Hypnosis not being effective (for whatever reason) is a common worry/concern that I see regularly voiced by hypnotists and subjects alike. Sometimes it’s because a specific suggestion hasn’t worked. Other times the subject simply doesn’t trance at all.
With this in mind I wanted to offer some advice and reassurance to both hypnotists and subjects based on my years of experience. Most of the advice is aimed at hypnotists as it is hypnotists who need to take the responsibility for ensuring that hypnosis is successful. It still holds value for subjects, however, as it gives you an insight into hypnotists behavior and what is/isn’t appropriate when it comes to handling unexpected situations.
I hope you find it useful.
If you’re a subject:
The most important thing is not to panic. I can promise you that you’ve done nothing wrong. I’ve been hypnotising people for many years and I’ve yet to come across a “bad” subject so I can say with a fair amount of confidence that you’re a good subject. “But!” I can hear you cry “If I am a good subject, why can’t I be hypnotised?”. The answer is you can be, but just like learning any new skill, different people learn in different ways. The reasons for your past difficulties may simply be that the induction/hypnosis techniques that your hypnotist was using aren’t effective for you. It doesn’t make you a bad subject, nor does it mean that the techniques are bad – all it means is that they weren’t the right techniques for you. There is no one single technique that is effective on 100% of people. Think of techniques like keys – all we need to do is find the right key to unlock your potential to enjoy trance.
Do me a favor – if a hypnotist ever tells you (or even implies) that it’s somehow your fault and that you are a bad subject then ditch them immediately! They’re simply trying to cover up their own shortcomings by blaming you.
If things aren’t progressing as you expected then don’t be afraid to communicate this. A good hypnotist will be able to reassure you and utilise other induction/hypnosis techniques to achieve the desired results.
If you’re a hypnotist:
Again, my primary advice is do not panic. Things don’t always go to plan and that is okay. If you panic you’ll panic/unsettle your subject and you don’t want that. Instead, look at it as an opportunity for you to flex your hypnotic muscles and find a creative way to problem solve.
A friend of mine likened being a hypnotist to being a swan – on the surface you look graceful, smooth and composed but under the surface you can be paddling like a crazy thing. Good news for you is that people only see what’s above. Maintain your composure and even if you do make a mistake, odds are most people won’t notice/it will be overlooked. I’ve been hypnotising people for years and my mistakes are part of what has made me a great hypnotist because I learned from them. I also learned how to not let on that things hadn’t gone as planned and the vast majority of times nobody noticed because I was able to brush it off and divert effectively. Your confidence is just as effective at allowing people to trance as any technique you use.
If something doesn’t work then there will be a reason. Stay calm, remain composed and appreciate that this can be resolved but that it is your responsibility to do so. Don’t you dare try and blame your subject/client when things don’t go to plan. Instead, outwardly suggest to the client that the outcome was expected/intended whilst internally working out what didn’t go to plan, why and what you can do to remedy the matter or if it was minor brush over it and move on and/or go back to basics and explain/demonstrate in a different way.
Knowing the best way to respond to an unexpected situation comes with experience so don’t beat yourself up if with hindsight you feel you could have responded better – it’s a learning experience and longer term, as long as you take on board the lessons, will make you a better hypnotist. No one is perfect. No one. Doesn’t matter how experienced they are. Even the most experienced hypnotists have moments where things don’t go to plan. What you learn with time, however, is that how you respond is far more important than what initially happened.
Focus on what the client needs from you to help them experience trance. Guide them from their understanding and shape your approach to what they need rather than what you want. You can also set yourself up for success by utilising proper planning and preparation. Minimise opportunities for things to go awry by spending adequate time on the pre-talk, ensuring that the subject understands what to expect. Also use this as an opportunity to build genuine rapport and establish trust. This may well be a new experience for your subject and this may well be accompanied by some level of anxiety. Taking the time to answer questions and explain what to expect will make the subject more comfortable and reduce the opportunity for unplanned outcomes during the session.
