Category Archives: Myths and Misconceptions of Hypnosis

A series of articles discussing what hypnotherapy is NOT.

Hypnotherapy Myth # 4: Hypnosis is a Panacea

How committed are you to making a change in your life? Are you committed to doing the work to improve your life?

Are you willing to take the time and responsibility to make the change lasting and effective, or are you looking for a quick fix that will solve all of your problems?

If you answered the latter, hypnosis is not for you. When you do find the quick-fix, please write to me and let me know where you find it. I’ll be happy to bottle it with you so we can sell it to everyone else.

Evolving out of the misconception of control presented in my previous article, our topic for today is the myth that hypnosis is a panacea and can cure anything in just a session or two. To summarize that article, the hypnotist has no control over the client. He/she does not have any magical powers. The client is fully aware and fully in control throughout the session.

The choices that you make, both during and after your session, are yours. Hypnosis may help you make different decisions than you would have made without engaging in a session or sessions, but ultimately, you are in control of your choices.

I am merely a facilitator. I use hypnosis to bring my clients resolutions in regards to their issues. Just as with any other form of therapy, the client still has work to do in fully creating their positive outcome.

When my clients come to me, many ask, “So how many sessions do you think it will take (to fix my problem)?”

They look dissatisfied with me when I respond that it depends. It sounds like the answer of a waffling politician, but it is an honest one. Much of the client’s success in creating their outcome depends on them. They are looking for a quick solution and think hypnosis will provide it. They are asking for release from an issue that they have carried with them for years and just want it to magically go away.

In contrast, these same clients would not go to a psychiatrist or psychologist with the same problem and expect that practitioner to provide them with relief in just one visit. They would commit to months of years of weekly sessions to understand and solve their behavior.

How effective is hypnosis? Let’s look at the published results from Alfred A. Barrios, Ph.D published in Psychotherapy: Theory Research and Practice, Volume 7, Number 1, Spring, 1970:

  • Hypnotherapy — 93% success rate after 6 sessions
  • Behavior Therapy — 72% success rate after 22 sessions
  • Psychotherapy — 38% success rate after 600 sessions

Let’s look at this in terms of physics. Inertia is the tendency of a body to remain at rest or in motion. In many cases, the issues that a client comes to me with are superficial symptoms of a deeper problem. As we work together, different topics come to the surface. It is much like peeling an onion and finding new layers under the preceding one.

If the issue has been sleeping under the surface for years, it may take longer to resolve than one that has suddenly arisen.

Our goal is to get to the core belief that is at the heart of the problem. By resolving the negative core belief, the client is empowered to move forward with their life in a new, positive direction.

It is true that hypnosis will likely uncover and resolve the issue faster, because with hypnosis the client is being given direct access to his/her subconscious mind. The subconscious is where the issue is stored, where the beliefs and emotions that are driving the issue are stored and where the healing must take place. As seen in the statistics above, psychotherapy may eventually reach this point for the client through repetition of discussion, but it will take more time than a direct approach used in hypnotherapy.

In the end, the speed of the relief is relative the the desire and commitment of the client to resolve it. If the client has a mindset of success, they will achieve their goals faster than a client who sees challenges as larger than their achievement.

Consider this:

How long have you had a bad habit, such as smoking, that you want to be free of; or how long have you dreamed of fearlessly speaking in public? Maybe you have wanted to lose weight. For how long have you tried to lose, or lost and regained that same five, ten or twenty pounds?

I’m betting that the answer is numbered in years, possibly a decade or more.

Yet, as human beings, we expect change to occur overnight. There is a part of us that says, “Well, I want it now. Anything else is unacceptable.”

From this mindset, we create our pattern of failure. If a belief has been embedded in our mind for years, why do we think it should be altered immediately?

Mainly because we’ve been programmed over the years to expect quick results and, as human beings, we focus too much on what we don’t have rather than our successes.

If you are a pack-a-day smoker (that’s 20 cigarettes a day, for you non-smokers) and after your first hypnosis session you smoke 18 cigarettes, that’s a win. You’ve reduced your intake by 10%. Yet most people will view that as a failure because they wanted to quit cold-turkey. Instead of building on success, they focus on failure and remain in a downward spiral.

As with so much of life, we take out of it what we put in. If you are committed to improvement, you will be successful. I can provide you with tools to make the process easier.

It is my job to help my clients focus on success. Small steps or large ones, we will win together.

What habit do you want to change? Contact me at and we’ll discuss creating your winning mindset for success.

Daniel Olexa, CCHt

Daniel Olexa Hypnotherapy

Whole. New. YOU!


