Stage Hypnosis versus Hypnotherapy – Methods Revealed

I have done a fair amount of demonstration hypnosis to audiences, including hallucination hypnosis and altering the memory of a subject.

Here are brief explanations of the two types of the application of hypnosis I am writing about:

Stage Hypnosis:

Is a demonstration of the willingness of certain individuals to use hypnosis as an excuse to be the centre of attraction to a non-critical audience. It is also a vehicle for a proclaimed hypnotist to stroke his own ego and to give the false impression that he is all powerful and in total control of those individuals I have just described.


On the other hand, a Hypnotherapist is an individual who for whatever reason, usually because of a need within his personality, to help other individuals in need of psychological help. A Hypnotherapist should be well versed in both the ethical use of hypnosis and a working knowledge of psychology, both of which are used to help his client towards a better life.

The Mechanics

How does a stage hypnotist appear to control his subjects? To answer that we have to become aware of what is actually happening some hours before and during his performance.

Here are the procedures that are typically applied before a hypnotist carries out his act:

1. Before the hypnotist appears on stage, he would have received a great deal of positive and complimentary publicity. There should also be an entrance charge to his act, the higher the better. Reasons being that the publicity builds up an expectation of a powerful figure and when a fee is paid, it is an unconscious way of saying, ‘I believe the publicity’. In fact, those people who know themselves to be hypnotisable, are unconsciously expecting to be, and invariably will, be hypnotised.

2. On the actual night, the audience will be kept waiting to build up the expectancy even more. Usually the proprietors of the establishment will continually mention that the hypnotist will appear later in the evening. This is, in a way, similar to the build up to a T.V. show when the floor manager and some well known personality prepares the audience for the show starts.

Also, it is common practice to use alcohol to free the inhibitions, by being available for at least a couple of hours before the show.

3. The appearance of the hypnotist will be to the sound of great applause – again building up the expectation and causing excitement. The personal attire of the hypnotist is usually black to give that mystical appearance and to create the impression of power. This is not absolutely necessary if the performer is well known.

4. The hypnotist will then talk to the audience and further convince them that he is the powerful figure they were expecting who has the magical hypnotic powers expected of him. Usually the talk includes personal testimonials to his abilities.

5. Now to the performance.

The hypnotist will always carry out a number of hypnosis suggestibility tests to establish who is highly suggestible within the audience. For example, clasping the hands in front of the body and then being told they are stuck together.

The tests are intended to produce a small number of people who respond readily to suggestions and who are either able to convince themselves they can be hypnotised or, are willing to do foolish things with the excuse of having no control over their actions due to being hypnotised.

6. The suggestibility tests are varied and numerous, but always separate the highly suggestible members of an audience from those who do not want to go up on stage or are not very responsive to hypnosis.

Here are more details about the Hand Clasp Suggestibility Test.

a. The audience is asked to stand up (those that do are responding to an order which is a subtle suggestion) and then to hold their arms out in front of them.

They are then instructed to clasp the hands together, intertwining their fingers (the hypnotist will demonstrate to ensure the instructions are followed exactly as that is very important).

b. The audience is then told that when the hypnotist counts up to a certain number, the hands will become stuck together (this is repeated at least three times in accordance with the Laws of suggestion and on the final number the hypnotist will ask the audience to try to unclasp their hands (try – is a word that suggests that you cannot).

The audience is told that the harder they try (this is another suggestion) the more difficult it will become and they will find they cannot unclasp the hands, no matter how hard they try.

7. As it is known that approximately 25% of any audience is highly suggestible and as a result in any audience there will be a number of people who will not be able to unclasp their hands. Sometimes a lot and sometimes very few.

8. Those people who cannot unclasp their hands are asked to remain standing (this is to ensure the hypnotist does not lose track of them and enables him to observe the exhibitionists amongst them.

Another suggestion is given to allow them to unclasp their hands, usually by simply telling them to relax their hands and on a given word or a snap of the fingers they will be able to unclasp their hands. The reason their hands are clasped together is because they are tensing them and the simple act of relaxing enables them to unclasp, but the audience believes it is the power of the hypnotist at work. (try it and press hard ont he back of the hands with your fingers).

9. Sometimes, the hypnotist will then carry out another suggestibility test to lower the numbers of possible subjects. This is done mainly with large audiences.

10. The hypnotist will then invite those people standing to go on to the stage and sit on chairs already placed in a line behind the hypnotist. The chairs will have already acted as a powerful suggestion as the audience will have seen them and expected members of the audience to sit in them and be hypnotised.

11. Those of the audience who accept the invitation are in effect giving the hypnotist permission to do whatever he wants with them as they know what is to be expected.

The stage hypnotist will also use more methods to get a member of an audience on stage ready to appear to do as bid.

A Hypnotherapist, uses none of the above methods, although sometimes the hand clasp is used to convince a client that the hypnosis being used is genuine.

Hypnotherapists are there to help and not to make a client feel foolish. An important requirement for any Hypnotherapist is a caring, kind and understanding nature. The need to help others is a bonus.

Also important is the training a Hypnotherapist receives. Any course taken MUST include the psychology aspect of treating clients. The reason simply being that a Hypnotherapist treats psychological problems and he or she must understand human behaviour. It is not necessary to hold a degree in psychology, but knowledge of most forms of psychology is important.

At no time would an ethical Hypnotherapist produce a situation where the client becomes reliant on the therapy of therapist. The goal of a Hypnotherapist is to guide the client towards self-reliance when he or she is in full control of the life he or she wants to lead.

Hypnotherapy can be used to treat almost, but not all, psychological ailments.

Robert Shields teaches Hypnotherapy and his own unique Fear Elimination
Therapy (remove phobias in minutes). Teaching Hypnotherapists since 1986 his
30-lesson diploma course costs $197.97 or UKP98.00. Includes a money-back guarantee. Full details at:

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