When you’ve got a problem that you’ve heard can be helped by hypnotherapy, it’s natural to ask whether that applies to everyone or only to some people.
So does hypnotherapy work for everyone? Nope. As with everything that’s designed to help people, there are never any guarantees. But it’s not all doom and gloom: Hypnotherapy has been reported as being hugely successful at helping with a wide range of issues. And the success rates are often outrageously high. In this article, we’ll explore all of that.
Can everyone be hypnotized?
If we’re worried about whether hypnotherapy works for everyone, it makes sense to first ask whether everyone can be hypnotized.
Our brains have limitations in their physical capacity. Ultimately, these limitations result in us being only able to track and fact-check a very small number of things at once.
How small you ask?
Studies have shown that for most people, we can only consciously track between 5 and 9 things at the same time. Scientists usually refer to this as 7 plus or minus 2. Here I’ll just call it 7 for simplicity.
I’ve heard that further studies have shown that the brain itself can only track 4 things.
We can handle 7 because our brains group the things we’re trying to track with each other as we’re trying to track them. When this happens, we perceive them as being a single thing, which frees up resources in our brain.
Once we reach that limit, things start to fall out of our conscious awareness, to the extent that we can literally be looking at something and not see it.
Hypnosis happens when we exploit these gaps in our awareness to slide information into someone’s mind without them being able to interfere with it.
Since this is a physical limitation that applies to everyone to some extent, it follows that everyone can be hypnotized.
Read more: Can Everyone Be Hypnotized? Hypnosis is Real
Hypnotherapy is not a stage show
So everyone can be hypnotized, but that’s not quite the same thing as everyone getting the results that they want.
If we hypnotize someone, and try to make them cluck like a chicken, and they don’t, we might think it didn’t work.
Here’s the thing though: Clucking like a chicken isn’t the hypnosis. That’s just something that our subject thought might be a good idea at the time because we created a space for them to do that. They still get to choose. It’s just that the choice happens on a level outside of their conscious awareness.
Now when we’re doing stuff for entertainment purposes, so long as the environment is setup correctly, there’s a good chance we’ll get the results.
There’s a reason that in the first part of a stage hypnosis show the hypnotist deliberately chooses volunteers who want to show off on stage and are also good at going into hypnosis: It makes for a good show.
Maybe 20% of the audience will be good enough at being hypnotized to make for a good show, and maybe 1% will be so exceptional at it that they’ll do just about anything. So long as you have 20 or more people in your audience, and know how to filter your subjects, a good show is virtually guaranteed.
It’s a little different when we want to help people with their problems.
In that case, we don’t have the luxury of picking and choosing only the best subjects. Luckily that doesn’t matter very much.
What is hypnotherapy?
With hypnotherapy, we use hypnosis combined with our understanding of how the mind works to help people to overcome a wide array of problems.
The scope here is vast. Hypnotherapy has been used to help people to quit smoking, lose weight, take control of their pain, overcome addictions, eliminate fears and phobias, transform anxiety, remove stress, and overcome many, many more problems that people tend to have.
We do this with a variety of techniques which have been specifically designed to work with the problem at hand.
Over the years, many studies have been carried out, and they tend to show very high sustained success rates. We’re talking over 90% in some cases.
This is an exceptional result by anyone’s measure.
Can hypnotherapy work for everyone?
90% is a fantastic result, but it’s a long way from 100%.
So how do we determine whether hypnotherapy will be effective? And how do we even know if it can be effective for a specific problem?
It’s quite straightforward.
Even though the number of things that can go wrong with a human mind is huge, the number of causes is tiny.
It’s always important to first eliminate any physical or medical cause. If we have intense back pain, it’s not going to be helpful to use hypnotherapy to turn that pain off if it’s caused by a tumor. Even though we could make the pain go away, all that would happen is the tumor would get worse. A doctor needs to resolve the underlying issue first.
Once we’ve eliminated physical or medical causes, for any problem inside the mind there are typically numerous processes that may be used to assist with it. Each of these can have different levels of effectiveness with a particular problem.
