Every so often people ask me questions about how long hypnosis lasts. And the truth is that there’s not just one answer.
So how long does hypnosis last? It really depends on what specifically you mean by hypnosis. A typical hypnosis session is anything from 30 minutes to 4 hours. However the effects of hypnosis can last a lifetime, especially when they are beneficial changes. In this article, we’ll go over exactly how long you can expect various parts of hypnosis to last.
There are really two big parts to this question, so we’ll start with the ones people usually want to know first.
How long does a hypnotherapy session last?
A typical hypnotherapy session can be anything from about 30 minutes to 4 hours or more. How long it lasts depends on many things including what it’s for, and the time availability of the participants.
With hypnotherapy, the rule of thumb is that a session should be as long as it needs to be, and no longer. When a session is longer than necessary, what tends to happen is rehashing of things that have already been resolved, which can destabilize the changes.
A session is typically comprised of an interview portion, in which the hypnotist and hypnosis subject discuss what’s going to be worked on, and the hypnosis portion, in which the work is done.
Very simple problems such as overcoming fears and phobias may well be fully resolved in less than 30 minutes. More complex problems such as smoking tend to require somewhat longer. I’ve had just the interview portion of quit smoking sessions take longer than 2 hours before when smokers have had very complex smoking patterns.
Naturally, there are time constraints as well. I tend to book my sessions into 2 hour time slots, which is usually enough to accommodate most eventualities.
How long does a hypnosis session last?
Hypnosis sessions can last for any length of time from seconds up to the rest of the day.
Naturally, hypnosis can be used for a lot of things beyond hypnotherapy. I’ve used hypnosis for things such as making computer games seem and feel real to participants, and in these cases, the hypnosis session tends to last for as long as the game playing session. If you’ve played massively multiplayer games before, you’ll appreciate that this can be sometimes be an all-day affair.
Other times, it might be hypnosis for fun. Whenever I’m testing out something new, I’ll usually grab one of my friends and have a session with them. Since we’re experimenting to figure out what can happen, once again, it can last all day.
At the other end of the scale, I’ve had extremely short hypnosis sessions with people. Sometimes these can be only a few minutes long.
And naturally, there’s everything in between as well.
What it all comes down to is the requirements of the specific situation.
How long do the effects of hypnotherapy last?
The effects of hypnotherapy may persist for a lifetime, even when sessions are very short. Usually multiple sessions are required to achieve this level of permanence.
That’s kinda the point of hypnotherapy.
We want to fix whatever problem it was permanently.
Quite often getting to permanence requires multiple sessions.
Hypnosis is a form of efficient learning, and as with all other learning, repetition is one of the ways that we force ourselves to remember it.
Not only that, but some problems are complex enough that multiple sessions are required to resolve them.
Ultimately though, the expected outcome is that so long as you have enough sessions, the effects of hypnotherapy will last for the rest of your life. Or at least, until something better comes along.
Naturally there are no guarantees.
Usually your hypnotherapist will be able to provide guidance about how many sessions are likely to be required to resolve a specific issue. For example, my quit smoking program is 3 sessions long. This provides enough for a hypnosis session to help the smoker to quit, and a couple of coaching sessions to give them the best possible chance of getting through the nicotine withdrawal while their brain repairs itself.
How long do the effects of hypnosis last?
For forms of hypnosis other than hypnotherapy, we usually aim to restrict the effects of hypnosis so that they end at the end of the session. It is possible to make some changes persist indefinitely.
Beyond hypnotherapy, when we use hypnosis for most other purposes, we want a lot of the effects to be temporary. If I hypnotize someone to make the game they’re playing seem real, generally I want that to stop when we finish playing.
These kinds of limits are easy to set up and doing so has been a part of many of the hypnosis trainings that I’ve taken.
How long the effects last after you come out of hypnosis depends to some extent on exactly what you were doing in hypnosis.
I’ve experimented quite a lot with time distorted hypnotic realities. In this form of hypnosis, the hypnosis subject experiences a hallucinated universe as if it is real life.
And sometimes they can experience a lot of time there. I’ve had multiple people report being inside their hypnotic realities for 50 years or so. Most report anything from a few hours to a few days.
If there’s enough time distortion, it can take several hours for them to fully reorient into the regular waking world after they emerge from hypnosis.
As with hypnotherapy, it’s generally possible to make any effects persist for as long as is desired.
And if you do nothing, most effects will clear within somewhere between a few minutes and a few hours.
How long do post-hypnotic triggers last?
A post-hypnotic trigger is something that we set up so that we can have our hypnosis subject do something when they’re not in hypnosis. For example, we might make it so that when we say the word SLEEP, our hypnosis subject instantly drops into a state of deep hypnosis.
As a rule, if a post-hypnotic trigger is correctly set up, and is properly unique, it can last for a lifetime.
I’ve hypnotized people after a break of several years and had previously set triggers still work perfectly. So long as nothing happens to destabilize a post-hypnotic trigger, it should continue working indefinitely.
At the same time, it’s also possible (and often recommended) to restrict when and where a trigger can fire. This means that the hypnotist might incorporate words such as only for the rest of today when setting up the trigger. When we do this correctly, the trigger will work only within the specified places and times.
So whenever you’re setting up triggers, think carefully about when and where they’ll be able to fire, and include appropriate restrictions.
To see why this is important, consider this scenario: You set up a trigger to drop someone into a deep hypnotic trance every time they hear the word chicken. Then, a few days later they’re out driving in their car and an ad for discounted chicken at the local supermarket plays.
They instantly drop into a deep hypnotic trance. Eyes closed. Unable to move.
As you might imagine, such states are not conducive to safe driving.
Always constrain when and where your post-hypnotic triggers can fire unless you have a good reason not to.
I generally tie most triggers that I install to my voice as well so that other people can’t accidentally set them off.
What’s the longest you can remain in hypnosis?
As a rule, a hypnosis session will end whenever something comes along that pops your mind out of hypnosis.
For example, suppose you’ve been hypnotized to experience a game as being real. You’re playing for hours, and then your fire alarm goes off. Our brains have all sorts of systems designed to keep us safe, so when the alarm goes off, we instantly switch our attention away from the hypnosis and onto that alarm.
Then, just like everyone who wasn’t in hypnosis, after a few moments of disorientation we jump up and take whatever action is necessary to deal with the emergency.
On the other hand, if nothing happens to disrupt the hypnosis, it’s quite easy to remain in hypnosis for the rest of the day.
Once you go to sleep for the night, your brain will be reset and you’ll wake up refreshed and out of the hypnosis the next morning.
So in practical terms, the longest you can remain in hypnosis is about the same as the longest you can remain awake without being significantly disturbed.
In this article, we’ve covered the main things that people tend to want to know about the duration of various parts of hypnosis. If you have other questions about how long hypnosis lasts, please feel free to reach out to me directly.
And if you’d like to know some more interesting things about hypnosis, I’ve put together a list of some common myths about hypnosis that people have been known to believe.