All the world’s a stage…hypnosis!

Stage hypnosis performance
Dan performs at the 2010 Houston Fringe Festival.

One of the questions I am asked the most is “What is the difference between stage hypnosis and clinical (therapeutic) hypnosis?” I am well-qualified to discuss this because I’ve done it all. My original training was as a “street hypnotist,” which is someone who does impromptu hypnosis in bars, coffee shops and the like.  I’ve also done a number of stage hypnosis shows in various venues, as well as an original performance for the 2010 Houston Fringe Festival called “Forbidden Hypnosis: Demonstrations From the Edge of the Mind.”

These days, of course, I am at work in my office, helping people with clinical hypnosis. I’ve had friends and clients suggest that stage hypnosis is truly staged, with paid performers pretending to go into hypnosis and engaging in humorous  antics. Well, the reality of that is that it’s cheaper to actually hypnotize people and give them suggestions to act silly.  So yeah, what you are seeing on stage is real hypnosis. And it’s silly and fun. And the hypnosis is not designed to last much longer than the performance itself. It’s designed to entertain.

On the flip side, clinical hypnosis is designed to help. Some of the methods are the same (for re-inducing clients I use a variation on my old stage hypnosis rapid induction), but therapeutic hypnosis is aimed at discovering and/or creating lasting solutions to the difficulties our clients are struggling with. You needn’t ever worry that a clinical hypnotist will make you do something silly (unless that is your goal!).  I do use a hand-stick bit from my street hypnosis days to help convince my clients that they were indeed in hypnosis but that is more of an interesting demonstration of the power of hypnosis to create a rapid change.

Some clinical hypnotists dislike our brethren who perform on the street and stage, but not me. Even though the difference between stage and clinical hypnosis is significant, stage and street performers create a curiosity about hypnosis that can lead potential clients to my office. And I am just fine with that.



Hypnotism: the Last Resort

HypnotismEvery professional hypnotist has heard this phrase multiple times from clients: “I’ve tried everything else…this is pretty much my last resort.” It’s unfortunate, because in the hands of a skilled practitioner, hypnotism works so well for so many different problems, it should be the first first choice.

This is usually because of fears and misconceptions about hypnosis and hypnotists, promulgated by the media (as evidenced by the image to the right). Hypnotism is almost never portrayed in movies and television shows as being something beneficial. News outlets leap on sensational stories  about rare abuses of hypnosis (like recent stories linking the suicides of teenagers to hypnosis by their principal*) but rarely cover the thousands of full-time hypnotists in the U.S. who are quietly helping their clients lead happier, healthier and more productive lives.

Some hypnotherapists complain that stage hypnotists add to the misconception that hypnotists only make people do silly and embarrassing things (most hypnotists have heard “I don’t want to quack like a duck” innumerable times). I’ve been a stage hypnotist in the past, so I think there is a valid role for hypnosis to entertain, so I don’t sweat it if I need to explain to my clients that I only want to help them. I’ve adapted a few stage techniques to help my clients, in fact!

hypnotism-with-clientThe reason hypnosis is almost always sensationalized is that in a clinical setting, there’s usually nothing exciting to be seen. The image at left accurately depicts what it looks like when a client is hypnotized. Not terribly dramatic!

It’s my hope that hypnosis will become more widely accepted and trusted as a practical methodology to help people feel better.  Numerous scientific studies show that it actually works more effectively than some other potential solutions such as cognitive behavioral therapy and so-called “talk therapy.” Maybe one day a lucky hypnotist will hear the magic phrase “You are the first person I’ve seen for this.”

Make hypnosis your first choice by visiting my website at or calling 800-481-5949 today for a free 20-minute phone consultation.

*Careful examination of this particular case indicates that the relationship between the principal’s hypnosis and the suicides is only coincidental. but nearly every news story makes it sound like hypnosis was the direct cause.

Learn to use a Chevreul Pendulum!

