hypnosis Hypnotic Inductions

School of Professional Hypnosis

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Suggestibility Exercises

test tip Suggestibility has a direct correlation to the ability to achieve a hypnotic trance and can be used as a gauge of hypnotic susceptibility. Some hypnotists feel that the best way to test susceptibility is to just attempt hypnotic induction. Generally speaking an experience hypnotist may not bother with these exercises as they may feel that every normal person is hypnotizable under the proper conditions with a skilled operator.

However until the beginner gains confidence and skill one can initiate hypnosis under the guise of testing, and then strengthen the positive responses until a deeper state of trance is achieved. If a negative response occurs the hypnotist can tell the subject "This time you did not respond well to the exercise" try a different approach or abandon the session.


test tipAfter the hypnotist has laid the proper groundwork for hypnotic trance by building rapport and letting the subject know what to expect an induction script is used to bring about the trance state. Experienced hypnotists can work without following a formal script using their knowledge of the phrases and pacing and the information they collect from the subject before attempting induction. The induction script and any suggestibility exercises must be memorized. The hypnotist must not be seen reading it off a page. This increases the confidence the subject has in the hypnotist’s ability.

The purpose of an induction is to focus the subject’s attention and gradually move on to evoking more dramatic suggestions. Methods of induction are quite numerous and can vary widely.

Usually the focal point is relaxation. Progressive relaxation consists of deliberately tensing and relaxing (sometimes just relaxing) each part of the body paying attention to releasing every bit of tension. Descriptions of soothing surroundings or experiences are also used to produce relaxation.

test tip Be patient, inductions take time. Commonly with a subject who has not been hypnotized much before or is unused to your style, induction will take ten or twenty minutes. Be alert to signs that the subject’s responses match your descriptions. Depictions of relaxation should be matched with visible decreases in tension. Requests to picture scenes might evoke rapid eye movement. The subject may feel more lethargic and may experience dissociation. For example to move ones hand up a few inches is possible, but it would require so much energy and it seems just not important enough at the time to expend the energy. Subjects may tend to start loosing track of where they left their limbs; they know they're there somewhere but don't think it important enough to bother to relocate them.

It is desirable to make series of suggestions flow as smoothly as possible. Choppy sentences are more apt to create tension than soothe them. Flowing sentences encourage relaxation, have better rhythm to them, and provide greater impact.

Reminder: To get certified be sure to take the quiz for this section here.

Hypnotic Suggestions

At this point in the session it is possible to effect behavioral change through suggestion. Suggestion styles include the following:

test tip * Direct suggestion. This is where the hypnotist flat-out says a specific event or action is going to happen. “When you are going to bed tonight you will feel compelled to think of purple hippos. As soon as your head touches the pillow purple hippos will occupy your every thought.”

test tip * Indirect suggestion. Comprised of visualization and storytelling. Visualization is mentally creating the event. It is not restricted to just pictures; whichever senses make it more real are the ones you should appeal to. If the subject is known to be oriented to one sense more than others, describe a scene emphasizing that sense. (See the purple hippos dancing on your quilt. Hear them thundering up the hallway. Feel the floor shake with their every step.) If in doubt it can't hurt to use all of them. [Most people favor either vision, hearing, or touch so you needn't necessarily go into how it tastes to chow down on purple hippo. If you were visualizing walking in a flower garden, however, it makes sense to include smell. Use what is appropriate.] Picture yourself preparing for bed. Your teeth are brushed; the sounds of traffic are hushed; and the pillow feels delightfully cool against your cheek. As you snuggle down under the pillows, your mind turns to thoughts of purple hippos.

      Storytelling is subtler than both direct suggestion and visualization. You relate an event or anecdote, which provides a sort of framework for thoughts or conduct.

      When I was a child, every night as I went to sleep I would conjure up a rainbow zoo dancing on my bedcovers. First there would be the lions as yellow as lemons. Following them were orange alligators... [etc. through blue ostriches..] And last and best of all were the purple hippos. They were my favorite part of the procession; I looked forward to them as soon as my head touched the pillow. And the last thoughts on my mind were of those purple hippos cavorting on my quilt.

      If it's something really strange like the above example you might wish to attribute it to a weird cousin or obscure newspaper clipping. Lead into these gracefully; this example might start off with bedtime rituals in general and in the present then remembering back to bedtime rituals as a child then into your story. (How many people will think of purple hippos the night after they read this)

      These should be related in an appropriately serious manner. If it's silly, sound a little silly but present it as if it's important as if you were sharing it with a friend. If you make it sound important it will be received as such. Go gently with them too; don't holler purple hippos cavorting on the quilt. Just weave it into its surroundings. Storytelling is best for going sideways at something for attending to integral corollaries of the purpose. Their power is in subtlety.

  test tip* Subliminal suggestions. It is possible to emphasize certain words as they are spoken. An unobtrusive gesture, change pitch, loudness, or a furtive glance – an action small enough not to require the subject's full-blown attention still perceptible. This is among the more difficult things to master.

