This article is from the Alternative Medicine Therapies guide.
People who have been hypnotized usually say it's a much more subtle process than they expected. A hypnotist, for instance, cannot make you quack like a duck or do anything else you don't want to do. Far from putting you under a "spell," a good hypnotherapist will enable you to harness your own mental energy. Hypnotized, you will probably actually feel more alert than you ordinarily do. At the same time, however, you will be in a state of profound relaxation. Most people find the experience quite pleasurable.
Three conditions need to be met for hypnosis to be successful: a comfortable environment without distractions, a good rapport between you and the hypnotist, and a willingness on your part to be hypnotized. Your therapist will most likely begin the first session by asking you about your expectations and the problems for which you are seeking help.
A hypnotic trance can be induced in a number of ways. Probably, the therapist will ask you to sit in a comfortable reclining chair and will use a soothing tone of voice to induce relaxation. Once your body is thoroughly relaxed and your mind is diverted from the external environment, the therapist will make suggestions to your unconscious mind that will support your goals. Because hypnosis works best when the patient also learns a self-hypnosis technique and faithfully practices it, the therapist will teach you techniques for going into a trance on your own.
Your first hypnosis session will last from 60 to 90 minutes. At this session, you and the therapist may concentrate on refining your ability to use your hypnotic capability. Subsequent sessions will probably last 60 minutes or less. The time it takes to go into a trance and the number of sessions needed vary for each individual. For most people, five to 10 sessions with a hypnotherapist, along with practice on their own, are sufficient for reaching a particular goal.