The first step of hypnosis, a hypnotic induction is the process that a hypnotist uses to put the client into a state where they are more open to suggestion (known as trance). There are many types of inductions.
1 Relaxation technique
Why do therapists ask to “make yourself comfortable” and provide a cushy leather couch to lay down on? It’s more than a common courtesy. Relaxation is a common method used by therapists and a beginner hypnosis technique. If the client is relaxed, they may fall into a trance and the mind is open to suggestion. They are more likely to talk to you and be open to indirect suggestions. Here are some common methods of relaxation:
- Make yourself comfortable
- Lay down
- Count down in your head
- Controlled breathing
- Relax & tense muscles
- Speak in a soft tone
2 Handshake technique
Milton Erickson – the father of hypnotherapy – is famous for using the handshake technique as a way to induce hypnotic trance. Handshakes are the most common form of greeting in our society. The handshake technique shocks the subconscious by disrupting this common social norm. Instead of shaking the hand normally, the hypnotist would interrupt the pattern that our mind has established by grabbing the wrist or pulling the subject forward and off balance. With the pattern interrupted, the subconscious mind is suddenly open to suggestion.
3 Eye Cues
There are two spheres of the brain – the right manages the more “creative” and conscious side and the left the “practical” and subconscious. In any conversation we look for feedback from the listener to see how they react to our statements. Watch the subject’s eyes. Are they looking to the right, accessing the conscious or the left to the subconscious? Are they fixated on one object in the room? If they are accessing the subconscious, you can make a suggestion that they are not consciously aware of.
Advanced Tip: Insertive Eye Contact
Reading the eye movements of a listener is a common use case. But did you know that as a speaker, you can also perform a hypnotic induction on the listener with your eye movements? This new technique was developed and tested by Stephen Brooks.
Visualization can be used both to induce trance and to make suggestions. For example, ask your subject to recall a room they are very familiar with. Imagine every detail in that room: the floor, the shape of the windows, the painting on the wall, the smell, the light. Then, move onto a room they are less familiar with. As they struggle to recall the exact details they open the mind to suggestion.
Advanced Tip: Use visualization to recall positive memories and associate them with a rewarding behavior, or to change one’s perception of a negative image.
- Positive images and experiences (wedding, kid, birthday, graduation)
- Discard bad images (maybe throw them in the trash)
5 Arm “Levitation” Technique
With this classic Ericksonian technique, the client begins by closing their eyes. They are asked to notice the difference in feeling between their arms. The hypnotherapist makes suggestions as to the sensations in each arm. For example they might say the arm feels heavy or light, hot or cold. The client enters a trance and may physically lift their arm or they make simply believe in their mind that they have lifted the arm. Either way, the induction was successful.
6 Sudden Shock/Falling backwards
Proceed with caution! Similar to the handshake technique, a subject finding themselves shocked can enter into a trance. I would never advocate causing any physical pain to a subject, but Erickson once demonstrated this by stepping on a woman’s foot and following it with a suggestion. A milder version would be the “trust falls” that you may have heard of or participated in at a team building event. The sensation of falling backwards shocks the system and opens the mind to suggestion, however, one must be certain they will not drop the subject.
7 Eye Fixation
Have you ever found yourself “zoning out” and staring at an interesting item in the room while someone is talking? Did you completely miss what they’ve said? You may have been in a trance.
Any object of focus can be used to induce trance. The most famous examples are the “power pendulum” or a “swinging pocket watch” – although these two objects are now associated with hokey stage hypnosis. You’re more likely to fail and encounter resistance using these objects, due to their reputation.
Nonetheless, there are two secrets behind eye fixation. First, the object keeps the conscious mind occupied, opening the subconscious to suggestion. Secondly, your eyes get physically tired when they fixate or move back and forth.
Example: Try looking up at the ceiling for a few minutes (without bending your neck). The eyes naturally tire and begin to close.
8 Body Scan
A popular method for self-hypnosis. Starting at the top of the body with your eyes closed, scan down slowly from the head to the feet. Notice every sensation – your breath expanding the rib cage, chair on your back, the pain in your elbow, each finger extended, the feet on the ground. Repeat the process from bottom to top. Continue scanning up and down until you enter trance.
Advanced Tip: The body scan can be stacked with other hypnosis induction techniques such as countdown breathing and relaxation to increase effectiveness.
9 Countdown Breathing
You may have heard of controlled breathing for meditation, but it can also be an easy form of self-hypnosis. Here’s how it works:
- Close your eyes and sit upright in a chair, arms on your lap.
- Breathe deep through the nose and out through the mouth.
- Using slow controlled breaths, countdown from 100.
- Each exhale counts as one interval.
- At the end you may be in a trance. If not continue the exercise counting down from a higher number.
