Selecting a Quality Hypnotherapist

by Paul Gustafson RN BSN CH

Most of us know all about daydreaming or zoning out. It is that unique moment in time when we lose all connection to whatever is going on around us. We may be present physically but we feel as though we are millions of miles away. That is an example of naturally occurring subconscious thought and hypnosis is the simple process of enabling it to occur.

The subconscious mind is a complex and powerful place. It is where all of our values, beliefs, habits and patterns reside. It is also our body’s control center; it regulates our breathing, heart rate and the thousands of metabolic functions that occur automatically everyday of our lives.

The subconscious mind is active when we daydream, zone out, stare at a television or computer screen or when we sleep. It is also active when we are hypnotized. Having access to this powerful level of thought is the reason hypnosis is so effective in offering long term solutions for so many physical and emotional concerns.

The conscious mind, or short-term memory, has a much different job description. It keeps us in the here and now. It analyzes, critiques, accepts or denies the storage of daily information into the long term memory or subconscious mind. With the client’s trust and co-operation the hypnotherapist helps them bypass the critical conscious factor and is then able to offer new positive direction in the form of suggestions, imagery and metaphors directly into the subconscious mind, where it is then acted upon and becomes the client’s new reality.

Think of the hypnotherapist as a tour guide. Since hypnosis is the language of the mind they skillfully use nothing more than words to point clients toward relaxing vacation spots in their minds. The hypnotherapist has no power over the client at all; it is completely up to them how relaxed they choose to become or if they wish to become relaxed at all. So essentially, all hypnosis is self-hypnosis.

Hypnosis feels as right as rain! It is a natural peaceful moment of inner stillness. Some clients describe it as a peaceful heaviness, as though they are sinking or melting into the surface beneath them. Others describe sensations of floating or a mind–body separation. For most, hypnosis is a combination of deep physical relaxation and heightened focus.
Fifty to100% of those hypnotized hear and remember everything that is said to them during a session because the conscious mind may be taking a break, but it is still quietly monitoring things from the background.

Today hypnosis is widely used in 21st century medicine, psychotherapy, athletics and dentistry. It helps with smoking cessation, weight loss, relieving symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, allergies, pain and stress. Hypnosis enhances general health, academic, sales and creative arts performance. It can help improve public speaking skills, confidence and self-esteem. Hypnosis helps clients to sleep better, improve concentration, memory and relationships.

It also helps students ace exams; it supports complication-free surgery and helps mothers comfortably deliver babies without the need for any medications. With hypnosis, clients are involved with the process of creating positive change, which is as empowering as it is rewarding.

The keys to success with hypnosis are fairly simple: you need to be an open and willing participant; you need to be truly motivated and lastly you should be sitting with someone who is professional and capable. In most states hypnosis is not a regulated profession which means there are no professional standards ensuring competence or accountability.

A good direction to take when looking for a qualified hypnotherapist is to find someone who is also a licensed healthcare provider such as a physician, registered nurse, psychologist, psychiatrist or a social worker. These individuals are educated and certified in their field and are more likely able to offer professional quality care.

You should also ask your primary physician for a referral. Although most doctors know very little about hypnosis it is a good base to cover and they may just surprise you with a referral. Another resource might be holistic health centers, where there are usually several modalities of holistic practitioners under one roof.

Online you can use sites like which offer searches based on the category and distance from your home. From there you can research websites, office rates, qualifications and also get a feel for their level of professionalism, at least as it is presented on the internet.

From the initial phone conversation with a prospective hypnotherapist you should be able to gauge if they are generally interested in your concerns, how long they have been in business and what their qualifications are. You might ask if they are affiliated with any particular organizations. There are many reputable governing organizations which have their own code of ethics.

You should also ask if the session(s) will be specific to your needs and if you receive a recording of the session for home reinforcement. Many hypnotherapists do not record the sessions and only offer a generic reinforcement tape while others offer nothing at all.

Also ask if they will teach you how to self-induce hypnotic trance which is a great way to help you own the process even more and it also helps you to become an independent practitioner giving you the opportunity to add new control and freedom to other areas of your life all on your own.

Another helpful question is to ask how many sessions you will need. The hypnotherapist should be able to give you a good idea of how many. You should also ask for references. I have a long list of satisfied clients who gladly make themselves available to anyone who is curious about my services.

If you get all the right answers to these questions and feel good about the person you are speaking with, the last thing is to make sure their rates are in line with the area they practice in. This varies greatly from one part of the country to the next. Don’t let a few dollars dictate your decision. If you feel good about how they describe their services and they seem to respect you and your concerns don’t let a few dollars get in the way of a positive experience.

Now that you have chosen a hypnotherapist the last step is to evaluate their office. If they got passing grades so far the chances are pretty good that the office experience well get good marks as well. Their office could be in an office building or in their home. You will know right away if it is clean and professional in appearance. You should feel safe and protected. The hypnotherapist should make you feel welcome and cared for. There should also be a comfortable place for you to relax during your session.

If everything meets your approval just relax and enjoy yourself. Hypnotherapy is a wonderful experience on many levels. You may discover great clarity and understanding. You may experience new freedom, control and fulfillment. In life we all follow the path of our most dominant thoughts, hypnosis lets you choose your thoughts and reframe your world.

Paul Gustafson, R.N., C.H. is a Clinical Hypnotherapist in Burlington, MA. His 11 years of acute cardiac and hospice experience offer a solid foundation supporting his empowering and creative use of hypnosis. Visit or call toll free at 888-290-3972.

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