This is the world's only hypnosis FAQ that doesn't answer the question: "What is hypnosis?"

Instead, here you'll find answers to questions that really ARE asked frequently.. imagine that!

Warning! The information on this page may not be what you expect, or want, to hear.

Unfortunately, when most hypnotists attempt to spread "the Truth About Hypnosis", they're just repeating copy-and-pasted "feel good" myths that have little basis in reality. Those are meant to reassure you with simplistic "YES! Hypnosis Will Help!" answers, as if that's a sign of confidence.

Sometimes that's done with good intentions, just because of ignorance or lack of experience on the part of the hypnotist. Sometimes it's a deliberate attempt to mislead; business-as-usual internet marketing tactics just to get people in the door.

But I don't see the point in reinforcing people's weaknesses, including the desire to hear comforting but phony answers. This isn't a small matter: reassurance-seeking is a pattern that is known to make anxiety-related problems worse - the last thing a helper should be doing is reinforcing that habit!

So first, here are:

10 "Facts About Hypnosis" That Aren't True
(What Most Hypnotists Are Afraid to Tell You)

And now, onto the FAQ:

Q: Does hypnosis really work?
Q: How does it work?
Q: I can't relax, I'm always thinking, I'm very analytical, so it'd probably be difficult to hypnotize me, right?
Q: Can hypnosis help me stop ________?
Q: How can I tell if a hypnotist or hypnotherapist is legitimate/What kind of credentials do you have as a hypnotist?
Q: I have a friend/family member who [insert negative behavior here]. Can hypnosis make them stop?
Q: How often should the appointments be done?
Q: How long is each appointment?
Q: I just want to perform better. How can hypnosis help me?
Q: Can this help improve my memory / test anxiety?
Q: What about success rates?
Q: How are hypnotists trained?
Q: Can you recommend any hypnosis training or courses?
Q: Can you help me forget a bad relationship?
Q: Can you help me forget a bad experience I went through?
Q: Will insurance cover this?
Q: Would you do a barter/trade or sliding scale fee?
Q: I have multiple issues I would like to work on. Can they all be handled at the same time?
Q: Can this help children?
Q: Are these positive changes permanent?
Q: How many people have you worked with?
Q: How long have you been doing this?
Q: Is there a guarantee?
Q: What is your background?
Q: How many office visits? What are the fees?

Visit my YouTube channel for more:

Q:    Does hypnosis really work?

A:      No, not exactly.

The question itself does not compute. Reason: hypnosis is a subjective state that enables an unusual type of learning.

So it's like asking: "Does a subjective experience work?" or "Does learning work?"

I have no idea.

There is plenty of research showing that hypnosis appears to have positive effects for many different types of issues, but still, that doesn't mean that it "works" or that it is "real".

Google Scholar contains links to 1000's of peer-reviewed studies related to hypnosis. You can also search the 10,000+ research papers about hypnosis, found online at the National Institutes of Health PubMed website (use search term "hypnosis").

If you're interested in digging deep into the understanding of "how it works", stick to peer-reviewed research. The internet is full of hypno-nonsense that's made to sound vaguely scientific; that's OK for people who just want an answer that sounds good, but who don't care whether it's accurate or not... but that makes me wonder why ask the question in the first place?

This is a recent comprehensive review of the research so far: MECHANISMS OF HYPNOSIS: Toward the Development of a Biopsychosocial Model (Jensen, Adachi, et al. 2015).

Summary of that paper:

> Evidence supports the efficacy of hypnotic treatments, but there remain many unresolved questions regarding how hypnosis produces its beneficial effects...

> Perhaps the most important conclusion [...] from this review is the confirmation that an individual’s response to hypnosis is highly complex, and not easily or strongly predicted by any one biological, psychological, or social factor.

So, the most accurate answer to "how does it work?" turns out to be: "no one really knows".

But anyway, I don't spend a lot of time trying to convince people that hypnosis is real.

If a person is in denial about the validity of research done at places like Stanford University School of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, the Mayo Clinic, Mt. Sinai Medical Center, etc., then there isn't much chance that I am going to change their mind!

The answer to this "does it work" question is ambiguous because hypnosis alone does not cause positive changes. It's what happens within the hypnotic interaction that matters.

When working on a personal issue, you want to find someone who is skilled at hypnotizing people.. but even more important, you want to find someone who is capable of using hypnosis to help you. Those are two different things.

For an experienced hypnotist, the act of hypnotizing a client is so trivial that it is the easy part of the work. The challenge is to use hypnosis in the right way, to solve the right problem... solving the wrong problem is easy, too!

But it's not just about the hypnotist. The person getting hypnotized is the most significant person in the interaction.

A good client can do well even if the hypnotist is mediocre (maybe even lousy)... but a great hypnotist cannot do anything for a client who is doing hypnosis for the wrong reasons (the wrong reasons should be made clearer throughout this FAQ).

This means that anyone who is looking to "get hypnotized" because they figure it might be an easy way to avoid personal responsibility over some part of their own life, has got entirely the wrong idea about it.

If you think that hypnosis is about "going under" and passively listening to life-changing suggestions, then this is probably not for you.

Because of misunderstandings about hypnosis, it's often promoted in a way which panders to people who rely on wishful thinking, who hope that some mysterious power or technique (or some special "secret" found in the self-help section) is going to transform their life.

"Hoping hypnosis works" is not a useful strategy for success.


It reveals an aspect of personality called "locus of control". A simple way to understand it is to imagine a person who says:

"I got an exercise machine, I hope it works" or
"I'm going to a motivational seminar, I hope it works" or
"I'm taking a brazilian jiu jitsu class to toughen up, I hope it works"

Yes, of course, exercise machines "work", but it's that attitude that "doesn't work".

People who think or speak in those terms exhibit an external locus of control that is associated with lower goal achievement and less success in life in general. It is of vital importance to recognize and reject the weak "I hope it works" mindset (if it exists) in order to maximize chances of success.

Hypnosis CAN lead to rapid results and positive changes that are mysterious and puzzling in their speed and simplicity.

BUT, that usually only happens with proactive people who are already taking care of things at the conscious level, setting up good conditions to allow effective and successful subconscious work.

In those cases, from a client point of view, it can seem like "it just works!"

*DISCLAIMER: Testimonials and reviews are not guarantees of similar results. Individual results vary.

back to top of page

Q:    How does it work?

A:       This section will describe how the process works, with the understanding that the term "works" in this case does not mean the same thing as the term in the question "Does it really work?", which is answered earlier.

(This kind of subtle but significant difference may seem kind of nit-picky, but hypnosis is very much about the power of precision-guided language)

No one really knows how hypnotism works, but for purposes of practical understanding, the best way to explain it is through the use of metaphors. This is not going to describe specific techniques, because that can cause some people, especially worrier-types, to overthink the process.

Here are three metaphors, choose the one that makes the most sense to you:

A Programmable Dream

You are not asleep during hypnosis. But the state does share similarities with dreaming. Your mind does a lot of very important work every night during dreaming cycles (everyone dreams, even if they do not remember them).

The hypnotist uses their skill to create a dreaming state of reality, but it goes beyond that. In that state, a skilled hypnotist can enter "debugging mode". In software programming, this is a mode in which you can go line-by-line through the functions of a program as it is running.

Without the ability to examine the source code and the variables, your mind takes input, runs a buggy program, spits out bad output, or causes a run-time error, and then you get frustrated trying to figure out why you aren't getting the result you wanted.

Being able to run processes in the hypnotic state and to see what is really going on is extremely useful for figuring out the cause of mental errors and bugs. Sometimes the causes are very subtle and non-obvious, not what you'd expect. In hypnosis you can more easily fix the source code which leads to unwanted results in life, releasing a new version of your software with better features and performance.

Your Subconscious as Your Pet

If you know anyone who has a dog, you might notice that their life in many ways revolves around their pet. It dictates large parts of their routine. In a real sense, the pet owner is not in charge, but is there to serve the pet.

While the pet owner might understand concepts like pet nutrition, proper care, and the need for regular checkups at the vet, the pet itself doesn't "get" those concepts, it just wants to chase things, run away from things, hide, sleep or play.

Conscious efforts to change are like the pet owner reading an article about how to take care of their pet. That can be useful for the owner to be well-informed, but it wouldn't make any sense to read that article to your pet with any expectation that it would make a difference. If your dog or cat were scared or misbehaving, you wouldn't just tell it to "Think positive!" or "Be a good dog!"

Hypnosis can be thought of as like sending the pet owner (the conscious mind) away for a little while, and then the hypnotist can act as the "subconscious whisperer", speaking to it in its language instead of just giving rational advice. In addition, as any good trainer would, a good hypnotist can provide guidance to the owner of how best to take care of their beloved animal outside of office visits.

Google Maps and GPS

If you've grown up in one area, you probably learned how to get from Here to There, home to school to work to store, etc. just by picking up on directions from friends and family. Especially before GPS and Google Map directions became common, you learned to go a certain way because everyone else seemed to go that way, but you never really consciously calculated whether that is the best commute for you. That pattern of movement is an everyday habit.