A suggestion is the desired behavior to be performed by the client. Post-hypnotic suggestions are delivered after a hypnotized person enters trance – a state in which they are more open to influence. There are two schools of thought for suggestions.
10 Indirect Suggestion
Erickson was a champion of indirect suggestion. It is a favorite of certified hypnotherapists because this method puts the control in the subject’s hands rather than those of authoritarian – respecting the patient’s boundaries and clinical ethics. Further it has proven more effective for subjects that are resistant or skeptical of trance. Rather than “order” a subject to relax (direct suggestion), one could say:
“You might wish to close your eyes when you are comfortable.”
11 Direct Suggestion
In conversational hypnosis, a direct suggestion is an explicit command to perform a certain action. Though powerful, it is sometimes viewed as unethical because as the authority (a doctor or hypnotist) you hold power over the client. The client does not control the decision to change behavior with this method. The Stanford Prison Experiment was an infamous example of using authority, obedience, and direct suggestions to manipulate subjects.
Here are some classic direct suggestions:
- “You will go to sleep”
- “You will stop smoking”
- “You will lose weight”
12 Voice Tone
The tone of your voice is particularly useful when making suggestions. This can double up with other techniques (like relaxation).
“You might wish to become relaxed”
In the above example, the word “relaxed” is spoken softly and elongated. On the contrary, you can make a direct suggestion loudly.
“You will STOP smoking!”
Another perfect pair for voice tone is the confusion technique. The therapist could vary the tone of voice from whispering to shouting, speak with a different accent, or use a lisp, to confuse the subject.
13 Hypnotic trigger
There are many forms of hypnotic triggers. A trigger reminds the subconscious of a desired action or feeling which was suggested under hypnosis. Here are a few examples:
- Opening eyes
- Sound of a bell
- Snap of fingers
- Clap of hands
- Standing up or sitting down
- Opening a door
Here is how a hypnotic trigger could apply to agoraphobia:
“When you open a door, you might see your loving family on the other side.”
Reading Body Language
14 Nonverbal Communication
Hypnotists are experts at nonverbal communication – from reading a client’s body language to conveying your own non-verbal suggestions. While a client could be saying one thing consciously, the subconscious mind could tell a completely different story. Here are a few examples of how the subconscious might affect body language:
- Facial expressions
- Body posture
- Voice tone
- Eye movements
- Arms crossed
- Head nods
- Covering face
17 Cold reading
You might have seen psychics, mediums, stage hypnotists, or mentalists perform a “cold reading” on TV for entertainment purposes. Though it’s generally too direct to use with a client, you might use cold reading at a party or a networking event. Here’s how cold reading works. For example, if the subject is not smiling, the hypnotist might ask:
H: “Are you sad?” – Start by asking a general or vague question from observation.
S: “Yes” – If they reply no, reset and ask another vague question.
H: “Has someone left you?” – Drill down and ask a more specific question. This could be a relationship or a pet or a family member.
S: “Yes! How did you know my cat fluffy died?”
18 Warm reading
With a warm reading, you make a statement that could apply to anyone:
“You feel happy when you are surrounded by friends.”
17 Hot reading
The most difficult type, because you need to have some prior knowledge about the person. Let’s say their family member contacted you and told you that the person was involved in a traumatic event. When you meet them, you might focus on using the “regression to a cause” technique because you have prior knowledge about the past event.
Triggers & Advanced Hypnotherapy Techniques
18 The Swish Pattern
Submodalities can be used in “the swish pattern” – a neuro-linguistic programming technique used to associate or dissociate the client with certain behaviors. The five senses are considered modalities (taste, smell, sight, touch, hearing). A submodality is a subset of these senses. Here are some examples of submodalities:
- Bright or dim?
- Large or small?
- Color or black and white?
- Loud or soft sounds?
The Swish Pattern begins with a visualization. Once the client is in a trance the hypnotist identifies one or two submodalities (brightness, size, etc). The undesirable action is large, focused, and bright in the foreground, while the desired action is visualized as small and dim in the background. In the time it takes you to say “Swish” (the method’s namesake) the desired image rapidly becomes bright and large in the client’s mind.
We see misdirection used in the real world, sometimes on a daily basis – from politics to entertainment. The prefix “mis” means wrong and “direction” is attached to it, meaning the audience is being lead in the wrong direction. There are two types of misdirection – one is literal and the other is of the mind.
A familiar demonstration of the first would be a magician distracting people by waving a wand in his left hand and then performing a sleight of hand with his right. While the audience is misdirected, the magician sneaks a card up his sleeve giving the illusion that it has “disappeared”.
Misdirection can also be a visualization:
“As you become anxious, imagine you are relaxing on a beach”
Here, a subject dealing with anxiety is misdirected to the visualization of themselves on a beach. The hypnotist has directed them from an unpleasant image towards a pleasant one.
