Frequently Asked Questions


Definitions of Hypnosis

Hypnosis is defined many ways. Here are some meaningful definitions used in Hypnosis:

“Hypnosis is a state of intensified attention and receptivity to an idea or a set of ideas.” Milton Erickson

“Hypnosis is a particular altered state of selective hyper-suggestibility brought about in an individual by the use of a combination of relaxation, fixation of attention, and suggestion.” Masud Ansari

NOTE: The use of hypnosis for pain control, stress management and more rapid healing has been accepted by the American Medical Association since 1958. Although everyday use of hypnosis hasn’t quite reached mainstream availability here yet, in Europe hypnosis has been used to assist in operations and healing for several decades. The British Medical Association endorsed hypnosis in 1892, and approved the use for child birth, pain, etc. in 1955.

The Definition of Hypnosis given by the US Government covers two parts:

(1) The Bypassing of the critical factor, and (2) The establishing of acceptable selective thinking.

“Bypassing the critical factor” is about getting beyond limiting beliefs. Hypnosis can be used effectively on medical, dental and personal issues. However, if you have the limiting belief that the mind cannot create a powerful change, you will limit your ability to do so.

In hypnosis, this limiting belief can be bypassed. “The establishing of acceptable selective thinking,” the second part of the definition, refers to using hypnosis to guide someone into a receptive state of mind by using a hypnotic induction. Opening the mind to selective thinking creates the mental environment or state of mind that enables you to change limiting beliefs (the ones you acquired during your lifetime), so that you can empower yourself with new and more useful ones.

The hypnotic state is a receptive place, where you are easily able to make useful changes in your life.

You can change limiting beliefs that may have been preventing you from moving forward. Hypnosis is the tool that helps you to reach more receptive levels of your unconscious mind, where you can eliminate unresourceful beliefs and create more useful ones! Taking on New Beliefs that would be enhancing your life now!

Most people can be hypnotized. In fact you probably already are…and just didn’t know it.

You have gone into these “Altered States” literally thousands of times. You do it yourself when you are daydreaming. You enter an altered state when you drive down the road thinking about something …. and you don’t quite remember the trip, but you’re here (self-hypnosis)! You have been hypnotized when you enjoyed a television program (being hypnotized by the media), and you have followed hypnotic and post-hypnotic suggestions when you preferred some brand name that you saw repeatedly on television (hypnotic compounding of suggestion). You have in fact been culturally conditioned your entire life and now you can choose to use it working for you by your own choice, for Your Own good!!!


History of Hypnosis


Hypnosis has been used in one form or another for at least 5000 years (e.g. the sleep temples of Ancient Egypt and Greece). It is the oldest healing modality on the planet and is useful for all manner of personal changes, medical, dental uses and pain control.

What do you think of when you hear hypnosis? People sometimes think of when they saw it on stage. Stage hypnosis records go back only 200 years. This is where the fear and curiosity developed. It is only recently, in the past 50 years, that hypnosis has been recognized for its true benefits by the AMA (American Medical Association) in America.

Over 5000 Years Old

Cultural Perspective – Moving from one culture or time to another.

430 BC – Hippocrates – Hippocrates is known for beginning modern medicine. In discussing illness, he said, “The affliction suffered by the body, the soul sees quite well with the eyes shut.”

960 – Avicenna – a Persian psychologist and physician known as Avicenna (or Ibn Sina in Farsi / Persian) (980-1037) spent many hours with “common” people in the taverns, and wrote “the Book of Healing in 1027. In this book he referred to hypnosis as Al-Wahm Al-Amil which roughly translates to the pleasant dreamy imagination. He stated that one could create conditions in another person so that this person accepts the reality of hypnosis.

1500 – Leonardo da Vinci – used his own version of hypnosis

1527 – Paracelsus elaborated the theory of an influence upon disease / healing with hypnosis. He was also the first to use magnets with hypnosis.

Pre-1600’s Chinese medicine – Sleeping Temples

1628 – Harvey published work on heart and circulation of blood – Medical Science begins

1734 – 1815 – Anton Mesmer

1765 – Franz Anton Mesmer claimed he influenced magnetic fluid to bring about healing

1774 Mesmer witnessed animal magnetism

1784 – Ben Franklin and Le Marquis de Puysegur investigate (per Louis XVI request)

End of 19th Century – Animal Magnetism

1837 – John Elliotson organized public clinical demonstration of hypnotic phenomena

1845 – James Esdaile, Scottish surgeon, demonstrated hypnosis techniques in India. Although he performed hundreds of operations under hypnosis, the British rejected the technique.

1841 – James Braid, Manchester doctor, introduced use of the word “hypnosis.”

1884 – Dr. Ambroise & August Liebeault – founder of Nancy School set up “De La Suggestion”

1890 – Josef Breuer and Sigmund Freud developed the application of hypnosis

1914 – 1918 Germans used hypnosis for shell-shock

1945 – After – Milton Erickson, David Elman, Richard Bandler, amongst others – developed extensive use of hypnosis by watchful examination. Milton believed that the client had all the resources he needed and the therapist’s job was to connect the client to life-changing resources. He focused on client-centered hypnosis, an indirect process, where David Elman’s practice was more direct and authoritarian.