Another thing to note – If you’re used to simply reading from scripts then you’re severely limiting yourself and likely also doing a disservice to your subject/client. Reading off a script won’t equip you with the skills or confidence to handle situations appropriately when things inevitably don’t quite go to plan.
Don’t be afraid to experiment. Literally anything has the potential to be turned into an induction. If something you try doesn’t work then it’s not a failure – it’s a valuable lesson and learning experience. I know I touched on this earlier but it’s worth emphasizing again. Analyse what didn’t go to plan and why and how you can improve for next time.
Any thoughts, questions or comments? Please do share them below.
If you’re reading this it is because you are interested in hypnosis. How often are you reminded of what a great subject you are, though? Even if you’ve previously struggled to trance this does not make you a bad subject – far from it! Hypnosis inductions are like keys and your mind is the lock – not every key will fit every lock. This doesn’t mean that the key or the lock are faulty – it simply means that particular key doesn’t fit that particular lock. Find the right technique/key and it will unlock your mind. Keep persevering and you will be rewarded.
In the meantime, here are 5 reasons why you are a great hypnosis subject:
- Genuine interest
- Open minded – this is a niche and you’ve decided to explore what it has to offer.
- You’re doing this for yourself and your wellbeing – we all need to be a little selfish sometimes and erotic hypnosis (and hypnosis in general) is a fantastic way to embrace pleasure.
- You’re learning to listen – an undervalued skill in a society where we spend most of our time talking rather than really listening. Hypnosis helps you cultivate this skill to become a better hypnosis subject and a better person in general.
What do you feel makes you an excellent hypnosis subject? I would love to hear your thoughts. Please share them below.
If you’re new to the wonderful world of hypnosis, or if you have previously struggled to enjoy trance then it is perfectly understandable to feel a little nervous or apprehensive. After all – if you’ve not experienced something before then it can be difficult to know what to expect. There are also many misconceptions floating around which doesn’t help matters. Debunking the many misconceptions that exist is very valuable, however there are other simple steps you can take to make trancing easier:
- Communication – communicate fears/concerns to your hypnotist. A good hypnotist will be able to respond to all your queries and put your mind at ease.
- Choose a time to trance when you will be free from distractions. Turn off your phone or at least put it in “do not disturb” mode. Ensure that you’re not expecting any visitors and that you won’t be disturbed.
- Wear loose fitting, comfortable clothes. Nothing tight or restrictive. Ensure you won’t feel too hot or too cold.
- Drink water regularly in the hours leading up to the time you intend to trance. Ensure you’re hydrated and not hungry (but don’t binge on sugary or high carb foods – proteins are your friend here. They keep you full but won’t “weigh you down” the way a carb heavy meal will, or mess with your energy levels the way sugar does).
- It helps to be relaxed, but it’s not necessary. Your body will relax, in its own time, when it needs to.
- If you’re naturally analytical, tell your hypnotist or enquire if they are comfortable and experienced in dealing with analytical subjects. Being analytical doesn’t make you a bad subject (quite the opposite) but it does require a different approach to ensure you enjoy the best possible experience.
- Know what to expect. This goes back to communication. Get the hypnotist to explain what it will happen, how it will feel, etc. This will reassure you and help you enjoy the experience without worrying about whether you’re doing it right.
- If you’re listening to mp3s rather than enjoying a live session, I’d recommend also just allowing yourself to listen. Be curious about it but hold no expectations. Analyse what’s being said if you want to. You already have a natural, inherent ability to enjoy trance so you don’t have to do anything other than allow that to manifest. In the meantime, instead of worrying if you’re doing things “right”, get comfortable and allow the hypnotists words and voice to flow…doesn’t matter if you’re consciously aware of them or not – your subconscious understands.
I hope you find these tips useful. If you have any tips you’d like to share, or any comments or questions please write them below.
I’ve previously written about a variety of hypnosis techniques and a few people asked me why I didn’t include conversational hypnosis in that particular blog post. The reason is simple – I wanted to give conversational hypnosis a blog post all of its own in recognition of how much I utilise it.
I pride myself on tailoring my approach to the individual subject I am working with, but by and large conversational hypnosis is the technique I choose to use as a base/starting point. But why? Why out of all of the possible options for induction techniques do I return time and time again to conversational hypnosis?
