Questions and Answers

What is the difference between Hypnosis or Hypnotherapy and traditional talk therapy?

The difference between traditional counseling with a psychologist and going to a hypnotherapist can be significant. The psychologist is likely to use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or another form of talk therapy. Some of these therapies can be effective. Some are rapid therapies and some are not. While this is an oversimplification, talk therapy focuses on logically understanding the problem and shifting perceptions of the problem or learning to live with the problem. Most talk therapists do not practice brief therapy techniques. Some do.

My experience is that most of my clients consciously understand that they have a problem, but still can’t control that problem. For example, the woman eats the chocolate cake at night while watching “The Biggest Loser,” feeling guilty about eating the chocolate because she knows on one level that she shouldn’t be doing it; on another level, she knows the cake soothes her emotions. The man looks at the skin magazine knowing his wife is offended by his behavior; on one level he wants to stop, on another, he seems drawn to the behavior. The smoker smokes, in spite of the constant bombardment from his doctor and the media about the ill effects of smoking.

The main goal of hypnotherapy as I practice it is to get your conscious mind and your subconscious or unconscious mind to work together. Right now, many people are conflicted between their logical or rational mind and the emotional mind. Hypnotherapy has incredibly powerful tools to solve that kind of problem.

I don’t want to say that one therapy is better than another therapy, but what I do is quite different than what you will find in most psychologists’ offices. I do think that the therapy matters less than the therapist. If you have a hypnotherapist who doesn’t know what he or she is doing and a great psychologist who does CBT, you are likely to get good results with the better, more experienced practitioner. The opposite is also true. Rather than looking at what I do in opposition to the field of psychology, I view myself as a powerful complement and enjoy working with a good talk therapist to help a client change the way they want to change.

The logical conscious mind and your emotional unconscious mind have very different needs, however. In my opinion the fastest way to resolve emotional, subconscious conflicts is to work with a competently trained hypnotherapist–but that is my bias based on what I do and on the amazing, fast results I have seen with the majority of my clients.

That is what we do at Northern Utah Hypnosis Center — Utilize Hypnotherapy, NLP & EFT Tapping (and other advanced techniques for transformation) to help you make the changes that you want to make as quickly as you can.

Does Insurance Cover Hypnosis?

Most insurance will not pay for hypnosis. I do not bill insurance. If your insurance covers hypnotherapy, I would be happy to give you the information you need to get reimbursement. If you have a flexible spending account or a health savings account, it might help pay for your sessions and you will have to contact your flexible spending plan coordinator for confirmation.

Please Describe Your Training.

Let me be clear about who I am and am not. I am not a psychologist or licensed mental health provider. I am not medically trained. I do not hold a degree in any kind of mental health therapy. A psychiatrist is a doctor that diagnoses and treats people with mental health disorders, using a mixture of medications and possibly psychotherapy, although the latter is becoming less common among psychiatrists. A psychologist, social worker or licensed clinical therapist is someone who practices “psychotherapy,” usually diagnosing and treating mental health disorders. My services are non-diagnostic and are a complement to standard therapies when a client has a diagnosed mental disorder. So while I don’t diagnose, a licensed mental health provider may refer me one of his patients so that I can assist with hypnosis, etc, to achieve the therapeutic ends that that provider established for his patient. So to be clear, I only work with diagnosed disease when I am under the supervision and referral of a licensed mental health provider. Most people do not have existing mental health disease. Those are the people that I help most commonly. I help ordinary people overcome ordinary problems and when mental health or physical disorders exist, I work WITH their doctor or psychologist, under their referral.

If you have existing mental health disease, we should first contact your doctor before using hypnosis and I can help you do that.

I am a hypnotist by training and, as of June 2011, have done approximately 1500 formal hours of training in hypnosis and hypnotic therapy techniques, Neuro Linguistic Programming, Time Line Therapy (TM) and the Emotional Freedom Technique (and more than twice that in solo study). I am currently enrolled in another 300 hours of training programs that I will complete during 2011. All of these interventions that I use MIGHT be used in the medical or psychological community, but generally are considered to be complimentary and alternative practices.

