Hypnosis for Business Applications

Hypnosis Page was written by: Bryan C Dunn, MA, CHt, CAHA


The purpose of this paper is to define, clarify and demystify hypnosis, hypnotherapy, and the processes therein. Hypnosis has had its reputation mired in falsehoods and misunderstandings. With that in mind, let us begin with what hypnosis is not.

What Hypnosis is NOT

There are a variety of reasons why individuals may or may not want to participate in hypnosis or hypnotherapy sessions. In the end, everyone’s desire to be hypnotized or desire to not be hypnotized is an individual choice and is respected by practitioners. However, some of the most preposterous beliefs that are expressed opposing hypnosis are simply unfounded.

Many people believe that the hypnosis process opens portals to demons. Hypnosis is a natural approach to self-improvement. It is not supernatural. The phenomena, while still being studied, rely on the mind’s ability to separate the conscious mind (easy access) and the subconscious mind (difficult access). If demons could be evoked via hypnosis, shows would be a lot more exciting.

In the same vein, opponents claim that hypnosis violates biblical scripture. Most scripture cited as their argument relies on the lack of understanding of what the process is. Most of the scripture relates to not allowing others to control your mind. Understanding that the hypnotized subject remains in control and cannot be made to do anything that violates his or her morals or ethics dispels this concept. Furthermore, most religious individuals slip into hypnotic trances during services, prayer, the Rosary, laying on of hands, and more. It is a natural response to overwhelming stimuli in the conscious mind.

Another belief of hypnosis is that it is mind control. Was it so, the majority of hypnotherapists plying their craft would be rich and living a lavish lifestyle? The truth is that a hypnotist cannot make a client or volunteer do anything they do not want to do. Granted, there are some very extreme exceptions to this which will be addressed later, but in general, this idea is false.

It can create problems during hypnotherapy if a client doesn’t really want to change behavior. Smoking is an ideal example. Many people who seek hypnotherapy to quit smoking are doing so at the behest, or sometimes nagging, of a loved one, doctor, or friend. The smoker agrees and on the surface, s/he wants to be smoke-free yet doesn’t truly want to stop. Despite claims to the contrary, hypnosis cannot “make” a smoker quit if they truly do not want to quit. Likewise, there is the concept of Secondary Gains. Secondary Gains relate to needs that are being met consciously or subconsciously by the behavior that is sought to be eradicated.

Consider a client coming in for help contending with anxiety. They earnestly want to be rid of the affliction. That said, subconsciously the subject is getting benefits from having the issue. Perhaps they avoid doing tasks that are unpleasant or they get the attention that serves to meet a need. These are justifiable gains, but they often may prove too strong to allow a client to move forward. In these circumstances, the hypnotherapist and client will discuss possibilities and address them. They may work on meeting unmet needs. Unfortunately, in many cases, the client will simply accept that hypnosis didn’t work and move on.

So, What Is Hypnosis then?

Hypnosis, thanks to movies and television, has a bad rap. In truth, hypnosis is much more mundane with thousands of years of healing and growth properties. Don’t misunderstand; there are charlatans out there who use hypnosis to further their own nefarious machinations. Therefore, knowing about hypnosis is invaluable. When an individual is aware, s/he will be less likely to be taken in and exploited.

What is Hypnosis

Hypnosis is simply the word we give to the process of placing a person into a trance-like state in which s/he has heightened focus and concentration. The process is experienced by almost everyone, every day at some point during his or her day.

Our minds are fascinating organs. We cannot completely understand all the complexities of consciousness yet, but everyday scientists get us closer. The same may be said for hypnosis.

For thousands of years hypnosis has been a successful tool for individuals to use for personal growth. In the past 20 to 30 years hypnosis has become a go-to for executives who want to add a powerful tool to their repertoire.

Hypnosis is an approach to self-improvement that relies on providing access to the subconscious part of the mind.


Imagine that your brain is like a desktop computer. There is the actual desktop on the monitor. The screen holds all the files you access regularly. Your photos, files, games, etc. are there. They are easily accessible. If you want to view your work files you simply click on the screen and open said folder.  There you have it. Easy access.