All habits of thought, feelings and behavior are stored in your mind and body literally as a network of cells wired together. Everything you experience travels along those networks; new experiences create new pathways, and old experiences that are repeated are connected even further.

Imagine one day you finally get sick and tired of an old commute, so you want to find a different way. If you try to take a new direction just by using conscious effort, that is like trying to find a new direction AFTER you've already gotten on the expressway that you wanted to avoid at rush hour... trying harder to "go faster" isn't getting you anywhere once you're stuck in a habitual jam, all that does is make you more frustrated.

But hypnotic work targets pre-conscious/subconscious processes, which happen BEFORE conscious awareness and effort, making it easier to avoid getting stuck in the first place.

In addition, hypnosis can create a sort of virtual street-level experience in your mind, letting your brain explore and create new pathways with less fear of getting lost; you feel more confident about trying a new way.

Best of all, this is one of the reasons that it's possible to change a habit more easily with hypnosis, no matter how long a person has had a habit. Think about it: if you learn of a new and better route to/from a destination, how long does it take for you to change the path you take, and start going the new way?

Whichever metaphor you prefer, it's useful to understand what's really happening when you change a habit or overcome a fear.

As mentioned in the Google Maps GPS metaphor, anything that you do repeatedly enough is literally stored in your brain and nervous system in the form of a network that you've wired together. When you "end" a bad habit, or when you learn to overcome a fear, what you're really doing is directing electrical-chemical signals away from the old circuits in your nervous system, towards a newer network that inhibits the old habit or the old fear.

The good news is: you can literally reshape and rewire your brain. Learning of any kind wouldn't be possible if you didn't have the ability to do that.

The scary news might be: this happens with EVERYTHING you do or think repeatedly, whether it's useful to you or not. This includes every time you feed a bad habit, or engage in avoidance of an uncomfortable circumstance.

Every time you avoid something you fear, you're training your brain to fear the thing you're avoiding. This is why fears tend to get worse and spread to more areas of your life as the terror network grows, if you don't do something to help face the fear.

This means that we ought to be careful about whatever we regularly think or do, because we are always training/shaping our brain to do or think more of that!

back to top of page

Q:    I can't relax, I'm always thinking, I'm very analytical, so it'd probably be difficult to hypnotize me, right?

A:      Not at all. This belief is based on the error of thinking that you need to try to relax or have an "empty mind" in order to get hypnotized. It is similar to the mistaken belief that meditation is supposed to be a state of being at peace (whatever that is supposed to mean).

Because my office is in Center City and across the river from University City, a large percentage of my client base consists of professionals and academics who think for a living, and who have been trained to think critically and analytically. It's not a problem. In fact professional thinkers are some of my best clients.

Some people think that "thinking a lot" is the same thing as being "analytical", but that's like people constantly chattering or texting on their cell phone, and thinking that means they have a lot to say.

The other common type of "thinking a lot" is worrying about the future, or rumination about the past, and that is not the same as being analytical --- it's a habitual form of phony problem-solving and mindless mental chatter.

The thing is: hypnotism is largely about internalized fixation of attention.. people who are "worriers" by definition have a tendency to fixate inside their own heads, so they already have one main characteristic of being hypnotizable!

That type of worrying is not much of an obstacle, as long as the hypnotist knows what they are doing, and does not try to use an incompatible induction style that a "worrier" or "thinker" won't be able to relate to.

So, for both professional thinkers AND also for amateur worrying types, we can use hypnotism to help them get better at thinking more critically and analytically in an intelligent manner.

"Analytical", or Just Not Coachable?

However, there is another kind of "analytical" which is not really about intellectual activity or critical thinking skills or worrying, but is more about a general inability or unwillingness to pay attention, combined with a tendency to make assumptions about intent --- this is about lack of coachability. This really is a difficult scenario to overcome, which is why I do my best to screen potential clients.

Of course, everyone would rather think of themselves as "analytical" (it sounds smarter, doesn't it?) rather than inattentive, self-absorbed, or uncoachable.

Here is an example:

Hypnotist: "Let's do some warm-up exercises. Please look at your hand."

Hypnotee: [Looks at hand for a few seconds, then looks up and says:] "It's not working. Nothing's happening."

Hypnotist: "Why did you assume something was supposed to happen when you looked at your hand?"

Hypnotee: "I saw someone getting hypnotized on a TV show. When you told me to look at my hand, I was supposed to 'go under' and go into a deep sleep, just like that guy on the show."

Hypnotist: "Not really. I was just asking you to look at your hand. And remember, hypnosis isn't sleep, you don't have to relax, and you're supposed to be able to hear what I'm saying."

Hypnotee: "Yes, yes, I know that already."

Hypnotist: "Great, so now close your eyes. [Hypnotee closes eyes] Now focus on your breathing."

Hypnotee: [Opens eyes] "It's not working, I can hear what you're saying. I don't feel sleepy or relaxed. I guess I'm too analytical to be hypnotized. My mind is too strong!"

Hypnotist: "..."

This is an extreme example, and fortunately this kind of interaction is rare in an office setting because such people will rarely consider doing this kind of work.

People who have inflexible, already-know-it-all mindsets wouldn't even think about doing hypnosis. In general, they are unlikely to seek help in the first place, whether it's in the form of going to a hypnotist, or even just reading a book that could help them improve in some way. By definition, know-it-alls do not believe there is anything else they need to learn, and ironically end up being some of the least developed people to be around.

On the flip side of this issue, I think people who are attracted to helping people as hypnotists sometimes possess a "healer"-type of personality and background, and can get intimidated by the idea of trying to hypnotize a client who has an MBA or scientific/technical background, as if that matters. Some have difficulty adjusting their frames of reference to a more left-brained mode (to use a cliche). They mentally label the client as "analytical" or even worse: "resistant", sometimes even telling the client "you are too analytical to be hypnotized".

I know this because I've worked successfully with many clients such as scientists, medical/legal professionals, etc. who had been unfairly labeled as "difficult", just because someone couldn't hypnotize them before by using a generic "Now drift into your serene place" script!

So, there are a lot of misunderstandings about how analytical thinkers might be difficult, but based on experience I have not found that to be the case at all.

back to top of page

Q:    Can hypnosis help me stop ________?

A:      It depends.

Quick and easy quiz: can you sense the difference between the following statements:

        "I want to stop ____. Can hypnosis help me do that?"


        "I know I should stop ____. Can hypnosis make me?"

If you CAN understand the difference, there's probably a reasonable chance hypnosis could help.

If you CAN'T understand the difference, or your thinking is along the lines of the second statement, then chances of achieving your goal are probably lower, regardless of hypnosis or not.

Be careful: "have to" and "should" and "make me"
are warning signs of ineffective, childlike thinking.

People who are stuck in a habitual rut often say "I want to stop ____, but I don't know how." Think about that.

Imagine someone punching themselves in the head over and over again, complaining about the awful headache they feel as a result, and they say: "I want to stop punching myself in the head, but I don't know how".

Of course, the obvious answer is: "Just stop punching yourself in the head."

Amazingly, that simple hypnotic suggestion might work in many cases... as if it causes a light-bulb to turn on in the subconscious mind --- "Oh yeah, I don't have to do that anymore." There is sudden realization that a lot of time and energy was wasted on thinking that it was more complicated than that. Problem solved.

In a normal, unhypnotized state of mind, if someone hears a friend suggesting "Just stop doing that" or "Just relax, calm down and breathe", their mind tends to block and reject that kind of simple and obvious advice: "I already know that. But I can't, because [insert endless supply of excuses and rationalizations here]."

(Did you ever notice that the people who are most likely to say "I know, I know!" are very often the same people who really truly don't? The tendency to say or think "I already know that!" is an obstacle that blocks real learning and maintains ignorance)

But when people are in a hypnotic state, their mind is more responsive and capable of applying knowledge in a process of active learning.

This is why hypnotic change can happen very efficiently --- it operates on the level of learned experience, it's not about listening to someone give you advice (ie. "Did you know smoking is bad for you?" or "You deserve to be happy and healthy!").


On the other hand, some people may have acquired subconscious beliefs which cause them to believe that they deserve a punch in the head, or that they need the behavior for some reason. Perhaps it distracts them from something else that is even more uncomfortable for them to deal with.

Or, they have acquired a self-image of themselves as being a head-puncher, that is just who they are... so, unsurprisingly, head-punchers are expected to punch themselves.

In these cases, hypnosis can help people let go of beliefs and aspects of their self-image which are contributing to the unwanted behavior.

Sometimes, people find it easier to stop doing something if they learn something else to do, instead of punching themselves in the head. The key to that is figuring out what you'd rather do instead (if anything). For this purpose, hypnosis can help your mind rapidly develop the skills to do something else instead.

Also, hypnosis can help your mind learn that it doesn't have to do anything else at all... it can learn to become comfortable doing nothing for a while. This means that in a lot of cases, you don't need to put extra effort into instilling some new alternative replacement habit. It really can be as simple as that!

(DISCLAIMER: Testimonials and customer reviews are not guarantees of similar results. Individual results may vary.)

