If you have ever wondered whether you can be hypnotised, here’s a hypnosis test to see if you are well-suited.
The feeling of being hypnotised is not as bizarre as people often think. Yet stage hypnosis and the media portrayal of hypnosis still create inflated expectations of people being “controlled in a trance-like state”. The anticipation of this experience has become deep-rooted in the public’s psyche.
Not surprisingly, when you start a course of hypnotherapy, your expectations are biased. You want to have what it appears that they have “had” on the television or stage. If you don’t feel as if you are “under the hypnotist’s spell”, you think that the treatment is a hoax. Even when the hypnotherapist tells you what to expect in hypnosis (and I have lost count of how many people I have told), your mind is still set on what the television has ‘taught’ you to believe i.e. that you are going to be put into a catatonic state!
Are you a good candidate for hypnosis?
Hypnosis is more of a “natural” state than people imagine. You are experiencing it several times throughout your day and it doesn’t need a swinging watch to put you into a hypnotic sleep! Some people are more receptive to hypnosis than others and can expect to experience rapid changes in a course of hypnotherapy.
Answer the following twelve questions to see if you and hypnosis are well-suited.
1. When the television is on, can you “switch off” and lose track of what you are watching?
2. When reading a good book, can you “close off” to any external distractions?
3. When you go to the cinema or theatre, can you feel emotional when you see something sad?
C. Hardly ever
4. When you close your eyes, how quickly can you fall asleep?
B. Within 30 minutes
C. When the alarm goes off!
5. When chatting to a close friend, do you lose track of time?
B. On occasions
C. Can’t stop looking at my watch!
6. When you see someone else yawn, does it become contagious?
B. Now and again
7. Do you salivate when thinking about sucking on or sinking your teeth into a sour, juicy lemon?
C. Hardly ever
8. When you like a new song, does it keep going round and round in your mind at the most inconvenient moments?
C. Not very often
9. If you close your eyes, can you visualise a journey from your house to the nearest shop?
B. Can visualise some details of the journey
C. Vague details; “Is there a shop near me?”
10. Would you (or others) consider you to be a creative person?
11. When you drive to a familiar place e.g. work, does your mind switch to auto-pilot?
C. Hardly ever
12. If you see a crowd of people looking at something, do you tend to look in the same direction out of curiosity?
B. Some of the time
Congratulations, You scored Points
19 and above: Highly receptive to hypnosis
You have a strong will, yet in the right situation you can be highly suggestible. You retain excellent visualisation skills and can access your emotions easily. You achieve outstanding results when you assign the right emotion to a task. You also find it easy to concentrate and focus your attention with minimum input from an external source. You enjoy being creative and using your imagination. You can relax with little effort.
You possess an exceptional mind that is made for hypnosis and would respond very well to a course of hypnotherapy. If you are seeking to make a therapeutic change, hypnotherapy can help you accelerate this change in a relatively short period of time.
13 – 18: Moderately receptive to hypnosis
You are slightly more analytically focused, but on occasions you can employ your creative side. In some situations you can be spontaneous and “let yourself go”, but generally you prefer to be “in control”. Thus it can take some time for you to relax, but you do appreciate it once you have let your guard down. There is a tendency to over-think problems and their solutions, but once you have side-stepped your rational approach, the answer is usually accessible to you just below the surface of your mind.
You have a great mind for hypnosis but may have some inhibitions about the process or the experience. When you have developed a strong rapport with the hypnotherapist and feel comfortable about letting yourself go, the treatment can help you achieve your full potential. If anything, hypnotherapy will add more control to your life, not take it away. A deeper state of relaxation may not be instant, but it is achievable with some practise (self-hypnosis).
Below 13: Slightly receptive to hypnosis
You are predominantly analytical in your approach to life and underuse some very effective personal mental resources (your creativity and emotions). Only when you have surrendered your constant search for an answer to your questions, do you begin to use these resources.
Keeping control is very important to you. It takes a lot of courage to accept help since you believe that by accepting help, you may lose control of how you like to problem-solve. Being spontaneous is avoided because again, it can seem like an opportunity to lose control and be judged. You struggle to let go and relax; you may wait until you are exhausted before you can relax.
You can benefit from hypnotherapy, but certain barriers would need to be broken down through the course of your treatment. Trust and respect for your hypnotherapist are important requisites before you are ready to “open up” and be guided through a process of change. Ironically, this would add more control to your life and help you resolve the issue for which you seek treatment.
Can you accept that hypnosis is merely ‘a state of heightened receptivity to suggestion’ and not mind-control? Once you have accepted this, you can then benefit from using these positive techniques.
