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How and Why to Teach Your Clients Self-Hypnosis

Two self-hypnotic inductions and a tip to use in your very next session

When your client undertakes regular self-hypnosis, they will benefit not only from regular relaxation, but also from utilizing the unconscious mind.

“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.”

– Carl Jung

Sometimes, for whatever reason, you’ll want your therapy clients to help themselves either after you’ve stopped seeing them or between sessions.

One reason might be that your client won’t be able to see you for a few weeks; perhaps they’ll be away on business, as was the case with Sue, a recent client of mine. Maybe you want to give your client an adjunctive resource to use between therapy sessions. Or perhaps you have finished your psychotherapy with them but feel they will really benefit from self-hypnotic work and the benefits it brings. And talking of benefits…

You may have read my recent blog post, “Why You Should Teach Your Clients Self Hypnosis“. In this week’s blog I want to give you two self-hypnotic inductions to teach your clients – methods they can take away and use immediately to improve their lives. I’ll also give you a tip you can give them to make their self-hypnosis more powerful.

So let’s get to it.

First things first: Tell them why it will change their life

Now before you teach your clients how to self-hypnotize between sessions, you might suggest why they should do it. You can ‘sell’ the benefits of self-hypnosis to help up their motivation to actually do it.

You could summarize the points I gave you in my previous blog post on the benefits of self-hypnosis. If you have anecdotes of other clients or friends who were wonderfully helped or had their lives transformed by regular self-hypnosis, use those anecdotes. If possible, describe research connected to what they want to use hypnosis for, whether that’s simply to relax, and/or to solve problems and help produce creative insights and solutions.

Sell the idea so clients know why they are doing it. Give them the why before you give them the how.

When your client undertakes regular self-hypnosis, they will of course benefit simply from the regular relaxation, but also from utilizing the powerhouse that is their unconscious mind. During hypnosis the unconscious can be given specific tasks such as to lower blood pressure or solve emotional problems.

The unconscious engages in pattern matching external triggers to internal reactions. In many cases this is useful, but some emotional and physical pattern matches are ‘faulty’ – leading to, for example, phobias, allergies, and inappropriate anger in response to non-threatening triggers.

We can use hypnosis to effect change by altering an automatic and unconscious response to a trigger, and also to engage the creative resources of the unconscious mind.

When you teach self-hypnosis to your clients, you can simply:

  • Induce the state of hypnosis within them using the method, and reassure them they don’t have to pay too much attention because you’ll…
  • Write the method down for them and check their understanding of it.
  • Next time you see them, ask if they’ve been practising and if so how useful it has been for them.
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Calm and peaceful are the order of the day (and night)

Now certainly the REM state of hypnosis and other trance states can be accessed via shock and surprise, but we really want to teach our clients relaxing ways to enter trance. Closer to the way we gently drift off to sleep before entering the trance of dreams than the way we might be catapulted into a shocked trance during, say, a road traffic accident!

So with that in mind, this first method is simple and restful.

Induction one: The body scan

A quick way of getting into trance is to turn the attention inward so it is focused on internal sensations. The body scan is an excellent way to use this effect. Practising this approach repeatedly will also ‘anchor’ the relaxation response to the act of performing the scan, so entering trance becomes faster and easier, and the trance itself becomes deeper.

When doing this, or any other, auto-hypnotic procedure, the effect is often enhanced by imagining that you are sitting opposite yourself, talking to yourself, which creates a dissociation (see the third-person technique below).

When doing any self-hypnotic procedure, the effect is often enhanced by imagining that you are sitting opposite yourself, talking to yourself, as this creates a useful dissociation. Click to Tweet

Suggest they can begin by taking their attention to the toes of either foot and that they can see relaxation as a beautiful colour. Next they can watch that soothing colour circle through their toes and feet, up the shins and calves, through the thighs and pelvis, up the body and so on, focusing and resting their mind on each part of the body in turn, and noticing how it rests and relaxes.

Essentially this is a ‘journey induction’, as the mind travels from one part of the body to the next. It is similar to yoga nidra.

I’ve recorded this induction and you can listen to it below or download it here (you may need to right-click and select ‘Save As…’).

Induction two: The three-things induction

This method is often used for insomniac clients, but can be used simply as a neat way of entering self-hypnotic trance. It mirrors the way the brain starts to drift from everyday waking consciousness towards hypnagogic sleep and trance.