Hypnosis is particularly effective with helping people stop unconscious habits like nail-biting. I have helped many many people with this type of habit and even I am still surprised and puzzled at how quickly this kind of problem can be resolved (email image used with kind permission):

back to top of page

Q:    How can I tell if a hypnotist or hypnotherapist is legitimate? What kind of credentials do you have as a hypnotist?

A:      I've been certified by various organizations, including the National Guild of Hypnotists, the largest and oldest hypnosis organization in the world, but the reality is that in this field certifications are VERY UNRELIABLE indicators of competence or skill or proper training.

Hypnosis-specific credentials are just made-up and sold by private organizations and businesses. Common examples are "C.H.", "", "B.C.H.", "C.I.", or "D.C.H." and titles such as "Clinical Hypnotherapist". These are not recognized by any official governing body and are essentially meaningless. They are used to fool members of the public who are easily impressed by seeing mysterious initials after someone's name.

Similarly, if you see someone calling themselves a "Board Certified" hypnotist or hypnotherapist ("B.C.H."), you might not realize that THERE IS NO STATE LICENSING BOARD for hypnotism. The "board certification" is just another product made up and sold by the hypnosis training industry.

There is no legal definition or official standard that can declare a specific hypnotist as being "legitimate". However, there are clues that can help you sense whether or not a hypnotist is operating in an above-board manner, or if they're "full of it".

chasing certification One thing you cannot rely upon are hypnosis-specific certifications or titles. There is almost a reverse relationship between hypnosis credentials and experience; the more certifications and initials a person uses, the more likely it is that they are "certification junkies" who have never actively worked in the field.

This is because the vast majority of people who get certified are unsuccessful at developing their own practice, so many of them decide to go into the business of selling weekend certification courses instead.

As a result, there's a continuing cycle where inexperienced "Certified Instructors" sell training programs that produce "Master Hypnotists" who then become "Certified Instructors" themselves, with very little experience outside of classroom/workshop settings.

This sets up a situation similar to the real estate industry: investing in properties is one of the best ways to build real wealth, BUT:

     1) there are those players, big or small, who are actively involved in investing and development along with professionals in the field, while

     2) another set is mainly involved in promoting "Get Rich Quick with No Money Down!" real estate seminars and courses.

They are both technically involved in "real estate"... but not really.

To the average member of the public, this distinction between 1) and 2) might not be that clear at first. But if you think about it this way, when you see someone primarily focused on selling training and certification courses to would-be hypnotists, that can give you a clue.

Special note about the "Doctorate of Clinical Hypnotherapy" (D.C.H.)

In the United States, there is no such thing as a Bachelors, Masters or Ph.D. in hypnosis or hypnotherapy from a legitimately accredited institution. This means that the "D.C.H" (Doctorate of Clinical Hypnotherapy) is nothing like a degree that you would expect a real doctor to have.

Here is a real-life example of why you need to be skeptical: let's say a hypnotist claims that they earned their Doctorate in Clinical Hypnotherapy from LaSalle University (LA).

Wow, that sounds great, doesn't it? But what that "Doctor" doesn't tell you is that "LaSalle University (LA)" isn't the one in Philadelphia --- it's in Louisiana, a state that's notorious for being the home of many diploma mills.

The real LaSalle University in Philadelphia has never offered any such degree. And the LaSalle University in Louisiana was raided by the FBI and eventually shut down. Here's a Wikipedia report about it.

So I'm not kidding when I suggest that you need to do your research!

Let's be clear: as a hypnotist, I am not a doctor or health-care provider.

Here is a resource that will help you verify whether or not someone is really a licensed professional: the PA Department of State maintains this database where you can verify a licensed healthcare professional's status if they practice in Pennsylvania:

hypnosis doctor warning You can also lookup a professional by their state-issued professional license number (this is not the same thing as a business license number, which anyone operating as a legitimate business should have anyway).

If you look up this information, you might be surprised to discover how common it is for people to claim that they are psychotherapists or doctors, when there's no record of them as such in the official state database.

Apparently, some of these folks are unaware or unconcerned that they are committing a felony in the state of Pennsylvania! The following is an under-statement: You might want to be cautious about working with such practitioners.

You also might want to be careful about taking medical advice from someone who got their "Doctorate in Clinical Hypnotherapy" from an "institute" or "academy" or "university" whose "world headquarters" is a UPS Mailbox located in a strip mall next to a Payless Shoe Source; I'm not kidding about that either... Google Maps Street View is a wonderful thing smiley.

The content on this website is provided based on my knowledge and experience as a working hypnotist --- it should not be considered any form of professional advice regarding any disorder or specific courses of treatment. Being a hypnotist does not qualify anyone to diagnose or independently treat medical or psychological conditions, unless they are also a state-licensed healthcare professional.

A person doesn't have to be a doctor to be an effective hypnotist who helps a lot of people (and an experienced hypnotist will usually have much more specialized knowledge and experience about hypnotism), but if you're specifically looking to work with a mental health professional or medical doctor who uses hypnosis, you ought to have the right to choose that for yourself, based on accurate information.

To find a medical doctor who uses hypnosis, you can refer to the links on the front page of this site, that will help you find one in your area.


Here is a brilliant summary of the hypnotist certification industry by Barry Thain, a very experienced hypnotist who works for the National Health Service in the UK. His description of the diploma model is specific to the UK, but the basic message still applies to the US. I have reposted his original comments below, with his kind permission:

I can only speak for the situation here in the UK.

No qualifications are really worth anything.

The basic model is a three phase training where passing the certificate qualifies you to pay for the diploma, and passing the diploma qualifies you to pay for the practitioner diploma. Thus the various certificates are really only evidence of ones ability to pay the course fees. Very few people ever fail.

The sanctioning bodies are usually reincarnations of the teaching bodies. Fundamentally it works like this:

"Eric" is made redundant (translation for US readers: "laid off") and reads an advertisement telling him he can have a lucrative career and earn a shed-load of money working two days a week as a hypnotherapist. He submits himself to 'rigorous pre-acceptance scrutiny' and hands over his plastic.

A few weekends later he has a bunch of photocopied notes and a certificate as a hypnotherapist. Feeling good about himself (and wanting to do Smoking Cessation) he signs up for the diploma. A dozen weekends later he does an exam with questions like "Is nail biting a) just a habit, or b) a symptom of some underlying neurosis?"

During the 12 weekends he has had plenty of practical sessions where he has told people to close their eyes and that they are hypnotised, and they have closed their eyes. He now has a diploma in hypnotherapy. He has never, yet, hypnotised anyone but "Eric" believes he's cracked it. He gladly hands over the last of his redundancy money to do the practitioner course and starts thinking about office space.

Half a dozen weekends later he's a fully qualified practitioner with a lot of photocopied notes and three receipts; oops, I mean certificates. He still hasn't hypnotised anyone (but lots of people have closed their eyes for him).

Three months later he is nearly destitute having seen hardly any patients and those he has seen have a) all questioned whether they were really hypnotised and b) not come back.

Unable to make a living as a hypnotherapist (because he isn't) he realises he can do much better teaching hypnotherapy. He re-photocopies his training notes on his own letterhead, hires a school room for the weekend and sells 20 courses of four weekends at £250 each from The European Academy of Clinical Hypnosis (TEACH).

In order to validate his courses, he forms the World Office for Regulation of Therapeutic Hypnosis (WORTH) and, henceforth, all TEACH courses are WORTH approved.

But it's all smoke and mirrors.

"Eric" teaches the same stuff he didn't understand or couldn't do to an endless stream of other well-meaning people. Most of them fall by the wayside but one or two take their notes, re-copy them and - with the best will in the world, or not - dupe the next generation...

Best wishes
Barry Thain

Think that might be too hard on the hypnosis profession, that it can't be that absurd? I wish that were the case.

NOTE: This is not about the validity of hypnosis itself. To use the real estate analogy again: property investment really is one of the best ways to develop and accumulate wealth. But that's NOT the same thing as taking (or selling) a "Get Rich Quick with No Money Down!" course with a little certificate being presented at the end.

So, it might seem like I'm disillusioned with this field, but in a particular way. I am a big believer in hypnosis itself, but a complete heretic when it comes to hypnosis credentials.

back to top of page

Q:    I have a friend/family member who [insert negative behavior here]. Can hypnosis make them stop?

A:      No. If you are asking this question on behalf of someone else, that is not a good sign.

It's too easy to fool yourself into feeling "I know they want to change, maybe I can help them by finding a hypnotist who will make them get better." Please don't fool yourself.

People who are pressured into "changing" are very unlikely to succeed. If someone needs to be convinced about changing their lifestyle or habit or attitude, that's a situation where hypnotism cannot really help (and probably nothing can).

In fact, the influence of well-meaning but pressuring parties often makes the unwanted problems worse and more difficult to eliminate, particularly if they have an emotional and personal stake in the matter.


If someone is unable to stop themselves from doing that, knowing that it hasn't helped so far and has probably made the problem worse, then they have little right to expect the other person to control their own behavior!

My policy is that I will not work with anyone who has not initiated this process on their own. This means that you must not setup an appointment or consultation for someone else.