I have seen approximately 3000 hours of clients over three years. As a hypnotist, I hold certifications with the Hypnotherapists Union (AFL-CIO), The American Hypnosis Association, The National Guild of Hypnotists, The International Medical and Dental Hypnotherapy Association (R), the American Board of Neuro Linguistic Programming and the Time Line Therapy Association (TM). I have also had two articles on hypnosis published in a hypnosis column called “Subconsciously Speaking.” I am writing up a third case study now for the same column. The editor of the column is a psychologist who lives on the east coast.

How Quickly Does Hypnosis/Change Take to Work?

In terms of length of therapy, I am here as long or as short as you need me. Change takes as long as it takes–and most of the time it happens very quickly. In general, what I do is considered a brief intervention and when many goals exist, of course, we have to focus on one change at a time. More than twenty times this year, I have helped people achieve a change in as little as one session. Other problems are more complex and require more time to solve. If you contact me, I would be happy to give you an “average” range of sessions based on the nature of your issue. However, every individual is different and each problem is different, so you may not be average! Your change might be much quicker or may take more time. My promise is to help you get the results you want as quickly as we can!

How Does Hypnosis Work Over the Phone?

Over the phone, I have to rely on your verbal feedback for confirmation of hypnosis (Yes you can talk during hypnosis!). So you essentially tell me how you are feeling. For example, I might ask, “If ten represents the deepest state of hypnosis you can imagine, do you feel deeper than a three?” Although many people go deeper and surprise themselves, for most of what we will do together, you don’t need more than a two out of ten in terms of subjective hypnotic depth, which almost everyone can accomplish on a first session, even over the phone! In short, to make lasting hypnotic changes, hypnotic depth is relatively unimportant.

How does hypnosis help people lose weight?

I had a someone tell me once, “Weight loss is nothing more than pure physics! You need to burn more energy than you consume.” I thought it was interesting that this person was almost 75 Lbs overweight. Evidently, he didn’t have a good grasp of physics or there is more to weight loss than simple math. Hypnosis addresses weight loss directly at its root and is effective because it rapidly and powerfully addresses the subconscious causes behind the weight gain: lack of motivation, limiting or conflicting beliefs, habits, emotional eating patterns, cravings, etc.

If you use the Emotional Freedom Technique, do you have to be specific or can you lump related memories together?

This technique is effective in relationship to how specific you are with the memories, so it is best to think of one specific incident and tap on it until the feeling has been neutralized for that memory and then move to another memory. For example, you might start with the specific memories connected to one person and tap until there is no more bad feelings connected to that person anymore in any memory you might have? So let’s say that person’s name is “Jenny”, think of the three or four most painful memories and tap on them until the pain is gone and then move on to the next person and set of memories.

What percentage of people can’t be hypnotized?

Most experts say that the following groups of people have a more difficult time entering into the hypnotic state.
• Small children who are not capable of focusing their attention. I have successfully work with children down to the age 4. Ideally, a child needs to be able to pay attention for more than about 3 min. to be hypnotized.
• Those that have suffered severe organic brain damage and cannot concentrate.
• Those that have a very low IQ, an IQ below 70. I have worked successfully with a client that had an IQ in the mid-60s. While the client was more difficult to work with, the client did learn to enter the hypnotic state.
• Someone who is chemically impaired to the point where they cannot concentrate or hold a conversation (This can happen on legal and illegal substances).
• Someone who DOES NOT WANT to be hypnotized.

I believe that ALL hypnosis is self hypnosis. While I have had people that experienced difficulty in learning self hypnosis on a first session (less than one in twenty), I’ve never had someone work with me over several sessions that was not able to learn to go into a trance. I do specialize in change techniques that do not require the state of hypnosis. Principally, I’m an expert in Neuro Linguistic Programming and Time Line Therapy (TM), neither of which rely on the hypnotic state to work. I also have extensive training in the Emotional Freedom Technique, which is like acupuncture for the emotions (without the needles). EFT also does not rely on the hypnotic state to work.

