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All About Hypnosis

Learn what hypnosis really is, how it works, and how it can help you achieve your goals

What is Hypnosis?

Hypnosis is often shrouded in mystery and misconceptions, particularly in the media. You may have witnessed a movie scene where "hypnosis" is used to manipulate someone's thoughts or attended a stage show where a "hypnotist" encouraged participants to perform peculiar acts. While entertaining, these portrayals misrepresent the true nature of hypnosis.

Did you know that hypnosis is a natural, everyday occurrence? Its name is derived from the Greek word hypnos (meaning sleep), but hypnosis is not technically sleep. It actually refers to a pre-sleep state in which the brain generates alpha and theta waves, the mind and body are at ease, and imagination flourishes. 


Hypnosis occurs naturally during moments of daydreaming, deep relaxation, or meditation; and we enter hypnosis just before we fall asleep each night. You may have experienced hypnosis in other situations, too.


Have you ever been engrossed in a movie and found yourself physically reacting to the characters' emotions? Did you flinch during frightening scenes or beam with joy at a heartwarming ending? If so, you were in hypnosis! These reactions occur when our minds seamlessly shift into a hypnotic state, allowing us to immerse ourselves in the story as if it were our own reality.

Hypnosis also has tremendous power as a learning tool. In a hypnosis session, clients learn to effortlessly relax their minds and access the hypnotic state. This simple skill unlocks our ability to quickly learn new ideas, discover new perspectives, and make positive life changes.


Hypnosis is a Way of Learning

You might already know that our minds process information on both conscious and subconscious levels. The conscious mind is where our rational, critical thinking happens; but only a small amount of our mental activity is conscious. Most of what goes on in the mind is subconscious, and we are totally unaware of it.

The subconscious is like the brain's computer programming: it runs automatically in the background. It controls most of our reactions and behaviors. Every person's "programming" is different because the subconscious learns its reactions from our life experiences in a process called association.

We can understand how association works with a simple example:

Imagine that two people are walking down the street and both spot a dog coming toward them. The first person is delighted to see the dog; she wants to pet it, and her mood (perhaps even her entire day) is improved just by seeing the dog.


The second person, on the other hand, sees the same dog and begins to experience rapid breathing, his body tenses up, and he might even run away.

How does the same dog cause two people to react so differently?

This happens because each person's subconscious mind contains different associations about dogs. That is, they have each learned to respond to the presence of a dog in different ways. The first person may have had only positive experiences with dogs in the past, so her associations are all positive. The second person may have been bitten or chased by a dog as a child, and then his subconscious learned a negative association to dogs.

We act on our subconscious associations automatically and without thinking. When we see a dog, we do not stop to choose how we will feel about dogs today. Our subconscious simply feels what it has learned to feel about dogs in the past, and that shapes how we react in the present. The same is true in nearly every situation.

Can't we change our behaviors by changing our thinking?

Well, yes and no. It's very difficult to consciously change the associations we have learned. Let's imagine, for example, that the person who was fearful of dogs told himself, "I will stop feeling afraid of dogs right now." Of course, that rarely works.


That's because the subconscious does not easily forget what it has learned. The job of the subconscious mind is to protect us from the unknown. It does this by sticking to what it knows (dogs are scary, run!), even if we try to use our conscious thinking to tell ourselves otherwise.

The subconscious mind resists anything that is unknown, even if the new information is very good and makes sense to our rational minds. This is why we can sometimes want to make a change but fall back into our old behaviors. The subconscious continues to motivate us toward those trusty known patterns.

The purpose of hypnosis is to replace those old, unwanted patterns that are holding you back. We do this by speaking directly to the subconscious mind to help it learn new associations that are beneficial to your goals. 


How Hypnosis Works

During a hypnosis session, clients are taken through a learning process to uncover the underlying associations standing in the way of their desired goals.