1987 and after – Dr. Ernest Rossi, Dr. deShazer, and many other professionals have continued research and development of Modern Clinical Hypnotherapy and has helped bringing hypnosis to a more proven science.

1987 – Rich Aanrich formed A Positive Change, now Apositiva, in Portland and in 2001, Cat Wilson joined the team. The team practice and teach Modern Clinical Hypnotherapy through Apositiva Institute in Portland Oregon.


Can I Be Hypnotized?

Most people can be hypnotized, in fact you probably already are… and just did not know it.

You have gone into these “Altered States” literally thousands of times. In fact it is almost impossible to think of how any intelligent person who was raised in society had not been influenced or indoctrinated (hypnotized). This is called a consensus trance and is part of how we follow and are influenced by other people in our lives. It is completely natural. We have all had it happening since birth… we just did not think of it as just another version of hypnosis. So, yes, the good news (or disturbing news, however you want to look at it) is that you can indeed be hypnotized… only this time you will be doing it for your own choices and making your own changes!

This time rather than an unconscious consensus, it will be your choice.

Consensus Trance is Involuntary
People have had a lifetime of conditioning of going in and out of Altered States of Consciousness (trances).

“Conditioning” or “Imprinting” happens naturally in many forms and comes from all of the following life effecting cultural experiences: parents, churches, families, schools, colleges, sports, business, military, medias, peers and many more.

Cultural conditioning is consensus trance. People learn how to think or behave and condition themselves to what the rules are (consciously or unconsciously) according to that culture or system that they have been operating within!

What is it like to be hypnotized and will I know what is happening?

Everyone is different. Everyone experiences altered states differently, and it is okay in whatever way it is experienced by them. It is unwise to presuppose a hypnotic state has to be in a certain way or as it happened to others. Each person’s experience is uniquely their own.

“Everyone reacts differently, according to their own background of personal experience.” Milton Erickson

The experiences in hypnosis are unique to each person. Your experience and those of others are always different in some ways. Please accept that there is no right (same) experience for everyone and that everyone will experience their altered states in different ways.


Will I remember what happened?

Will I remember what happens during hypnosis and after I come out of my trance? Different people maintain different degrees of consciousness during trance. Some people are proud to report remembering everything that was said during the hypnotic session. Others report remembering certain pieces of their experience, but not much else. Some report little or no memory of their hypnotic experience. Memory functions are quite varied from person to person.

Hypnosis is Progressive

Clients learn how to enter states of hypnosis and relaxation more quickly with each practice. People will have different, usually more relaxed and responsive states, as they continue experiencing and entering altered states. Observe yourself and notice how much you continue to change with each hypnosis experience and self-hypnosis practice! This time you will be learning to direct it for yourself.

How You Feel In A Trance

A trance is a normal and natural state. It is a “heightened state,” like a daydream, or meditating. Some say it feels like floating as light as clouds in the sky. Trance is represented by a normal range of brain waves, as measured by an Electroencephalogram. We all go through each of these states every day. In a hypnosis session you will be guided into the right states for making the changes that are useful for reaching goals that you have selected and help to design!

The waking state or Beta state has brain waves of from 14 to 40 cycles per second.
The hypnotic state or Alpha state has 8 to 13 cycles per second. REM occurs at high Alpha at end of cycle.
Theta state is deep hypnosis and has 4 to 7 cycles per second.
Delta state or deep sleep state has 1 to 3 cycles per second.

The only thing unnatural about the Alpha state is that we do not normally recognize it for what it is naturally. Alpha is a focused state of heightened creativity, visualization and emotion.


Will I be asleep?

Hypnosis is different than sleep. You will generally notice being nicely relaxed and that you go in and out of consciousness. Sometimes you are very aware of hearing what is being said and other times your mind wanders off and then you cycle back again. You will be touching sleep as you enter the Theta state and becoming more aware again as you move into the Alpha state. It is totally normal to hear and not hear what is being said to you and you do not have to try to pay attention as your unconscious mind does hear everything that is being said.

Myths about Hypnosis


Myth of the weak mind: There exists a belief that only the weak minded or gullible can be hypnotized. Actually we now know that it is quite different and the opposite is in fact true. People of average and above average intelligence who are capable of concentrating and also those who have active, vivid imaginations make good hypnotic subjects.

Fear of revealing secrets: Genuine concern that they will tell all and reveal some secret from the past. In fact, in hypnosis the subject has greater awareness than when fully awake and retains the powers of selectivity.

Fear of humiliation: Afraid they will be made to look like or act like a fool. Something like they saw on some stage show or movie. In reality the stage show subjects volunteered to participate, and were quite willing to act silly or clown around. The people were there by choice, and knew what they were doing. Volunteer subjects expect to participate in an entertaining show, and these are usually outgoing, fun-loving people who likewise expect to be entertained.