Usually done as a metaphor, reframing allows you to change the perception of an experience in the client’s mind. For example, imagine you have a client that wants to lose weight. They stay inside and play video games all day. You could ask them to describe the process to “level up” their characters in the video game – what they do, how long it takes, how strong the character is at the beginning. And then, “reframe” the process of losing weight in their mind by comparing it to the video game.
“Losing weight is like leveling up your character in a video game. You start slow and train every day. You don’t see much difference at the beginning, but over time your ‘character’ becomes stronger and stronger.”
21 Regression to cause
First the client enters a deep trance where they can experience events as if they were actually there (also known as somnambulism). The therapist uses visualization to create an “affect bridge” where the client experiences an event for the first time again. Once the cause is identified the hypnotherapist can make suggestions and reframe the situation.
22 Future Pacing
The opposite of regression, when a subject is asked to visualize themselves taking the proper actions and behaviors in the future. Rather than look back into the past for an underlying negative event, you look forward to an event with positive emotions.
“Imagine you are done with your speech and the crowd is cheering. You feel accomplished and relieved.”
When we record a memory, all of the senses and emotions are associated. These are “anchors” in your memory. Perhaps the client has anchored the behavior of cigarette smoking with a break, meal, sex, chatting with friends and other pleasurable feelings. The hypnotist can suggest new anchors for more positive behavior.
24 Betty Erickson’s 3-2-1 Technique
Betty Erickson was Milton Erickson’s wife. She developed her own method for self-hypnosis known as the 3-2-1 technique. The procedure starts with your eyes open. You take note of 3 things in the room that you can see, hear, and feel. For example: you might see a painting on the wall, a table, and a clock. You might hear birds outside the window, the hum of a refrigerator, and the clock ticking. You might feel the pressure of the chair on your back, your feet on the floor, and the warmth of the sunlight through the window. The process repeats focusing on 2 items from each sensation, and then 1 item (hence the name 3-2-1). Then, you close your eyes and start over by visualizing 3 objects from each sense in your head. Again you count down. Once you’ve reached the last item, you will be in a trance.
Making a tiny change is the stepping stone to a much larger one. For example, if a client is trying to lose weight, daily cardio may be too big of a leap. Instead, you could suggest they start with a small increment: take the stairs for one floor and then hop in the elevator as they typically would. The next week, two flights of stairs. Eventually, they will have worked up to the larger goal and overall better behavior.
Another example: Go to the gym once a week for 5 minutes. The commitment is so small it’s impossible to fail. You will likely end up staying for more than 5 minutes, incrementing the duration and amount of days over the course of a month.
26 Parts Therapy
In theory, all behavior is positive in some way. The subconscious may justify one negative behavior with a positive one. An agoraphobic may not leave the house because the subconscious aims to protect the body from the dangers of the outside world. A smoker may harm their body physically in order to seek pleasurable conversation with other smokers outside.
The mind is made up of multiple parts. With parts therapy, the hypnotherapist communicates with the behavior part to better understand why an action is being taken. Then they would communicate with the creative part of the mind to come up with another solution. In the example of the smoker, perhaps there is another way they can satisfy the need for social interaction – a book club, a bowling group. The therapist then uses future pacing to reinforce the positive behavior.
Metaphors are therapeutic and memorable. Erickson loved to use metaphors in his books and teachings. Here are some classic metaphors:
- Your body is a car. Give it the right fuel and it will perform well. If you neglect the maintenance and fill it with poor fuel, and it will break down.
- Your mind is like a river that is ebbing and flowing. You can stand on the bank of the river and watch it go by or you can try to swim against the current.
- You are a mountain – strong, impenetrable, and tall.
28 Hypnotic Bind
The hypnotic bind is a favorite amongst parents and presents the “illusion” of choice with an either/or question. Here’s one example:
“Would you like to brush your teeth or take a bath?”
Advanced Tip: Use the double bind to present two options for the same desirable behavior:
“Would you like to go to bed in 10 minutes or 20 minutes?”
Either way, the child is performing the desired action of going to bed.
29 Hypnotic logic
Under trance, a client interprets statements very literally. If you ask the client “Can you sit up” they will respond “Yes”. We call this hypnotic logic.
You can use hypnotic logic along with suggestions like so:
“You can lose weight because you are successful”
Although being successful doesn’t necessarily mean you’re able to lose weight, the statement is taken literally.
30 Affirmations & Positive Thinking
An affirmation confirms a positive thought. For a client with body dysmorphia, you may have them repeat back under trance “I am beautiful” several times.
Memories fade over time. While that might be good for someone with a negative experience, positive experiences can also fade.