Then, by relaxing the mind and body into hypnosis, we reach a state of increased suggestibility where we can speak directly to the subconscious. We use this state to build new, positive associations that will benefit the client and help them succeed. This kind of learning is very effective, and it can happen very quickly!

Positive changes can occur during the very first hypnosis session. A particular discomfort may suddenly disappear forever. Other times, changes will show up days or weeks after, when suddenly you notice that your feelings and reactions to situations have improved without thinking about it.

Either way, hypnosis brings lasting changes, even in cases of the most stubborn issues. Hypnosis is therefore a powerful way to motivate and support self-improvement.

And most importantly, hypnosis is an enjoyable experience! You will find your sessions comfortable, relaxing, and fun. It is very common to hear "I feel great!" and see a big smile on a client's face after hypnosis.

If you are curious to learn more about hypnosis, our practice at HypnoMotiv, and what happens in a typical hypnosis session, check out the list of Frequently Asked Questions below.

  • What is the scope of your practice?
    This practice provides one-on-one coaching and hypnosis for the purposes of vocational and avocational self-improvement. Put simply, this means assisting clients with a wide range of professional and personal goals. These include controlling habits, resolving limiting beliefs and fears, enhancing skills, and overcoming discomforts of body and mind. This practice does not diagnose, treat, or "cure" medical or psychological conditions. Clients with presenting issues that may have a possible medical or psychological etiology require a referral from a licensed healthcare provider. Referrals are discussed, as needed, during our initial consultation.
  • What type of hypnosis do you practice?
    There are several "schools" in hypnosis. Dr. Rotolo was trained in Kappasinian hypnosis at the Hypnosis Motivation Institute. The HMI College of Hypnotherapy is the first accredited college of hypnosis practice in the United States. Kappasinian hypnosis is named for its creator, Dr. John Kappas, who was one of the most successful hypnotherapists in the world. His method applies hypnosis as vocational and avocational coaching to motivate and support self-improvement. The Kappasinian method is effective for all people and is capable of supporting powerful, positive changes that last. Kappasinian hypnosis begins with an initial session in which clients are taught about hypnosis and how it can be applied to their specific presenting issue. In that first session, the client's learning and information processing styles are tested, and the client is taught to enter the hypnotic state before receiving a first set of hypnotic suggestions to support their goals. Additional sessions, if required, apply a variety of hypnotic techniques to reinforce positive suggestions and effectively address any underlying issues on the way to the client's success.
  • What if I can't be hypnotized?
    Everyone can be hypnotized! The myth that only certain people can be hypnotized comes from an outdated understanding of hypnosis. Through research, we now know that people have different ways of processing information, and these differences effect how we experience hypnosis. With this knowledge, we are able to create a personalized approach that will work best for you.
  • Will I be aware of what is happening during my hypnosis session?
    Yes! You will be fully aware and in complete control before, during, and after your hypnosis session. Some people incorrectly believe that hypnosis is an unconscious state of "sleep" or "trance," but hypnosis is actually a state of awareness. You will hear everything the hypnotist says during your session. Some clients say they are even more aware during hypnosis and experience a heightened sense of focus. Others experience a pleasant feeling of mental and physical calmness. Either way, all people are aware and in total control of themselves before, during, and after hypnosis.
  • What if I don't "wake up" from hypnosis?
    Although we sometimes refer to "hypnotic sleep" or "deep sleep," the hypnotic state is actually quite different from sleep. During hypnosis, a person is awake and conscious. In fact, if you did fall asleep during the session, we'd have to wake you up! Remember, hypnosis is a method of learning; and a person cannot learn while asleep. The experience of hypnosis is more like deep relaxation, and it's a very comfortable experience. While some clients might rather keep their eyes closed and remain in that pleasant feeling, you are always in total control during hypnosis and you can open your eyes at anytime, if you wish. At the end of every session, the hypnotist will always make sure that you are fully alert (not drowsy) before you leave the office. Most clients say they feel more awake and energized after hypnosis. For this reason, hypnosis is a great way to start your day or get a boost in the afternoon.
