to go.
Time for Hypnosis
Hypnosis itself is usually about 20-25 minutes in length. It can vary from 15 to 30 minutes however; these are more the exception than the rule. You are given your choice of continuing to sit upright or recline.
After 3pm, I may gently encourage folks to remain upright because the possibility of falling asleep is greater after 3 pm when the body is already preparing for evening rest.
(If you fall asleep during hypnosis, you do not get the benefit of the suggestions because if this were true, wouldn’t all the world’s college students cram for exams by taking naps to audiobooks? This serves as one more reason why I record the vast majority of sessions so those suggestions you want make their way into the unconscious later if not sooner.)
Next is the hypnotic induction. An induction is the actual transition from your current state into hypnotic trance. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of ways to enter trance. Ultimately, we can all be hypnotized.
This is where hypnosis is as much art as it is science. And for this reason, I adapt the induction based on many variables. These include your previous experience with hypnosis, what you’ve shared during our conversation, your tendency towards the emotional versus the logical, and your body language and breathing, for starters.
Certain common elements in our inductions will involve eye-closure, relaxed breathing, countdowns that deepen relaxation and comfort, and visitation to places you’ve told me you find calming and joyful. At some point, it will be clear you are in a state of deep, hypnotic trance.
This is where suggestions for change come into play. They may be direct suggestions or they may be woven into stories. Which approach to take will have a lot to do with whether you are embracing change enthusiastically or with well-meaning hesitation.
It is this segment of the hypnosis where we’ll spend most of our time. Once your unconscious mind has had suggestions made from a number of different angles, contexts and phrasings, it will be time to come back to the room, feeling refreshed, unburdened and deeply empowered.
This return from hypnosis is shorter than the induction. If you’re blissing out because it’s so relaxing and freeing, the return may take longer : )
Usually, we’ll record the hypnotic portion of the session. I'll make an MP3 file so you can place the audio on your computer, tablet, phone or MP3 player. (If you do not have an online means of accessing your audio, I will make a CD and give it to you before you leave.)
By having your audios on your portable device, it sets you up for success… in several ways. A portable device lets you experiment with your hypnosis listening along three dimensions. One is time of day. No particular time of day is better than any other from a therapeutic standpoint. So, listen to your audios at different times and see what you enjoy most.
Another dimension is location. Maybe you like your hypnosis on a couch in the den or perhaps, your bedroom is the better option. So long as it’s not a moving vehicle, it can only help!
Third is body position. Seated upright or reclined, the choice is yours. Whichever you appreciate more. Of course, you’ll want to make sure you hear the whole recording so you derive the greatest benefit from it.
Naturally, the more you listen to your audios between sessions, the more progress you experience. This is because your unconscious mind needs reinforcement. Often times, we are bombarded with negative messages that do not serve our highest good and so, listening to your audios helps counterbalance influences from the media, unsupportive people in your life, and so on.
The key is to listen enough to make the transformation you seek. If a person injured themselves and needed a cast, they realize the cast is not to be worn forever. And so it is with your hypnosis audios. They are a bridge to the next edition of you… happier, more resilient, better able to deal… only it’s fun where a cast isn’t and the side effects of listening regularly are less stress and better sleep!
After hypnosis, we’ll wrap up any loose ends, book your next session (if we haven’t already) and I’ll make your recording accessible within 24 hours of your session.