Abilities, just like memories, can be forgotten as well. An agoraphobic may forget that there was once a time they had the ability to go outdoors.
As a hypnotherapist you can help bring these positive memories and abilities back using rehearsal and visualization with the client.
1.Eye Fixation Induction
1. Ask subject to focus at a point on the ceiling (eyes will naturally tire)
2. Suggest that subject’s eyes will want to close when their unconscious is ready for them to enter trance
3. Describe the sensations of eyelid tiredness in microscopic detail (eg. warmth, heaviness etc.)
4. Continue talking about subjective trance phenomena (eg. sleepiness) liberally using relaxing words
5. Continue till eyes begin to drop (however little) and validate at every stage (“That’s right…you can continue to allow them to lower”)
Reciprocal eye fixation induction
1. Ask subject to stare into your eyes, stare back
2. Seed idea that subject’s unconscious knows how to go into trance and will do so in its own time, when ready
3. Pace clients breathing till perfectly synchronised
4. Focus eyes into distance while continuing to stare
5. Pace subjects eyeblink, though slightly slower
6. Continue till eyes close or other trance phenomena noticed
2. Toe to Head Induction
[also referred to as the ‘Body Journey’ induction or ‘Progressive Muscle Relaxation’ – start anywhere you like and put emphasis on the parts of the body you can see are tense, as the client probably is not aware of such tension until you mention it and then you can watch the relaxation in that muscle group take place which acts as a convincer for you]
Now find your comfortable position, whether you are lying down or sitting up. Adjust your body, shifting a little this a little that way, so as to get yourself into a position where you are very comfortable and ready, truly ready to relax, and let yourself gently close your eyes.
And as your eyes are now closed and as you are listening to the sound of my voice allow your body to begin to relax.
Think about your feet and let the big toes on either foot and then both allow your big toes to relax. And then the subsequent toes, each of them one by one on the right foot and then the left foot, (pause) all your toes to relax.
Feel the relaxation moving silently across the arch of your right foot and then left foot, as both heels relax simultaneously.
Allow the relaxation to move gently through your ankles, your calves and feel it lifting like a gentle morning mist towards your knees, gently your knees relax. And with their relaxation your thighs begin to let go, to let go. As you relax your thighs, all the way up to your pelvic region and allow the entire pelvic area of the body, let you hips relax, let the relaxation move to the lower abdominal region that area below the navel, relaxing all the internal organs, as well as all the muscles relax. Let it even go into your skin, let your skin relax.
As the relaxation moves to the upper abdominal region into the chest area relax. Relax your breathing, allow it to be gentle and calm, steady, healing. Allow your heart to beat calmly, powerfully within your chest relaxing.
Let the relaxation spill down the arms, past the elbows and forearms to the wrists and allow your right hand to become totally at ease – clear to the fingertips. Allow your left hand to relax, likewise, fingers and thumb. And let the relaxation rise again, through the arms to the shoulders, relaxing all the muscles all the tension leaves as you relax your shoulders and the relaxation climbs your neck and descends your back simultaneously reaching the tailbone at the same time that it reaches the crown of your head – you relax.
Feeling the relaxation moving across the top of the head around the sides, converging upon the forehead the temples relax. The relaxation rounds the eye sockets to relax the cheeks and jaw and chin. Your lips relax, the front of your neck relaxes and finally, your eyelids allow your eyelids to relax. As you are totally relaxed and listening to the sound of my voice you allow yourself to drift even deeper.
You allow yourself to drift even …deeper.
Down…………. Deeper…………….. Down……………..
I will count from 7 to 1 with each descending number you will go even deeper, adjusting yourself to accept success and confidence in your physical self.
Allowing your physical body and your mind to harmonise.
Harmony between you mind and your body.
Balanced and perfect – perfect and balanced. 7…..6……5…..4……3…..2…..1…..
[proceed then with deepeners and thereafter one to five count up]
3.Esdaile State Induction
1. Put your client into a deep trance. I know how relaxed you are, but even in your relaxed state I’ll bet you sense in your own mind that there is a state of relaxation below the one you’re in right now.
Can you sense that? You know you can clench your fist and make it tighter, tighter, you might call that the height of tension. You can relax the same fist until you can’t relax it anymore, you might call that the basement of relaxation. I am going to take you down to the basement.
2. To do this they will need to go down three levels. Level A, level B and level C.
Say something like this:
To get down to the level A you have to relax twice as much as you are right now. To get to level B, you have to relax twice as much as you did at level A, and to get down to level C, you have to relax twice as much as you did at level B.
However, when you get down to level C you will be at the basement of relaxation and at that point you will give off signs by which I will be able to tell that you are in the basement. You don’t know what these signs are and I’m not going to tell you what they are, but every person who has ever been at the basement of relaxation gives off these signs …… let’s get started!!
