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How Safe Is Your Hypnotist?

Let me ask you a question, and think about it a moment: how safe is your hypnotist? 

What do you know about the person that is coming into your school, company event, home, club or fair?  What’s their background when it comes to dealing with your students, employees, or guests?  What is their training both in stage and consulting hypnosis? And equally important, what safety training do they have?  It doesn’t matter how long they’ve been performing, because as we know all too well, the horror stories often don’t come out until years later.

What then are the questions you should be asking your performer to give you the comfort you need?  This article is designed to help you, the entertainment buyer, ask the right questions before you book that hypnotist to entertain your audience. 

Hypnosis is a safe and natural state that each of us enters each day.  We move from the awake state to the sleep state through the state of hypnosis.  The phenomenon known as hypnosis has been practiced since at least ancient Egyptian times.  Simply, hypnosis is a resource state that allows the volunteer to become super-focused on the suggestion.  This ability to become ultra-focused is the key to creating personal improvement for those looking to make life changes such as stopping smoking, losing weight, dealing with pain or stress, without medications or chemicals, as well as source of great entertainment for your audience as they witness the wonders and creativity of the human mind. 

Hypnosis is NOT mind control!  Those who are hypnotized are fully aware of that which is going on around them.  They will only follow suggestions that are within the scope of their personal beliefs or that are not averse to their moral compass.  Likewise, a volunteer in hypnosis will not give up their personal secrets.  Every hypnotist will tell you that they need the cooperation of the volunteer to guide them into the state of hypnosis.  If the volunteer doesn’t want to be hypnotized, they won’t be.

How Safe Is Your Hypnotist? 

Now that you have a better understanding of some of the basics of hypnosis, let me get to the heart of this article – SAFETY.   There are many parts of the safety equation, beginning with the person who is coming to perform your show.  What do you know about that person?  The odds are… not much. 

While the vast majority of performers you are considering are well trained professionals with solid experience, the reality is that not all are.  Is your performer a casual performer or professional hypnotist?  Is this a business or a hobby?  How safe are they to work with students?  Can they supply you with a background check and a current certificate of liability insurance?  Is the show appropriate for your audience?  Most importantly, can they deal with unexpected emergencies?  All of these are vital to ensuring that you can comfortably enjoy the event you are hosting.  

The first question that people generally ask is, “How much?” This is really the last question you should be asking.  Price alone should not be the determinant of the show you are contracting for.  Of course we are all price conscious.  Generally, hypnotists know the value of their show and the prices will be very close to one another.  However, your antennae should immediately rise if you receive quotes that are significantly below others you have gotten.  The question that you should ask “is what goes into the pricing?  As a professional hypnotist,  they should be trained and certified as both a consulting (clinical and stage hypnotist).  They also should be continually keep up their training and take additional courses (CEUs) to maintain professional liability insurances and skills.   

Of course, these courses have a cost. Your hypnotist should be participating in professional development programs at hypnosis conferences throughout the year. 

The title Professional Hypnotist is an important distinction. As a professional, the hypnotist is also a business person and therefore has expenses for phone, travel, advertising, agency fees, professional sound equipment, and show costumes and props.  As a business, your hypnotist needs to price their shows so they can make a profit in order to pay for personal bills.  These include liability insurance to protect you and your audience members. And, unlike many other performers who you may consider, you don’t have to ask your ISHA Hypnotists about insurance. Each member must have and be able to provide each client with a certificate of liability policy that protects you and your property in the unlikely event there is a problem. 

BEWARE OF BOOKING THE CHEAPEST!

Most entertainment buyers are savvy enough to question why one performer is priced so much less than their competition.  Usually it is an indication of a beginning entertainer who lacks the experience and the ability to develop and bring current or new routines.  It doesn’t mean they are bad; just their shows are not as polished.  Frequently they are using inferior sound equipment or don’t have those touches that make the show special for you! 

Your event is important to you and you should not have to worry about the quality of the show. Typically a comedy hypnosis show last around 60 minutes, though your circumstance and event may be shorter or longer. It is important that you have a venue as such that your audience can see the performance without obstruction and a sound system that allows the performer to be heard. It is the attention to detail that ensures your satisfaction with the performance.  The reality is that when you consider the cost per guest and the engagement in the event, you will find that a memorable show is far less expensive than a movie, ball game, or casino night. 

KNOCK – KNOCK…WHO’S THERE? 

Who is the performer you are hiring?  Many of the shows that are perform are for post proms and sober graduation celebrations (Project Graduation) and colleges and universities.  That means interacting with groups of students.  School administrators and class advisors want to know that their students are going to be safe around the performer.  The reason you are hosting this event is to provide an entertainment experience in a safe environment, but how safe is the person you are hiring? 

BE AFRAID…BE VERY AFRAID 

Hypnotists presenting themselves as “Dr.” should be considered a red flag.  There is no program in the United States that conveys a doctorate degree in hypnosis.  Unless the hypnotist you are hiring is a Ph.D., Ed.D or and MD, from an accredited institution, their use of the term ”Dr.” is meaningless and solely to deceive you.  Don’t be taken in by this tactic.  Be sure to ask the questions – “What is your degree in and where did you get it?” 

The ISHA Professional Hypnotist member has undergone a background check. This sets them apart from the “weekend warrior” hypnotist. Not that they have anything to hide; it’s just that you have no way of really knowing. Please know that most hypnotists are amazing people. We have known most of these people for years and would feel completely at ease with them around students. However, you do not have that same experience and you want to be assured that your event will be safe. Can the people you are considering provide the same or equivalent assurances?   If not, why are you willing to chance bringing them to your school, home or company? 