Chevreul PendulumDid you know you can communicate and interact with your subconscious without being in hypnosis? All you need is one simple tool. It’s known as a Chevreul Pendulum and with it you can communicate directly with your subconscious while you are awake.

You can make a pendulum out of any weight at the end of a string or chain. It doesn’t need to be fancy, although you can buy fancy pendulums on Amazon and Ebay.

How it works: the pendulum works by a scientific principle called ideomotor response. It’s caused by your subconscious mind causing tiny imperceptible movements in your hand, which in turn causes the pendulum to swing.

Hypnotists use ideomotor response (in a slightly different form) to communicate directly with your subconscious while you are hypnotized. Now with your pendulum, you can communicate with it, too!

Here are detailed instructions on using your pendulum. First off, you need to draw your chart (or diagram), Here is a blank chart:Chevreul Pendulum chart

Draw this diagram on a piece of paper and hold the Chevreul Pendulum still over the middle of the cross. Then say out loud, “Show me the direction for yes.” You should see motion in one of the directions, so you can put “yes” on that arrow. If you don’t see any motion, ask out loud again.

Then say “show me the direction for no” and you should get motion in the other direction (occasionally the pendulum may move in a diagonal motion, so just draw a new line if that happens). Repeat the process with directions for “I Don’t Know” and “I Don’t Want to Answer.”

So the four directions are:


Once you have a direction established for each answer, you can proceed to use ideomotor response, in the form of the swinging movements of the pendulum, to poll your subconscious.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Ideomotor response is a scientific phenomenon and has nothing to do with divination or anything supernatural. The Chevreul Pendulum CANNOT be used to predict the future, tell fortunes, perform dowsing, etc. For example, if you ask the pendulum “Will I win the lottery?” you will get an “I don’t know” response because your subconscious cannot predict the future.

However, your subsconscious is like a storehouse for memories, from the very recent past all the way back to when you were a kid, and the pendulum can give you access to those memories, even if you cannot consciously recall them.

A simple example: say you misplaced your car keys. Your subconscious will remember where you placed them, even if your conscious mind can’t recall. So you can use the “zeroing in technique” to help find them.

Here is how to zero in on the car keys. Draw a diagram (you need to draw a new one for every pendulum session) and get your directions for the four answers. Then think of possible locations where you might have left your keys and start asking questions. You might say, “are they in the bedroom?” If you get a NO answer, ask about another location.

If you get a YES answer, you can zero in even more. Say they are in the bedroom. Ask “Are they in the dresser” or “Are they in the nightstand drawer?” Sooner or later you will zero in on the location of your keys!

The Chevreul Pendulum can also identify subconscious blocks to your success, happiness and health.You can ask the pendulum a question like “Are there any subconscious blocks to my succeeding in my new business?” If you get a NO answer, then you are good to go. If you get YES response, then there is a subconscious block that came to be at some point in the past.

Note that the subconscious always tells the truth, and you can sometimes be surprised by its answers to your questions.

You can use the zeroing process to find out the exact date the block occurred. Just start by asking about a broad range of time and once you get a YES response, narrow it down from there.

Example: “Did the block originate when I was aged from one to 10?” NO.

“Did it occur when I was aged 11 to 20?” YES

Now you can narrow down that range:

“Did it occur when I was aged 11 to 15?” NO

Did it occur when I was aged 16 to 20?” YES

…and so on. You can also narrow down by months, days and even hours

Is there a person associated with your subconscious block? You can zero in there too. Ask questions like “Is it someone in my family?” or “Is it someone I work with?” or “is it a friend?” and zero in from there with actual names.

Using the zeroing in technique you can gain a great deal of detail about the actual event. Once you have this info you can begin to deal with the circumstances of the subconscious block. One of the best ways to do this is via hypnosis.