The conscious mind is much like that. Everything you need quick access to resides in the conscious mind.  The parts of the brain that deal with immediate needs and solutions are there. Your short-term memory and will power are in the conscious mind.  During your waking day, conversational information gets filtered through the conscious mind.  It must go there for us to effectively respond and evaluate said information.

It may surprise you to know that only about 12% of your mind is allocated for the conscious mind. The other 88% does the heavy lifting. That chunk of mind power is dedicated to the subconscious mind.

The subconscious mind is like the CPU or Central Processing Unit of your computer. It runs the show. This is where all bodily functions are controlled: blinking, breathing, heart beating, etc. The autonomic functions of the body are run in the subconscious mind. These processes work without our conscious effort. They just work. We don’t have to make them work. The subconscious mind bears the burden of keeping us alive.

This part of the mind is also who we are resides. When a person walks into a room, that person knows what their beliefs are, their religious beliefs, social beliefs, political beliefs, what motivates them and more. The core components of who you are here. Habits, emotional processing, fears and phobias, deeply help convictions and more are here. As is our long-term memory.

While the conscious mind is the interface tool, accessing the subconscious requires more effort. For good reason. Considering who we are is housed in this region of our mind we don’t want easy access to make changes. Image driving to get dinner. You are going to have pizza. Halfway there you get a desire for burgers instead. Easy change of mind. No harm. Imagine though if it was a deeply held conviction that could be altered easily.

The mind’s job is to keep us alive, not keep us happy.

Can we change our subconscious mind? Yes, that is where hypnosis comes in. Hypnosis isn’t the only way to address changes to the subconscious, but it is a direct route for some very specific purposes.

Bearing in mind that individuals will not make changes, even under hypnosis, if they do not truly want to.

* As stated, the mind’s job is to keep us alive; to protect us. Ironically, a person may be exhibiting a bad habit such as smoking and will be unwilling to change if at the subconscious level, the smoker believes that smoking is meeting a need.

It is therefore incumbent on the hypnotist and client to lay all their cards out on the table when it comes to seeking change.

A clients must want the change, or it is a difficult task to attain positive results. It isn’t impossible, but it is improbable.

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The basic process of hypnosis.

The basic process of hypnosis is to overwhelm the conscious mind with information.

The conscious mind can only handle 7 (plus or minus 2) units of information at any given time.

As soon as the information becomes too great to handle, the subconscious becomes accessible.

If you have ever been in a classroom, chances are you slipped into a hypnotic trance naturally.

The lecturer was droning on, and you glazed over. The information was still entering your mind, the subconscious mind. The conscious mind was deciding which movie to see on your date later. As soon as the information flow slowed, your head lurched forward and you popped up, hoping no one in the room saw it. A natural hypnotic induction occurred. You had checked out, but ironically, you seemed to still absorb some of the information.

The dynamic of hypnosis

To better understand the mind’s dynamic, consider this chart.

History of Hypnosis

Hypnosis, or rather the process of hypnosis, has been used for thousands of years. Early Egyptians had large rooms with beds called Sleep Temples. Individuals would make pilgrimages to said temples of sleep to find a remedy to what ailed them. They believed the gods would provide solutions to their problem while in a state of “sleep” brought on by ingesting a mixture of herbs and reciting prayers. The process was a lengthy one and once in a state of hypnosis were led to dimly lit chambers to rest and “heal.”

These sleep temples spread from Egypt to Greece with a shift in which deities were prayed to and the addition of snakes in the chamber. Looking back, we can see that process of sensory overload relying on the same principals as modern hypnosis.

Oracles played a large part in the ancient world, and many relied on the hypnotic process to create a state of suggestibility. One of the most famous, the Oracle at Delphi’s process was described by Heraclitus in 6th century BC.

“The lord whose is the Oracle at Delphi neither speaks nor hides his meaning, but gives a sign. And the sibyl with raving lips, uttering things mirthless, unadorned and unperfumed, reaches over a thousand years with her voice thanks to the god inside her.”