Hypnotherapy Myths #2 & 3

I Will Be Out of Control

Let’s talk about fear.

Fear is one of the biggest factors in limiting our achievements. Fear of heights keeps us from climbing mountains, fear of being alone keeps us trapped in broken relationships and fear of the unknown keeps us from changing our lives for the better.

Your comfort zone is not a soft couch on which you are meant to relax for the rest of your life. It is an egg from which you are supposed to break free as you grow past its boundaries. This shell is meant to be broken; it’s not meant to be an easy process, but it is a necessary one as we are created with the genetic drive to evolve.

Fear of what is on the other side of that shell keeps us sitting on our couches, literally and figuratively.

In this way, you could say that by remaining in your comfort zone you are currently not in control of your life. Your fear is controlling you; you are not controlling it.

How’s that workin’ for ya?

My job is to help my clients overcome their fears; to heal the memories and/or beliefs that impressed this emotion on their psyche. I help my clients to move forward in their lives feeling empowered and free of negative, limiting beliefs.

In my previous article on the myths and misconceptions about hypnosis, I discussed a person’s belief that they can’t be hypnotized.

This belief, as I have heard in my discussions, seems to be rooted in fear and misinformation. These fears actually compromise two of the misconceptions about my profession.

Myth #2: When in hypnosis you are out of control.

Myth #3: A person is under the hypnotherapist’s control and could be made to do or say anything. They could be made to go against their ethics and moral principles, possibly made to commit a crime.

Here is where stage hypnosis is truly a detriment to the profession of hypnotherapy. (Read my article on stage hypnosis v hypnotherapy here.

While stage hypnotism does bring awareness to hypnotherapy, it does not necessarily showcase the practice accurately.

What many people take away from a stage hypnotist’s show is the impression that the volunteers on stage were “under hypnosis” or “under the control of the hypnotist.”

The saw these people acting in strange ways, doing things that they would not normally do if they were conscious. This gives the impression that the hypnotist is controlling them, that they are acting out HIS suggestions, not acting of their own free will.

Based on observation alone, it is very understandable how these people arrived at this impression.

This impression is unfortunately very inaccurate.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “All publicity is good publicity.” In this case, not so much.

Yes, stage hypnosis does bring a level of awareness to hypnosis in general. But, stage hypnosis creates barriers of fear in people who could be helped by hypnotherapy. They fear acting foolish or blurting out some deep, dark, embarrassing secret while hypnotized.

When we examine a performance more deeply, we may find that the shy volunteer who danced like an uncoordinated Baryshnikov actually has a deep-seated desire to be the center of attention. Her conscious mind, from years of hearing limiting beliefs, tells her she cannot shine like a star, she must stay in the background, so she lives quietly and dreams in silence.

That dream deep inside her wants to be expressed. So she volunteered for the stage. She danced her dream and was probably told that she would not remember it. That to me is sad. This person should be empowered to remember her experience, no matter how awkward, in a positive light – she stepped forward, came out of her personal shadow and expressed her inner desire. That is a step in the right direction.

To remove that memory from her is cruel. To leave it to her friends to relate her behavior to her will probably just reinforce the negative internal talk that she has heard for years, voices such as, “See, you looked foolish,” “they all laughed at you,” or “you looked so bad up there.”

And that leads us to the realities of hypnosis and hypnotherapy:

You cannot be hypnotized against you will. You choose to go into the state and you are in full control and fully aware the entire time you are in the state.

Did you notice that I did not use the phrase, “under hypnosis?” That’s because clients are not “under” anything. This phrase suggests a loss of control, and creates the impression that the volunteer/client is under the control of the hypnotist.

The volunteer/client is making an active choice to enter into the state of hypnosis. In hypnotherapy, they do so with the goal of healing. If at any time they choose to end the session and walk out, they are free to do so and can do so. They simply need to open their eyes, stand up and put one foot in front of the other.

Our second fact for today: You cannot be hypnotized to do something that is against your moral/ethical principles.

Either while in the state or after (with a post-hypnotic suggestion), the client cannot be made to act outside of their moral code. They cannot be made to lie/cheat/steal/murder/maim/harm if those tendencies are not part of their personal code.

You also won’t say something that you don’t want to reveal. If you have a deep, dark secret that you have never told anyone, you are not going to blurt it out while in hypnosis. If it happens to relate to what you are seeking help to heal, you will reveal it as it becomes necessary for the healing to occur. You will NOT just put it on the table for no reason.

I will restate this again, just to make it abundantly clear: YOU are in full control when you are in the state of hypnosis. You are fully aware of everything around you and you choose to remain in the state or leave it. You are NOT under the control of anyone other than yourself.