Remember you must always ask YES or NO questions. If you get an I DON’T KNOW response, it might be because your subconscious doesn’t know the answer or you phrased the question poorly. If you get an I DON’T WANT TO ANSWER response, this may mean that your subconscious is not ready to respond or may be protecting you from a painful memory.

If you uncover a subconscious block with your Chevreul Pendulum and desire to use hypnosis to help resolve it, please contact Dan by calling 800-481-5949 or by visiting the Hypnosis Works! website.

Pain is a Four-Letter Word

chronic painFor medical professionals who work with patients experiencing chronic pain, a 0-10 scale is often used (see the ‘happy/sad face’ chart below ). This is a useful subjective measure of pain, but it’s also a problem. And the problem is that nasty four-letter word “pain.”

As a hypnotist, I teach my clients that words have different levels of power and emotion attached to them. Let’s look at an example. Here are two sentences that mean exactly the same thing, but have different levels of emotion attached to them: 1) The infant perished in the flames. 2) The baby burned to death.

Notice how sentence number two has more emotional punch to it? For those suffering from chronic pain, that simple four-letter word “pain” carries a great deal of negative emotional and psychological freight with it. So here is the chart often seen in different variations in medical settings:


The word pain is repeated six times in this illustration! This puts an awful lot of emphasis on that emotionally charged word. Repetition is actually a hypnotic thing. Did you ever hear one of those car commercials where they repeat the phone number several times very quickly at at the end? They are drilling it into your brain so you will want to call. The chart above is (unfortunately) doing the same thing with the word pain. It puts all your focus on pain and none on the concept of comfort. Note: many versions of the above chart use the word “hurt” instead of “pain” which is a bit better, but still emphasize the negative.

Hypnotists are fond of helping their clients with a process called reframing. Simply put, reframing means taking an idea, concept or problem and seeing it from a different, more helpful perspective. A simple reframe would be looking at the famous half a glass of water and seeing it as half-full instead of half-empty.

What if the chart above asked you how comfortable you were instead?

Comfort-Scale-Graphic copy

The emphasis here is on being comfortable or less-than-comfortable (and the root word comfort even appears in the word discomfort). Labeling the categories such that they are free of the emotionally charged words “pain” or “hurt” can have an impact on the patient’s psychological and emotional perception of his or her subjective comfort level.

If you see a chart like this at your doctor’s office, let him or her know that you would prefer to measure your comfort level instead of pain level. And do your best to eliminate the word pain from your vocabulary. It is, after all, a four-letter word!

Learn more about how you can change your perception of and thinking about chronic pain by visiting the Hypnosis Works! website.


New Year’s Resolutions: A Hypnotist’s View

New Year's Resolutions, list of items

It may sound strange but I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. This is not because I don’t think I could keep them, but rather because I set goals for myself all year long, so there is no real difference to me in those goals and any resolutions I might make at the beginning of the year.

Many people do use the fresh start of the New Year to resolve to improve their life, however. A University of Scranton study notes that about 45% of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions, and of those who do, only 8% are successful in keeping their resolutions. How can you edge your way into the 8% who pull it off? Well, one thing you can do is get SMART.

SMART is a mnemonic that stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-bound. It is a new years resolutions smartpopular and effective method for setting and achieving goals. Let’s examine each in a little more detail.

Specific means that your goal is clearly defined and not vague. “Lose weight” is vague. “Lose 40 pounds” is specific. Ask yourself the some of the six “W” questions to arrive at a a specific goal:

  • What: What do I want to accomplish?
  • Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.
  • Who: Who is involved?
  • Where: Identify a location.
  • When: Identify temporal requirements.
  • Which: Identify requirements and constraints.

Measurable means that your goal can be quantified. “Lose 40 pounds in six months” quantifies both the amount of weight and the time-span you are allowing yourself to lose the weight.

Actionable means reaching the goal is within your control.  “Lose 40 pounds in six months by eating salads for lunch and drinking water instead of soda” maps out the steps you plan to take to reach your goal.

