It’s all going really well.
You’ve been talking ‘normally’ with your client about how to address their issue, building rapport, setting goals, and now you’re ready to ‘do the hypnosis’.
Your client shifts awkwardly in their seat. Faint lines of strain appear on their brow as they politely close their eyes, as instructed, while you whisper theatrically into their straining ear… Mmm… something doesn’t feel quite right, does it?
Where’s that deep relaxing trance state you need to work your magic?
The problem is, your beautiful hypnotic induction will almost certainly feel artificial if your client hasn’t been nicely prepared for hypnosis.
A sudden switch from ‘conscious logical awareness’ to ‘inner creative absorption’ can be a leap too far for some. Putting someone into hypnosis should feel like the perfectly natural (and even inevitable) result of what’s gone before. If you’re intentionally using surprise as a hypnotic induction then you should know exactly why you’re doing so.
So here are three ways you can prepare your client to feel gradually more and more ‘trancey’ using the natural conversational style of the pre-talk.
1.) Describe their unconscious mind
When we hypnotize someone we need to disassociate ‘conscious’ from ‘unconscious’ experience. This is sometimes called ‘splitting’. During the pre-chat I might talk about the differences between conscious and unconscious awareness. Talking in this way is in itself hypnotic – and that’s the point.
I might say something like:
Now there’s a part of you which is separate from the conscious you listening to me right now, and that part knows how to produce dreams at night, it knows how to relax you deeply, it knows how to grow your hair, digest your food and blink… all beyond your conscious awareness. It knows more than you do about many things that happen in your body and your mind. And it’s that part of you I talk to when you go into hypnosis…
Talking to someone about their unconscious mind is extremely hypnotic; a great way to conversationally kick-start the hypnotic process. Simply by adding slight emphasis to certain phrases, or introducing a tiny pause at appropriate points, you can enhance the hypnotic quality of what you are saying without yet fully engaging your ‘induction tone.
Now there’s a part of you which is separate… from the conscious you… listening to me right now… and that part knows how to produce dreams at night… it knows how to relax you deeply… it knows how to grow your hair… digest your food… and blink… all beyond your conscious awareness… It knows more than you do… about many things that happen in your body… and your mind… And it’s that part of you I talk to… when you go into hypnosis…
2.) Describe hypnosis to induce hypnosis
Describing hypnosis is hypnotic, but it doesn’t feel like a formal induction because… well, because you’re just describing hypnosis.
But if you deepen and slow your voice a little, adding subtle emphasis as described above, you signal to the client’s unconscious mind (without actually spelling it out) that it’s time to go inward. I might start to get the client drifting subtly in and out of trance by talking about the nature of what they’re soon going to experience more deeply:
When you go into hypnosis… you just start to feel a little dreamy… sometimes you start to focus on sensations in the body… like comfort and warmth in your hands… or you begin to notice your breathing… and the way it… slows… a… little… and often the eyelids start to feel a little heavier… like they’re feeling sleepy… and sometimes images flit into your mind… of pleasant places… like the way the sky looks so blue on a summer’s day at the beach… or the birds sing in the woods sometimes… and when people… drift into hypnosis… the muscles in the face often start to smooth out… you pay less attention to the room around you… as you really just start to forget about all that… and… drift inwards…
You see how a conversational description of hypnosis can start to serve as an indirect induction. Practice this and you’ll find your client’s face is smoothing over and their blink response is steadily slowing before you can say: “This is just a chat we’re having!”
3.) Talk about other people’s experience of hypnosis
We all relate to other people’s experiences. This is why watching movies and reading novels can feel so compelling – because we identify with the characters. You can use this in your hypnotherapy sessions by describing how you hypnotize other people and what happens to them. Like this:
“You know, I was helping someone go into hypnosis… the other day… and he asked me… what he needed to do to go into trance… and I said…”
“You know… all you need to do is… nothing at all… except focus on my words… and whether you listen to them… consciously or unconsciously… really doesn’t matter…”
“As you start to relax now… in your arms… and the way that you breathe… deep rest into those hands and legs… sometimes… you’ll be consciously aware… and sometimes… your mind will drift… and it will be as if you’ve stopped… consciously listening to me… and both those responses are fine…”
Now this is interesting, because, although ostensibly I’m talking about what I said to another person, the person I’m talking to right now hears all the words in the indented text above as if they are direct instructions to them. This is the famous ’embedded command’ technique used within the context of talking about someone else.
The effect is that the client doesn’t feel any pressure to respond in any particular way because, basically, you are just talking about someone else!
The beauty of this method is that, in addition to adding emphasis and pauses as above, you can go into your full ‘induction mode’ at the appropriate places – moving back out again as required, thus priming your client for what is to come.
Using these kinds of approaches is a seamless way of introducing hypnosis into your clinical practice so that, by the time you’re ready to ‘do the hypnosis’, your client could be finding it rather hard to keep their eyes open anyway!
What techniques do you use to help your clients get ready for hypnosis? Please share them below…
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