While the word “Hypnosis” was not coined until much later, the process remained the same.

Throughout history, the hypnotic process was used in a variety of ways and studied by scholars. It did not gain popular notoriety as a thing in and of itself until the mid-18th century when Dr. Franz Anton Mesmer believed he had discovered a magnetic fluid that flowed throughout the body. He believed he could control this method, thereby curing his patients of what ailed them. He called this “Animal Magnetism.”

While his hypothesis was incorrect, the process was definitely something; it was the beginning of modern hypnosis.  Disproven by scholars, Mesmer died without seeing the full fruiting of his misunderstood discovery.

Many mesmerism adherents continued with new theories, but it was Scottish doctor, James Braid who, seeing a Mesmerism show, explored the process more deeply. His new exploration also changed the terminology and thus the word “Hypnosis” was born. As well, Braid hypothesized that hypnosis was a shift in nervous system cause an altered state in the mind/body.

Fast forward to the 1920s. Hypnosis had become a novelty act. Shows cropped up all over. While stage hypnosis would minimize the perceived mental/emotional/psychological applications, it also provided a rich environment for research. Hypnosis had arrived. With books written by Dave Edelman and studies performed by Clark Hull at the University of Wisconsin the process was gaining legitimacy.

A student of Clark Hull, Dr. Milton Erickson, after stricken with Polio at a young age, became an avid observer of human nature, learning and the processes of the brain. He honed the hypnotic process with approaches still used to this day.

Hypnosis for personal growth

Hypnosis is a unique approach to personal growth. Common self-growth areas that hypnosis is associated with are smoking cessation, weight management, fears/phobias, and other problem/solution-based topics.

Hypnosis however can cover a vast array of topics that many would not normally connect with the hypnotic process. Pain management, sleep issues, motivation, IBS and a number of other issues may be addressed using hypnosis.

Hypnosis for professional growth

When the general population thinks on hypnosis, stage shows and/or quitting smoking come to mind. While these are prevalent aspects of the hypnosis world, hypnosis for business has been gaining momentum. Movers and shakers in the business world are seeing the benefits to this inside out approach to business improvement.

Until recently, hypnosis in the corporate world has usually been limited to CEOs and business leaders. More and more top-level corporations are seeing the value of hypnosis as an offering to their employees.

CEOs have used hypnosis for years to contend with personal stress. Being a business leader does not preclude one from being human. Dealing with home/family stress frees up the leader to make more sound decisions regarding his/her business.

Leaders in business also utilize hypnotic techniques to maintain mental focus and acuity for projects and meetings. Hypnosis allows individuals to implement coping mechanisms with the ever-changing landscape of business.

Innovation is an area that scientists have taken advantage of for years. Businesses that want to remain on the cutting edge of performance employ hypnotists to help leaders, research and development personnel and other creators unbridled access to their subconscious mind. Being able to shut out outside noise while solving problems provides a nice place to postulate and problem solve. Our conscious mind generally has limited access to the brain’s potential as it makes up on 12% of mind. Consider opening the other 88% of your mind to address needs, product improvement, and problem solving.


With the changing dynamics of distance workers, online meetings, re-onboarding employees and the same types of virtual/online interactions with vendors and clients, hypnosis is an ideal tool. Hypnosis helps employees contend with the changes they are facing by creating more neural plasticity.  Many clients are contending with trauma and stress from the pandemic. Many have gotten ill, lost loved ones and have contended with a shifting home dynamic as well. Corporations that provide hypnosis for their employees  provide clients the assistance they need while also investing in business. A healthy employee is a happy employee. A happy employee is a productive employee.

There are a variety of areas of concern that hypnosis is ideal to address.