3. Now have them imagine they are in an elevator (make sure you have already established how the client feels about elevators) and they will use that elevator to get down to the basement of relaxation.
4. Now suggest that when you snap your fingers the elevator will start to move down and that as soon as they get down to level A and if they are twice as relaxed as they already are, they should let you know by saying the letter A out loud.
5. Follow the same procedure by taking them down to level B and C. (When your client gets down to level B, he/she may find it almost impossible to say the letter B out loud, they may attempt to say it by just moving their lips. When you ask them to go down to level C, where they will be at the basement of relaxation they can let you know by letting their yes finger lift with honest subconscious movement. This is a good time to give your client a post hypnotic suggestion to go back into trance with a certain cue word or signal.
4. Double Induction
1. Operators position themselves either side of the subject
2. Ask subject to close their eyes, relax and listen
3. Operator on subject’s right begins a standard relaxation induction
4. After a minute or so, operator on subject’s left side picks up and echoes significant words used by operator one
5. Operator on left begins to expand on operator one’s theme
6. Induction continues with the following variations:
a) operators speak alternately
b) operators swap roles
c) operators talk concurrently on different topics (eg. relaxation & deepening)
d) operators duplicate each others speech
e) both operators speak same words concurrently
7. The induction process is complete when the signs of trance become apparent
5. Arm Levitation Induction
1. Seed that unconscious can cause movement, and can cause arms to rise
2. Ask client to place hands on thighs with just fingertips touching
3. Seed that it may be left or right hand that levitates and that one hand may begin to feel differently to them:
eg. ‘As one arm feels slightly lighter, so the other may seem heavier and want to sink down onto your thigh’
4. Continue to suggest levitation, timing the word ‘rise’ with the in breath (and slight reflex movement)
5. Validate any movement or IMR (ideomotor response signals)
6. Continue lightness and levitation suggestions till arm rises to shoulder level
7. Suggest that as trance continues to deepen, the levitating arm may wish to return to rest, may begin to feel heavier etc.
8. Once both arms are resting on thighs, deepen etc.
Place your left hand on the clients right shoulder whilst standing to one side. Now put your hand with the fingers closed about 18 inches from your client’s eye. Keep your elbow on your rib cage to cross mirror the breathing.
Spoken to the client:
“I want you to pick out a spot on my hand, an imaginary spot, that right, keep staring at that spot. In a moment I am going to bring my hand towards your face and down in front of your face and you will find your eyelids will close down and you will go into a very pleasant relaxing trance”.
“Ok now choose that spot on my hand, an imaginary spot, that’s right, and don’t take your eyes from that spot, that’s right.
Your eyelids are getting heavy, droopy, drowsy – that’s relaxation coming on. Nothing you can do, say or think just allow it to happen automatically.
Closing, closing, closing, closing, that’s right. Close your eyes down now. That’s right and now as I rock you, you will go deeper and deeper that’s right. In a moment I am going to pick up your left hand by the thumb. When I pick it up you will find that the whole of your arm is heavy, loose, and limp.
That’s right and I will flap your arm and drop it by your side or on your lap (depending as to whether they are sitting or standing) and as it hits your side or your lap you find yourself going twice as deep into trance as you are now.
That’s right, now I’m picking up your other arm and that’s also heavy, loose and limp. As I flap it and drop it back to your side you find yourself going five times deeper into trance.
That’s right you’re doing that beautifully. Now your body’s beautifully relaxed, would you like to have your mind as relaxed as your body? (the client will probably signify by a micro nod of the head or a mumbled yes).
“Ok, now I’m going to tell you how you can achieve it. In a moment I’m going to ask you to count aloud downwards and backwards from 100. It will be like this (slowly) 100, 99, 98 – and so on. As you do that two interesting things will happen. You will find yourself deepening your relaxation between each number and starting to send the numbers away.
You will just send them away. The numbers will vanish at any number from 100, but they must certainly go when you get to 94, and then your mind will be as relaxed as your body. That’s right, that’s right.
Now start counting aloud (between each number you will say double the relaxation, the numbers are fading, fading, fading). If the client has not removed the numbers by the time they get to 94 then say “in a moment I’m going to count from 3 down to 1 and click my fingers. When I click my fingers the numbers will vanish.
That’s right you’re doing that beautifully now your mind is as relaxed as your body”.
When you search for rapid inductions on the internet you usually get either a short video that confounds conscious acceptance or an array of ‘buy now’ courses which rely upon such confounding complexity so that someone somewhere is making money from that confusion.
They happen quickly: such is the nature of the ‘rapid’. These inductions are difficult to describe in a book because they usually involve physical actions and these need to be observed. You can, however, see many of these on YouTube.