Realistic is pretty much what it sounds like. “Lose 40 pounds in one month” is not only unrealistic–it verges on the dangerous. “Lose 40 pounds in six months” is realistic.

Timed (or Time-bound) means that you have a deadline (and possibly milestones along the way) for your goal.

Combining these is a recipe for success, but what if you still find you’re having trouble achieving your goals? That’s where I come in. I can teach you life-skills and use hypnosis to maximize your SMART approach and make those resolutions a reality!

Visit to find out more about how you can use hypnosis to succeed in the new year! Or call 800-481-5949 for a confidential 20-minute phone consultation!

Hypnosis for children can be highly effective

hypnosis for childrenThe idea of hypnosis for children might make you do a double-take at first, but unlike adults, children are very open to the hypnotic process. Their vivid imaginations and sense of play are natural complements to the hypnotic process. Additionally, children are open to new things and don’t have some of the fears and misconceptions that may make adults think twice about seeking out a hypnotist.

The history of pediatric hypnosis begins in 1779, when Anton Mesmer reportedly used hypnosis to help a child with visual problems. For decades afterwards, however, hypnosis was rarely practiced with children, because people thought that children could not be hypnotized. Research in the 1970s suggested that children were actually easier to hypnotize than adults, and also suggested that hypnosis was effective in helping children overcome behavioral and physical problems.

Modern hypnosis for children can help with a variety of problems, including nightmares/night terrors, enuresis (bedwetting), swallowing problems, trichotillomania (hair-pulling), food aversions, fear/phobia responses (I’ve helped cheerleaders get over short-term fears associated with certain routines), anxiety and stress, academic and athletic excellence, migraines, chronic pain and more easily going through medical procedures (pill-swallowing, injections, etc.).

I helped one young girl who was having nightmares every night by helping her build a “magic wand” that, for her, made the nightmares stop completely. We filled the hollow wand with items symbolic of safety, magic, family and pets. My favorite item was a birthday candle, with its implicit symbolism of wishes coming true! As we constructed the wand she became completely invested in the process and has been free of nightmares ever since.

If there is one thing that kids consistently dislike, it’s getting an injection. Most hypnotists can hypnotize your child to have a “magic spot,” which is a small area of anesthesia on their arm. The magic spot takes the hurt out of getting a shot. This can also help prevent needle phobias when your kids grow up.

Here is a trick for parents: when your child is completely caught up in a movie or video game (so intent that you have to call their name more than once to catch their attention), they are actually in a hypnotic trance state. So it’s a perfect time give them a positive hypnotic suggestion such as, “You’ll really want to do your homework tonight,” or “You will want to clean your room after this.” This suggestion will sail past their conscious awareness and straight into their subconscious. I have a friend who gave the “clean your room” suggestion to her two sons, and although one of them turned and said, “Mom, you’re weird,” both boys cleaned their room later in the evening! Sweeten your suggestions with words like easy, fun, and happy.

Is your child struggling? Visit to find out more about how hypnosis can help! Or call 800-481-5949 for a confidential 20-minute phone consultation!


Mindfulness: it’s more than just meditation

mindfulness-hypnosisNear the beginning of 2015 I added mindfulness education to my private practice. I teach nearly all my clients about mindfulness, and like the guy in the Hair Club commercials, I use it regularly in my own life, too. And like it has for my clients, it has brought about some significant positive changes in the quality of my life.

What is mindfulness? I like the Psychology Today definition: “…a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”

Mindfulness evolved from Buddhist meditation, but it is much more than that. It is a way of living your life fully in the present, free from the regrets of the past and the anxieties of the future. Our thoughts frequently lead to a chain of other thoughts and can pull us out of the moment and launch us into the past or future. You might think “Why did I ever drop out of college?” and that can lead to thoughts like: “It ruined my chances of getting a good job. Now I can’t earn enough to live the way I want.” And so on. Before you know it, you’re mired in regrets, unable to appreciate the good things that are presently a part of your life.

