Is hypnotherapy like mind control? We get an expert to correct the most common misconceptions. By Jay Chooi

What is hypnotherapy? 

Hypnotherapy is the fastest and easiest way to reprogram your belief system and to rid your old dysfunctional values like ‘smoking is cool’. It’s also a form of therapy that modifies your emotional responses to trauma.  For example, how long does it take for you to get over a broken heart? People will normally say ‘months’, but hypnosis can help you get over it in just a few sessions.

So is it like mind control?
People often associate ‘stage hypnosis’ with hypnotherapy. The techniques and processes used are similar, but in hypnotherapy, the trance state or hypnotic state is used to heal rather than to entertain. Another common misconception is that hypnotists are like wizards that control minds. No one can control another person’s mind. Hypnotists only reinforce innate beliefs or abilities that are already inherent. It’s all up to freewill.

Does it actually work?
I get this question so often it’s irritating. Yes, of course it works, but there is no definitive answer as to how it works. Personally, I believe that hypnosis allows us to tap into our own intelligence and wisdom to bring about healing. Hypnosis has been working since our ancestors started day dreaming. Today, it’s considered to be cutting edge in medical science. We now have better tools to measure the effectiveness of the trance state to treat physical, mental and emotional conditions.

Hypnosis has been working since our ancestors started day dreaming. Today, it’s considered to be cutting edge in medical science. We now have better tools to measure the effectiveness of the trance state to treat physical, mental and emotional conditions.

The interview was in TimeOutKL Issue 58 January 2013

What can it treat?
Hypnosis can be used to treat things that stems from your belief system. For example, phobias stem from the belief that something is threatening, so in the case of arachnophobia, even a tiny spider can cause intense fear. Hypnosis is a great fear buster. Psychosomatic ailments such as irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and panic attacks can also be treated effectively.

Can you change someone’s personality or behaviour?
That’s the whole point of hypnosis – to help people change for the better. If you lose your cool when you have to give a presentation, hypnosis can help turn you into a calmer and confident presenter. In this sense, your personality will not change but just your behaviour.

How long does it take?
Most ailments take about six sessions. Some, like quitting smoking, can be fixed in one.

Hypnotherapy can also be misused as well.
This is a very loaded and sensitive statement. Using hypnosis to influence a person for your own personal gain or advantage is highly unethical. My job is to maintain the highest level of ethical standards for hypnotherapy practice and training in Malaysia. Having said that, you can misuse anything unethically and that includes hypnosis.

Can you make a person cluck like a chicken?
Yes. Cluck like a chicken, quack like a duck or bark like a dog. It’s a pity that Christmas is just over. Otherwise, to stretch your money, I can make you feel completely drunk without a drop of alcohol. Sounds nice? Plus, there’s no hangover the next day.

Being hypnotised feels like I’m allowing my mind to be invaded, that I’m giving away my rights. Is it like that?
Actually, no. Most of the time you just feel relaxed with your eyes closed while imagining the scenes the hypnotist creates through suggestions. It is nothing like mind invasion.

What equipments do you use in your sessions? Do you swing a pocket watch like in the movies?
The only equipment I need is my mind. I used to do a lot of street hypnosis. So if I need to, I will use whatever is around at that time but it’s more for the wow factor. I also combine hypnosis with brain entrainment. The brain entrainment machine prepares the mind for hypnotic suggestions.

Tell us more about the brain entrainment machine. What is it and how does it work?
The brain entrainment machine detects a person’s brainwaves and then changes it. For example, if a client visits me at the peak of their depression, I use the machine to shift their brainwaves back to normal. When they emerge from the session, they are basically over that depressive episode. Some of my clients call it the psychedelic machine because of the lights and sounds emitted by the machine.

How would you compare psychiatry with hypnotherapy?
You can’t compare as they are adjunct treatments. For some mental disorders, one or both types of treatment are necessary.

What other forms of clinical treatments do you specialise in?
In Malaysia, I do a lot of brief generalised clinical therapy that involve non-psychiatric conditions. I advise on hypnosurgery and hypnobirthing. As a professionally trained supervisor, I also provide supervisory services required for counsellors, clinical hypnotherapists and psychologists.

Can you make me rich through hypnosis?
I can help you think like a rich man but you’ll still have to take action to achieve success.