Q & A
Frequently Asked Questions
What is trance?
Trance is a state of mind. It is an altered state in some respects but it is always a natural state. It is a way of direct communication or access to the subconscious mind, bridging the gap between the conscious and the unconscious. Daydreaming or reverie are forms of naturally occuring trance states, as are focused work or the zone that athletes so often find themselves in.
What is trancework?
Formal trance is a process of helping to guide another into this altered state. Formal focused trance is a state of waking dream. It is often characterized as focused trance thoughtform, hypnosis, meditation, guided imagery, hyperempiria, creative visualization, neurolinguistic programming, active imagination, and other variations of trancework.
Yes, but what about what it is? How is formal trancework such as focused trance or hypnosis different from a naturally occurring trance?
Trancework forms . . . Waking Dreams . . . Hypnosis, Guided Imagery, Meditation, Hyperempria, Focused Trance Thoughtforms, Creative Visualization, Neurolinguistic Programming, Active Imagination . . . and other approaches . . . all of these are forms of Trancework . . . a wonderful special modality of changework that relies on formal trance . . . TRANCE . . . as used for the sort of trancework I advocate and use . . . is consensual guided intensified imaginative involvement to bypass the critical factor of the conscious mind and establish appropriate selective thinking via forms of influence and suggestion through formal and informal ritual induction procedures within variable contexts for entertainment, recreational, therapeutic and educational obectives.
It’s a form of consensual imagination with a purpose.
So, can anyone guide others into focused trance?
For the most part, yes. It’s a completely natural and normal state that is easy to learn and to guide others into. However, do note that while focused trance is a natural state that is completely safe, some trancework modalities, such as hypnosis, are regulated in some places in terms of who can offer such services either for therapeutic, non-therapeutic, entertaining, or recreational applications. Some of these regularions are there to protect the public based upon some erroneous beliefs on what the state is and some are reasonable limits in terms of certain types of behaviors which are inappropriate. However, for the most part, most focused trance modalities are unregulated and are completely safe. Even the generally regulated forms such as hypnosis are well known to be beneficial and useful with a regulations often in place to protect market share for other therapy professions rather than due to any inherent danger to hypnosis – more due to market share issue than actual issues related to the practice of hypnosis itself.
What is this hypnotic contract I hear about?
Since trancework is based upon a consensual state, the hypnotic contract is basically an informal implied agreement between trance guide or hypnotist and the client that states that you promise to allow me to guide you into an altered state of mind by following my directions and accepting my suggestions while I promise to guide you and give you suggestions that you agree to and which are for your benefit. If you keep up your end and I keep up mine, then the session will go wonderfully. If either of us oversteps or fails to fulfill his or her role in the process then the hypnosis just won’t happen.
How effective is focused trance, hypnosis, or trance-based counseling?
A noted psychologist’s comparative study of effectiveness reports in psychology and psychotherapy literature revealed that of the major therapeutic approaches, the focused trance form of hypnosis is one of the most effective (see Alfred A. Barrios, PhD, in Psychotherapy Magazine, v7n1, and in Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, and Practice, Spring 1970):
- Psychoanalysis: 38% recovery after 600 sessions.
- Behavior Therapy: 72% recovery after 22 sessions.
- Hypnotherapy: 93% recovery after 6 sessions.
As you can see, there’s a very good reason why hypnosis is one of the leading processes chosen by folks at the forefront of the brief therapy movement.
Other forms of focused trancework were not included in the study but can reasonably be expected to score highly as well due to the crossover skills shared among the various focused trance modalities.
Does a person become unconscious or lose control during focused trance?
In the movies or in bad literature, yes. In real life no. This cliche comes from how early writers portrayed hypnosis, mesmerism, and animal magnetism (early forms of focused trancework). Actually, the opposite is the case. As directed hypnosis or formal trancework is based upon a consensual process it actually won’t work unless the client agrees to go along with the suggestions and follows the operator’s directions.