Although hypnotists can cause people to behave in ways that are out of character, and in that sense control another person's behavior, those changes will not last if they are not desirable and satisfying to that person.

This question is usually posed by well-meaning relatives or friends of someone who engages in unhealthy or negative behavior. It is great that they care enough about someone to try to seek help for them.

However, it is essential that the potential client wants to make the change themselves. And hypnosis cannot force someone to be honest or to tell the truth, so it should not be expected that hypnosis will cause someone to be a better person or act in a more mature manner, if they don't want to.

Sorry, I know that many people do not want to hear that, especially when they are hoping that hypnosis will "fix" a friend or relative or spouse.

A person who is pressured or "convinced" to do this work, in the hopes that it will "get them" to change in some way, will most likely not have the motivation to actively participate. Such a person enters the process with a passive attitude and expectation that hypnotic change is something that will be imposed upon them from the outside, which is not correct.

So, if you have someone in your life who you think might benefit from this work, then let them know about this option, but let them make their own choice.

This means that, unless they are a minor child under your care, they should be able to make an appointment themselves; please do not setup an appointment for them.

Although it may be difficult to watch someone you care about engaging in unhealthy behavior (in your opinion), I do not believe it is my role as a hypnotist to convince anyone of their need to change.

Philosophically, I believe that individuals should engage in whatever habits or behaviors they choose, and they live and/or suffer with the consequences, along with the people close to them. That is just the natural order of things.

In any case, hypnotic work cannot force anyone into maturity.

So, if you're concerned about someone you care about, and are thinking that hypnotism might help them, feel free to forward them this website, so that they can make up their own mind.

But please DO NOT setup an appointment on their behalf, and DO NOT try to talk them into "trying this". That is called setting them up for failure.

This is such a key point that I will repeat it in big red letters:


I only work with adults. I will only discuss client issues with those clients, not with well-meaning family members or friends who are "looking into this" on their behalf.

back to top of page

Q:    How often should the appointments be done?

A:      Followups should generally be done at least 3-10 days apart, so that you can go through a variety of daily experiences in order to gather feedback, while maintaining momentum.

Before starting, it is best to commit in your own mind to following through to completion. The work we do together is not meant to be done half-heartedly. It is not recommended that you try it just to see if it "works". That attitude would be like going skydiving, but only jumping half-way out of the airplane door.

back to top of page

Q:    How long is each appointment?

A:      It depends. The free initial consultation takes around 30 minutes. Hypnotic work usually averages around 60 minutes, sometimes closer to 90 minutes depending on what unfolds.

The goal of each meeting is to target a specific aspect of the problem and work to change the pattern as efficiently but as thoroughly as possible, without overloading you.

back to top of page

Q:    I just want to perform better. How can hypnosis help me?

A:      Any kind of performance that depends upon proper mindset, or involves what is commonly known as "getting in the zone", can be enhanced by:

The good thing is that the hypnotist doesn't need to be an expert about your particular field of activity. For example, I have successfully helped college and professional athletes, singers, ballroom dancers (among others)... even though I personally know nothing about most sports, and have little or no "music in me".

For instance, here is a comment from a vocalist who wanted some help overcoming anxiety during auditions:

"I thank you so much for helping me overcome my fear of performing. My audition went very well and I have been offered work in 6 shows so far for this coming season."
--- Walt N.

(DISCLAIMER: Testimonials and customer reviews are not guarantees of similar results. Individual results may vary.)

Activities like singing, dancing or sports, which require practice and control of fine motor skills, are very sensitive to interference from anxiety or "over-thinking". Hypnotism is ideal for addressing this type of problem because hypnotism itself is fundamentally about learning to direct focus and attention in desired directions.

Another example: even though I knew nothing about his sport, a professional athlete I worked with reported that his performance afterwards was "beyond phenomenal".

That was great to hear, but considering that he was at the All-Star level in his field, I have to assume that his years of dedication, training and practice were much more of a factor than our hypnotic work, although it was an honor to help enhance his performance even further.

(This client will go unnamed because elite performers with name recognition, whether in business, government, or sports, have often been "burned" by name-droppers who break confidentiality, not respecting their privacy as clients, and ignoring the problems this can cause in terms of endorsement deals and contractual obligations, so I never reveal individual clients unless they volunteer testimonials, etc.. no matter whether they're a "regular Joe/Jane", or someone people would ask for a signature on the street.)

In other words, Yes, hypnosis can not only be used to stop bad habits and eliminate fears, but it can also help people who are already good (or great) at something get even better.

back to top of page

Q:    Can this help improve my memory / test anxiety?

A:      It depends, but probably not in the way you might assume.

There is a common misconception that the human mind has amazing, near-infinite capacity to record and perfectly store all information that it is exposed to, and that all a person needs to do is somehow find a way to bring that memorized information up to the surface to use it. This is not correct.

In general, things are reliably stored in memory only if they are paid close attention to, and if a person can relate some personal meaning or emotional reason for remembering it, and if the exposure is repetitive.

A related myth is that people only use 10% of their brain power. This is not true either, it is just one of the many "facts" that are repeated mindlessly, especially in the self-help field.

In reality, using your brain is the most energy-intensive function in your body, and the available resources are scarce. This is why optimization of thinking processes is very important if you want to use your scarce brain resources in the most effective way.

Hypnosis can also help improve memory by improving a person's learning habits. Many times people think that they have trouble learning information, when really they just have poor learning habits such as trying to study while distracted, or not connecting with WHY they are motivated to learn the material.

Your mind really can do amazing things, if it's well-trained!

Hopefully that explains how hypnosis can enhance effective input of information. Of course, many people also want to improve the ability to use and recall that information, a common scenario being a test or exam.

I have used hypnosis to help many many people overcome test anxiety... there are several video/audio clips and letters on this site from people who have done well with things like medical boards, standardized tests, etc.

For example, recently one of my clients was able to achieve first-place top score in a very competitive statewide examination that will move him to the next level in his career path.

It's kind of unfair, but it's common that the most hard-working, serious and motivated students and test-takers are often the ones who experience the most trouble with exams, regardless of intelligence or knowledge.

The problem is: these are exactly the people who care the most about doing well --- BUT too much "caring" can interfere with clear thinking and concentration when it comes to "crunch time".

On the opposite end of things, I'm one of those terrible people who does well with standardized tests (SAT scores somewhere around 99.8th percentile) because I possess:

* an easy-going contempt for formal education and academic rituals... yes, this is a character flaw, almost led to me flunking out of high school

* a weird ability to guess the right answer most of the time

This combination resulted in the absurd scenario of having a near-perfect Verbal SAT score, but also an F in English and a D- overall GPA. That is a very real example of how mindset, even without preparation or studying, and definitely without Scholastic Aptitude, can still make a huge difference in results.

Similarly, using hypnosis, I can help people do better on exams by reducing emotional distractions related to caring too much about results, ie. worrying about "My future is ruined if I don't pass this test!" and "I'm going to be so embarrassed and let everyone down if I fail!"

This can also help test-takers to trust their intuition, not wasting mental energy second-guessing themselves, agonizing "did I get that right?"

NOTE: this is not to suggest that studying and preparation are unnecessary, or that you will become complacent!

Instead, the goal is to enable the focused-yet-relaxed attitude at the appropriate time and place, with the optimal amount of pressure.

This can be represented by the famous Yerkes-Dodson law which relates to what's commonly known as "flow state" or "being in the zone":

(diagram by: Yerkes and Dodson 1908 [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons)


This memory-related FAQ item is not the same as the topic of whether or not hypnosis can help you remember details about forgotten events.

Here are two especially important points about using hypnosis for the purpose of trying to remember details about events:

Those two points are important to understand, so that people do not mistakenly believe that vivid fantasies in hypnosis have anything to do with "reality".

Still, they may be true reflections of a person's subconscious emotions and learned behaviors, which is generally why people have problems anyway. For such purposes, the accuracy of details does not matter.

In other words, hypnotism is not a truth serum, except in the sense of getting clearer with how your subconscious operates according to its subjective truth.

So if people ask: "Can hypnosis help me remember something I think may have happened?", I do not recommend using hypnosis with this specific agenda in mind.

The problem is that if someone gets hypnotized with the intent of remembering something, they are likely to remember that something happening even if it didn't (this can also occur without hypnosis being involved).

For example, if someone wants to find out if secret government agents abducted them and implanted tracking devices inside their body, and then erased their memory of that abduction... guess what? They are likely to find exactly what they were curious about finding, especially if they go to see a hypnotist who is interested in that kind of topic, whether or not it's based in reality.

In any case, each time a memory is recalled, it is altered, with or without hypnosis. So using hypnosis for that purpose will likely further confuse the issue, like having a dream about whether or not something happened the way it did, or didn't.

back to top of page

Q:    What about success rates?

A:      Who knows? Clients are not a controlled population and this practice is not being operated as a research study. Making statements about success rates without properly constructed statistical studies is a bad habit found among those who either wish to fool others or fool themselves.

Like many others, we could just make up a number that sounds impressive (for some reason, "95%" seems to a popular figure that is thrown around). But that would be B.S. --- please excuse the language. Anyway, how would you verify that?

