Dr. Bonnie Howell Coach and Counselor, LLC


You Don’t Have to Do it Alone, Be Coached


More about Hypnosis or

"Help! I Can't Be Hypnotized"

Hypnotherapy induces a natural and relaxing trance state

  • "I don't think I can be hypnotized! I get distracted!"
  • "I'm sure I can't be hypnotized - I'm too strong-willed!"
  • "I can't be hypnotized; I'm terrified of handing over control to someone else!"

We 'in the trade' hear this all the time. Over the years, I've heard variations on the above over and over. It all comes back to one thing: a misunderstanding as to what hypnosis is and isn't.

First off, everybody can be hypnotized. Yes, even you!

Once you understand that each and every one of us can be hypnotized, you can stop wondering about whether you can be hypnotized and focus on how you can be.

Even worrying about whether you can be hypnotized is a type of hypnosis

That's right. During therapeutic hypnosis, your attention can drift inwards as you focus on the contents of your own thoughts and imaginings. Worrying is so hypnotic that we can be very inwardly absorbed for a few seconds and not hear someone calling our name. So, reflecting inwardly as to whether you can or cannot go into hypnosis is a light hypnotic experience in itself! And if you couldn't be hypnotized...well, that wouldn't be natural.

Hypnosis is natural and happens anyway

Hypnosis happens in many kinds of ways, at different times of the day and night (1). It happens when we go into shock, when we're surprised, fascinated, and dreaming at night. So if you have ever had a night-time dream (and believe me, you have, even if you've never remembered one), ever learnt anything, ever had your mind wander and forgot to pay attention to someone talking, or ever worried about something, or got deeply absorbed in a task, you have been hypnotized.  And you'll notice than all of these everyday examples are 'self-hypnosis', that is, these experiences all happen within you without any input from another person.

Emotional problems, from addiction and depression to phobias and fears, all focus the attention narrowly and 'program' us with certain feelings that become automatic and eventually work, in effect, just like post-hypnotic suggestions. The beer acts like a post-hypnotic prompt for the smoker to light up. The phobic hears just the word 'spider' and post-hypnotically feels sick. So even problem states have a hypnotic element to them, and we use controlled therapeutic hypnosis to overcome the negative effects of such 'life hypnosis'.

What people often really mean when they worry over whether they can be hypnotized is: "Can I be hypnotized in a formal hypnotic situation such as by a hypnotherapist?"

The need for flexibility

As I've said, we can all be hypnotized by situations. The situation of sleep sends you into a hypnotic dream; the situation of shock or surprise (3) puts you into a radically altered state of consciousness - a more open and easily conditioned one. But to try to go into hypnosis, to voluntarily change your state of mind (or let someone help you do this) - that is what some people feel they might not be able to do.

If a hypnotherapist is too inflexible, perhaps because they read to their clients from a script or just have one or two techniques they try to apply to everyone, then it might seem as if hypnosis doesn't work for you when it's really their lack of flexibility. We train all our therapists to be able to tailor their hypnotic inductions to the unique needs and personality of the person being hypnotized. The downloads on this site also reflect this flexible approach and we urge therapists who buy our scripts to use them for inspiration and ideas, and not read them to their clients.

So if you feel as if you can't go into hypnosis, what you really mean is that you haven't yet entered trance in a formal hypnotic situation in which someone is actually attempting to hypnotize you. But there's something else here.

Am I really hypnotized?

People assume that if they stop hearing the hypnotherapist, they must have fallen asleep; but if they hear them all the time, they weren't really hypnotized. Sure, some people fall asleep, but if the person comes back at the end of the session to suggestions to open their eyes, then they certainly were not in a deep sleep and were probably just in a deep state of hypnosis. Those who can still hear the hypnotherapist (yes, you can still hear when you enter hypnosis) might think they haven't been hypnotized, assuming that the conscious mind has to go away completely for hypnosis to happen. The fact is that there are degrees or 'levels' of hypnosis and you can get great benefit being in a light level of trance. Sometimes you will go deeply, sometimes you experience lighter levels - and that's fine.

Am I awake or not?

Sometimes conscious processing stops altogether during hypnosis (see my "I think I was asleep" example above), but more often than not a person will experience a 'parallel awareness'. This means that the conscious part of them can still think, analyze, and so on, even as their unconscious mind responds to suggestions. Someone might not believe they are in hypnosis, but suddenly be surprised to find that they have lost the pain they were feeling in their arm as the hypnotist suggests they feel more comfortable. Someone may believe themselves unhypnotized, but find after a session that they no longer wish to smoke or suddenly feel a lot more relaxed in a previously troubling situation. So, being hypnotized may feel different, like 'entering a new world', or it may feel quite normal because, well...it is.

More or less hypnotic

Some people are naturally more hypnotically talented than others and can go into hypnosis at the drop of a hat or the command of a stage hypnotist. Other people need to practice going into trance in a formal hypnotic situation. But everyone can become better at focussing their mind so they more easily do it. People who develop phobias, have persistent post traumatic stress disorder, or easily get angry or depressed tend to be good hypnotic subjects. It's just that they need to use hypnosis to enable them to learn healthier ways of being.