You don’t sleep. That’s a myth. You’re actually very much awake and aware of everything. Some folks do experience a form of spontaneous amnesia as an indicator of deep trance phenomena, but study after study has shown they are still very much in control of their faculties and wide awake with what is called the “hidden observer” of the unconscious there actively monitoring the process, protecting them from any suggestions that might be inappropriate for them at that time. Most people feel as if they’re awake the whole time and can recall everything that occurs easily.
Sorry, but I can’t use focused trance to hypnotize someone to tell me their deep hidden secrets unless they want me to.
You really are always in control.
Isn’t it true that only weak-willed or stupid people can be hypnotized?
Uh, nope. The idea that only weak willed individuals can be hypnotized is also a myth that was fostered in the nineteenth century when social status was somehow equated with intellect and willpower. The truth of the matter is that at that time most hypnotists were upperclass men, often doctors, and most of their subjects were lower class patients and/or women. They assumed it was about superior will but honestly refused to be hypnotized themselves as they assumed they couldn’t be.
Can anyone be hypnotized or enter a focused trance state?
Today we know that hypnotizeability, suggestibility, and focused trance ability is fairly universal with most folks having at least some degree of ability to enter a focused trance state. In fact, a number of studies have shown that other than women tending to have a bit of an advantage over men in this respect, all else being equal, it’s actually those with stronger willpower or concentration skills and those with generally higher intelligence who are better at achieving formal trance than those who either have poor concentration skills or who are of below average intelligence.
However, all things being equal most people can enter formal focused trance of one form or another. The only genuine exceptions are those who don’t wish to follow the directions for one reason or another and those who are of such a low intelligence that they cannot concentrate on the directions. Some studies have also found those with severe mental problems or those who have been drinking or taking drugs are also not able to enter formal trance due to their inability to focus but even these individuals can often be guided to some degree of trance. So, unless you don’t want to actually do the process or you have an exceptionally low intelligence, you will probably do fine.
Can I get better at trance over time?
Obviously, some folks are more gifted at entering trance state than others at the beginning. However, through practice and with proper guidance, most folks do improve. It’s not just an inherent ability, it is also a skill and as such it can be improved through practice and training.
What does entering focused trance or being hypnotized feel like?
Interestingly, it varies from individual to individual. This is one thing that there is a lot of individual variation. However, for many folks for whom a relaxation-based trance induction is used, they report feeling pleasant sensations of mental and physical relaxation. It feels gooooooood, really. Some report a loopy floaty feeling while others report increased focus and concentration. This will also depend upon the trance modality being used as well as the specific suggestions given during the session.
What is the difference between trancework and counseling and psychotherapy?
I do trancework. I am skilled at a variety of trance-based modalities such as Waking Dreams, Focused Trance Thoughtforms, Hypnosis, Guided Imagery, Meditation, Hyperempria, Creative Visualization, Neurolinguistic Programming, Active Imagination, and other approaches. I don’t do counselling work per se nor do I do psychotherapy. What I do is more akin to coaching or mentoring utilizing focused trance. Trancework uses trance, suggestion and instruction in autotrance or self-hypnosis to adjust and correct unwanted habits of thought, feeling and behavior or to install new beliefs or habits or improve skills. Psychotherapy is the diagnosis and conversational treatment of mental disease. In other words, a psychotherapist treats people who have been diagnosed with some type of mental illness while a tranceworker or waking dream guide or hypnotist addresses the habits of normal people wishing to improve their lives. As per my scope of practice statements, while I am certainly qualified and skilled in trance-based modalities and can help folks supplement their care from a licensed practitioner of the healing arts, I will not work with folks for issues related to medical health-based problems or illness or to psychiatric disorders without an express referral from an appropriate licensed health-care professional or psychologist.
What is the best way to get training in hypnosis or focused trance?
One of the best orgainizations for competence-based training is the Society of Experiential Trance with a strong program in qualifying members based upon competence. The curriculum for the courses is solid and based upon practice rather than lecture. There are also options for those who have previous training or experience to become certified via examination.
If you have more questions regarding hypnosis, focused trance, experiential meditation, or other aspects of trancework or our other specialty services, shows, and more, feel free to head on over to the Hypnosis Q&A category on our site and browse for more information. Can’t find what you want to know? Drop us an email.