True story:

A hypnotist claims "97%" of their clients are non-smokers by the time they leave the office. So a skeptical colleague asks them "How do you come up with that number?"

Answer: "At the end of their visit, I ask them: 'Are you a non-smoker now?' And 97% of them say 'Yes, I am a non-smoker.'"

Skeptical colleague asks: "OK. But how do you know that they didn't smoke as soon as they got home?"

Answer: "That's up to them."

Skeptical colleague: "But you know, most people would just tell you what you want to hear, just to be nice. And you have a non-smoking office right? So technically, 100% of your clients must be non-smokers when they leave your office... since I doubt that people would light up in the chair right in front of you."

Answer: "Well, yeah, but if I said I got 100% success, no one would believe me."

Are you kidding me?

There are many academic and clinical studies which indicate that hypnosis can have a significant positive effect in many different applications, and you can find those studies through the National Institutes of Health link on this site and in the blog.

However, that still doesn't mean much. Reason: even if a success rate claim is based on legitimate research done at a medical center or university, it is probably not very relevant, since any hypnotist quoting that research almost certainly had nothing to do with that study in the first place!

Here's why you should be very skeptical about the significance of claimed success rates:

If someone claims a specific success rate, being a curious person I would ask the following basic questions (which would likely reveal that it's a made-up number or wild guess):

Chances are, if you ask those questions you will hear the lame excuse "I can't reveal that because it's confidential."

Even controlled scientific studies of hypnosis vary widely in terms of results, because there is no "one way" to do hypnosis. Also there are the variables of how individual practitioners and clients work together on specific issues and goals.


Still, there are some indicators which give me a good level of confidence that this work is helpful to my clients. For example, in a 2-visit version of my stop smoking program, I offer a free follow-up visit to anyone who feels that they need it. Very few clients have ever taken me up on that free follow-up offer.

But let's be real: I do not know what that really means. Some people may have moved out of the area, some people maybe just felt too embarrassed to come back, etc. There's no way for me to know for sure. However, I think it's reasonable to assume that most people would take advantage of the free follow-up visit, if they needed it.

Anyway, that example specific to smoking cessation can't be used as a gauge of how successful an individual would be with overcoming fears or increasing confidence, etc. If you think about it, other issues that are not "on/off" like a smoking habit, are even more difficult to define in terms of "success rate", so I'm not going to bother to make up a number that doesn't mean anything.

If you need to hear make-believe promises before acting, that doesn't indicate a high level of commitment to change, or a willingness to face reality --- and I don't want to waste my time or yours if I think it'd be a frustrating and fruitless exercise.

Another indicator that gives me confidence that this is helping people is that I always recommend at least one follow-up visit. If a client leaves the first appointment happy and feeling good, that's nice... but what really matters is what they report on their follow-up visit!

If the majority of clients consistently reported negative results, that'd be a total bummer (as the kids used to say) and a terribly depressing way to spend one's working life.


Now, here is final reason why you should be skeptical about success rates:

It is a common trick to only count people who have followed the hypnotist's suggestions. This is stated as: "95% of my clients are successful... if they follow my suggestions for changing their lifestyle."

In other words, the only people who are counted in the calculation of success rates are the people who are successful.

The clients who are not successful are not counted, instead they are blamed and labeled as "resistant" or "not motivated enough" ("They did not follow my suggestions, if they really wanted to change, they would have"). These kinds of games are absurd enough that they can be good for a laugh, but that's about it. I have no interest in playing those games, and I'm pretty sure you don't either.

*DISCLAIMER: Testimonials and reviews are not guarantees of similar results. Individual results vary.

back to top of page

Q:    How are hypnotists trained?

A:      As mentioned in the FAQ item about credentials and certifications, in this field there are more trainers, students and wanna-be "gurus" running around, than actual working hypnotists... so take all of that with a big grain of salt.

I've taken many different courses; some excellent, most mediocre, and some worse-than-useless. The hypno-certifications I've acquired along the way are universally meaningless, due to extremely low standards that allow anyone with a checkbook and a pulse to acquire the same. You can learn more about hypnosis training that I recommend in the next FAQ item.

back to top of page

Q:    Can you recommend any hypnosis training or courses?

A:      Yes, but be careful. This field is full of pretenders who have never been successful in developing a practice, and yet have turned to selling hypnosis certifications and seminars to others with the promise that it will be the start of a wonderful new "career" after a few weekends of classes.

Unfortunately, much of the training material in this field is pseudo-scientific filler presented by seminar junkies to other seminar junkies.

So there is a serious lack of self-confidence among people who have been through average training. I've spoken with more than one person who has gone through a certification course, yet ended up doubting that hypnosis is useful or even that it exists!

As a result of this self-doubt and fear of failure, many "certified hypnotists" never actually do hypnosis, but instead just call themselves by that name, practicing techniques that may be nice and relaxing ("close your eyes, and imagine you're on a warm sunny beach", or "tap these energy points on your body while repeating your affirmation"), but have nothing to do with hypnotizing anyone.

Good training can help you avoid this very common trap.

Click this image or follow this link to learn about a training program I recommend;
it's from the people who run (this is an affiliate link):

If you want to learn hypnosis, be careful out there! Because so many trainers cannot speak from direct experience, their courses are often filled with such filler, including typical made-up self-help myths like "You only use 10% of your brain" or "During hypnosis, your brainwaves are in Alpha state" or meaningless jargon such as "Build rapport by calibrating the submodalities of the client's VAK representational system within the quantum linguistic non-Cartesian meta-model!". It's just nonsense.

NOTE: we should make the distinction between the use of pseudo-technical mumbo-jumbo to promote training programs, and the actual usefulness of some of the techniques and methods used in those programs. The techniques and methods themselves can be very helpful to real people in practical usage.

However, it's important that practitioners not be fooled into thinking that there is any real substance behind the half-baked jargon and models used to promote such programs. Those are just for the purpose of easy packaging and marketing for training courses.


A related frequently asked question is: "Can you give me advice on becoming a hypnotist?"

In the past, I used to spend significant time and energy engaging with the hypnosis community; I co-founded a local chapter of hypnotists and was a regular writer for the popular quarterly e-zine. You can take a look at my archived articles from the e-zine: click here.

I also used to interact quite a bit on hypnosis-related internet forums (I'm "The Grumpy Hypnotist"). I've eliminated that activity, however, because the quality of discussions was pretty depressing.

Most of the activity on such forums tends to be driven by the type of people who like to argue on internet message boards, or those who are there to promote their latest training courses. People who are actively working with clients (or working in general) aren't going to be found spending all day talking about hypnosis on the internet.

So my #1 advice to would-be hypnotists has usually been: avoid taking advice from the hypnosis community.

If you're serious about doing this work, just learn basic hypnosis and go out there and help people with basic stuff. Get paid professional rates if you're doing it professionally; do it for free if you're just doing it for personal satisfaction. Avoid the half-way "I will hypnotize you if you buy me lunch!" or "I will give you a hypnosis certificate in exchange for setting up my website!"

In other words:

image from Seth Godin's blog

In the picture above, Figure 1 represents: "How to Hypnotize".

Figure 2 represents: "How to BE a Hypnotist and Help People".

Fortunately, there are some good training resources, available to help those who are interested in doing this work. A diligent person who carefully studies the subject on their own will have a better understanding of hypnosis than most inexperienced instructors / certificate-peddlers, who simply repeat outdated or inaccurate information about the subject.

Before learning hypnosis, I would caution people to think carefully about WHY they want to learn hypnosis.

Just as many potential clients think about using hypnosis for the WRONG REASONS, many would-be hypnotists also seem to be interested in hypnosis for the WRONG REASONS.

This isn't a judgment of motivation, right/wrong in the moral sense... it's more that some mental attitudes to hypnotism are just fundamentally ineffective and non-starters.

*     Do you think that hypnosis will give you power and control over other people? Sorry, but you're going to be disappointed. Reason: think of the type of person who would be attracted to buying a book like "How to be an Alpha Male and Dominate!" (that is a made-up title) --- the people who would subscribe to such things have little personal power to begin with, demonstrated by the need to seek some external source of Power, available at your local Barnes and Noble.

*     Do you think that hypnosis will give you the chance to dig into people's minds and explore their deepest secrets? Sorry, but most people are capable to detecting creepy intentions, subconsciously protecting themselves from getting hypnotized by people who get their thrills from emotional voyeurism.

*     Are you looking for some magical inductions, words and phrases that will put people "under"? Sorry, but inductions are possibly the most insignificant part of any working hypnotist's routine. In the right context, people can be hypnotized by being told to stare at a light fixture, and then suggesting that they close their eyes. Whoopeee. If inductions are the focal point of interest, that is missing the whole point.

The job of the hypnotist is to setup the right context, otherwise all the magical words and hand-drops and secret handshakes in the world don't matter one bit.

I would also caution those who are attracted to the idea of "starting an exciting new career, working from home, being your own boss" by becoming a certified hypnotist. This is not a job or a career... it is a self-employed profession that requires hypnotic ability but also business and marketing skills. If you are not capable of attracting clients on a regular basis, you can't really be a good hypnotist.