  • Can my mind be controlled with hypnosis?
    Absolutely not. Hypnosis is not a form of mind control or "brainwashing." A hypnotist cannot make a person do anything they don't want to do. Hypnosis works because the hypnotist is helping you to learn new, positive ideas that match your own goals and values. Brainwashing (pressuring someone into adopting radically different beliefs) is a terrible practice that is done by forcibly breaking down a person's will through long periods of physical and mental deprivation. That is the complete opposite of hypnosis! Hypnotists who claim they can control people's minds or make them behave strangely are stage performers. Their act is intended for entertainment, and it is usually scripted and planned with "audience members" who are part of the show. In cases where real audience members are hypnotized, the stage hypnotist seeks volunteers who are very willing to act out the bizarre suggestions given. There is no mind control involved. At this practice, hypnosis is an enjoyable and relaxing process intended to help people achieve their own goals. These services are always guided by the values and beliefs of the client.
  • Do you provide hypnosis services for children?
    Yes, Dr. Rotolo is trained in child hypnosis. In addition, he has worked as an educator for two decades. Hypnosis for young children (under 12) is conducted a bit differently from sessions with older clients. Children will find the session engaging and fun. Dr. Rotolo uses activities such as drawing, crafting, and storytelling to assist the young client in learning the techniques that will benefit their presenting issue. A parent is permitted to remain in the room during their young child's hypnosis session. Please note: Clients under the age of 18 will need permission from all legal guardians to receive hypnosis services. Parents/guardians will be provided with a permission form during the initial consultation.
  • What forms of payment does your practice accept?
    For your convenience, we accept the following forms of electronic payment: Credit Card Debit Card Apple Pay Venmo PayPal Google Pay Clients may pay for services in cash (office visits only); however, please note that our office does not keep cash on hand and we are unable to make change. Personal Checks are accepted (addressed to "Anthony J. Rotolo, Ph.D.").
  • Is hypnosis covered by health insurance?
    Hypnosis is considered a "complimentary and alternative modality" (CAM), along with other services like chiropractic, massage, and acupuncture. The vast majority of insurance providers do not cover CAMs. This is very disappointing, especially when you consider that more than a third of Americans utilize these natural, alternative services every year. Generally speaking, hypnosis is not covered by private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid; however, there are cases when insurance providers will cover some portion of hypnosis expenses (e.g., when referred by a medical doctor as "medically necessary"). You are encouraged to check with your insurance provider in such cases to determine if you are eligible for reimbursement. In addition, if you have an HSA (Health Savings Account) or FSA (Flexible Spending Account), you may be able to pay for your hypnosis services with pre-tax dollars. Check with your HSA/FSA provider for information about how to submit your receipts.
  • Is Dr. Rotolo a medical doctor or licensed mental health provider?
    Dr. Rotolo is an educator. In addition to his advanced training in hypnosis, he holds a Ph.D. with expertise in learning and motivation. The title of "doctor" refers to his academic credentials. Dr. Rotolo does not practice medicine or provide psychotherapy. Medical and mental health services are only provided by state-licensed practitioners. Hypnosis and coaching are not a licensed professions in New York State. Hypnosis is not a substitute for medial treatment or psychotherapy. This practice does not diagnose, treat or "cure" any medical or psychological conditions. Dr. Rotolo offers his services as education and coaching to aid clients with self-improvement goals; and, with a referral, he may work in coordination with a licensed medical or mental health provider to offer hypnosis as a complimentary adjunct to treatment.
  • Will my hypnosis session and records be kept private?
    Yes. It is our practice and commitment to keep client information private and confidential. Release of records requires written consent from the client. Please note: The confidentiality of hypnosis practice is not protected by law. This means that a court may order the release of records, and our practice would be legally required to comply with that order. In addition, this practice is obligated to report information regarding any risk of self-harm or injury to others.
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