Not only that, but the people carrying out the process have different skill levels.
One hypnotherapist may be a world class expert at helping people to quit smoking, while another may focus on helping people to lose weight and keep it off.
Both can probably help with either problem, but the reality is that when someone takes the time to specialize in a specific set of problems, they’re typically going to get better results than someone who doesn’t.
A quit smoking expert might have a 97% success rate at helping people to quit smoking, while a weight loss expert may only have an 85% success rate at the same thing.
And here’s the thing.
Whenever something doesn’t work with hypnotherapy, the solution is always the same: Figure out what went wrong, then either repeat the process taking the new information into account, or run a different process.
Hypnotherapy is typically useful for problems where we need to change something inside our minds in order to solve the problem.
This has flow-on effects into problems that manifest outside of our minds. For example, everyone knows that in order to stop smoking, all you have to do is never have a lit cigarette in your mouth. While there is a physical component, it’s tiny compared to the psychological component.
The trick is actually doing it.
So can hypnotherapy work for all problems? Nope. But it may help with many problems that can happen inside the mind.
Can all hypnotherapists help with all problems? Nope.
How to find a hypnotherapist to suit you
So how can you know if your problem might be helped by a particular hypnotherapist?
First, have a chat with them and discover if you get on. So long as they have the skills to help you with the issue, this is the single most important factor in determining whether they can help.
If you get on with them, ask them about your specific problem. Some problems are best treated when the hypnotherapist has expertise around them. All of the common problems tend to be covered in hypnotherapy trainings, so usually this is not an issue.
The three biggest things that people tend to see hypnotherapists about are quitting smoking, losing weight, and minimizing pain.
Naturally, given that hypnosis is commonly associated with relaxation, hypnotherapy has been known to be effective in working through stress and anxiety.
And of course it tends to be effective with working through fears and phobias of all kinds.
If in doubt, ask your hypnotherapist and they will tell you whether they are comfortable with the issue, or would prefer to refer you to someone else.
Be aware that many problems require more than one session to resolve.
Typically, it’s possible to help someone to quit smoking in a single session. Sometimes just the intake interview consumes the entire first session. With my Quit Smoking program, I book people in for three sessions. This is because it allows me to check up on them throughout the 3 weeks it takes the brain to repair itself from nicotine damage.
And here’s what happens: Essentially everyone claims to have quit at the end of the first session. But then the next day, some of them have smoked. I book those ones straight back in to fix whatever went wrong.
If I didn’t check up on them, I would end up falsely believing that they had quit when in reality it was just the afterglow of the hypnosis.
Most problems typically require somewhere between 6 and 12 sessions to work through enough that you’re likely to be happy with the outcome.
Don’t believe people who claim to have a 100% success rate. This kind of success rate is highly improbable unless they are delivering unlimited sessions to their customers, checking up on them, and holding them accountable over time.
If someone claims to have a 100% success rate, the most likely thing is that they don’t know how to measure success and do not check up on their customers long-term. So if someone makes that claim to you, and you get on with them, ask them how they know that they have a 100% success rate.
So that’s really all there is to it. Have a chat with your hypnotherapist to make sure you get on. Check that they actually know about how to work with your problem. Be aware that it’s unlikely your problem can be resolved in a single session. And don’t believe claims of 100% success rates unless they’ve got data to back it up.
If you’re a smoker and you’d like to quit, you might enjoy my book The Quit Smoking Formula.
In it, I’ve translated my quit smoking program so that it can be used with self-hypnosis.
My intention with it is that if you’re a smoker and you read the book and do the exercises, you’ll quit.
Naturally, there are no guarantees.
Unlike my books on Amazon, The Quit Smoking Formula is a downloadable PDF, making it easy to print out or read on the device of your choosing.
And if you’ve got something else going on that you think might be helped by hypnotherapy, I’m more than happy to have a chat with you about it. Drop me a line to discover how I can help.