Anyway, people who think in juvenile terms like "being my own boss", expressing dissatisfaction about working for someone else, are going to be in for an unpleasant surprise when they encounter the realities of being active in the marketplace! You cannot escape the reality that you will always be working for someone else, whether it's for a company or an individual client.

The fact is, it is extremely easy to learn how to hypnotize people --- if you approach it with the right attitude. There is nothing complex about doing it. Whether or not you're good at being a hypnotist is a different matter --- I think there are certain things about being a good hypnotist that cannot be taught, although maybe they can be developed over time with practice.

Helping people by using hypnotism is also a different matter, but even that can be pretty simple, as long as you have the right attitude and intention, and as long as you are working within your capabilities ("a hypnotist has got to know their limitations", as a famous police detective once said).

Click this image or follow this link to learn about a training program I recommend;
it's from the people who run (this is an affiliate link):

back to top of page

Q:    Can you help me forget a bad relationship?

A:      Yes. I've helped many clients with this goal.

Clients have been able to walk past the "other person" in the hallway, seeing them at the gym, office, or classroom, and just politely saying hello, with no bad feelings. One client ran into a former "ex" at a social gathering, and was able to have a calm, mature conversation about how things ended between them, without avoiding or running away from the interaction.

Others have described finally being able to go out to familiar places without the awful feelings associated with those being "places we used to go together".

can hypnosis help me forget someone valentines heart
photo by
used under creative commons license

BUT, this is not like we "erase" memories of another person by hypnosis. That is a silly over-dramatic Hollywood concept of hypnotism. Hypnotic phenomena does include a form of amnesia --- however, it's a very bad idea to attempt to cause amnesia for this type of purpose (see the next FAQ item for details explaining why). It is smarter to use hypnotic processes to reduce emotional attachment to a person, which leads naturally to "forgetting" about them.

For some reason this is a common request and most of the clients I work with for this purpose have quite a lot of success with moving on.

Here is an example of a client who was able to let go of a tremendous amount of negative emotions she'd been harboring over a past relationship (this client is not a native English speaker, and her voice has been modified to protect her identity):

"I was an angry person, desperately angry... and now I don't feel that person there anymore... I wake up and jump up and I feel light... I'm a totally different person... I smile more like I've never done before!... I tried medication, I tried reading books... trying [hypnosis] was the last straw... and I don't regret it a minute!"

Here is link to full transcript in PDF

*DISCLAIMER: Testimonials and reviews are not guarantees of similar results. Individual results vary.

Please note --- this will only really help you get past that relationship if you have already firmly made the decision to end it. It will not help that much if you are "on the fence" and would choose to go back to that person if they started treating you better (promising to change, etc.) or if they wanted to get together again.

Summary: if there is past relationship that has been bothering you, trying to forget is ineffective and not a good plan, with or without hypnosis. You've probably already "tried to forget" and noticed that it doesn't work.

Instead, with hypnosis we can help you change how you feel about something, usually so that you become neutral and indifferent, and then you naturally lose interest in it and "forget about it".

back to top of page

Q:    Can you help me forget a bad experience I went through?

A:      Yes. But probably not in the way that you think.

You should never try to directly "erase" memories of a troubling experience. Purposely trying to induce amnesia about a specific event would only cause you to imagine that you've forgotten the event, but this is a very bad idea.

The reason this would be a bad idea is because there are basically two types of memory systems in your brain. One system keeps track of the factual details about an experience, and the other system keeps track of the emotional responses that are felt during that experience, especially during events with high emotional intensity.

Normally, events that we experience are filed away into "the past". But high intensity events can disrupt the regular filing-away process, causing people to feel like they are stuck in the past. Using hypnosis in an attempt to induce artificial amnesia would cause further disruption to this natural process.

Think of it this way: you know how some people drink heavily in order to forget bad experiences? You know that never helps, and in fact people who drink for that reason seem to stay stuck in their misery for far longer than necessary, precisely because alcohol abuse impairs normal memory function. Same concept.

So, it is possible for hypnosis to cause apparent amnesia but it is an extremely bad idea to intentionally try to cause amnesia for this purpose, because the emotional memory (the fear, terror and other high intensity negative feelings such as guilt/shame) would still be there, but the reason for those feelings would not be consciously apparent. This can cause even worse problems, and make it more difficult to resolve those upsetting feelings in the end.

In other words, you might forget about the experiences that caused the bad feelings, but you'd still feel bad and wonder why. You might even start to think that's just the way you are, and the way life is meant to be --- that would not be a good outcome!

It is far better to use hypnosis to help your brain process experiences in a more integrated manner. Then the incident is naturally put behind you, so that it is not interfering with your day-to-day life.

Summary: if there is some situation or event that has been bothering you, trying to forget is ineffective and not a good plan, with or without hypnosis.

Instead, with hypnosis we can use various techniques to help you change how you feel about something, and then you naturally lose interest in it and "forget about it".

back to top of page

Q:    Will insurance cover this?

A:      No. My payment policy is fee-for-service only. I do not accept insurance. I suggest you think of my services as something that you will pay for personally. That will both protect your privacy and help you value the work you are doing more. In general, insurance companies do not cover hypnotic services, and I caution you not to expect them to do so.

back to top of page

Q:    Would you do a barter/trade or sliding scale fee?

A:      No.

PS. If you send me an email insisting that you deserve a discount because of your financial situation, and your email signature says "Sent from my iPad", that's a double-NO.

back to top of page

Q:    I have multiple issues I would like to work on. Can they all be handled at the same time?

A:      It depends on how much overlap there is between the various issues. For example, if someone wants to overcome a fear of driving, but also wants to stop eating junk food, these probably don't have too much in common.

It is recommended that we focus on one issue at a time, this is more effective than doing generic work. Even a single issue may have multiple factors involved that are contributing to the problem, so it is naive to expect that different problems will be resolved simply by hearing a series of suggestions like "You will stop smoking, you will lose weight, you will find true love, and you will no longer be scared of balloons".

But sometimes different problems have the same root cause, and resolving that may have a larger overall benefit. Everyone and every situation is different.

An analogy: imagine if you needed to learn how to speak French, so you take a class. If some of that class time were spent on learning French history, that might help you learn the language.

But if half of that class time were spent on an unrelated subject like auto repair, you would not learn twice as much, but rather less than half because you'd be trying to study two subjects that were not related.

There is an exception to this principle, in the practice of interleaved learning, but that's in a domain that is different than the personal changes that most people are interested in.

back to top of page

Q:    Can this help children?

A:      It depends. I have successfully used hypnosis to help kids as young as 7-years-old. However, I choose not to work with children, for a couple of reasons:

a) I'm not really a big fan of children or childhood (apologies to those who find this opinion to be socially offensive)


b) the most beneficial approach for helping kids would have to involve getting the parents involved, because they exert so much control over the child's environment. That is beyond what I do as a hypnotist who serves individual clients.

If you are interested in exploring hypnosis as an option for a child, feel free to contact me, and I will refer you to a very competent and trustworthy hypnotist who I know specializes in working with children.

back to top of page

Q:    Are these positive changes permanent?

A:      This question cannot be answered accurately. Predicting permanence of an organic system's future state is a sucker's game.

It's like keeping a garden. When a weed-filled garden is cleaned up, with the help of a temporary crew if needed, then those weeds are dealt with.

But it is not smart to expect that a cleaned-up garden can be neglected and that it will stay in top shape, especially if your neighbors' gardens are choked with weeds. And life happens --- at some point a big storm or natural disaster may pass through and leave the garden in disarray again.

However, this does NOT mean that you need to become dependent on the services of a professional landscaper or gardener.

In addition to helping put things in order, we can make the garden more resistant to future weeds, and to provide tools to the owners to help them maintain things on their own.

So, when we work to resolve a specific issue, the goal is for that resolution to be maintained "permanently", either automatically, or through self-maintenance (depending on the situation).

When you "end" a bad habit like smoking or nail biting, or when you learn to overcome a fear, what you're really doing is directing electrical-chemical signals away from the old circuits in your nervous system, towards a newer network that inhibits the old habit or the old fear. Cool!

BUT the old circuits are still there, like old unused railroad tracks. At times of high stress, if new competing networks have not been properly developed and wired up to handle a surge of "traffic", the extra load on the nervous system can activate the old network.

This explains why so many people have had the experience of having stopped a bad habit before, but something stressful happened, such as the loss of a family member, changes in work situation, etc. and they reactivated the old habit, sometimes by telling themselves "I'll just have one to get me through this". But often when "one" hit of that old habit hits their brain, it lights up the dormant network again.

This is why, in some cases (ESPECIALLY if you're dealing with highly stressful work or home environments), it's crucial to develop the newer desired circuits through deliberate practice on your own, beyond hypnotic office visits. You want the new competing network to be strong enough and automatic enough that when things get tough in life, which they will, that you have a good chance of maintaining control.

Promises about "permanent positive change" are just examples of mindless marketing of meaningless hokum. But it's just wrong to lead people into expecting that once they change, they will be forever free of some anxiety, fear or bad habit for the rest of their natural lives.

