How To Handle An Hypnotic Abreaction

I get a lot of questions, but due to time restraints and the daily joys of running multiple businesses I can’t answer everyone I get, but I do try as I really do enjoy helping people. Rodney is 19 years old and just recently got into hypnosis after seeing a stage show.

So just like me when I was his age he started to research the topic of hypnosis and questions began popping up like bubbles. So first I’m going to paste what Rodney wrote me and than I’ll post my response.


Hello Mr. Houghton,

My name is Rodney Witsat and I’m 19 years old and interested in learning more about hypnosis. I ran across your website when doing some research on hypnosis and just thought I would send you an e-mail to see if you could help me with a question. 

I was curious about the Hypnosis Abreaction. I’ve seen a few other Hypnotists talk about it, but nothing in detail. Could you explain to me what it is and how it works? 

Thanks in advance,


Hi Rodney,

First off, I just want to let you know that you’re not bothering me at all. I enjoy helping people and especially younger hypnotists in training such as you. It wasn’t too long ago that I was 19 and looking for answers.

I hope you stick with it and please keep me updated with your progress. So let’s get down to business and see if I can help you with your question. Before I answer your question I want you to keep something in mind so you don’t get confused later. Hypnotism is a vast profession and just like any profession different people have different ideas and thoughts on different subjects.

For instance, you may see 17 different definitions for hypnosis over time so don’t get confused.

It’s not about who’s right and who’s wrong as each definition, idea or theory is correct in some sense. People create definitions to match their beliefs and you would be wise to always keep your mind open to new ideas and new ways of thinking about hypnosis. You’re going to get to a point where you are going to be wondering why some people do one thing and some people do another.

I like to take whatever works for me out of something and leave whatever doesn’t work for me behind. Over time you’ll build up your own ideas and theories about hypnosis, but in the meantime study everything you can and keep an open mind.

Okay, sorry about getting off topic, but I felt that needed to be said. You asked me about Abreactions and what exactly are they in terms of hypnosis.

An Hypnotic abreaction in my opinion is nothing more than an Emotional Purging or outburst by talking out or acting out repressed, or partially repressed, harmful or emotional material. In other words it’s an emotional outburst or a release of held in emotions. This definition will vary depending on who you talk to, but I have found that this definition serves me well.

I learned it from one of my teachers named Gerald Kein. If you ever get a chance I highly recommend you take training from Omni Hypnosis. It’s a great investment and no I’m not affiliated with them lol.

You’ll hear this word pop up a lot in our profession and most of the time you’ll hear things such as avoid them at all cost or you’ll hear stories of them happening out of the blue and the hypnotist doesn’t know how to handle them.

In my opinion abreactions are a normal part of hypnosis and everyone who practices hypnotism should be trained in how to deal with abreactions.

There are different types of abreactions, but that is beyond the scope of this e-mail at this moment. When I get a chance I’ll send you some more information on that subject. Abreactions are actually quite rare depending on what road you choose to take with our profession. For instance, stage hypnotists or street hypnotists rarely run into abreactions, but they can happen so you should know how to deal with them.

Hypnotic Abreactions do pop up a little bit more if you are going to go the route of actual office based hypnosis also known as Hypnotherapy. Some office based hypnotists avoid abreactions if possible and some hypnotists actually bring abreactions on to do the work they need to do. You tend to see this much more if the hypnotist is trained in Hypnotic regression work.

I do recommend you seek out additional training in regression work before attempting it in the future though. It’s not hard, but it’s a little different then common direct suggestion work. Now I’m getting off of subject here so let’s get back on track. When a person has an Hypnotic abreaction they are reliving the event. It’s just as real to them as the computer screen you’re looking at right now.

Some abreactions are very small such as sobering or crying and some can be violent outburst involving screaming, kicking, throwing arms all around and more. I know it seems scary, but you must remember that the client is reliving some traumatic episode of their past. While it might sound awful sometimes please be aware that the client is not in physical danger and they will not die from an abreaction.

Since you mentioned your doing research on Hypnosis I’m going to assume that within the next few months you are going to start attempting to hypnotize people. I’ll send you some resources later, but let me give you some tips and advice for working with abreactions as I rather you know them now than never learn them later.

Keep in mind they are rare, but if you are in this field for a decent amount of time you will run across them. Here are some simple guidelines to help you out:

Never touch the individual when they are having the abreaction. When you are touching the client you risk the chance of anchoring them to the abreaction. What this means is that sometime down the road when someone comes along and touches them on the same spot, which may be the shoulder or hand then the abreaction could be triggered again and they are right in the middle of it again and no one around knows what’s going on. Now, if your hand is already on the shoulder before the abreaction it’s okay to leave it on the shoulder, but I recommend you remove it completely.

Never ever let the client know that you are scared or nervous. The desired outcome would be for you to keep yourself voice nice and calm. This doesn’t mean you can’t up the level of your voice or speak louder so they can hear you over the screaming or crying.

The key is to remember you are the hypnotist and you are the one in control. Think about this for a moment, would you let a dentist work on you if he seemed scared of the tools he needed to use? Just say calm and know everything is going to be fine.

When working with an abreaction there are 9 very special words that I want you to burn into your brain. These 9 words have been one of the greatest tools available to me. I learned these 9 words from Gerald Kein and I have yet to see an abreaction they didn’t stop.

The nine words are “The Scene fades and you tend to your breathing.” I’m not telling you that other words don’t work, but this is what I use and they work fine for me. Sometimes you may have to repeat them once or twice and the abreaction will not stop the moment you say the words. It may take a moment or two, but just say them in a calm in control voice and you’ll be fine.

Never work with an abreaction unless you are being paid too. For instance, if you are on stage working with someone or doing street hypnosis and someone has an abreaction it’s not your place to work them through this situation at this time and place.

The proper way to handle this I have found is to let the person know that something emotional came up that they may need or want to deal with and if so they should schedule an appointment with you at the office. Most people don’t remember having the abreaction and sometimes they can be confused. Just let them know if they want to work with it to see you in your office. Please make sure you actually have regression training before hand if you tell them this though.

If you follow these guidelines above you should be fine and remember that abreactions are a normal part of hypnosis and nothing to worry about as long as you know how to deal with them.

I’m sure I went beyond what you were looking for when you asked me your question, but it’s important that hypnotists learn how to work with abreactions. I truly hope you find this information useful and please don’t hesitate to ask me other questions in the future.

I have got to run as I got to pick my wife up from work, but I wish you well with your future career in hypnosis and please stay in touch and let me know how things work out.

To Your Success,
Josh Houghton


I’m really glad Rodney asked this question because I think it’s easy to get lost in the flair and the fun of hypnosis and forget that at the end of the day we are working with people on a subconscious level. People are very complicated and the truth is that you just never know when an abreaction can occur.

So it’s critical to know how to deal with one in a safe manner with confidences. So if you’re working with someone and an abreaction begins to happen just follow the steps outlined above and you should be fine.