Reminder: To get certified be sure to take the quiz for this section here.

General Considerations for Suggestions

test tip Phrase suggestions as positively as possible. Eating less is better put as being content with smaller portions. For example pain conjures too strong of a negative association; use discomfort or better yet the presence of comfort instead.

Subjects tend to take suggestions literally. One lady was told to picture herself leaving the office then turning out the lights. When she acted on this she left work. She then turned the lights off via the circuit box. Telling someone  “your husband is being a big pain in the neck” might be literally translated into a nasty headache. If the session is at night be careful with words about being wide awake when you're bringing your partner back. Be as unambiguous as possible; always be aware of literal translations.

Attempt to give suggestions at a pace that matches the subject's breathing.

Repetition of the main points is important when giving suggestion. It drives the ideas home. It is a good idea to ask if the suggestions were well understood from time to time.

When giving suggestions watch the subject carefully, especially when giving descriptions. Be on the alert for negative response. When giving an emotionally loaded description look for signs that it is becoming too unpleasant for the subject. Clenched hands, tension around the jaw, hunched shoulders, tensing up in general, are easily recognizable as a negative responses and are things to be vigilant for. If describing the subject as swimming in the ocean, and they have a phobia about swimming, or the movie “Jaws” is on their mind, these indicators might be present. Gracefully offer alternatives “... or if you prefer you can find yourself in a forest glade” or to ask if what is causing them distress.

The Unexpected Response

If you are confused by a response ask the subject to explain it.

If something unexpected happens stay calm. If it's an unusual action, like drumming fingers you can ask about it. You can also incorporate it, which acknowledges it and reinforces the depth of the hypnotic state. “The drumming of your fingers makes you more and more relaxed.”

If for example, the subject bursts into tears, stay calm. Ask them why they are crying. Ask if the subject wants to continue, and respect their reply. You can incorporate that too; “You feel those tears washing through you cleaning away your anger, leaving you calm and serene.” Unexpected interruptions and noises are better incorporated than ignored unless you discern from a total lack of response that they were not important enough for the subject to pay attention to.

Coming Out of the Trance

Bringing the subject back to a normal state of consciousness is simple.

test tipFirst be sure to reverse or negate any unusual suggestions that would make life unpleasant. If you suggested numbness in a hand be sure feeling is restored. If you're unsure do a general banishing.

test tipNext make it clear you are concluding the session. “Before you return to the here and now, allow yourself to bask in this feeling of relaxation.”

Then conclude. “When you're ready, you can return to the here and now feeling perfectly fine in every way. One, starting to return, two, feeling more alert, three, half way there, four, feeling fine in every way, five, awake!” (Snap your fingers if you’re feeling really showy.)

If your subject doesn't sit up and rub their eyes blearily within a reasonable amount of time (a couple minutes after you get to “awake!”) try to determine if they fell asleep. If they did, accept it as a credit to your ability to help others feel relaxed. Make certain they heard you and know what your instructions were. Restate them. If you do a count-up, the best maneuver is to leave the ball in their court and let them come back when they're ready. If that seems to be taking an inordinate amount of time, give suggestions about feeling more alert, prepared to come back. And as usual if uncertain, ask!

A nice reinforcement is to gradually switch back from The Voice to your regular voice as you conclude. With the 1-to-5 set up you might be speaking very quietly at one and graduate until at five your voice is somewhat louder than usual.

Now is an excellent time to ask for feedback. Feedback will tell you if you forgot to undo anything [bring them back in negate it ask if anything else needs undoing, bring them back out]. It will tell you how you can make your style more effective in general or with just this person. It also acknowledges their part in the proceedings. If they're upset at you for some inconsideration, it is a good time to clear the air and acknowledge the validity of their complaint.

Re-Inducing Hypnosis

test tip A post hypnotic suggestion is when the hypnotist plants a suggestion that takes effect after the subject awakes from the trance. If needed it is possible to create a hypnotic key, a word, gesture, mental image, etc. that will bring the subject back to a state of deep relaxation. This should be done right before the subject is returned to a normal waking state. Select an appropriate key. State clearly that when this key is encountered and the subject consciously desires to return to this state of deep relaxation they will. Conscious intent prevents accidental triggering. This avoids an inadvertent hypnotic state. An altered state while the subject is driving for example would be a disaster. The basic order of events during a hypnotic session would be first do suggestibility exercises, then an induction and deepener, plant suggestions, and finally bring the subject out of the trance.

Reminder: To get certified be sure to take the quiz for this section here.

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