That kind of promise, although encouraged in internet marketing circles, can be harmful to actual human clients as it fails to encourage active effort towards development of resilience. The mind that is led to expect permanent positive change is left in a state that is fragile. It is better to help prepare people to handle unexpected events; hypnosis does not repeal the occurrence of major (or even minor) "life events".

Anyway, most people with any degree of life experience can recognize that overconfidence has often led to personal setbacks.

If you really think about it, there is something odd about the concept of "permanent change". But, without opening a philosophical can of worms, we can say that we do not approach this with the intention of doing temporary feel-good work.

back to top of page

Q:    How many people have you worked with?

A:    I stopped counting many years ago after this number climbed to somewhere over a thousand; my best guess at this point would be at least 3000-4000.

I am only counting individual, paying clients in that figure; clients with "skin in the game" are the only people who matter in my estimation.

back to top of page

Q:    How long have you been doing this?

A:    I started Center City Hypnosis in 2006. Here is a link to the Pennsylvania corporations database, so you can lookup "Center City Hypnosis" and see the registration information.

I provide links to official resources so you can verify any claims that are presented. It is very easy and very common for hypnotists to pretend that they've been doing this work for far longer than they actually have. What a surprise: people make stuff up on the internet! smiley

As a consumer you should especially beware of claims such as "I am a world-renowned Master hypnotist". This field is full of internationally-known and world-famous hypnotists whom no one has ever heard of. Some try to justify this because they have a website on the "World Wide Web", well, that means they have an international audience. I'm not kidding.

This kind of nonsense is too common in this field, and it would be laughable if it wasn't so unfair to the consumers who are unaware. It wouldn't be so bad for entertainment-style stage hypnotists, as part of their "schtick" ("I am the Great Hypnotist Zontar!")... but it's different when it ends up tricking people who just want to find some help.

You know what they say: trust, but verify - especially claims that are made on the internet.

research hypnosis
A little bit of research can make a lot of difference!

This kind of "resume inflation" is unnecessary anyway. If you find someone you can have a good working relationship with, who cares if they've been doing it for decades, and who cares if they're internationally-known; in many cases the most well-known hypnotic figures in the public eye are not regarded as experts by any means "inside" the industry. The true experts are generally unknown to the public, because in most cases they are dead, and therefore unable to promote themselves.

The truth is that beginner/hobby hypnotists can be very enthusiastic and do great work out of sheer passion for helping people. You may be surprised to discover that, as long as they're well-trained and handling basic issues that are within their area of competence, a "newbie" or hobby hypnotist may be just as effective (or even more so) than someone who claims that they've been hypnotizing people since Herbert Hoover was president.

So the problem isn't that most hypnotists do this work part-time. There are excellent hobbyists who might be a perfect fit for your needs (you can search for them using some of the resource links elsewhere on this site). Some of them may even do it pro bono, because they find it rewarding just to do the work.

The problem is the rampant use of deceptive marketing tactics, and what that implies. Pretenders pretend because of a lack of faith in themselves, and not being sure about the work being able to stand on its own merits.

So don't put too much weight on claims about how long someone has been doing hypnosis; it doesn't matter that much anyway, as long as you have a good working connection with the hypnotist.

back to top of page

Q:    Is there a guarantee?

A:      Yes, I offer a 100% No-Risk Guarantee: if you're unsatisfied with your experience at the end of the first visit, there will be no cost to you.

In practice, what this really means is that people never have to declare "I'm unsatisfied!"... both you and I know that people (in general) are too nice to say that. Instead, IF it appears that this approach might not be suitable in your individual case, it becomes pretty obvious to both of us during the consultation or 1st visit. In the cases where that occasionally happens, we figure we both gave it a good effort, other options will be offered, and we part ways; no hard feelings.

The sooner we find that out, the better for everyone. This is why I emphasize pre-screening clients with the information on this site before you even make the minimal commitment of coming in for the free consultation.


If someone expects that specific results can be guaranteed, or wants to hear promises that they will be successful, that's a RED FLAG that raises concerns about their chances of success.

control Reason: any adult who expects someone else to guarantee their own personal behavior is looking for SOMEONE ELSE TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY.

Since RESPONSIBILITY = CONTROL, this means they're hoping to hand off control over some part of their life to someone else. That's an immature and ineffective attitude when it comes to dealing with personal change.

It is possible for adults to surrender responsibility/control over their lives to others, but that's done through methods such as signing Power of Attorney documents, giving someone else authority over your finances, declaring oneself as incapacitated, structured living within institutions where your daily routine and social contacts are monitored and restricted, joining a cult, etc...

No offense to cults if you happen to be into that kind of thing, but I doubt most clients would be willing to give up that kind of control!

Be careful of guarantees that seem to promise specific results.

They often depend on "fine print" and are not what you'd expect. Here are some "gotcha" details to watch out for:

Those kinds of tricks are unnecessary and unfair, and exploit the ignorance of people who are sometimes desperate for help, and thus most vulnerable to wanting to believe promises. I don't want to spend my time playing those games, and I'm sure you don't.

I hear from many people who tell me stories about how they tried seeing a hypnotist before, but felt totally misled and "taken for a ride" by the experience. Of course, I also hear from many people who have had good experiences with other hypnotists too, but in almost every case where a person reports an earlier negative experience, they describe how they were promised or guaranteed that they would be successful, for sure.

The funny/sad part: after telling me their tale of woe, they will usually ask, "So, can you promise me that this will work for me?"

When I respond along the lines of: "It'd be ridiculous to make that kind of promise. Why would you believe that anyway?", they express disappointment, sometimes anger, in reaction to that answer. I guess some people just never learn, which itself indicates a lack of coachability.

There is good reason why most legitimate professions prohibit professionals from making such unethical guarantees.

Think about it: what would you think of a doctor who promised that her treatments were certain to heal you of a disease or illness, or an investment advisor who guaranteed that he could make you rich? Do the words "quack", "charlatan" or "Bernie Madoff" ring a bell?

The simple truth is that past successes cannot guarantee future results!

back to top of page

Q:    What is your background?

The Strange But True Tale

Many people ask "How did you get into this business?" and wonder about my background, so here it is for those who are curious:

Philadelphia Hypnotist NAME: Steve Roh
FUNCTION: Chief Hypnosis Officer
AGE: 45
CURRENT RESIDENCE: Graduate Hospital sector, Philadelphia
MARITAL STATUS: Married, with a cat
ALIGNMENT: Left-handed, Chaotic
CLIENTS SERVED: approx. 3000-4000

Before I started Center City Hypnosis, I made a nice living in software development. My previous work included:

It was comfortable work, which is not a good thing. Staying comfortable leads to mental and physical decline; it is an unnatural state of being that leads civilizations, companies and individuals to become weaker, less adaptive, and unfit to survive in changing environments. There also seemed to be no real purpose to the activity.

There is a quote from that famous science-fiction book Dune: "Fear is the mind-killer". But I think comfort and a lack of purpose are the real mind-killers.

muad dib

"Without change, something sleeps inside us and seldom awakens.
The sleeper must awaken."
- Frank Herbert, Dune

I sensed that large parts of my brain were not being stimulated enough by remaining in the comfort zone of systems, data and coding. I needed a mission that went beyond completing yet another technical project.

Using Hypnosis to Become the Hypnotist

So, one day I was thinking about what kind of new business I could start that would be more purposeful and stimulating. I thought "Center City ________" could be a good name for any business in Philadelphia.

I started doing searches for available internet domain names that started like, and just filled in the blank with random words... "trusting the subconscious", as hypno-folks like to say they do.

The domain name was available, so I snapped it up for $9 from GoDaddy. After some market research and analysis, I realized it could really work as a business by filling a need in the local area.

I already had confidence that this kind of mental training could help people, because of personal experience learning from the great works of people like Brian Tracy, Napoleon Hill, Jim Rohn, Dr. Maxwell Maltz, and many others.

target mission Then it was just a matter of learning hypnosis for working with clients, and that was that.

In a strange loop, you could say I used hypnotic techniques to get my mind to "just do it"... "it" being: taking the steps to become a hypnotist.

As a naturally skeptical person, I'm generally leery of concepts like "manifestation", but I did use hypnotic methods to imprint in my brain a vision of becoming the top hypnotist in the Philadelphia area (purely for goal-setting purposes... I think concepts like "the best hypnotist" are absurd, it's not like being "the best cheesesteak"). And strangely enough, I've been ranked by the public as the #1 hypnotist in the area according to Yelp for many years now.

I know that my answer to this question "How did you get into this field?" bothers some people. A few folks have even gotten upset and angry upon hearing my response. Oh well.

Some people would rather hear the typical answers that you get in the self-help field --- you know, the story that goes: "Healing others and sharing my deep inner wisdom with the world is my life-long passion!" (curiously, you'll often hear that kind of story from those dabblers who treat this as a part-time hobby).

Sorry, but that's not how it happened, at least for me.

By that seemingly random fill-in-the-blank exercise, I was just making use of my subconscious / superconscious mind (gee, what a concept for a hypnotist to do that!)... then executed a plan after observing a need in the marketplace, considering the business model, and concluding that I could fulfill that need.