Pattern interrupts prove to be good examples.
Seeding the Response
The client is informed that a suggestion will be given (using the suggestion of ‘sleep’) during the induction and that this is simply an anchor to denote going into a very relaxed state, so relaxed that the large muscle groups of the body switch off, as if in physical sleep.
It does not mean ‘sleep’ in the normal use of the term.
There are patterns that exist in our experience which usually result in an unconscious reciprocated response on the part of the client.
We have a whole lifespan of automatically responding to a handshake; as this is interrupted the mind is suddenly thrown into shock as the mind goes into overload trying to work out what is happening. It is as if the mind is thinking, ‘does not compute, does not compute…’.
Both the body and the mind constantly monitor and attempt to re-establish the status quo.
While the mind is attempting to do this (and so is preoccupied) it is open and responsive to suggestion. So when ‘sleep’ is suggested loudly and forcibly, the client responds.
The trusted hypnotist has in fact taken the place of the client’s own conscious mind. Remember, your unconscious mind is always ready and waiting to take orders: those orders usually come from your own consciousness, though more and more these days those orders are coming from elsewhere.
Stage hypnotists may use a similar rapid induction by having a volunteer fall backwards, after seeding and implementing the appropriate commands.
The handshake interrupt induction usually involves eye fixation.
The client is asked to focus on the lines on their palm. In addition, when ‘sleep’ is suggested this is rapidly followed by suggestions of going deeper asleep (hypnotic deepening). This is done before the client has had a chance to re-establish equilibrium and so they are still highly suggestible.
Confidence and Timing
Only attempt your first rapid induction when you are sure of your abilities as the technique requires utter confidence in the process.
Also be aware of the responsibility of using this technique. I have been present when the new hypnotist has dabbled in the technique, almost to prove its ineffectiveness, only to find it working dramatically and them not being prepared to follow through.
Remember that the safety of the client is paramount and please ensure you are trained properly by us before attempting this on your own. Post Hypnotic Suggestions are often linked with Rapid Inductions, to act as a convincer (see later).
Definition: A technique for increasing the depth of trance (enhancing inner awareness by diminishing residual external awareness).
Most deepeners can also be used as trance inductions Typical deepeners include: staircases, leaves falling, dissociation, fractionation and compounding.
Merely directing the client to ‘go deeper’ into trance can be all that it takes for the trance state to deepen. Ensure that the client is already in a light trance beforehand and following your direction.
Say something like: ‘Deeper and deeper now…. More and more relaxed’ Or ‘As relaxed as you are, there is still further to go… now allow yourself to double the sense of relaxation you are experiencing right now and go deeper into total relaxation.’
2. Staircase Technique
1. Relax and close eyes
2. Imagine you are in the lobby of grand hotel
3. Exit through doors to wide sweeping staircase (use all senses to make more real)
4. Imagine staircase sweeping down to a special place (eg. garden, sea-shore)
5. Imagine that as you take that first step down that you begin to feel more relaxed etc.
6. Pause to enjoy the increased relaxation
7. Repeat process for each step emphasising increasing depth of relaxation and detachment till special place is reached
3. Dissociation Deepening Technique
This technique involves subjectively dissociating the client in multiple stages. eg …Associate client to internal relaxing memory (e.g.lying on beach)
Amplify Visual, Auditory, Olfactory and Kinesthetics
Have client imagine drifting off into a dream of another relaxing space (e.g. floating like a bird in the sky)
Amplify Visual, Auditory, Olfactory and Kinesthetics Have client imagine being in another relaxing space (e.g. bird sees fish swimming in sea, imagines itself as fish)
Repeat as necessary.
N.B. Remember to return through reversed sequence to re-orientate.
4. Pool Deepening Technique
Imagine that the focus of your awareness is like a pebble tossed into a deep pool.
On the surface ripples spread just like the thoughts that ripple across the surface of your mind
But just there, just below the surface, that point of awareness drifts down…gently floats down. ….. past the thoughts ……. slowly drifting down …. past the images ….gently down past the memories …. drifting effortlessly down past the feelings …. easily floating down till it gently comes to rest in that quiet still place so very deep within your thinking experience where everything is so calm and peaceful that even the surface ripples become stiller and stiller until the surface becomes like a perfect mirror etc.
5. Fractionation or Compounding
The process of causing the subject to alternate between inner and outer realities, usually by asking them to open and close their eyes.
Fractionation can be used as an induction or deepening technique.
Fractionation is differentiated from re-orientation because no time is allowed for the subject to re-adjust.
You can incorporate this into the Elman Induction to compound the deepening effect.
Once the client has closed their eyes for a while, ask them to allow them to gently flutter open again.
Then ask them to close them softly and slowly… more and more relaxed.