Is it possible for someone to not come out of hypnosis?

No. It is not possible to get stuck in hypnosis, contrary to what Hollywood might portray. Hypnosis is a normal, natural state. Many people believe that hypnosis is related to the hypnagogic and hypnopompic states that immediately precede and follow sleep. Just as people don’t get stuck in sleep, people don’t get stuck in hypnosis. People who go deep into a hypnotic state (Eg. the Esdaile state) might feel so good that they don’t want the trance to end because they feel a sense of euphoria that is characteristic of VERY deep trance and do not want to end the trance experience. Eventually, that person will either fall asleep or emerge from trance once the euphoria passes, in most cases within a couple of minutes, if a skilled hypnotist helps them emerge.

What are the side effects from hypnosis?
Usually the side effects from hypnosis are powerful personal change and a sense of well being. Hypnosis is a totally naturally occuring state of mind, so side effects are rare. The side effects that do happen, tend to be related to an activation of the parasympathetic response (rest/relaxation or satiation experiences). For example, someone might experience their heart rate slowing down, their blood pressure reducing, the person might perceive time speeding up or slowing down. Because of these changes, I generally recommend that people do not stand up too quickly immediately after trance, as standing too quickly could cause dizziness or a headaches in rare cases. As long as the person hypnotized spends several seconds to several minutes allowing themselves to transition from the hypnotic state to the regular conscious state, the side effects from emerging are incredibly rare. Sometimes, when profound change work takes place, there can be an effect that seems to last up to several hours after trance termination. While the brain is integrating change at the deepest level the client may notice up to several hours of difficulty concentrating. I have never had a client report this feeling lasting longer than 2 to 3 hours. I have only ever had a client experience this feeling after positively making a powerful personal change.

What are your most common type of clients?

Smoking, weight loss clients and performance enhancement (sales/sports) represent approximately 40% of my clients most weeks.

What are your most unusual type of clients?

I don’t have any unusual clients. Certain things are more rare. We are not only our behaviors. We are all much more than our behaviors. Sometimes, a very good person can be struggling with a very difficult or unique problem. Often, I feel like Obi-Wan Kenobi. I have clients that come to me after they have tried every mainstream solution they can imagine. About once a week, someone says to me, “I have tried everything to solve this problem. This is the last thing that I’m going to try and then going to give up.” Most of the time, I can help those people. There is hope.

What if I am too embarrassed to tell you what the problem is?

I am an expert in “content free” interventions.  This means that sometimes we have lived through things that are so hurtful or embarrassing that we don’t want to talk about them.  In a content free intervention, I wouldn’t need to know the details of the problem, just the emotions involved.  For example, you might tell me that you are afraid of something, yet not tell me what the fear is about.  You might tell me that you are embarrassed, but not tell me what the embarrassment is about.  You might tell me that you feel shame, and without knowing the source of the shame, I can help you get rid of it.  You might tell me that you feel compelled to do something, yet not tell me the nature of the compulsion.  As long as we work together to define some common ground and boundaries, I can work with most negative memories in a “content free way.”