I guess some folks are thrown off by this response because they expect to hear proclamations about how passionate I am about helping people. Not really.

If I take on a client, I am fully committed to doing my part to the best of my ability, because that is what a professional does.

And because I have a mild form of OCD, I'm kind of obsessed about continually seeking to optimize the process and improve outcomes; it is pretty much all I think about 24/7. At least it is a productive obsession.

But I'm not doing this to indulge myself by "following my passion" (whatever that means).

A few people might get the wrong idea from this story, thinking it means "oh, it's just about the money". Money is useful, but the fact is that my previous line of work was billable at rates that far exceed what hypnotists can expect to earn*. If it were all about the money, I could have stayed being a consultant, raking in a nice steady income, often while working remotely from home in the comfort of my underwear... let's keep that last part just between you and me.

Also, hypnotism as a business model has serious structural limitations: it isn't scalable, can't be delegated, mass-produced or automated, and the idea of trying to generate a "repeat customer" is out of the question. These are NOT the components of a great money-making machine!

But, I decided that doing hypnosis professionally would still be worth it for other reasons. For one thing, I finally feel like I'm doing something useful with my time.

(* I'm not exaggerating about the difference in earnings. A recent survey of over 1000 hypnotists revealed that the average annual income of a hypnotist is somewhere between $0 and $15,000! And from my experience in being familiar with the hypnotist community, I am pretty sure the true average is in the lower end of that range.)


My experience managing teams and departments, while dealing with complex technical/political systems, can be useful because I know that people in real life are not robots that you can just re-program with gimmicky "mind hacks", the kind often promoted by those who have never even coded a "Hello World!" program.

At the same time, my natural trait of operating like an android (a client once complimented me by saying I was like a "Hypnosis Machine"... at least I think it was a compliment?) enables total focus on each client's goal, even when doing hypnotic work which sometimes involves high-intensity emotional processing.

You don't need a hypnotist getting upset and flustered during your session; that'd be like a pilot crying "OMG what do I do now?!" at the slightest turbulence.

This also means that while I have a high degree of cognitive empathy, I'm not interested in feeding off the emotional drama of a client's problems, wallowing in sympathy, or finding new friends through doing this work.

Along that line, it wouldn't be appropriate for me to actively pursue connections to clients on social networking sites. It would be kind of creepy if I did that!

But, I am happy to accept incoming connection invitations. You can connect with me at the following:

Here is my LinkedIn profile:

View Steve Roh's profile on LinkedIn

If you send me a connection invite on LinkedIn, be sure to include a personal note so I know it's not one of those automated invites where LinkedIn gets into your email contact list and spams your contacts without your consent. I’m cautious about inadvertent social networking due to concerns about the privacy and confidentiality of my clients.

For the same reason, I am not on Facebook. Using Facebook as a professional poses a serious privacy problem because of how that platform tries to connect people. For example, the "People You May Know" feature has been reported to result in patients of psychiatric and counseling services to become known and recommended to each other by the wonders of the Facebook friending algorithm. That's not right. I believe in operating with transparency, but that does not extend to client information!

Introvert Schmintrovert!
Just #GetAfterIt

Somehow I was able to get the City of Philadelphia to declare January 4th as World Hypnotism Day! World Hypnotism Day is a global effort to increase awareness; I was glad to do my part to ensure that Philadelphia was included.

Here is a photo of me accepting the Mayoral Proclamation from the city's Manager of Commercial Development and Attraction.

Here is a photo of me with the gang from WMMR. I have no idea why we were holding a cardboard cutout of weatherman John Bolaris. They invited me to the show to demonstrate how hypnosis can be used to stop unconscious habits (you may have heard the audio clip of that show on the home page).

Visit the blog to check out my shameless media appearances, including demonstrations on WMMR 93.3 FM, 6ABC, and more.

If I Can Do It, You Can Do It

Sometimes people ask if I use hypnosis myself. Hopefully the answer has already been made clear in this section, but of course, yes.

And it might be clear by now that I'm definitely not the "woo-woo" type sometimes associated with hypnotism. I'm allergic to incense, and you won't find any beaded curtains in my office. At the same time, I'm deeply interested in esoteric topics, but I keep my weird personal interests separate from client work.

It's possible that hypnosis itself enabled the transformation from being an introverted data developer, to someone who is out hypnotizing people on TV and radio and getting the Mayor's office to issue a proclamation.

Maybe your goal isn't to take things that far, maybe you just want to stop a bad habit, or get rid of some anxiety or fear. But imagine, for example, how much easier it'd be to quit smoking if you were hypnotized into believing that you ARE a non-smoker; smoking just wouldn't occur to you. Or if you had to engage in public speaking, and instead of thinking of yourself like "I AM afraid" and panicking about it, you believed in yourself so much that you just thought "Ah, maybe public speaking makes me nervous, but it's really not so bad. I can handle it."

Somewhere along the way we all agreed, consciously or unconsciously, to accept our limits, habits and fears as part of our identity. Then it can seem like we're just acting as supporting players in our own lives, running a tiresome collection of pre-scripted internal dialogue and behaviors.

To paraphrase a key phrase from a popular bit of entertainment: "These mindless delights have mindless ends." But with the right tools, you can edit, update, and revise your own story more to your liking.

I'm still the same database guy who prefers cats to humans, and who finds networking events to be excruciating. I don't think it's possible, or even desirable, to alter core personality traits in a major way. But that self-image doesn't restrict or limit me anymore. It's an example of how hypnosis can open up strange possibilities in life; maybe it can do the same for you.

back to top of page

Q:    How many office visits? What are the fees?

One of the great benefits of this approach is that results can be surprisingly rapid, for reasons that are described earlier in this FAQ in the How It Works section.

However, it shouldn't be used as a substitute for longer-term therapy and counseling (resources can be found referenced elsewhere on this site). Many of the most successful clients have used this process to internalize and enhance work that's been done in years of therapy and counseling:

Client comments are not guarantees of similar results. Individual experiences may vary.
(PS. If you're wondering what's up with all these disclaimers, they are just required to be in full compliance with Google policies regarding site quality)

"I felt like what we accomplished in two visits would be the same as two years of therapy.
I was very pleased with the outcome so far."
--- Deborah Hurwitz

In general, most issues can be handled within 2 to 4 office visits, depending on the complexity of the problem.

Although many clients experience positive changes even after the first visit, I always recommend at least one follow-up. For reasons described earlier in this FAQ, going into this work with a half-hearted "try it once, just to see if it works" attitude doesn't exactly indicate a real commitment to success.


The initial half-hour consultation is always free and no-obligation. We use that time to determine if there is any reason we should not proceed.

Even before the consultation, you can do a quick cost-benefit calculation in your head, to get a sense of the potential upside (or, put another way: the downside of doing nothing) for yourself. This is why I publish my fees, unlike many hypnotists... I don't think you should have to sit through a sales pitch "free screening" to find out how much something might cost.

It's easy to calculate the value of a service when the goal involves something like stopping smoking: just multiply the cost of cigarettes X projected years of being a non-smoker, and anyone can see that adds up to $3000 or $4000 per year.

For other purposes, you just have to guess-timate: how much would it be worth to finally get rid of a problem? I can't tell you how valuable something should be to you - that's up to you.

If we go ahead, then you have these options to choose from (discounts are applied with multi-session sets):

  1. Set of 6 sessions: $895 $720

  2. Set of 3 sessions: $475 $420

  3. Pay-as-you-go: $195 for the first session, $140 each after

Yes, I accept credit cards.

hypnotist philadelphia

Fee structure subject to change.

Sets are paid for at the end of the first appointment.

(there is a special offer available for SMOKING CESSATION clients, which can almost always be handled in just a couple of sessions, described on the Services page of this site)

How to setup a meeting / How to contact me

setting up a hypnosis session

Almost all frequently asked questions are already answered on this FAQ page.

Use this link to email me if you have any questions that aren't addressed:

Or, use the online calendar link below to setup your consultation.

I am happy to respond to unanswered questions, so don't hesitate to ask if you're looking for other information. However, I place a very low priority on responding to questions which have already been answered.

Reason: two of the main factors for success in this work are -

     1) willingness to follow simple instructions, and
     2) a proactive, resourceful mindset.

If someone is unwilling to take a few moments to at least scan a website for answers that are already provided, how likely is it that they're serious about making an active effort to change something in their life?

This may seem harsh, but if you think about it, it's fairer for everyone in the long run if we focus our time and energy on people who are help-able. Thank you for your understanding!


Information about fees, answers to frequently asked questions, and other important details are available on this site. Before our meeting, please familiarize yourself with the content; this will help us make the best use of your consultation time.

OK, I understand!
Take me to the secure online calendar

After setting up a meeting using the online calendar, you will receive an automated confirmation email. That email contains a link to a simple writing activity that I recommend you look into before the initial meeting --- it won't take long, but research has shown this activity can more than DOUBLE your chances of success: CLIENT GOALS AND BENEFITS.

Quick links:

back to top of page

*DISCLAIMER: Testimonials and customer reviews are not guarantees of similar results. Individual results may vary.