This hypnosis test is not a scientific indicator of your personality type, nor is it necessarily an indicator of a therapeutic outcome. The hypnosis test will give you some idea of your level of suggestibility and likely depth of relaxation in hypnosis.
From the type of the questions being asked, you can summarise that hypnosis has a lot to do with:
- Your ability to visualise
- Using your imagination
- Accessing emotions
- Focusing your attention
- Being creative
- Following suggestions
- Being able to relax
- Recognising the role of your unconscious mind to influence your experience
- Cooperating or working with your hypnotherapist
There are many misconceptions/myths associated with hypnosis. It has very little to do with:
- Mind possession,
- Being put to sleep
- Being weak-minded,
- Being gullible,
- Being ignorant
- Being made to do or say anything against your will
- Losing control
What does hypnosis feel like?
Having completed the hypnosis test, you are now building up a concept of how hypnosis is a common part of your daily experience and how it has less to do with mystical mind control.
However, I recognise that you won’t really know what something feels like until you have experienced it for yourself. But in the meantime, here are some common hypnotic phenomena that can help you gain some idea of what to expect when you are hypnotised. Forget what you see on television; just because the subject’s eyes are closed, it doesn’t mean that they are asleep!
When you have a more realistic concept of what to expect, it will deepen your hypnotic experience because you are no longer waiting for that “something” to happen. You may experience only a few or several of the following phenomena in hypnosis, all of which are natural and normal responses:
- Your breathing rate has slowed and deepened
- You may feel detached from your surroundings, as if floating or drifting or just deeply relaxed
- Your body temperature (or parts of your body temperature) may vary
- You can hear external sounds but are less bothered by them
- Parts of your body e.g. arms and legs, feel heavy and relaxed
- Your attention becomes more inward, focusing on internal sensations, images or memories
- With your eyes closed, your eyelids my flutter or move from side to side as if dreaming
- You can sometimes focus on the hypnotherapist’s dialogue, visualising intensely, then drift onto something else, then come back to the hypnotherapist’s dialogue again
- Depending on the nature of your visualisation, you may feel emotional and experience an abreaction (release of emotion) when dealing with sensitive issues
- Time can seem distorted, so that at the end of the hypnosis, what was say thirty minutes may have seemed like five minutes (or vice versa)
- You can remember some suggestions vividly, others less so
- You may experience other personal responses e.g. tingling or numbness in your fingers and toes, that are there during one hypnotic induction and not there during another hypnotic induction
- Your hypnotic experience deepens with each consultation at around the third consultation (but not always!)
- What you experience with one hypnotherapist can be completely different to another hypnotherapist (so don’t place them all into the same category if you didn’t connect with your previous hypnotherapy treatment)
You may also experience other personal responses that are unique to you depending on the specific suggestions used and how you interpret them.
Factors that can influence your hypnotisability
- Having completed the hypnosis test, you have found out that you are (probably) a good candidate for hypnosis
- You are now eliminating all of the hypnosis myths about your mind being possessed!
- You have a stronger concept of what it feels like to be in hypnosis
When these three factors are in place, you are more likely to have a deeper hypnotic experience. But there are a number of other factors that also affect the depth of your hypnosis:
- A realistic expectation –
Have you ever been a victim of high expectation? A common example is when you are told by a friend who’s opinion you trust, that a film is ‘the best comedy ever – a must see!’ You then act on that suggestion by going to watch the film, building an expectation that you will be ‘splitting your sides with laughter’. But when you don’t “belly” laugh at every joke, you then become more disappointed and alienated from the film as you watch it. The film’s humour is so far away from your original expectation that the jokes become quite meaningless. Inevitably, the film is a letdown! If you would have gone to see the film with an open mind you would have enjoyed the film on its own merits, rather than on high expectation.
This can also be applied to the experience of hypnosis. I have treated a number of patients who say that they have arrived with an “open mind”. I explain to them what they can expect in their experience of hypnosis and then at the end of the consultation, they tell me that:
- “It didn’t feel like hypnosis”
- “But I was aware of what was going on” or that
- “It wasn’t what I expected; I thought you were going to put me out!”
The patient was waiting for their high expectation to be fulfilled, and became distracted and alienated throughout the process. They didn’t get the hypnotic experience that they “thought” they would get. They were never going fully “let go” until they were (in their own expectation) “asleep”. A lengthy conversation then takes place to neutralise their disappointment and re-align their expectation. But most patients have already lost their patience (!) with the therapy at this stage.
Another factor that can influence the depth of your hypnosis is having:
- A good rapport with your hypnotherapist –
If you feel nervous when you start your course of hypnotherapy, then you are not alone. Consider that as a patient:
- You are meeting a complete stranger in a new place for the first time
- You have some personal issues that are inhibiting your life
- These issues may cause you to feel embarrassed or ashamed
- You are having a treatment that may seem completely new to you (even though you have been “enlightened” from the quiz and list of what hypnotherapy feels like!)