How does hypnosis actually work?
One way of thinking about hypnosis is that it is related to our natural ability to focus our attention.  For example, an athlete in the “zone” is able to focus his attention on the game at hand to the exclusion of everything else.  For a moment, the world fades away and only the ball and the hoop exist.
Another example of naturally occurring hypnosis, or focused attention, is daydreaming.  I am not sure if you have ever been in a really boring class or a meeting that just seemed to last for-ev-er.    Perhaps you started to daydream.  Suddenly, your attention became so focused on your inner world that things started to disappear in the outer world.  Before long, you were sitting on the beach in Hawaii or hiking a favorite mountain trail.  Maybe you were so completely engrossed in your daydream, focusing all of your attention on your inside world, that when someone asked you a question, you realized that you had no idea what was actually going on in the outside world.
Or maybe you, like me, have been reading a novel and found that you become so engrossed in the book that everything else fades into the background.  All of these experiences are examples of the focused attention that is characteristic of the hypnotic state.
To quote one of my teachers, Dan Cleary CH, “Hypnosis is a method by which we can alter our state of awareness, allowing us to focus on issues of our choosing.   Hypnosis is a tool which we can utilize to enhance or enable whatever we set our minds to accomplish…. In the hypnotic state we can access the subconscious mind to implement, at the most effective level, the changes we desire.”
Have you ever heard someone say that we only use a small fraction of our mind?  When I was younger, I heard some expert say that the average person uses less than 10 percent of the mind’s capacity.  I used to wonder, “What is the other 90 percent doing, if we only use 10 percent of our mind?”  Hypnosis is a method of focusing the attention in such a way to harness, utilize and direct that other 90 percent of the mind.

Why is Hypnosis Effective?
As noted above, hypnosis is simply a state of mind where the attention is focused and the subconscious mind can be accessed.  So hypnosis in and of itself is not necessarily therapeutically effective.  To produce a therapeutic effect, hypnosis must be paired with effective strategies for change.
Hypnotism is the study of the use of hypnosis paired with effective change strategies.  For example, I could teach the majority of you to produce a hypnotic state in another person in under ten hours.  Some of you would learn much more quickly.  I routinely teach my clients to do self hypnosis in under thirty minutes.
However, even after learning the basics of hypnotic induction, most of you would not be able to help someone conquer a fear or overcome a bad habit because you would not yet know how to effectively utilize the trance state to produce change.  The commitment to help people overcome their problems and to improve their lives in an effective manner is a lifelong study and there are many different schools of thought and much research is being done on what kind of change techniques are effective for different types of problems.   My approach to change has been heavily influenced by a number of cognitive behavioral change techniques, a number of brief therapy interventions, and by hypnotic insight approaches.  However, I have studied with most of the major hypnotic schools of thought and have a wide range of strategies at my disposal to help the individuals that come in to my office.
My son just went into the doctor for a terrible pain in his right knee that turned out to be septic bursitis (he is doing much better now).  The doctor considered using a needle and syringe to aspirate fluid from the bursa.  Several days earlier, that same son was at the dentist and had a Novocain injection before a tooth was repaired.
Needles and syringes can be used in many ways in medicine and dentistry.  Perhaps sometimes a  needle is used to aspirate fluid.  Other times, it is used to inject a numbing agent.  Yet other times, it may deliver an antibiotic.  No one would confuse the needle and the syringe with the medicine inside.  In a similar fashion, hypnosis is simply a vehicle to deliver and amplify the techniques to help a person change their life and reach their personal goals!

What is that “weird” feeling that some people get after a hypnotic session?
Hypnosis is a naturally occurring state of mind, so side effects are rare. The side effects that do happen tend to be related to an activation of the parasympathetic response—the rest and relax response or what psychologists call “satiation experiences.” For example, someone might experience his heart rate slowing down, his blood pressure reducing, or might perceive time speeding up or slowing down. Because of these changes, I generally recommend that people do not stand up too quickly immediately after a hypnotic session, as standing too quickly could cause dizziness or a headaches in rare cases. As long as the person hypnotized spends several seconds to several minutes allowing himself to transition from the hypnotic state, the side effects from emerging are incredibly rare.
Sometimes, when profound change work takes place, there can be an after effect that lasts up to several hours after trance termination. While the brain is integrating change at the deepest level the client may notice up to several hours of foggy thinking or perhaps a powerful sense of well being or euphoria. I have never had a client report this powerful after effect lasting longer than several hours.  Most clients feel great upon trance termination and are feeling normal within two to three minutes of emerging from trance.