The method is as follows:

Your client must look at a spot intently with their eyes open. Ask them to really focus on that area, to imagine its texture and even what it would be like to expand and contract that area. Now have them…

  • See three things: Keep staring at that spot, but direct their attention to what they can see in their peripheral vision and inwardly list three things they can see… then close their eyes and imagine those same three things.
  • Hear three things: With the eyes still closed, direct attention to sounds and list three things they can hear around them, e.g. their own breathing, a clock ticking, distant traffic.
  • Feel three things: Inwardly list three things they can feel, e.g. their feet on the floor, the movement of their chest as they breathe, the air on their skin.
  • Imagine seeing three things: Visualize three things – this can be anything, e.g. the moon at night, a tennis racket, a pocket watch.
  • Imagine hearing three things: Imagine three sounds, e.g. waves on a shore, an audience clapping, a dog barking.
  • Imagine feeling three things: Imagine three feelings, e.g. being in a bath, having a massage, holding a tennis ball.
  • Repeat the last three steps: Imagine three new things they can (hypnotically) see, hear, and feel until they are deeply entranced or sound asleep.

This is a beautiful way to ‘kickstart’ the hypnotic mind and is a great focusing exercise. Images are at first ‘manufactured’ but soon start manifesting spontaneously as the theta state of hypnosis is entered. I’ve found it particularly effective for clients who want to still their overactive ‘monkey mind’, because the method itself ‘jumps around’ too, at least at first, until they become calm and still.

I’ve recorded this induction and you can listen to it below or download it here (you may need to right-click and select ‘Save As…’).

Top tip: Teach third-person self-hypnosis

Now you might know that dissociation or ‘splitting’ is a key component of hypnosis. This happens in all trance states, including the deepest trance most of us ever experience. I’m talking about the dream trance.

When we sleep and dream we live, for a time, within the metaphorical landscapes of our spontaneously firing imaginations. During dreams our focus is completely split from external reality. The bed and room we’re in are forgotten as we become totally absorbed inwardly and live within our created scenarios. We are, during these times, extremely tuned out of immediate place and time.

When a hypnotherapist uses their communication to split a client’s awareness so as to induce or maintain a hypnotic state, they might say such things as…

“And as you relax deeper, one part of you, the conscious part, can do what it likes, it can think, or analyze, or just drift off somewhere for a while, because I’m going to be talking to that other part of you, the part that knows more about you than you do…”

We might suggest the client ‘forgets to remember’ the room around them, or their feet on the floor, or even our words, as they drift into deep calm and rest… so we are splitting their awareness.

Now clients can do this self-hypnotically, too, by pretending they are hypnotizing someone else. This splits their awareness as they become both the hypnotist and the subject. So I might say to myself (inwardly)…

“Okay Mark… in a few moments, as you close your eyes, you can notice your hands becoming a little warmer as they start to relax… you can just feel a sense of peace and calm… as you begin to feel so much better about next week…”

Then they could do the three-things induction, or the body scan, or any other self-hypnotic induction.

You can give them some general pointers, too, for effective self-hypnosis.

How to use self-hypnosis

Now as your client becomes more proficient at self-hypnosis they can blend these approaches creatively. They might start off with a body scan, then imagine three things they can see, hear, and feel, and then just get creative and maybe hypnotically experience simply walking along to some beautiful place in their mind.

They can apply these techniques by simply guiding themselves through the experience, perhaps using the third-person technique, or they may like to record their own voice and listen to it later.

What’s more, they can suggest to themselves…

“Okay, in a moment I am going to enter a beautifully relaxing hypnotic trance… My unconscious mind is going to use that time to help me find creative insights and ways to improve [my stated goals].”

In this way ‘they’ (the conscious self) can relax as their unconscious gets to work on fulfilling the expectation that it will get creative on their behalf.

These are just two self-hypnotic inductions you can teach your clients. There are many more; in fact, any hypnotic induction can also be used by the client for themselves.

My client Sue came back to see me after her business trip was over.

“I used those methods you taught me!” she said almost gleefully. “I used self-hypnosis for confidence, calm, sleep, and… resisting desserts!”

The proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating – or, in Sue’s case, quite the opposite!

Become Skilled at Hypnotic Language

As well as inducing hypnosis, hypnotic language is incredibly useful in everyday conversation with clients, helping you to help them maintain a receptive state of mind and escape the prison of their anxious, depressive, angry, or obsessive thoughts. You can learn conversational hypnosis online with Mark and blend it into your current approach. Read more about his online course Uncommon Hypnotherapy here.

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Mark Tyrrell

About Mark Tyrrell

Psychology is my passion. I've been a psychotherapist trainer since 1998, specializing in brief, solution focused approaches. I now teach practitioners all over the world via our online courses.

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