Here are the most common fears and preconceptions, mostly based on myth, that keep people from seriously considering hypnotherapy as an option for themselves.
1.) Fear of losing control while in hypnosis:
This fear stems primarily from the way hypnosis is portrayed in movies and stage shows. A great many people believe that while "under hypnosis" their conscious mind is blocked out, or pushed aside- they lose control. This being the case it seems logical that unconscious material, you saying things you would never say or want revealed to anyone, could also come out during a session. In hypnotherapy this just doesn't happen. In fact during most, if not all of the session, your mind is so focused and clear that you are much more aware of what is being said to you, and what you say in response, than while you are awake!. I occasionally work with clients who enter an incredibly deep state of hypnosis called somnambulism. Less than ten percent of the population are somnambulists. It is somewhat of a rare occurrence. Somnambulists are people that, when given the opportunity, can so clearly relax and retain an utterly clear state of conscious mind that it appears they have completely trance out. Even though their conscious mind is disassociated to the degree that they are not affected by stimuli that does not mean the person is "not there". Awareness does remain present. In working with persons in a somnambulist state there was never any loss of control, nor were anything close to being deep, dark secrets spoken or revealed. The client's protective awareness is always present. In my own practice, and that of most hypnotherapists I know, the goal is not to get you to trance out or go so far "under" that your conscious mind is not at least somewhat present during the entire session. Better results are generated when the client is in either a light or medium state of hypnosis [mentally focused, physically and emotionally relaxed]. When working with somnambulists a very light state of hypnosis can be employed. If the somnambulist begins to drift off he or she is brought back up so the conscious mind is more fully aware and present of the session taking place. Hypnosis and hypnotherapy provide "an experience"; and it helps for the client to consciously experience the experience being provided to them during the session. Perhaps the only time a somnambulistic state would be desired would be for amputation without anesthesia or some other type of severe physical pain control.
2.) Fear of saying or revealing things about yourself you wish not to reveal:
This fear is closely related to the above fear of losing control while in hypnosis. The objective of hypnotherapy is not to have you go under and start communicating unconscious material. Hypnosis does not do away with person privacy. Even if you did enter a somnambulistic state you would not say or reveal things about yourself or your life that you would not wish to consciously share with the therapist while awake.
3.) Fear of being controlled:
You do not lose control while in hypnosis. No matter how deep you go your protective self-awareness (consciousness) remains present. This explains why a person in hypnosis does not do anything against their moral, ethical or religious beliefs. If such a command or suggestion is given the individual either wakes up or simply does not carry out the command or suggestion. Your conscious mind (representative of 3% to 5% of your mind) may find the experience of hypnosis so relaxing that you feel you are a "million miles away", drifting effortlessly, peacefully and serenely on a sea of inner calm and tranquility. However, no matter how far out you drift, your consciousness (the majority of your mind) remains aware and is fully present during the session. You are not controlled, you cannot be made to do things you would not do while awake, nor do you communicate things while in hypnosis that you would not be comfortable with sharing.
4.) Fear of not waking up, or not coming out of hypnosis:
Nobody has never not woken up or come out of hypnosis. You do not enter a coma-state or a state of unconsciousness while in hypnosis. The most common thing that can happen is that the client's experience of hypnosis is so relaxing, restful, and peaceful that they feel a bit of reluctance to come back to normal waking consciousness. Hypnosis is most definitely a return to a natural state of being. It is very much a regenerative and restorative experience; especially mentally. Despite any reluctance the client has to come out of hypnosis at the end of the session, it is extremely rare for a hypnotherapist to have any trouble bringing you out of hypnosis. There are many simple techniques the hypnotherapist can use to help you awaken completely when its time to do so. Even without these techniques the worst that would happen is you would end up awakening on your own. You would awaken on your own in usually no more than two to three hours; just as though you were waking from a much needed nap.
5.) Fear of not being able to enter hypnosis, i.e. "I am too analytical, my mind is too busy. I can't be hypnotized":
If you can fall asleep at night, either on your own or with the aid of sleeping pills, you can be "hypnotized". The term "being hypnotized" is the primary reason some people encounter this uncertainty. It is a poor term because it implies you are going to be put into a sleep, unconscious, or comatose state. Such is not the case. Many of the best hypnosis subjects are the ones that enter merely a light state of hypnosis. The goal of the hypnotherapist is not to get you to "trance out". Hypnosis is simply a technique that helps you to relax physically, emotionally, and mentally.
There are many ways a hypnotherapist has to help you relax using hypnosis. Based on the movies you would think that nearly all hypnotherapists induce hypnosis using the old watch trick- you stare at a watch swinging back and forth in front of you while being told, "you are getting sleepy, close your eyes, go to sleep now, you are getting sleepier and sleepier". This is not the standard induction technique used by hypnotherapists. It isthe induction technique most suited to movies trying to dramatize hypnosis in a scene.
Most hypnotherapists know that at the very least they will be able to guide you into a light state of hypnosis (relaxation); and this is usually all that is needed to generate positive results. Ironically, analytical people, or those with extremely busy minds, are often the easiest people to "hypnotize". A busy, full, and active mind is quick to have a chance to unwind and relax for awhile. The experience of hypnosis often gives such persons a much needed break from the sheer amount of conscious attending and thought monitoring the conscious mind engages in throughout each moment of every day.
6.) Fear of psychological damage caused by hypnosis:
This fear if apt to arise when hypnosis is incorrectly thought of as a method of mind control, or the exertion of one person's will over another. Hypnosis is neither of these two things. Hypnosis, in itself, is proven to be a safe method effective at focusing and relaxing the body, mind, and emotions. Hypnosis does not produce or invoke psychological damage. In fact, you typically enter a hypnotic state two times a day- the time when going to bed, just before you drift off into sleep; and the time between sleep and awakening in the morning (assuming you awaken naturally without an alarm clock jolting you out of your slumber).
7.) Fear of what family, friends, coworkers, others might say or think:
Things in life that are not understood or well-known often evoke an element of fear or uncertainty. A common form that fear or uncertainty takes is social condemnation despite whatever the facts may be. Hypnosis, not being well understood by most people, often gets a negative social rap. Typical social reactions define hypnosis as strange, weird, odd, mysterious, bizarre, etc. This does not make it so. Hypnosis is no more strange, weird, odd, mysterious, or bizarre than one's own mind. Hypnosis is a subjective experience. It is an experience of mind.
A person considering, or who opts for hypnotherapy, and encounters a negative social reaction by someone, can inform the person, "Yeah, hypnosis sure seemed strange to me at first too, but it's really nothing more than focusing your mind to create a positive change in your life, and it works. You can either work with or against yourself. Hypnosis helps you work with your mind in creative, powerful and supportive ways". You don't need to internalize others' misunderstandings, or take things too personally. What is, is. People are who they are, and that's what is. Instead, use it as an opportunity to inform and educate people about what hypnosis is and how it works.