LIABILITY INSURANCE 

Hypnosis is a safe and fun form of entertainment when practiced in the hands of trained professionals.  There are many examples of hypnosis gone awry on the internet.  But in 99.9% of these cases, it is the result of untrained persons attempting to perform hypnosis. 

It takes more than a safety course to make a performer safe.  The reality is that accidents can occur even when all reasonable precautions have been taken.  Professional hypnotists should have and be able to provide you with proof of current liability insurance.   

As part of ensuring the safety of the show and protecting both the host and the performer, many comedy hypnosis shows are video recorded.  This provides a clear record of what took place during the show, the instructions given to the audience and volunteers, as well as showing the condition of the room and performance area. This is an important protection for many performers. 

STAGE SAFETY 

The safety of my volunteers, your guests, is paramount.  Nothing stops the enjoyment of a performance faster than an injury or accident.  As a professional entertainer, a professional hypnotist will inspect the entire performing area to ensure there are no hazards that would endanger the volunteers or audience.  They will walk the entire stage area checking for obstructions, loose light or sound equipment, ensure stage riggings are tight, looking for sharp objects, making sure the stage or platform is even and stable, and ensuring the chairs are safe for the performance.  They often ensure there are no electrical or trip hazards and tape all cords that are in the performing areas.  This is one of the reasons that your hypnotist arrives early to your event. 

It takes more than a basic stage safety training course to have a safe show.  Your ISHA Hypnotist takes the safety of their stage and volunteers very seriously.  While there are no guarantees that an accident won’t occur, the ISHA professional hypnotist stage routines are designed to be fun while reducing the likelihood of injury.  All volunteers are carefully instructed about appropriate behaviors, are screened to eliminate those who currently under medical supervision, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Those volunteers that don’t follow directions, or appear to be under the influence should be excused from the stage to ensure the safety of the other volunteers. 

Being aware of the stage boundaries and hazards are vital to participant safety.  Telling people how to get on and off the stage is one of the most important instructions a performer gives to your audience.  All volunteers and audience members are repeatedly reminded to use the stairs for their safety and to be mindful of the edge of the stage.  Most importantly, if volunteers are performing activities other than sitting in their seats, their eyes are open so they can protect themselves.  Look at the performer’s videos to see if they perform routines with volunteers moving on stage (walking or crawling with their eyes closed.) 

One of the areas that few performers consider is ensuring that stage emergency exits are not obstructed.  I have arrived at facilities to find props, scenery or equipment blocking free egress from the stage.  As a professional, they should check these areas carefully and stack  gear in a safe area off-stage.  

Outdoor events require additional safety considerations.  These include proper GFI protected electrical supplies, protection for sound and light equipment from the elements, safe weather evacuation zone for protection against lightning and storms for audiences, volunteers and performance staff, and safe performing and viewing areas.  

The hypnotist cannot be sure of how any individual might respond to a given suggestion.  However, that hypnotist can craft their suggestion in a fashion as to reduce the likelihood of injury or an abnormal response.  It is important that they remind volunteers to act appropriately, refrain from striking anyone, not stand up on the chairs, and be mindful of hazards.  The professional hypnotist will refrain from dangerous routines.  Those are skits where volunteers are moving about with their eyes closed or performing any dangerous activities.   

One example of a routine that is specifically prohibited by our insurance is known as the Human Bridge.  In the Human Bridge, the volunteer is placed between two objects and placed into a condition known as full body catalepsy (rigid like a board).  The performer, or other volunteer then stands on the “bridge.”  It is a very dramatic demonstration of hypnosis, but has resulted in serious injury when not performed properly.  Be sure to look for this routine when viewing your performer’s promotional materials.  If they are promoting this, they are risking not being covered in the event of injury, but more importantly, are demonstrating a complete disregard for the health and safety of their volunteers. 

Selecting your entertainer is more than just getting a price you can live with.  Be careful of those with cut-rate prices!  Often these are people with little or no experience in the field.  Feel free to ask the hypnotist any question you have. Let them know your budget and they can work with you to provide a show that will amaze your guests and be the topic of discussion for years to come.  

I am a professional hypnotist who performs for audiences throughout the U.S.  I help clients in my consulting practice to stop smoking, lose weight, manage their pain and improve their lives through hypnosis.   I am an author and speaker helping educators improve outcomes in their classrooms through mindfulness meditation practice.  I am not a magician who does hypnosis on the side.  I am not a mentalist looking to piggy back on the explosion of interest in hypnosis.    

A Guide to Help Ensure the Safety of Your Guests! Hypnosis Show Safety Checklist

 How long have you been performing hypnosis? 

 Who did you study under? 

 Do you carry liability insurance? 

 How much insurance coverage do you maintain? 

 Do you have any specialized training? 

 CPR / First Aid 

 Clinical Hypnosis 

 Stage Safety 

 Other 

 Can you provide a criminal background check assurance? 

 What is your minimum safe performance area requirement? 

(at a minimum the area should be 24’ wide by 12’ deep, optimal is 40’ wide by 24’ deep and adequate space for a margin of 8 feet from the front of the stage)  How long prior to the scheduled start will you be at my location? (Should be a minimum of 45 minutes to provide setup and inspection) 

 Does the performer restrict the type of chair? (Safe performers will not use chairs with wheels or arms, and prefers non-folding chairs) 

 Do you video record your shows? 

While the answers to these questions may differ slightly, those performers who object or who are uncomfortable providing answers may not be the best fit for a safe show.

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