- Stage hypnosis, television shows or hearsay may have prejudiced your expectations causing you to feel anxious about some part of your hypnotherapy treatment
So when you enter the hypnotherapist’s practice, “the confidence scales” are usually tipped in the negative position. It requires a skilled professional to balance these negatives, so that you can feel relaxed and assured about your course of therapy. And when you do start to feel at ease with your treatment, it is because the hypnotherapist has built rapport.
A good rapport exists when there is a therapeutic relationship built on trust. It can be characterised by the following criteria:
- You trust your hypnotherapist enough to speak openly about your personal issues
- You feel understood
- Your goals are being attended to
- You feel safe, secure and confident about what to expect
- Your hypnotherapist discusses any of your personal concerns
- Your hypnotherapist explains any procedures fully
How long does it take to create rapport? In a typical course of therapy, it is usually built up over a number of consultations. Since it is reasonable to expect a hypnotic induction in the first session, the hypnotherapist has to work very skilfully to ensure that enough rapport is in place to trust them midway through the first consultation. If there are “loose ends” and you feel anxious about any of the above, then the rapport will stay low. The depth of your hypnotic experience is likely to be affected.
On rare occasions, when the rapport has been weak, I have refrained from using a “formal” hypnotic induction with a patient in their first consultation. This was because the patient was terrified of losing control. I used “informal” methods that gradually increased their depth of relaxation. It helped to develop their trust and confidence as the treatment progressed. If hypnosis was introduced too early in that situation, it would have weakened the rapport further due to their fears.
In my view, the responsibility for building a strong rapport rests with the professional, in this case, your hypnotherapist. But if there is an issue that has been overlooked, ask questions to close the gap. It’s easy to overlook something that can put distance on your therapeutic relationship.
Another factor that influences the depth of your hypnotic experience is having:
- A ‘want’ to be hypnotised for a change –
You would consider that when you commit to a course of hypnotherapy, you arrive with strong desire to be hypnotised. But behind that ‘want’ can be some very mixed messages. As discussed above, there is usually some anxiety about the process which makes the ‘want’ more of a cautious apprehension.
Then there is the issue of ‘what are you being hypnotised for?’ (Your goals) Well, very few patients want to be hypnotised by a hypnotherapist and want to pay for the experience just out of curiosity; it is rarely ‘the goal’. I’ve had less than a dozen patients in my years of practise who are so desperate to experience the ‘state of mind’ in hypnosis, that they have booked a consultation with no apparent therapeutic context. If you fear the embarrassment of being in a stage show, then I think that there’s far less chance of embarrassing yourself in a hypnotherapy clinic.
When you are seeking to be hypnotised it is usually for a change (a therapeutic change). This is because nearly all hypnotherapy patients want help to change a “dysfunctional” part of their thinking, emotions or behaviour. At the time of arrival, you just don’t know how to “access” this change. You are prepared to go through a hypnotic induction to identify and transform your negative state. This is your chosen method to help you achieve your goal.
So with a realistic expectation and a good rapport, your desire to be hypnotised will be more of a positive ‘want’.
There’s also another important ingredient…A belief that hypnosis can do this for you.
- A belief that hypnotherapy can help you
In therapy, what you believe can play a huge part in determining the outcome. So it is important to make choices that are congruent with how you are as a person and what you believe about your therapy. There are various therapies that can help you, but hypnotherapy offers a number of benefits that make it the right choice.
- You are a good candidate for hypnosis –
If you scored highly in the hypnosis test (above), then you are someone that has a mind suited to hypnosis. You have good visualisation abilities, you relax easily and you are also highly responsive to suggestions. When using hypnotherapy as your preferred treatment choice, you can expect to achieve rapid results.
- Stress reduction is integrated into the hypnotherapy treatment –
Many conditions and their symptoms are exacerbated by stress and anxiety. When you reduce your stress and anxiety, it can help you to break the cycle of negative thinking. It can also lower some of the physiological symptoms that can accompany and aggravate your stress and anxiety.
- Your ability to learn is enhanced when relaxed –
Altering your negative patterns of thinking and behaviour requires a process of relearning. But stress can inhibit your ability to acquire your desired state. In hypnosis, you can access deeper states of awareness that can heighten your ability to learn new thought processes, beliefs and behaviours without conscious interference.
- Unconscious events can be identified and released –
The imprint of negative experiences can prevent you from achieving your full potential. The emotions from these repressed events continue to influence your beliefs and your judgements. Using regression techniques, these events can be identified and re-framed, changing the meaning of these events and allowing you to embrace the goals you seek.