As it turns out, there are all sorts of very good reasons:
- Conversational inductions make for a good ice breaker. It’s a nice way to allow the subject to calm any nerves and the transition from conversation to induction is a smooth and seamless one that can begin whenever the subject is ready – there’s no need to rush.
- It offers the opportunity to ask questions and get to know each other. I, as the hypnotist, can find out more about you, how your mind works, what techniques are likely to be effective in achieving results and also what it is you want to get out of hypnosis – your goals and desires. Also allows for the subject to ask any questions they have so they can understand the process, what to expect, correct any misconceptions and generally feel more comfortable and at ease. Conversations allow both sides to establish a rapport which in turn allows for a more comfortable and enjoyable trance experience.
- Conversational inductions are flexible and adaptable – it provides me with a solid foundation that I can then build upon and adjust/respond to as required. I can freely introduce and amend techniques without being tied in to using a singular technique. What this means is that where many hypnotists use a specific induction they’re comfortable with and try and make the subject conform to the expectations of their chosen induction, I do things the other way around. When I am hypnotising a subject my focus is what techniques I can use to support my subject achieve what they want. I’m not trying to force a square peg into a round hole. Any analytical subjects who’ve tried to trance to common inductions such as progressive relaxation should know what I mean – many times such inductions don’t suit analytical subjects but hypnotists persist with them and blame the subject for being “bad” at trancing rather than acknowledging that the limitation is theirs. Use the right induction that is tailored specifically to the individual and responsive to their needs and you’ll find that analytical people make *amazing* trance subjects.
- Following on from the above point, conversational inductions allow me to express my creativity and be responsive to the subject. It encourages me to step out of my comfort zone and focus on meeting my subjects needs to achieve an effective trance rather than assuming they will conform/respond to what I am comfortable with. I get to make every session unique and tailor it specifically to the individual I am working with. I offer a bespoke service which encourages me to dig deep into my “hypnotic toolbox” as well as spontaneously develop new tools and techniques on the spot. This has proved to be very effective and I like to think that this is reflected in the satisfaction of my clients and the success I’ve enjoyed in trancing analytical people as well as those who have previously struggled to trance.
- This type of induction works very well for analytical people because it’s not boring or predictable. It’s engaging and relaxed. It allows your conscious mind to focus on and enjoy the conversation whilst your subconscious continues to get the ball rolling on trance and when the time is right the transition into trance becomes seamless.
- Conversational inductions flow well…done correctly there is a seamless transition between conversation and trance. You can proceed at whatever pace you need to and this reduces pressure on the subject as there’s no need to rush.
- Finally, I love the challenge. Doing conversational inductions well requires a significant amount of expertise. Because of its lack of inherent structure you have to really understand and appreciate the underlying principles of hypnosis and how these can effectively be applied. You don’t have the support/structure of the more standard inductions so you have to rely on and be confident in yourself and your capabilities. I like to think of it as an art form. Trance for me isn’t formulaic – I don’t follow set steps with a view to achieving results. I get creative and let the joy and passion I have for hypnosis and what I do shine through. I pride myself on the quality of the service I offer and always smile when subjects are taken by surprise at just how effective conversational hypnosis can be…they find themselves in trance before they even realised what was happening and the happiness on their face once they appreciate what they’ve achieved is priceless.
Hopefully you’ve found this insight into why I am such a passionate advocate for conversational hypnosis and why I find it to be such a useful tool. I don’t believe it’s the be-all-and-end-all of trance, but it makes for an excellent foundation and springboard to build the experience on.
I would love to hear your thoughts, experiences, questions, etc so please do share them below in the comments section.
I wanted to give you all a “peek behind the curtain” as it were. Hypnosis may seem magical (and in many ways it is), but it isn’t magic. You don’t need to believe in it for it to work (just ask the *many* skeptics I’ve tranced over the years). If anything being better informed can allow you to relax and enjoy the experience more. So – I’ve listed some common induction techniques (techniques that induce trance) with explanations of how they work and pros and cons.
