When we’re interested in learning a new skill like hypnosis, it’s natural to wonder how long it will take. Put another way, there’s a certain amount of value we derive from having the skill, and we want to know if it’s going to be worth the investment of our time.
So how long does it take to learn hypnosis? Most people can learn to hypnotize someone and have them experience some hypnotic phenomena in a single weekend or less. But it does depend on what outcome you want, and how deep you want to go into it. In this article, we go over how long it takes, how to make learning hypnosis easier and faster, and how much you need to practice.
How long is a typical hypnosis course?
A typical beginner hypnosis course is usually a week long. This gives time to cover all of the basics, along with ample time to practice the skills as you’re learning them.
There are also courses that are structured to fit into single weekends. These are often 2 days long. All else being equal, you’ll learn less in a 2 day course than in a 5 day course.
When you purchase online video trainings, they are usually recordings of in-person trainings. If you can find someone to practice with, or even better, someone to do the course with you, these recordings can be almost as good as attending in person for a fraction of the cost.
The huge advantage of in-person trainings is that you can usually get feedback from other experienced hypnotists. Many trainers allow people to retake their courses for free in the future if there’s space available, which means that there are often hypnotists of all levels of experience on them.
You can also learn from books and online articles. This is often a good starting point, because you can have a taste of doing hypnosis at minimal expense.
Written instructions can be anything from a few simple steps in sequence that you follow, all the way through the full courses.
If you’d like some simple steps to follow to give you a taste of hypnosis, you might like my article How to Hypnotize Someone Easily.
And if you’d like a complete course in book form, my book Hypnosis Quick Start Guide gives a series of exercises you can carry out. Since it’s a quick start guide, it’s mostly just exercises with no fluff or explanations.
And it’s specifically designed to take you from not knowing what hypnosis is, to being able to induce your first hypnotic trances. I created it with the intention that most people would be able to complete the exercises and start to see results in a single weekend or less.
Hypnosis trainings tend to be oriented around teaching and practicing the practical skills that you need in order to hypnotize people, without going into a lot of the details about how it all works.
What skills make it easier to learn hypnosis?
As with anything we can learn, learning hypnosis can be a lot easier if we already have some of the necessary skills.
Basic skills that help a lot with hypnosis include rapport building, the ability to hold conversations, having empathy, self-hypnosis, and deliberate practice.
Don’t worry though. If you’re missing any of these skills, you’ll learn the ones that you need on a hypnosis training. The only one out of all of them that’s really required is rapport building. The others just make the hypnosis work better and faster, and help you to fix any issues you may encounter while learning hypnosis as quickly as possible.
How much practice do you need to become good at hypnosis?
How much practice you need comes down to exactly what you want to do.
If all you want to do is drop people into hypnosis and induce deep relaxation, it’s realistic for most people to be able to do that after a single weekend long training course. In fact, it could probably be learnt in a single evening.
On the other hand, if you want to be able to fix complex problems with hypnotherapy, it’s more likely that several years of training, practice and supervision will be required.
In some countries hypnotherapy is unregulated. So if you live in one of those countries it’s possible to pick just one problem to fix, become really good at it, and start charging people within a few weeks.
Focus on one thing at a time
The approach that I’ve found works really well with everything in hypnosis is to pick just one thing I want to work on and focus only on that. This can be anything at all.
To give you an example, a few years ago, I spent probably a year working on nothing but storytelling.
First, I worked through several storytelling trainings. Because of the way I work, this was probably a few hundred hours.
Next, I found a bunch of people to whom to tell stories. And I told them a lot of stories, gathering feedback as I went.
While I was doing that, I looked up what TV series had been popular, found them on my streaming provider, and then watched 2 of them, deconstructing each as I went.
Every time I felt any kind of emotion, I’d wind back and figure out what they did to cause that.
Every time I felt compelled to keep on watching, I’d scroll back through and figure out how they made that happen.
It took a long time. I probably watched each series a total of 2 to 3 times. But by the end of it, I was at the point where most people who listen to me telling a story enjoy the experience enough that they typically keep on listening for as long as I want to talk.
The entire process took a year from beginning to end. Given that Storyteller is an actual job, I consider that to be a bargain.
The amount of value you derive from a skill is important
Now a year might seem like a lot of time.
With each skill, it’s important to know how much value you’re likely to derive from it, so you can work out a reasonable amount of time to invest.
Storytelling is a skill that has application well beyond hypnosis, and it’s also valuable in just about any career beyond the most basic labor-only jobs. Not only that, but it’s a lot of fun. This made it easy to dedicate the necessary time to build the skill.
Other skills will be different, and ultimately it’s up to you.
Practice the right amount
With any skill there is a point of diminishing returns.
When I first started learning to tell stories, I improved in leaps and bounds just about every day.
By the end of the year, the changes each day were so small that they became difficult to notice.
You’ll find the same pattern when you learn any new skill. In the beginning, you’ll make huge gains very quickly. As your skill improves, future gains take a lot more time.
There’s a sweet spot. With hypnosis, that sweet spot is something that we can’t really notice ourselves, so what I do is I ask people for feedback.
If I’m telling a story, I watch their responses. And afterwards, I ask them to rate it.