Creative people tend to make great hypnotic subjects, as they can already focus their minds and make connections. Those who can concentrate or who are high performers tend to also enter hypnosis easily as they are naturally able to concentrate and block out distractions. In this way, having strong willpower helps you become hypnotized; so ideas of "I'm too strong-willed to be hypnotized" don't really mean anything.

Becoming easily distracted may seem to block hypnotic experience. But a gifted hypnotist will have the flexibility to even use distractions to help someone go into hypnosis. This is known as 'The Utilization Principle', which means the flexible therapist should use whatever the client or hypnotic subject brings to the situation, even a 'scattered mind', in order to help them.

When you enter hypnosis, you still have free will and options of response. A suggestion is just that, not an order. We use hypnosis to help people gain more control over behaviours that had been controlling them, such as smoking, fears, phobias, depression, anxiety or insomnia.

Hypnosis is a tool, the medium through which the mind and body learn. Some levels of hypnosis are so light they seem little different from everyday awareness and some are so deep you feel you've entered another realm or 'went somewhere completely different for a while.' But hypnosis is natural to all and everyone; the right approach will enable anyone to go into hypnosis and that includes you!  Want to hear from my hypnosis clients?  Go to my testimonials page. 

145 ways hypnosis may help you
  1. Abandonment
  2. Addictions
  3. Age Regression
  4. Aggression
  5. Agoraphobia
  6. Anesthesia
  7. Anger
  8. Anxiety
  9. Assertiveness
  10. Assist Healing
  11. Attitude Adjustment
  12. Bed Wetting
  13. Biofeedback
  14. Breathing
  15. Career Success
  16. Change Habits
  17. Child Birth
  18. Chronic Pain
  19. Communication
  20. Concentration
  21. Controlling
  22. Cramps
  23. Cravings
  24. Creativity
  25. Death or Loss
  26. Discouraged
  27. Dreams
  28. Exam Anxiety
  29. Exercise
  30. Fear of Animals
  31. Fear of Death
  32. Fear of Dentist
  33. Fear of Doctor
  34. Fear of Failure
  35. Fear of Flying
  36. Fear of Heights
  37. Fear of Loss of Control
  38. Fear of School
  39. Fear of Success
  40. Fear of Surgery
  41. Fear of Water
  42. Fears
  43. Forgiveness
  44. Frustration
  45. Gagging
  46. Gambling
  47. Guilt
  48. Hair Twisting
  49. Headaches
  50. Helplessness
  51. Hopelessness
  52. Hypochondria
  53. Hostility
  54. Hypertension
  55. Immune System
  56. Impotency
  57. Improve Health
  58. Improve Sales
  59. Indecision
  60. Inferiority
  61. Inhibition
  62. Insecurity
  63. Insomnia
  64. Irrational
  65. Irrational thoughts
  66. Irritability
  67. Jealousy
  68. Lack of Ambition
  69. Lack of Direction
  70. Lack of Enthusiasm
  71. Lack of Initiative
  72. Lower Blood Pressure
  73. Medication Side Effects
  1. Memory
  2. Mistrust
  3. Moodiness
  4. Motivation
  5. Nail Biting
  6. Nausea
  7. Negativism
  8. Nightmares
  9. Obsessions
  10. Obsessive-Compulsive
  11. Overeating
  12. Overly Critical
  13. Pain Management
  14. Panic Attacks
  15. Passive-Aggressive
  16. Past Life Regression
  17. Perfectionism
  18. Performance Anxiety
  19. Pessimism
  20. Phobias
  21. Postsurgical
  22. Premature Ejaculation
  23. Presurgical
  24. Problem Solving
  25. Procrastination
  26. Public Speaking
  27. Reach Goals
  28. Rejection
  29. Relationship Enhancement
  30. Relaxation
  31. Resistance
  32. Resistance to Change
  33. Responsibility
  34. Restlessness
  35. Sadness
  36. Self-Awareness
  37. Self-Blame
  38. Self-Confidence
  39. Self-Control
  40. Self-Criticism
  41. Self-Defeating Behaviors
  42. Self-Esteem
  43. Self-Expression
  44. Self-Forgiveness
  45. Self-Hypnosis
  46. Self-Image
  47. Self-Mastery
  48. Sexual Problems
  49. Shame
  50. Skin Problems
  51. Sleep Disorders
  52. Smoking
  53. Social Phobia
  54. Sports
  55. Stage Fright
  56. Stress
  57. Study Habits
  58. Stuttering
  59. Stubborn
  60. Substance Abuse
  61. Superiority
  62. Surgical Recovery
  63. Tardiness
  64. Temptation
  65. Thumb Sucking
  66. Tics
  67. Trauma
  68. Ulcers
  69. Victimization
  70. Weight Loss
  71. Worry
  72. Writers Block


 If I can’t help you’ll always get a referral just ask at any time.