Hypnotherapy can help in resolving many issues from our pasts. It can typically do so much faster than other forms of mental therapy because we are addressing the root of negative beliefs and emotions and transforming them into empowering, positive thoughts.

How can I help you to overcome fear? Visit my website, or write me at

Daniel Olexa, CCHt
Daniel Olexa Hypnotherapy

Whole. New. YOU.


Hypnotherapy Myth #1

I Can’t Be Hypnotized

Before we go further into this series of articles on the myths and misconceptions of hypnosis, it’s important for us to define the term.

The Institute for Interpersonal Hypnotherapy defines hypnosis as “A natural, yet altered, state of mind where communication and responsiveness with the subconscious mind is present.”

For this article, the key word that I will focus on from this definition is “natural.” You have probably experienced this state without being aware of it. Later in this article you’ll be presented with an illustration of everyday hypnosis that may resonate with you.

As mentioned in my first article in this series, one of the most common responses that I receive when I tell someone that I am a hypnotherapist is, “I don’t think I can be hypnotized.”

When I casually ask them why they believe that, I discover that there are two common replies.

The first group says that they have tried hypnotherapy, or maybe have been part of a stage hypnotist’s show, and the practitioner was unable to “put them under.” (Their words, not mine – I am not a fan of that language and will discuss it in a later article.)

The second group becomes defensive.

They say that they never have been hypnotized and just don’t think that it could be done to them. Their tone and body language become defiant and defensive, as though they need to ward off some magical trick that I could use to break down their defenses.

Their conviction seems to come from the misunderstanding that the hypnotherapist has some sort of mystical power, and therefore control over them. They believe that their will to resist entering the hypnotic state is more powerful than the hypnotherapist’s “mystical” abilities.

At least on that point they are partially correct: If they don’t want to go into the hypnotic state, they will not enter the hypnotic state. They are incorrect in assuming that I have mystical powers.

To reduce their defensiveness, I ask them about their experiences. With each objection, I simply say, “I understand where you are coming from. That’s a common misconception about what I do.”

I explain that I, as a hypnotist, have no power over them; that if they are not willing to enter into the state, I can’t make them do it.

I begin to frame the conversation in a way that resonates with them: Have they ever gone to see a specialist for anything? Maybe a physician, a mechanic or a lawyer… they went to that provider with a specific goal in mind. They went there to solve a problem.

I explain that my clients are doing the same thing. They come to me as people seeking help and believe that hypnotherapy is the tool that will aid them in solving their problem. I am there to provide this tool and facilitate solutions for them.

When I further the conversation and ask this person if they have ever experienced driving to a familiar location, maybe leaving work to go home. Instead of remembering the entire trip, they suddenly find themselves pulling into their driveway with no recollection of how they got there.

They typically say that they have had that experience. Possibly more than once.

They are shocked to learn that what wrote off as being distracted or day-dreaming, is actually a form of hypnosis.

Their conscious mind stepped aside while they were driving. All was safe, their subconscious was in full control. Had an emergency occurred, maybe a car cutting them off, they would have snapped back immediately, been in full control and able to respond consciously to the need-at-hand.

Maybe as they started their drive they were distracted by a problem or had other things on their mind such as creating a presentation, their child’s birthday or they forgot that day was their anniversary. As their mind wandered to focus on that issue, they continued to drive home, returning to full waking awareness when they arrive at their door.

This discussion begins to soften their demeanor. They become more interested in learning more – after all, if they’ve become hypnotized by themselves, it can’t be all that bad, right?

It is estimated that between 75% and 90% of the population can be hypnotized. A variety of reasons exist for the range that cannot reach the state – variables from mental limitations to physical limitations such as deafness. But if a person is willing, and they trust the hypnotherapist, they most likely can be hypnotized. It may take a few sessions for them to allow themselves to reach deeper states for more advanced techniques, but as they learn to trust the provider, their experience with, and the effectiveness of, the sessions will grow.

I’ve found that effective hypnotherapy is all about rapport. The willingness of my client to pick up the phone, type an e-mail and/or walk in my door shows that they are interested in making a change to their life. My job is to understand their goals and provide the tools to help them achieve that outcome.

The more rapport that I build with them through my intake interview, the more trust I create. Increased trust leads to increased willingness.

I also build belief and a “yes mindset.” The client must believe that hypnotherapy can help them and be willing to move forward at each stage of the process.

All of these steps lead to more effective inductions, deeper healing and increased success for my clients in reaching their goals.