Please identify situations where hypnosis would help apart from those you have already identified.
At one point, I handed out a worksheet that had 156 uses for hypnosis.  There are many potential uses for hypnotism.  Let me list several here, although this is not a comprehensive list.  Because I am not a medical doctor or psychologist, some of these services require a medical, dental, mental health, or chiropractic referral, depending on the nature of the condition and the origin of the symptom *.
·         Break a bad habit
·         Relieve stress
·         Stop smoking
·         Eliminate cravings
·         Lose Weight
·        Conquer fears (public speaking, fear of flying, etc)
·        Increase confidence
·        Overcome pornography
·         Prepare for childbirth or surgery (*referral may be required)
·         Increase motivation
·         Reduce chronic pain *
·         Reduce IBS symptoms *
·         Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) *
·         Trichotillomania (pulling out of the hair)*
·         Reduce anxiety (* referral may be required if a clinical condition exists)
·         Control anger
·         Enhance sports performance
·         Allergies or sensitivities*
·         Panic attacks*
·         Migrane headaches*
·         OCD symptoms*
·         Bruxism* (teeth grinding/jaw clenching)
·         Insomnia or sleep problems (referral may be required)*
·         Eliminating emotional issues from the past (Referral may be required)*
·         PTSD symptom reduction*
·         Eliminating old grief or loss (generally two years old or older)
·         Goal setting
·         Increase the results of fertility treatments*
·         Increase concentration
·         Help stroke victims regain some control/function*
·         Improve test anxiety
·         Improve spelling or math through hypnotic strategy change
·         Eliminate nightmares

What age do you not help or is it difficult to help?
I prefer to work with kids over the age of 12, but will work with younger children depending on the maturity of the individual child.  I have worked with a number of children in the 8 year old range successfully.  My youngest successful client was three years old (we worked to eliminate his night terrors in one session).  Any younger and I am willing to do what I can, but the results will vary from child to child.

How do you work differently with children than adults?

After the age of 14 or so, most children can be worked with in a similar fashion as an adult.  My preference is to work with children over the age of 12, but I will see younger children, situation by situation.

Very young children, under the age of 8, generally need much shorter interventions and may not be capable of giving me the necessary background on the problem, which might necessitate taking a history from the parent.  Also, most children under the age of eight do not need a formal hypnotic induction.  The goal of hypnosis is to produce a state where the individual is more receptive to suggestion.  Most children under the age of 8 are already in that state.  So with young children, I usually use a hypnotic storytelling approach, which works quite well.

Children between the ages of 8 to 14 may require shorter sessions and techniques that are especially geared toward their maturity and attention level.

Can hypnosis work with depressions and low self-esteem issues?

People mean different things when they say “depression.”  Some people mean that they feeling a normal amount of sadness or “stuckness” when they describe depression.  On the other extreme, other people mean that they have been diagnosed with major depressive disorder and are experiencing suicidal ideation with the intent to do themselves harm.  I do not offer emergency services or crisis services.   If someone is experiencing suicidal ideation, I will refer them to a licensed mental health counselor, crisis center or emergency services that can evaluate the severity of their situation.

My rule of thumb is that if someone is currently working with a mental health professional, be it a psychiatrist or a psychologist or a social worker, I will only work with that individual if he or she is willing to sign a release to allow me to contact the mental health professional first discuss the situation and receive permission and a written referral to begin working with the client.  My goal in doing this is to keep my client safe, to preserve the therapeutic relationship they have already established and to work within the goals and framework set forth by their mental health counselor under the supervision of that professional.

Another way to say this is that a mental health counselor (psychologist/social worker/MFT) specializes in the treatment of mental health disorders and disease.  Statistics show that that represents approximately 15 percent of the US population.  That means that 85 percent of the population does not have a diagnosed mental health disorder or disease.  A hypnotherapist specializes in helping the 85 percent, the average person who is experiencing average problems, such as normal everyday sadness or “stuckness.”