When things start to plateau, I know that I’ve probably practiced that skill enough for now.
What to do if nothing works
With any new skill, it’s possible to come to feel that nothing’s working as intended. The thing about this is that it’s never really true.
By default, human minds are much more strongly oriented to see negative things than positive. This is a survival trait that served our ancestors well in the distant past.
These days there really aren’t that many threats to our survival on a day-to-day basis, so we tend to see that negativity in other areas where it’s not warranted.
Luckily there’s an easy way to deal with it.
First, be sure that you always ask your subject what their experience was. More often than not, when the hypnotist thinks something didn’t work, that’s just imposter syndrome.
So don’t guess, ask.
Second, not all hypnotists and subjects work well together. Even if you get on well with your hypnosis subject in every other part of life, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be a good match for your hypnosis.
If in doubt, hypnotize other people and ask them for feedback too.
Third, hypnotize lots of different people.
When I was starting out, I hypnotized thousands of different people. Sometimes these sessions would last for only a few minutes. Other times a few hours.
Fourth, find some hypnosis subjects you trust to give you accurate feedback.
The only way you can tell how well you’re doing with hypnosis is by getting direct feedback from your subjects.
It’s helpful to have at least one subject who is exceptional at experiencing hypnosis (a somnambulist) as this helps to build your confidence. Once you have a somnambulist on your side, you’ll never doubt your hypnotic ability again.
It’s also a good idea to have an extremely resistant subject. This is helpful because you can test things to perfection. If something works on them, it will probably work on anyone.
And finally, find a handful of average subjects. These give you a good baseline for how most people are likely to respond.
How do you tell if you can trust their feedback? Generally, the ones you can trust will tell you when things work and when things don’t work.
The ones you can’t trust will usually either claim that everything works, or that nothing does.
Unless you’re only playing with the simplest possible things, you won’t get everything to work every time even with somnambulists.
Fifth, use deliberate practice.
When stuff doesn’t work, go back just a little bit, and re-run only the thing that didn’t work.
If your subject is already deep in hypnosis, there’s no reason to bring them all the way out and hypnotize them again just because you jumbled a sentence. Instead, go back a little and continue on as if nothing had happened.
Hypnosis subjects rarely know what was supposed to happen anyway, so there’s not really any such thing as wrong or didn’t work unless you tell them.
How to keep yourself motivated
When we want to learn any new skill, it’s important to find a way to motivate ourselves through to the end.
If we don’t do this what tends to happen is that we give up part way through and never attain the skills we’d like to have.
Luckily there are some tricks that can help to keep you motivated.
It’s important to know why we want to learn the skill.
Take a few moments and figure out why you want to learn hypnosis.
This can be anything at all. It’s only you that has to know, so it can be anything that’s important to you.
To give you an example, huge driving factors for me in learning hypnosis are that I’m naturally curious, I love helping people, and I love peace and tranquility.
If you’d like to know more about how motivation works, you might enjoy my article 16 Ways to Get Motivated. In it, I cover Steven Reiss’ 16 motivational drivers, which tend to be what makes human beings do things and keep on doing them.
Once we know why we’re doing it, next we want to set goals on multiple levels. It’s important that you can achieve at least one goal every single day so that you have a constant stream of success.
It’s also important that you have a long-term goal.
When I was learning about storytelling, a short-term goal that I could achieve in a day was to understand how to implement a loop in a story, and practice it 6 times.
I also had goals that were longer term. For example, a longer-term goal was to be able to tell a story and have the listeners automatically forget what happened in the middle.
This might seem like an odd goal, but amnesia is of vital importance for some kinds of hypnotic transformation. I wanted to know not only how to do it, but also why it works.
Once you know why you’re doing something, and you’ve set long-term and short-term goals, choose a reward for you for when you achieve those goals.
Once again, the reward can be anything at all, big or small. Just make sure that it’s something that you enjoy enough to put a smile on your face when you achieve your goal and receive your reward, and you’ll do fine.
How long does it take to become an expert hypnotist?
Hopefully it’s apparent by now that it’s possible to learn hypnosis enough to get results very quickly.
And not just any results, but results that most non-hypnotists will find to be impressive.
But how long does it take to become an expert?
Well that one is up for debate.
I’ve personally spent over 20000 hours honing my skill at hypnosis.
People I’ve hypnotized seem to like what I do.
I seem to get results most of the time.
But here’s the thing.
I had some people who loved what I was doing within 6 months of starting.
At that point I was not even close to being an expert, but within the context of what I was doing with those specific people, that didn’t matter.
In the end, the only things that really matter with hypnosis are the experiences that your chosen subjects have, and the results that they get.
If you choose your hypnosis subjects carefully, and focus on becoming exquisite at just one thing at a time, it’s possible to reach expert level in that particular thing very quickly indeed.
I don’t know exactly how quickly, because everyone’s different.
What I do know is that it starts with choosing just one thing, focusing on that, and becoming good at it.
And the very first thing in any hypnosis session is building rapport. If you’d like to know how to effortlessly build rapport, you might enjoy reading my article How to Use Agreement to Build Rapport Even if You’re an Introvert and Hate Small Talk next.