Repeat two or three times until you see the client really struggling to open their eyelids and then give the instruction to allow them to remain closed now and relax even deeper.
1. Ask subject to imagine what it would feel like to experience the very beginning of trance phenomena: perhaps finger tingling, heavy eyelids etc.
2. Validate any response and guide subject towards deeper phenomena
3. Repeat until trance is established
7.Minimalist Validation Technique
1. Seed idea that subject’s unconscious knows how to go into trance and will do so in its own time, when ready
2. Observe any minimal changes and feed these back to subject as signs of trance onset
3. Continue until trance is required level.
1.Ideo-motor Responses Ideomotor responses (“IMR”) is a psychological phenomenon where a subject makes motions unconsciously.
Derived from the terms “ideo” (idea, or mental representation) and “motor” (muscular action), it is an unconscious movement of a particular muscle group of the body.
When directed to specifically move that muscle group, by the hypnotist within trance, it acts as a convincer that the client is in a trance state.
These movements can also occur out of trance and indeed we often do not realise why we jerk our hand away from something or flinch from time to time.
We seek to find cause for our action and then are satisfied when we see the tickly or sharp object that our consciousness had not observed.
The fact remains that our unconscious mind snatched the hand away BEFORE the consciousness knew what was happening.
These movements are also referred to as “reflexive” or automatic muscular reaction, often of minuscule degree, and often outside of the awareness of the subject. As in reflexive responses to pain, the body sometimes reacts reflexively with an ideomotor effect to ideas alone without the person consciously deciding to take action at the conscious level.
James Braid (see the section on the history of hypnosis) adopted the specific use of IMR within the hypnotic experience. He termed it ‘the mono ideo-dynamic’ Hypnotists and hypnotherapists use ideomotor responses to communicate with a subject’s unconscious mind using a system of physical signals (such as finger movements) for the unconscious mind to indicate “yes”, “no”, “I don’t know”, or even formulating a response for “I’m not ready to know that consciously”.
There are experiments to demonstrate the ideomotor effect by allowing a hand-held pendulum to hover over a sheet of paper. The paper has keywords such as YES, NO and MAYBE on it.
Tiny muscular movements in the hand, in response to questions, cause the pendulum to move towards key words on the paper.
This technique has been used by illusionists such as Derren Brown and others.
Anchors are stimuli that call forth states of mind – thoughts and emotions.
For example, touching a knuckle of the left hand could be an anchor. Some anchors are involuntary. So the smell of bread may take you back to your childhood.
A tune may remind you of a certain person. A touch can bring back memories and the past states.
These anchors work automatically and you may not be aware of the triggers.
Establishing an anchor means producing the stimuli (the anchor) when the resourceful state is experienced so that the resourceful state is paired to the anchor. For example, touching the knuckle of the left hand when the resourceful state is experienced to pair the two events.
Activating or firing the anchor means producing the anchor after it has been conditioned so that the resourceful state occurs.
For example, touching the knuckle of the left hand after the anchor has been established so that this action produced the resourceful state. This page is concerned with creating anchors that produce resourceful states at will.
We are affected by anchors throughout our lives and go into a good mood or a bad one … feel motivated to do one thing or another … feel confident and resourceful or the opposite. We are responding to anchors, but we may not know what they are. These anchors have been built up accidentally. In fact, we often think that our mood has nothing to do with us and that our moods occur by chance.
You use these to produce the state of mind or mood you need for a given situation. You enter an interview calm and relaxed. You control your temper. You turn on the enthusiasm you need to do a task. First of all we will assemble the ingredients for anchors and then give the whole procedure for establishing your designer anchors. You can use any resourceful state, but here we will us ‘being calm and relaxed’ as the example. Although we have dealt with the subject of establishing anchors in some depth in this page, it is actually extremely easy to establish them!
1. Select some physical action that is easily re-doable. Some people make a fist, some people say a word to themselves, others see an object or a symbol. This will be your anchor.
2. Remember a time when you felt really confident. If you can’t immediately remember a situation, imagine what it would be like when you are confident or think about someone who exudes confidence. Become fully aware of what it is like when you or someone else is confident. What did you see? What did you hear? What did you feel and where did you feel what you felt. Notice where the feeling starts and where it moves to.
3. Stay in the memory and get back that good feeling. When the feeling starts, imagine that it is getting bigger and spreading all round your body and returning to its source empowered. When you feel that the state at its peak, use your anchor – say the word you have chosen, do the physical action or visualise your object or scene or do a mixture of all three – it’s your choice.
4. Now think about what you had for breakfast. This is a way of breaking the state or getting back to ‘neutral’.
5.Wait a moment then fire your anchor again [see 3 above].