An important aspect of mindfulness is being “nonjudgmental” about your thoughts. Let’s say you have a worrisome thought. Try to consider it as “not important but also not unimportant” as well as “not good but also not bad.” It’s just a thought, a simple construct of your mind. Just kind of there. By not assigning the thought any type of value, positive or negative, you blunt its power to pull you out of the present moment. In fact, you can use that thought as a reminder to focus back on the present moment (like working, enjoying time with a friend or even falling asleep). When you can successfully do this, the thought becomes disorganized and fades from your mind. If you have the same thought a few minutes later, again be nonjudgmental and let the thought be a second reminder to focus back in on what you’re doing in the present moment. If you have the same thought ten times in a row that is ten reminders to focus on the present moment. Learning to be nonjudgmental becomes easy to do with the right mindset and some practice.

I’m a skilled hypnotist so falling asleep is rarely a problem for me, but mindfulness has become my go-to method for falling asleep on those nights when my mind is racing. I simply do a simple meditation on my breathing: mentally saying “in” on the inhale and “out” on the exhale. You’re always breathing in the present moment so it’s a good thing to meditate upon to be mindful. I’m nonjudgmental about any thoughts that occur, using them as reminders to focus back on my breathing and soon I am sound asleep.

I’m also really good at getting rid of a headache, but before I learned mindfulness it took me about thirty seconds to a minute to zap a headache into nothingness. Now I just become nonjudgmental about the headache as it is beginning and it usually fades in less than ten seconds!

If you’d like to learn more about mindfulness, look for books by Jon Kabat-Zinn or Thich Naht Hanh.

If you’d like a FREE copy of my mindfulness breathing meditation recording, email me at and I will send it you!

Pain relief hypnosis now more important than ever

pain-relief-hypnosisPain relief hypnosis has become more important than ever following changes in pain-killer drug classifications.

Almost a year ago, the Drug Enforcement Agency created a new rule about drugs containing the opioid hydrocodone. It was reclassified as a Schedule II controlled substance, prohibiting pharmacies from recognizing refills and phoned-in prescriptions for those medications (which include Norco, Vicodin, Lortab and Vicoprofen).

This situation, spurred by rampant abuse of hydrocodone (as well as its addictive nature),  has resulted in those suffering from chronic pain having a more difficult time getting the drugs in question. Such drugs require a written prescription. Doctors can’t call in, fax or send electronic prescriptions to a pharmacy. Each prescription lasts for only one month and no refills are permitted. Other Schedule II pain relief drugs include Dexedrine, Oxycontin, Percocet and Adderall.

Fortunately, hypnosis has long been an excellent alternative to relieving chronic pain. In three to five sessions, clients can experience considerable, lasting relief from their pain, with no side effects. Hypnosis is safe, non-invasive and non-addicting. A doctor’s referral and patient release form are strongly recommended.

A 2003 study concluded that “hypnosis has a reliable and significant impact on acute procedural pain and chronic pain conditions.” (Psychological Bulletin, Jul 2003;129(4):495-521) 

A 2007 comparative study of thirteen clinical trials of hypnosis and its effect on pain relief noted that “hypnosis interventions consistently produce significant decreases in pain associated with a variety of chronic-pain problems. Also, hypnosis was generally found to be more effective than nonhypnotic interventions such as attention, physical therapy, and education.” (Int. J. Clin. Exp. Hyp. 2007;55(3):275-87)

I tailor my pain relief sessions to the client’s exact needs, and teach strategies and skills to make pain relief significant and long-lasting. For more information, see my website at or call 800-481-5949 today for a free 20-minute phone consultation.


