How long does it take to learn hypnosis?

by Bob Walsh

Hypnosis can be a powerful means of changing minds, whether you want to apply it for personal transformation, therapeutic intervention or in the business context. That’s one reason why many people falsely belief that it takes years of study and a degree in psychology to become capable of hypnotizing someone.

So how long does it take to learn hypnosis?

There are different ways to answer this question, but the simplest way to answer it is: it takes no more than a couple of hours. I’ve created a free email course that you can use to start experimenting with and experiencing hypnotic trance states safely. Just look at the upper right of this page and fill out the email form.

Yes, you can really learn how to put someone into a hypnotic trance within a single day. That being said, to skillfully utilize the hypnotic trance state you’ve induced will take is a different thing, and will take longer.

There are several aspects to learning hypnosis:

  • inducing hypnotic trance states
  • sharpening your sensory acuity to correctly pick up on signals of your hypnotic subject
  • using hypnotic language patterns
  • mastering various hypnosis techniques
  • skillfully deploying hypnotic suggestions
  • and more

Why learn hypnosis?

That being said, in order to learn hypnosis quickly, you first and foremost should have a clear goal in mind and have your purpose clearly defined.

  • Why do you want to learn hypnosis? (Don’t be satisfied with the first answer that comes to mind. Dig deeper until you come to something that is really meaningful and creates emotional resonance for yourself.)
  • What do you hope to achieve?
  • In which specific situations do you want to use hypnosis?
  • With whom do you want to practice hypnosis?

Depending upon what outcome you want to achieve, you should commit to spending a certain amount of time on mastering it. If you want to do deep therapeutic work with clients, obviously you should schedule many hours of study over the course of the coming months and years.

But whatever your purpose, whatever  you desire to achieve with hypnotism, know this: You can get started with hypnosis today, and both personally experience hypnotic trance states, as well as induce them in others by tomorrow.

There’s no magic or natural ability required to do this. Hypnosis, after all, is simply a naturally occurring state of mind that people go in and out of multiple times a day, without even being aware of it. Hypnosis is just about making it more conscious, and helping you to be more deliberate about when you apply hypnosis to yourself or others.

Different ways to learn hypnosis

There’s no one-size-fits all approach. The best way to learn hypnosis is under the guidance of an experienced professional hypnotist with a long teaching experience. However, this is also the most difficult, time- and cost-prohibitive option.

In order to learn the basics of hypnosis quickly, you could:

  • Get a good book on hypnosis that focuses on the practical aspects.
  • Participate in a guided online course
  • visit a workshop
  • if you’re living in a large city, there are often hypnosis practice groups. Getting in touch with like-minded people who share an interest in hypnosis is a great way to get started.
  • there are great audio-books for learning hypnosis
  • video is probably the best medium to learn hypnosis other than attending a live workshop. The reason is simply that you’ll be able to both listen to the voice of the hypnotist, the hypnotic subject, and to able to visually observe their interactions and pick up on the nonverbal elements of the communication taking place between them.

Dr. Richard Bandler, one of the co-founders of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) has created some great training materials for people who want to get started with hypnosis.

If you’re particularly interested in learning hypnosis for therapeutic purposes, recordings and books of Dr. Milton H. Erickson, a legendary hypnotherapist (and one of the most influential people in the formation of modern hypnotherapy) can be very insightful, although this is definitely no fast-track to learning. They’re more for the seriously dedicated student who is willing to put many months and years into mastering the art of hypnosis.

Here’s a video of Dr. Erickson teaching hypnosis:

As you see the video was recorded at a time when high-quality recording wasn’t as widely available as it is now. This was decades ago. Also, Dr. Erickson’s health wasn’t the best, and it can be difficult to understand Dr. Erickson and pick up on the subtleties of what he’s doing. (There’s much more than meets the eye to this man, who was routinely able to put people into deep hypnotic trance states just by shaking their hands, using what has been called the “hand shake pattern interupt”).

A person who has taken the hand shake interrupt into the world of entertainment is Derren Brown. Now the man is an entertaining, and personally I am not a fan of stage hypnosis, or situations where hypnotism and showmanship are combined, but this man is a rare exception. The level of skill he brings to the table is so impressive that I’d do you a disservice to not share it here:

Now in this video he does much more than just demonstrate a handshake interrupt, but you can see the pattern interrupt already at the very beginning of the video.

You might also notice that he doesn’t use a particularly “hypontic sounding voice”, but seems to speak in a pretty conversational tone. The reason why I highlight this is that there’s a widespread misconception that in order to hypnotize someone, you’d have to use a deep, very calm and resonant voice, and speak in a particularly slow manner. This is not the case at all. A skilled hypnotist is able to adjust the way he communicated to the person he’s working it. Think of one of those old radios that had a knob you could turn to find the right frequency. That, in a way, is what great hypnotists do: they attune themselves to the hypnotic subject they work with to make the hypnotic session effective.

So how long does it take to learn to hypnotize someone?

Anywhere from a few hours to many years, depending upon what you hope to accomplish with hypnosis.