Before we end this discussion, do you remember the other group I mentioned at the beginning of this article? The group that had tried hypnosis, but did not “go under”?

I have worked with many of them after our impromptu discussion. I have yet to find one that could not reach the hypnotic state. They just needed to trust and believe in the person with whom they were working.

Let’s talk about your experience with hypnosis and hypnotherapy. Send me an e-mail at


Stage Hypnosis v. Hypnotherapy: Addressing The Myths of Hypnotism


There are a number of hypnotists who practice both stage hypnotism and hypnotherapy as part of their career. In this article, I do not mean to disparage their work. I am writing about my observations regarding how stage hypnotism creates barriers of misinformation that keep potential clients from seeking the help of a qualified hypnotherapist.

This is the first of several articles outlining the myths and misconceptions of hypnosis and hypnotherapy.

Sit back, take a deep breath and enjoy.

When I tell people that I am a hypnotherapist, I receive a variety of responses ranging from, “Wow, that’s cool. I’ve always wanted to try that,” to “I saw a hypnotist on a cruise. He had my husband acting like a chicken on the stage. I don’t think I could ever be hypnotized. I wouldn’t want to act like that.”

And therein lies the distinction between the work of a stage hypnotist and a hypnotherapist. This is an important distinction, one that must be made clear to the uniformed public.

The job of a stage hypnotist is to entertain. The job of a hypnotherapist is to heal. The public recognizes the similarities in process, but can fail to see the difference in goals and outcomes.

The next concern that typically arises, also based within this distinction, is the potential client’s concern that they will not remember anything. This is a common misconception of what hypnosis is and the purpose of a hypnotherapy session.

The hypnotist, as an entertainer, works with a participant for only a few minutes. The person is onstage to perform the suggestions that are given to him/her from the hypnotist. In many cases, this person acts on stage in a way that is very different from how they present themselves in the rest of their life. Friends who see this display commonly say, “I’ve never seen you act like that before,” and a mistaken belief is created that the hypnotist has a power over his “subjects.”

This is an illusion. It is also a detriment to the practice of hypnotherapy.

Let’s pretend that you are on a cruise. After dinner, you go to the theater to see the night’s entertainment. It is a hypnotist. For the sake of this illustration, let’s assume that you are shy, but you have an interest in hypnotism, so you decide to sit and enjoy the show.

The entertainer picks you out of the crowd to come to the stage. You are there for fifteen minutes, but do not remember a thing; only a few seconds seem to have passed.

If you were on a stage acting foolishly, would you want to remember it, particularly if you tended to be shy and reserved in your public life? Probably not. You’ve written a story for yourself that says you do not like to be the center of attention.

Yet you volunteered to go to the stage. Why?

Do not say, “Well, he picked me out of the audience. I had to go.” No, you did not. You chose to go. You were in full control of your choice to sit in your chair or walk to the stage. You chose to walk to the stage.


Because inside of you is a desire to be recognized. It is a common, and necessary, part of the human psyche. We all crave some level of attention. Yet, we write stories for ourselves based on our experiences that tell us we do not deserve or do not want that attention (or the trappings that may come with it).

On stage, the hypnotist, with your consent, connects with your subconscious mind and allows that inner-performer to come out and play. That’s great, but does it have a long-lasting, positive effect?

If you are told that you will not remember anything that occurred onstage, probably not. When you get back to your seat, your friends will tell you about all the crazy things you did while in hypnosis and, in your conscious mind, probably become just a little frightened that you acted out in this way.

You go home and either you or you friends recount the story to more people who think that you were under someone’s control. They decide write off hypnosis as a scary proposition because they want to always be in control of themselves.

The goal of hypnotherapy is for you to reframe and remember the changes that you are making to your story.

I work with my clients based upon an agreement that we make to each other. My clients come to me to change something about themselves. We agree that we will work together to address their issue and resolve it.

This is a key difference between entertainment and healing. I am here to help my client, not entertain the rest of the room.

As a hypnotherapist, my job is to promote healing, long-lasting healing. Healing that occurs when the deep, inner, negative belief that my client holds about themselves are reframed, released and turned into positive beliefs.

At the end of every session, as part of my de-hypnotizing process, I give my client the suggestion that they will remember the entire session.

To me, it is disingenuous to do otherwise. My clients come to me to change something that they don’t like in their life. For the best results, at the end of our session(s) they need to remember how they reframed that issue and how they are going to move forward with a positive outlook.

What are your thoughts or experiences with hypnosis and hypnotherapy? Write to me at or call me to book a session. I promise you will not feel foolish afterwards.