Finding a competent hypnotist: questions to ask

hypnotist-and-clientFinding a competent hypnotist that is a good fit for your needs can be confusing. Hypnosis is usually considered an alternative therapy (other alternative therapies include acupuncture, reiki, reflexology, etc.) and is frequently offered as part of a practitioner’s overall practice. For example, a psychologist may also offer hypnosis. So one good question to ask is if the hypnotist is a full-time practitioner of hypnosis. A full-time practitioner uses only hypnosis (and closely related techniques such as Neuro-Linguistic Programming or NLP) to help the client achieve his or her goals. As such, a full-time practitioner is usually more up-to-speed on the most cutting-edge techniques for achieving success. Many hypnotists only do hypnosis on a part-time basis, and a practitioner who earns a full-time living from hypnosis has many more accumulated hours of valuable clinical experience than a part-time practitioner.

Another good question to ask is if the hypnotist is certified. For example, in Texas, it is not necessary to be certified to practice hypnosis. While it is not a foolproof guarantee of competency, a hypnotist who went to the trouble and expense to become certified is likely to be dedicated to a higher level of knowledge, ability and integrity than one who has not.

Ask the hypnotist about continuing education (often referred to as CEUs or “continuing education units”). When was the last time the hypnotist took a course to improve his skills or expand her knowledge base? Does the hypnotist attend national educational/professional conferences?  Hypnotists who strive to improve continually will likely offer the highest and most effective level of service to clients.

Does the hypnotist have testimonials from satisfied clients? These can often be found on the hypnotist’s website and can not only give you clues to the quality of the hypnotist, but you can also gauge the effectiveness of the hypnosis in the area you are interested in (smoking cessation, for instance). In addition, reviews on websites such as can be very useful. Yelp offers a one- to five-star rating system for each review left by a client. A hypnotist with a consistently high rating over multiple reviews can instill greater confidence in potential clients.

Where does the hypnotist practice? Some hypnotists sublet office space from other health-and-wellness professionals, and this is fine. But a hypnotist with a dedicated office in a professional building sends a message of professionalism to potential clients.

In summary, a competent, professional hypnotist will welcome these questions and more, because creating confidence in their clients is a priority.

I am glad to answer the questions above and more in a free half-hour consultation. We will also discuss your specific needs in depth and come up with a hypnosis strategy to help you achieve your goals. Call me at 800-481-5949 for your confidential consultation today!

Welcome to my blog!

landscape1This is my first WordPress blog post. Since I am a hypnotist, the content of the blog will primarily concern hypnosis, hypnotherapy, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and a number of other related subjects. The most important thing you need to know is that I am a certified hypnotist with a private practice in Houston, Texas. I’m the top-rated hypnotist in Houston on Yelp, with 18 five-star reviews. The next-nearest hypnotist has two reviews, last I checked.

The second most important thing you need to know is that I have a website devoted to my private practice. It is up there in the menu bar: Hypnosis Works! It’s a very comprehensive site, and you can find out a great deal about hypnosis there. I recommend you check it out.

The third most important thing you need to know is that even if you don’t live in Houston, I can still hypnotize you! More and more hypnotists nowadays are using distance video-conferencing software like Skype to help clients who don’t live in their city. I’ve done Skype hypnosis sessions as far away as California and France!

There probably is a fourth most important thing, but I can’t think of it right now.

This is a humble beginning, as I am just learning WordPress and the GeneratePress theme I chose, so there may be cosmetic changes as I get more accustomed to working with the software.

I need to thank a good friend who has been instrumental at encouraging me to get with the blogging thing. His name is John Rullman, a local entrepreneur who has served as an informal business adviser since we became friends. I owe him a debt of gratitude for keeping me focused on getting this site up and running, so here’s to you, John! (He’s a pretty darned good karaoke singer, too, so if you want to hear him sing, check out Hefley’s on West Gray in Houston on a Wednesday night…you’ll probably see me there, too!).

I encourage you to explore the site and again, to visit Hypnosis Works! to find out more about how I can help you lead a happier, more productive life via the power of the subconscious mind!