As social media and digital services increasingly become part of our lives, self–hypnosis has become a popular tool for self–improvement and mindfulness practice. While a quick google search may provide evidence that hypnosis is generally safe, it is important to recognize that risks are present, even when under the guidance of a trained professional. In this article, we explore the safety measures, risk factors, and potential dangers of self–hypnosis specifically pertaining to written hypnosis scripts.
Exactly how safe is hypnosis, specifically self-hypnosis?
For the most part, yes. Hypnosis, self-hypnosis, and hypnotherapy are considered safe and effective practices that can be used as a complementary intervention for mental, physical, and emotional disorders.
The efficacy of self–hypnosis is well–established. Research has shown that it can be effective in the complementary treatment of various mental and physical health conditions, such as pain management, weight loss, smoking cessation, and even cancer care. It is usually safe because it does not involve the use of substances with potential harmful side effects.
Studies touting the miraculous effects of hypnosis and hypnotherapy are typically carried out under the supervision of clinicians and mental health professionals. When delivering hypnosis scripts or audio recordings online, however, there is no way to control the impact of the session, as the practitioner is not present to manage any potentially negative side effects. Even if they were, would they be qualified to do so?
Clinical hypnotherapists are certified and regulated under a governing body. They are obligated to conduct themselves under strict ethical guidelines, have received extensive training and clinical experience, and are best suited to write effective hypnosis scripts.
But don’t be discouraged! Like I said, anyone can write hypnosis scripts. You can be a creative writer, a life coach, a counsellor, a healer or just an average person who wants to improve their scriptwriting skills for personal or commercial reasons.
Just remember to not overstep your level of competency. For example, if your client is suffering from severe depression, you should not offer hypnosis as the cure for their mental illness. What you should do is research as much as you can about the subject and write a script that is ethical and safe and encourage them to run it by their mental health professional
What are the Dangers of Self-hypnosis?
It is understandable to think of hypnosis as safe; however, when offering or disseminating hypnosis services, one must remember that certain individuals may be at risk and there is a small chance of experiencing harmful side effects. Thus, it is important to be aware of the potential dangers of self–hypnosis, especially if it is done outside of a clinical setting, or by an untrained hypnotist.
Some studies have found that hypnotic suggestions for dreams and while using the age regression technique would sometimes result in unwanted reactions, such as headaches and the failure to wake from a state of drowsiness (Gruzelier, 2000).
Pre-existing Mental Health Conditions & Hypnosis
Unfortunately, there is the potential for hypnosis to inadvertently trigger negative side effects such as psychotic reactions or flashbacks to repressed memories. These reactions can be unpredictable and may lead to dangerous situations if left unchecked. For this reason, it is important for people to be aware of the risks associated with hypnosis and to seek professional help if they are considering it as a form of treatment. By obtaining proper guidance and support from a mental health professional, individuals can safely explore the depths of their mental health issues with the help of hypnosis.
Failed De-hypnosis and High Hypnotisability
Let’s face it, you may have written such an effective, therapeutic and hypnotic script that when it’s time for the listener to return to the waking state, they instead become resistant because it feels too good to end the session. Since we know that the listener always has complete autonomy over their decision-making faculties, they may choose to remain in a hypnotic trance, perhaps even prolonging their experience to the detriment of their own safety or wellbeing. It is also well known that some people are more hypnotizable than others, and if the termination of the hypnosis session is not direct or potent enough, it is possible for the listener to return to their activities of daily living while still not fully recovered from the hypnotic state.
The HAS is a scale developed by Dr. Ernest R. Hilgard in the 1970s. It is used to measure the level of hypnotic or trance–like states in people. It is divided into nine levels, which range from the normal waking state to deep trance. It is important to differentiate between different trance states, since some clients may have difficulty returning to the pre–hypnotic baseline level of alertness through simple suggestion in hypnosis.
Measuring your client’s level of alertness both pre-hypnosis and post-hypnosis, gives you a better understanding of their hypnotisability. This is probably the biggest flaw when it comes to providing online hypnosis services, where thorough assessments, evaluations, and most importantly the re-alerting process cannot be conducted by the experienced clinician. When writing hypnosis scripts intended for larger audiences, perhaps in the form of an audio recording on social media, you may wish to add as many safeguards into your script as possible.
How Can I Write Safer Hypnosis Scripts?
Ask yourself, “Am I qualified to write this hypnosis script?”
So, we’ve learned about the potential dangers of hypnosis. Now you’re probably wondering how you can write safer hypnosis scripts with safeguards and preventative measures in place that lower the risk of danger to you, your clients, or your audience.
Creating hypnotic material that goes beyond one’s competency level can be dangerous, especially for listeners with serious mental health conditions. Trained professionals are aware of the necessary assessments and information needed to create hypnosis scripts for clients at risk of an adverse reaction. When crafting a personal hypnosis script for yourself there’s much less harm since you have a greater understanding of your own history, preferences, and limitations. However, repressed emotions may become unexpectedly apparent during a hypnosis session and can worsen one’s mental condition if they are not equipped with the resources to guide them through it.
When writing a hypnosis script for a client or audience, it is essential to be mindful of the power of the words and suggestions used, as these can have a profound impact on the individual. It is of the utmost importance that you remain informed and knowledgeable about the desired effect or intention of any script you write. This will help you tailor it to the listener’s needs and provide the best possible outcome. Additionally, it is important to know when to reject a client’s request for a custom script if it goes outside of your professional competency. In these cases, it is your responsibility to explain why you are not comfortable addressing certain topics and try to accommodate them with a script that is still personalized and therapeutic. This way, you can stay within your professional boundaries while still providing a meaningful experience to the listener.
In order to ensure a successful termination of a hypnosis session, it is imperative to provide clear instructions and affirmative commands for the listener to return to a tranquil and contented mindset. Techniques such as age regression, recapitulation, and revivification that involve visualization should be accompanied by explicit instructions to ensure a safe and effective reawakening. Although there is a range of methods to stimulate the listener back to a conscious state, a sudden shock should be avoided. Instead, the listener should be prompted to return to wakefulness in a pleasant and seductive manner. Snaps, bells, and countdowns can be used to add an extra layer of excitement and help to facilitate the transition back to a conscious state. Ultimately, the goal should be to allow the listener to re-emerge in a tranquil, rejuvenated, and positive state of mind. Here is an example of a safeguard: “In a few moments, I will countdown from three to one, and at one you will awaken, feeling invigorated, focused and enthusiastic about achieving your goals for the day.” You can also instruct the listener to perform physical stretching or breathing exercises to ensure they are fully conscious before continuing their day.
When writing hypnosis scripts meant for sleep, the termination of the session can look a little different but there are still ways to incorporate safeguards that lower the risk of an adverse reaction. Click here to learn about writing hypnosis scripts for sleep.
Steel, Craig. “Hallucinations as a trauma-based memory: implications for psychological interventions.” Frontiers in psychology vol. 6 1262. 15 Sep. 2015, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01262