As a hypnotherapist, I do not offer diagnostic services and only work with diagnosed mental health disorders and disease under the referral and supervision of someone who specializes in those disorders, such as a medical doctor or psychologist.  If people are experiencing garden variety “sadness” or simply “feel stuck” I can do quite a bit to help them.  On the other hand, if they are experiencing clinical depression, I will only work with them on their clinical depression after an evaluation by a licensed mental health counselor who can determine if it is the right time for hypnosis and then signs a mental health referral.  Hypnotism is not a replacement for, but is a powerful complement to the work of a psychologist or medical doctor.

If someone is looking to improve their self image, I have a variety of tools that can help.

Does hypnotherapy work for tobacco cessation (smoking AND chewing)?

Yes.  My stop smoking program uses much more than just hypnosis, but yes, hypnotherapy works VERY well for smoking cessation.  Not that long ago, I had a young woman come in to see me.  She told me that she was LDS and that the only thing keeping him from being able to marry her husband in the LDS temple was her cigarette habit.  She had started the habit at a very young age–around 10 years of age–and had tried everything to quit. She said that he was tormented by his inability to quit and felt like she was failing herself and her husband.    Nothing had worked in the past, she was desperate and was “even willing to try hypnosis.”  We worked together during four sessions and she told me, after we finished “This is easier than it has ever been to quit.  I don’t believe how effective hypnosis is.  I would have done this a long time ago if I knew how well this worked.”  She has now been smoke free for months and has a temple date scheduled with her husband.

My standard stop smoking program is 3 sessions consisting of 4-5 hours total of work, with the appointments usually spaced over one to two weeks.  I require pre-payment for the program and will reschedule, but do not offer refunds because I only want to work with people who are committed to the process of quitting.  I accept payment of cash, check or credit cards.  If someone is unsure that they want to quit, I am happy to sit down with him or her for 20 to 30 minutes to get to know the person and to answer any questions that they might have.  I also do my best to evaluate the client for my program to make sure that there is a good fit.

During my standard smoking cessation program, during the first session I teach the person how to do self hypnosis.  I also teach the person to use an acupressure technique that will eliminate a craving for most people in less than two minutes.  I also make the person a customized hypnosis recording that can be used during the first two weeks to a month to help reduce or eliminate cravings on the days that the client doesn’t see me in my office.  For some people who need extra support during the first three days, I will also offer a short 15 minute phone appointment to help during the most critical time of the quit process.

Does hypnosis work for snoring?

As far as I know, the answer is no.  I have never seen any data on the use of hypnosis for snoring.  As snoring can be related to several medical conditions, I would recommend finding a licensed medical doctor that can evaluate the situation.

Some people who snore suffer from sleep apnea and require a breathing mask.  I have worked with several people who feel like they are suffocating or experiencing a fear response when they wear their prescribed breathing mask at night.  I have been able to help those individuals relieve the fear and the suffocating feeling so that they can wear their mask as prescribed by their medical doctor.

Can hypnotherapy be used to help the average person to find relief from emotional issues from the past?

This is a very broad question, but generally the answer is yes.  If someone suffered an emotional event years ago that still bothers them today, hypnotism may be one of the fastest ways I know to neutralize old hurts or memories.

In particular, I am an expert in “content-free” interventions.  This means that I have many ways of working with and neutralizing emotionally charged memories, even if the client does not want to reveal the content of the memory.

What modalities do you practice?

I practice a number of different modalities, depending on the client’s needs.  I use many forms of behavioral and insight-oriented hypnotic interventions.  I also use non-hypnotic interventions, such as the cognitive-behavioral techniques of Neuro Linguistics (NLP).  I also practice the non-hypnotic modality of Time Line Therapy (R) to help people move beyond the hurts of the past.  I also practice the Emotional Freedom Technique, which is a non-hypnotic form of “emotional acupuncture” (without the needles).

William Wood CHt, MNLP
[email protected]