  • Public Speaking is a key issue many in business confront. From early on we are conditioned to fear external scrutiny. Hypnosis can address this dynamic and change the perspective of the individual.
  • Fear of Failure/Success are frequent impediments to success in the business world. Using hypnotherapy can shift perspectives and allow acceptance of success and failure.
  • Anxiety is one of those issues that can be brought about by a variety of causes from childhood, current interactions, fear of losing one’s job and more. Hypnosis is a common tool to alleviate the anxious feelings and provide opportunities to move forward.
  • Time Management happens to be one of the biggest obstacles in the corporate world. Procrastination on projects, punctuality for meetings, spending needless time on some activities and avoiding others all cause problems for not only the employee/executive doing them, but for everyone else in the chain as well.
  • Office Interactions is another topic with which hypnosis can assist. Getting a group of people all on the same page and communicating smoothly is a tough task. Hypnosis is a way to build teamwork and allow everyone to wind up on the same page. Many winning sports teams use hypnotherapy for this very reason.
  • Past Trauma influences every aspect of our lives. Hypnosis/hypnotherapy has been helping individuals for years gain coping skills to deal with their concerns.
  • Change has been causing a lot of imbalances in our lives over the past few years. Normal change can affect employees from change in location, role, and responsibility. On top of that, business has been faced with adapting to the pandemic dynamic of working from home, online meetings and sales, re-onboarding and more. Hypnosis is a proactive tool that will help with the constant of change.
  • Neuroplasticity is the mental ability to make change and accept it. The process is enhanced by using hypnosis. The neuroplasticity allows creativity, problem solving and innovation. Great thinkers like Einstein and Tesla used hypnotic processes to build on and engage their neuroplasticity.
  • Procrastination/Motivation issues can keep great employees perceived as just good. Finding motivation and avoiding putting work off is a tough habit to break. Hypnosis can help determine origin and shift perspective. If you can’t get out of it, get into it.
  • Innovation and Creativity in the workplace is important. From the CEO down to the mailroom clerk, finding better, more efficient ways to perform is paramount. While in the hypnotic state individuals have access to more of their creative mind. They can see and dissect problems. New ideas flow more easily. By shutting out the mundane outside “noise” innovation and creativity can flourish.


There are many other subtle and nuanced applications for business hypnosis as well. Hypnosis may be provided in a group setting to address general concerns but is also extremely powerful in one-on-one settings to address very specific concerns.

High performing CEOs and business owners have been using hypnosis for years. It is an open secret held by many and the key to much success.

Notables who have used Hypnosis

Throughout history notable people have used hypnosis for a variety of needs. From leaders of state to athletes to celebrities, hypnosis has served a variety of purposes. The following is just a short list of notable individuals who have used hypnosis and the purpose for which they sought it.

Albert Einstein used hypnosis to process his thoughts and innovate. Many have claimed that the Theory of Relativity was developed in a hypnotic state.

Sir Winston Churchill used hypnosis to mitigate stress and calm Sir Winston down during the stressful times of World War II.

Thomas Edison would use hypnosis for deeper creativity.

Henry Ford partook of hypnosis to grow personally.

Nikola Tesla would use hypnosis to allow him to “Power Sleep” thereby allowing him to innovate while he slept. As well, it is said that he used hypnosis to diagnosis his own medical conditions.

Who uses Hypnosis and gain benefits?

Athletes who used hypnosis for career success.

David Beckham—Top soccer player used hypnosis to attain career success.

Tiger Woods used it for golf improvement and peak performance.

Jimmy Conners created his tennis success with the assistance of hypnosis.

Jack Nicklaus would use his sessions for concentration and success.


Several celebrities used hypnosis to become smoke-free. Britney Spears, Samuel L Jackson, Matt Damon, and many others gave up smoking with hypnosis. As well, a few others tackled other concerns such as Bruce Willis and James Earl Jones for stuttering. Lilly Allen and Fergie for weight loss. Many more individuals have benefited from the use of hypnosis for a variety of concerns.

As well as the celebrities above, many CEOs and business leaders and innovators use hypnosis.


  • While hypnosis itself cannot brainwash a person, different programs throughout history have used it as a piece to a larger process. Processes for brain washing would take numerous sessions and normally would still require a semblance of willingness.