Fear of loss of control: Who would want to lose control of themselves? A hypnotized subject is in full control of themselves. They are fully aware of the environment and completely capable of making decisions. If the subject were presented with an idea or suggestion they would find objectionable in regular consciousness, it would still be objectionable and would be rejected. Hypnosis does not make anyone do anything

Fear of not waking up: Hypnosis is not sleep! Sleep and hypnosis may seem similar, since the subject is relaxed and has their eyes closed, yet there are many differences. One main difference is that the subject is in a relaxed state, but with heightened awareness. If a person fell asleep during a session, they would return to normal consciousness when asked to, or simply awaken after a short nap. They would feel refreshed, relaxed and would have no ill effects at all.

Myth of “I wasn’t hypnotized”: I must not have been hypnotized, because I heard every word you said! This comes from an erroneous expectation that they would be unconscious or asleep. There are no mysterious feelings, no knocked out depths, in being hypnotized and the subjects mind is not taken over nor controlled beyond their own awareness. This expectation and perhaps a demand to have some mysterious experience beyond conscious control or awareness seems to leave some people disappointed and even denying they had any experience at all. These same people may actually have received substantial results and unconscious change. You will feel relaxed with a peaceful feeling when you are ready to enter hypnosis and you will remember everything important for you in the moment.

Real hypnosis is not to be confused with some stage show or movie. You will not be knocked out, and you will not be in someone’s control. For most people a good hypnosis session is like being guided into a really wonderfully relaxed and receptive state of mind where your mind is allowed to open up past the critical mind and where you will receive the right suggestions for change! Hypnosis is also Progressive and you go to an even deeper place with exposure.


Long Term Benefits


Hypnotherapy is especially effective for pain. Many patients struggle with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and will come in to see us as a last resort. Hypnotherapy has been found to reduce health care costs according to studies on long-term effects of hypnotherapy with patients of refractory irritable bowel syndrome. (Source: US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health)


What is NLP?

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) is about the study of subjective reality. This is how we create our internal representations of reality which is what is real for us. NLP is about methods and techniques that provide more positive outcomes or enhanced outcomes than were previously there. Everybody already knows how to do some things well, and those are the resources that can be used or applied to other areas for making a positive change. Find out more about NLP here: Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)


Presuppositions are beliefs that someone practicing NLP will find useful for creating changes in themselves and the world, and do it more easily and effectively. The emphasis here should be on “useful” not whether each one could be proven to be “true”. Communication is more than what is said verbally.

The body communicates constantly in ways that go far beyond words.
People already have all the resources they need to effect a change.
They just need to find where the resources are and to be able to access them.
Choice is better than no choice. The person with the most options is in control.
People are stuck or unable to make a change because they lack the right choices.
Every behavior has a positive intention connected to it, and within a given context it has value to them or they wouldn’t be doing it.
Like someone binge eating because it brings comfort to them, somehow, in that moment.
If someone else is able to do something, then it can be decoded and accessed to make changes by others. That even includes us.
The map is not the territory.
Trying to understand or talk about something is only a small part of the actual experience of it. So we create a “map about the territory”. By changing a person’s map, we can then change their reality.

The meaning of your communication is the response you get.

If the way someone is communicating is not getting the desired results it means it is not working and another way of communicating is needed until the desired result is happening. Consider the insanity principle: If you always do…

People work in Patterns.

No one is “broken”. They are following patterns they learned sometime in the past and it over time it has become habitual. More useful ways of doing things are needed to create better patterns. Implementing can help them make a change into doing something they consider more desirable.


History of NLP

NLP was originated by John Grinder (whose background was in linguistics) and Richard Bandler (whose background was in mathematics and gestalt therapy) for the purpose of making explicit models of human excellence. Their first work The Structure of Magic Vol. I & II (1975, 1976) identified the verbal and behavioral patterns of therapists Fritz Perls (the creator of gestalt therapy) and Virginia Satir (internationally renowned family therapist).

Their next work Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton H. Erickson, M.D. Vol. I & II (1975, 1976) examined the verbal and behavioral patterns of Milton Erickson, founder of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis and one of the most widely acknowledged and clinically successful psychiatrists of our times. As a result of this earlier work, Grinder and Bandler formalized their modeling techniques and their own individual contributions under the name “Neuro-Linguistic Programming” to symbolize the relationship between the brain, language and the body. The basics of this model has been described in a series of books including Frogs Into Princes (Bandler & Grinder, 1979 ), Neuro-Linguistic Programming Vol. I (Dilts, Grinder, Bandler, DeLozier, 1980), Reframing(Bandler & Grinder, 1982) and Using Your Brain for A Change (Bandler, 1985).

Over time, developers of NLP have created powerful techniques that are considered highly attuned tools and skills. NLP is highly instrumental in situations requiring communication and change in a wide range of professional areas including: counseling, psychotherapy, education, businesses of health, creativity, law, management, sales, leadership and parenting.

Hundreds of books on NLP and the scope and breadth of its applications continue to expand each year by developers, NLP Master Practitioners and Trainers. NLP is a continually evolving and generative technology that continues to broaden and brighten lives and appears to be unlimited in its possibilities!

Do you want a positive change? In what area of your life? For information, to set an appointment in person, or on the phone, contact us: Apositiva Center / Apositiva Institute (503) 525-0595