You will notice that the feelings, sights and sounds of ‘confidence’ begin to replay themselves in some degree. This is just a start and you can do much, much more to really recall and relive good states. This very basic exercise has many additional and useful parts to it, and initially, it works even better when you have someone facilitating you. Skilled NLP practitioners know how to work with themselves and others to create great states and make permanent changes.
The Two Crucial Elements of Anchoring
Remember, the two elements of effective anchoring are:
Your unconscious movements that you suggest for your ideomotor response signals are good deepeners and convincers. Catalepsy can be used as a deepener and provide good convincing evidence that your client is in fact hypnotized.
This convincer is not just for your client, as often the new hypnotist needs such evidence too!
Good old Wikipedia tells us that the phrase catalepsy comes from the Greek (as many things hypnotic do originate) ‘katalipsis’ meaning ‘seizing/grasping’ and is a nervous condition characterized by muscular rigidity and fixity of posture regardless of external stimuli, as well as decreased sensitivity to pain.
The medical dictionary state it is a condition of diminished responsiveness usually characterised by a trance-like state and constantly maintained immobility…
Erickson and Rossi wrote about catalepsy in 1981 in the book, ‘Experiencing Hypnosis: Therapeutic approaches to altered states’.
The book refers to everyday daydreaming where a person is self-absorbed and temporarily immobilised by the intensity of that focus. When this state is induced by the hypnotist in the client, suggestions were made that the eyelids will remain shut, no matter what, can truly fascinate an audience and is perceived as one of the convincers of the trance experience.
The suggestion would be applied as such: ‘your eyelids are so very relaxed now that they remain closed, shut tight…’ followed by seeding the response: ‘in a moment, I am going to ask you to try to open those eyes and the more you try and open them, the more they remain locked down tightly shut..’
The audience marvels as the client subject seemingly struggles to open their locked down lids. Whilst this is often utilised on stage performances it can be useful for demonstration purposes when addressing a group.
However, it is not usual practice to do this within therapy. Occasionally, however, there comes before you what is referred to as a ‘resistant client’ and one may use some form of catalepsy to prove the effectiveness of the hypnotic state to that client. When the client witnesses, for example, their arm drifting in front of their eyes, whilst they have no sensation of it doing so, then they may be convinced of the state of hypnosis.
How to Induce Catalepsy
Use an induction technique, such as Esdaile, then deepen the experience as much as is necessary.
Give suggestions as above, ‘your eyelids are so very relaxed now that they remain closed, shut tight…’ followed by seeding the response: ‘in a moment, I am going to ask you to try to open those eyes and the more you try and open them, the more they remain locked down tightly shut..’
Then instruct the client to TRY to open their eyes. Wait for a couple of seconds only, then tell them to stop trying and to relax more and more, with the assurance that they are in fact, deeply hypnotised. Likewise, you can instruct the entire arm to lift slowly and easily, with honest unconscious response, until the arm is at eye level to the client. Then ask the client to slowly open their eyes and be fascinated to witness their floating arm.
Eye Catalepsy and How to Test
(Optionally, place your right thumb on the bridge of the client’s nose and apply very slight pressure). Say to client: “I am going to count from five down to one. As I do so, your eyelids lock so tightly closed that the more you try to open them, the tighter they are locking closed.
Five, your eyes are pressing down tightly. Four, pressing down and sealing shut.
Three, sealing down as they are so very very heavy. Two, they are locked shut now. One, the more you try to open them, the tighter they are locking closed.
“Ok. Now try to open your eyelids and find them locking tighter and tighter.” Count to three and then say: “That’s fine. You can stop trying now.
Let the relaxation in your thoughts, into your eyelids, and allow the relaxation to flow gently all the way down to the tips of your toes and go deeper now.” [the eyelids are the smallest set of external muscles and the easiest to affect] What if ‘it doesn’t work’? This is an opportunity to deepen the experience. You thank your client for the feedback and inform them that as relaxed as they think they are, there is further to go and you thank your client for their kind attention and deepen the trance for them, requiring their cooperation to relax more and more with each easy breath in and every gentle breath out…. Deeper and deeper… more and more relaxed…
4. Post Hypnotic Suggestion Anchoring Within Trance
Giving a particular, specific instruction within the trance experience and anchoring it to something tangible within the client’s ordinary waking consciousness is referred to as a post hypnotic suggestion.
These are of temporary duration though can serve as a convincer for therapist and client alike and are useful for the client to adapt to changed circumstances, such as new eating patterns
For example, you could instruct the client within trance, that every time they sit down to a meal they feel so relaxed they eat slower and taste the food even more than before.
For audience purposes, a hypnotist can use this to prove the validity of their suggestibility, such as, when you hear the music you will have the insatiable urge just to get up and dance, having no conscious recall of why you are doing so.