Another Sad Tale of Botched Hypnotherapy

WARNING: THIS ARTICLE IS A PERSONAL RANT! It is no secret that I am endlessly saddened by tales of hypnotists and hypnotherapists mismanaging the expectations of their clients and promising solutions that in all likelyhood they cannot deliver. Over my time as a hypnotist and change practitioner, I have heard enough tales of empty promises and  disappointment to compile an anthology!

The sad truth is that many practitioners of hypnosis/hypnotherapy peddle hypnosis as a near miracle cure, and often don't even follow up with clients to find out if their work was any good. This is a real shame, as in the right hands hypnosis can be a wonderful and powerful toolkit for assisting with personal change.

As a DISCLAIMER, I have to admit that I know little about the other hypnotherapist in the tale that follows, so maybe I am making some unfair inferences (all names and identifying details of concerned parties are protected). However, here is the tale from my end: Recently I was contacted by someone who was having a problem with noisy neighbours and was asking if I could help with hypnosis. As he said to me...

"This noise...  causes me considerable stress as there is little I can do about it the , neighbours being uncooperative . I am pretty sure that hypnosis can help in this kind of hypersensitivity to a particuliar form of noise."

Now, with this kind of problem, there are essentially two ways of utilising hypnosis:

1. The Hypnotist/Hypnotherapist performs a 'hypnotic induction' then give a set of suggestions around clearing up the problem.

2. The practitioner explores/uncovers the unconscious patterns that are the basis for the problem and strategically modifies them (and ideally sets up the conditions for the new pattern to evolve and self correct - this stage is almost always neglected, I believe, by most practitioners).

My own approach is somewhere along the lines of the second, even though the first approach offers many 'advantages' -  it is simple and often dramatic in it's initial impact, doesn't require much work and doesn't require the practitioner to understand much about people, their patterns and how learning and change works.

The downside is, however, that the 'remedy' rarely lasts!

And that, of course, is a pretty major downside! Now I want to be clear here - a single session of basic 'classic hypnosis' can, given the right conditions, be the catalyst for a life change - but note:

"given the right conditions" and "a catalyst for change".

So if I use it thus, I will only do so when I am certain the conditions are right, and I will strategically emphasise the 'catalyst' frame over the 'passive magic cure' frame that most hypnothearpists seem to operate from.

My reply to this prospective client was as follows:

"Hi X

Hypnosis may well be able to help with that kind of thing in the way that you would like. That said, I am probably not the hypnotist you are looking for as this sort of thing is outside the scope of what I do hypnosis-wise - my specialism is working with people to change habits, behaviours and emotional responses, and I'm pretty strict about sticking to that."

So I turned down the work! Why?

My sense in this case was that the client wanted hypnosis to fix the problem, but the truth is, in this kind of case hypnosis alone can rarely do that. I know this, so I don't take this kind of case (I will only take money from a client if I am as close to certainty as I can get that I can deliver to them what they want).

Now I'm always willing to accept that I could be wrong, so suggested that if he wanted to do the work, he do so with another hypnotist (and I kept my opinions to myself so as not to foul that other hypnotists chances... half of me regrets this), which is exactly what he did (independent, in fact, of any suggestion of mine). And what was the result?

"I did two sessions with (the hypnotherapist) with an interval of four days between each sessions. After the first session I was already astonished by the change in perception of the noise coming from my neighbours in the apartment above us. It was a radical difference to such an extant that I didn't see the point any more of moving out.

The second session was at my request as I wished to consolidate the suggestions of the first session."

All good so far!

"But four days later I started to react to the noise again and became very anxious and depressed. It's worse when you have the impression that the change is not effective. I'm now not sure what to do."

And there it is! So what happened?

The last paragraph alone tells me that expectations were clearly mismanaged here, especially: "It's worse when you have the impression that the change is not effective".

Now, so far as I'm concerned, this is a real botch on the part of this hypnotherapist, because the truth is, the change was effective! The only problem was that the practitioner mismanaged expectations and failed to:

1. Set up the right conditions for change


2.  Provide the appropriate support for the evolution of the change

As such it just died away (how do I know that? "It's worse when you have the impression that the change is not effective" says it all!). And worse than that, in doing so made things worse!

Sadly this is a very, very common thing... but, in fairness, the fault does not really lie with the practitioners! The reality is that they themselves have usually had their expectations mismanaged as to what hypnosis is (most think that it is some kind of special state - it isn't), how it works and what it is capable of and have not really been given a proper understanding of how to set up the conditions for lasting change.

Anyhow... rant over.

Making positive changes to your habits, behaviours and emotional responses is always achievable, and hypnosis can help you to do that when applied with skill and understanding, but beware those out there who would offer you a magic wand or have you passively engage in a miracle cure.

If you know what you want, and you are open minded about getting it, there is always a way forward!

All the very best



It has been levelled at me (via private message) that with this 'rant' I am merely engaging in self-aggrandisement at the expense of other practitioners. This is absolutely not at all my intent! This is actually an issue I care deeply about.

I've seen clients deeply upset because they have felt the failure to change meant they can't change, or are a failure at changing (including my own back in the days were I still 'promised the world' as I had been taught to do).

I also have seen one of the most intuitive and effective practitioners I have ever met quit because she couldn't be sure she could always deliver the clients demands, and thought that it must be her failing.

She too was taught she had a magic wand so of course she took the failing upon herself.

And none of this is necessary! There really is no need to mismanage expectations, and I really would like it to stop.

If this comes across as self-aggrandisement then I apologise. It is a sincere caring about something I believe is a real problem.

All the very best


P.S. Here's an old video from the Hypnosis Without Trance Blog that relates:

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