How Stage Hypnotists Serve as Educational Ambassadors for the Profession of Hypnotism

Stage hypnosis performances leave a profound impression on the public. Certified Hypnotists [CH] who perform stage hypnosis, including the authors of this article, have been approached by show volunteers and audience members after performances that confessed they were skeptical about hypnosis before witnessing the demonstration of hypnotic phenomena onstage. These same audience members and show volunteers also expressed interest in learning more about how hypnotism could enhance their lives. The authors of this article enthusiastically advocate the notion that stage hypnosis performances are opportunities for the Certified Hypnotist [CH] to use entertainment to educate audiences about hypnotism and elevate the profession as a whole.

The purpose of the present article is to address the fact that all stage hypnotists, like it or not, represent the profession.  This article will review three ways that Certified Hypnotists [CH] can seamlessly incorporate education about the profession of hypnotism into stage performances, while  ensuring that onstage performances of hypnosis are entertaining demonstrations rather than educational seminars.

It is unavoidable ( sometimes it is unfortunate) that anyone who performs hypnosis in a public setting could be perceived by the public as an authority on the field of hypnotism – for this reason, the Certified Hypnotist [CH] who performs hypnosis in public settings, and especially onstage, is ideally positioned to serve as an educational ambassador for the profession of hypnotism.

What Educational Ambassadors of Hypnotism Do!

Three ways that Certified Hypnotists can serve as educational ambassadors for the profession of hypnotism during a stage hypnosis performance are: dispelling myths about hypnotism, identifying and explaining hypnotic phenomena throughout a performance, and discussing how hypnotism can be used for various other beneficial purposes, in addition to entertainment.

(1) Dispelling myths about hypnotism. The beginning of a stage performance is one of the most opportune times to educate an audience about various truths and myths about hypnotism. The Certified Hypnotist [CH] can use the beginning of a performance and the process of recruiting volunteers to explain to an audience why hypnotism is not magic, telekinesis, levitation, or mindreading and to dispel other erroneous myths about hypnotism [without demystifying hypnotism of course!]. Dispelling myths about hypnotism and creating realistic expectations for the expressions (Possibly use the word experience, rather than expressions) of hypnotic phenomena [i.e., “You will look  like you are asleep but you will not be asleep.”] and about the profession (“Hypnotism can be used for smoking cessation, weight loss, and for purposes other than entertainment.”) creates a trusting, safe environment conducive to the demonstration of hypnotic phenomena onstage. (i.e., Example: WM routinely seeks out willing volunteers by mingling with small crowds of less than 300 before the show handing out his card, which includes his hypnosis practice info, and answers questions and false fears concerning the hypnotic experience. This interaction often continues after the demonstration/show and often results in referrals or clients, even with those not involved in the show.)

(2) Explaining hypnotic phenomena throughout a  performance. The Certified Hypnotist [CH] uses the majority of an onstage performance to illustrate hypnotic phenomena exhibited by volunteers in an entertaining, captivating way. Explanations of hypnotic phenomena provided by the Certified Hypnotist [CH] should be brief, easy for an audience to understand, and embedded in a timely fashion throughout a performance. For example, explaining how a post-hypnotic suggestion obstructs a  volunteer from recalling his/her name provides an opportunity to educate an audience about how post-hypnotic suggestions in clinical settings are used to cease smoking, lose weight, overcome procrastination, think more positively, etc. Illustrating the effectiveness of post- hypnotic suggestions onstage often inspires audience  members and show volunteers to learn more about the  various applications of hypnotism. (i.e., Example: WM briefly explains to the audience that hypnotism is unique among psychological approaches in part due to the hypnotic phenomena of post hypnotic suggestion. Following this brief mention, immediately post hypnotic phenomena is utilized in a fun and impressive manner.)

(3) Discussing how hypnotism can be used for entertainment as well as for other beneficial purposes.  Many audience members and show volunteers are unaware that hypnotism is used for reasons other than entertainment. The Certified Hypnotist [CH] can use the beginning and ending of a stage hypnosis performance to explain to an  audience how hypnotism is used for various purposes, especially in pre and post show conversations. Other segments of a show also serve to educate audiences about clinical applications of hypnosis. For example, an induction illustrates how hypnotism induces extraordinary relaxation and a skit that involves a lot of physical activity may be used to initiate a discussion about how hypnotism can be used to enhance athletic performance.

What Educational Ambassadors of Hypnotism Don’t Do!

Adhering to three cautionary guidelines throughout the duration of an onstage performance ensures that a Certified Hypnotist [CH] emphasizes the appropriate mix of education and entertainment during a performance. These three cautionary guidelines, or “no-no’s” for stage hypnosis performances, are: educating at the expense of entertainment, explaining without demonstrating, and misrepresenting the profession.

(1) Educating at the Expense of Entertainment. Although educating audiences about the profession of hypnotism is important, audiences attend stage hypnosis performances to be entertained. Without an entertaining performance the Certified Hypnotist [CH] fails to capture attention, the show is not received well by the audience, and education is not possible. Hypnosis is never boring, keep it fun!

(2) Explaining without Demonstrating. Too much explaining and not enough demonstrating – especially after volunteers have been recruited onstage – can result in a much less entertaining performance. If you discuss post hypnotic suggestion, but fail to demonstrate it, why mention it? Show and tell is a wonderful way to educate all ages.

(3) Misrepresenting the Profession by Underselling or Overselling the Benefits of Hypnotism.  Making exaggerated claims for hypnotism discredits the profession. Hypnosis is an exceptional tool for overcoming bad habits, reframing attitudes, and changing behavior. For example, a declaration that hypnotism will ALWAYS erase any person’s problem – forever –  after one session – is a gross overstatement and misrepresentation of the field of hypnotism. Hypnosis sells itself and a high quality demonstration of it, especially performed by a qualified practitioner such as a Certified Hypnotist [CH] onstage, advances the profession. 


The ideas presented in this article are designed to provide and encourage Certified Hypnotists [CH] with options for educating the public about hypnotism during stage performances. Audiences attend stage hypnosis performances for entertainment and the authors of this article believe that entertainment should remain the primary focus of the contemporary stage hypnosis performance. The Certified Hypnotist [CH] is tasked with assessing how and to what extent education about hypnotism is presented to an audience during an onstage performance. The authors of this article believe that the Certified Hypnotist [CH] is ideally positioned to present hypnotism for what it is: a twenty-first century profession that warrants continual professional training, advanced certification, and education.

Without reviewing the research of various pioneers in the field of hypnotism, such as Dr. Irving Kirsch and others, writing this article would not have been possible.

**This article was co-authored by Dr. Chris Beverly.


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