This list is compiled through a combination of personal experience and research. I don’t personally use many of these techniques for various reasons (e.g. I specialise in working with analytical people many of whom would find a relaxation induction boring and uneffective, and the handshake technique I find ethically dubious so have deliberately avoided it) but they are all useful to know. I primarily use a conversational induction (I will be writing a separate blog about this so keep an eye out) as a base and then “freestyle”, tailoring my approach specifically to the individual I am working with. I can incorporate standard techniques or develop new ones on the fly based on my years of experience and understanding of how the underpinning principles of hypnosis work and how I can use them to my advantage. It’s liberating, great fun, and best of all – very effective!
This is a simple, straightforward and commonly used technique where the hypnotist encourages the subject to relax, often via a variation of the “progressive relaxation induction” which is basically exactly what it sounds like. Often the hypnotist will suggest that the subject relaxes each part of their body independently – talking them through systematically relaxing their head, jaw, shoulders…and so on and so forth until every part of their body is relaxed. Hypnotists often suggest that subjects relax their minds and try not to think.
Pros: Very popular technique that works well with the majority of people. Gentle and unrushed.
Cons: Doesn’t work well with analytical people as they tend to find it boring and predictable. Can take a long time.
- Handshake Technique
This rapid induction technique was made famous by Milton Erikson. It uses a “pattern interrupt” technique by disrupting what is considered a common social norm (in this case a handshake). The idea is that by interrupting a social action so common it’s practically automatic/muscle memory (usually by tugging the subjects hand as they reach out to shake hands), the subconscious is shocked/knocked off balance and momentarily more vulnerable/open to suggestion, giving the hypnotist an opening to give suggestions to direct the mind in the desired direction (e.g. a suggestion issued in a commanding voice to trance, followed up with softer repetitive guidance and reassurance).
Pros: Works incredibly quickly; very dramatic so great for performances.
Cons: Some hypnotists attempt without obtaining prior consent; the “shock” of the induction can be uncomfortable for some people.
This is another commonly used technique for inductions. The idea is that you get the client to visualise a safe, peaceful place and focus on the details. Some hypnotists will use guided imagery to reinforce the trance – e.g. descending a staircase. Typically the hypnotist will describe the scenario that the subject is to imagine (e.g. a beach, walking through a forest, floating in a sea…whatever it is) and the subject is expected to follow along and immerse themselves in the visualisation. The idea is that the subject will become more relaxed and will begin to enter trance as they follow the hypnotists guidance and immerse themselves in the scene they are being encouraged to visualise.
Pros: A gentle, relaxing technique;Easy to learn the basics from a hypnotists perspective; works well with the majority of people.
Cons: Inexperienced hypnotists can get overly confident and reliant on the technique without fully understanding or appreciating how or why it works; hypnotist could inadvertently use imagery that is uncomfortable for the client (e.g. talking about water and sinking when the client has a fear of drowning); often a boring technique for analytical people as it’s predictable and slow.
- Arm Levitation Technique
A classic Ericksonian technique. You begin by asking the client to close their eyes and then ask them to allow themselves to become aware of a difference in feeling between their arms. Some hypnotists will direct and use/incorporate visualisation techniques (e.g. “imagine a red helium balloon tied to your right arm, lifting it higher”). Others are more permissive (e.g. “I want you to allow yourself to become aware of one arm feeling lighter than the other. Allow your mind to focus on how light that arm feels. I don’t know if it is your left arm or your right arm that is feeling lighter and lighter, but I know you know which arm it is, don’t you?”). Either way, the end result is that the arm lifts. You can also incorporate the dropping of the arm as a deepener (as the arm drops you will go deeper into trance. Once your arm settles in your lap you will be deep in trance).
Pros: Technique is a good “convincer” (proof to client that they are in trance); tried and tested technique developed by a true pro.
Cons: Tricky balance for new hypnotists between being confident and over-confident; takes skill and experience to not panic if client doesn’t respond as anticipated – can catch out inexperienced hypnotists.
- Eye Fixation
The client is encouraged to focus their attention solely on a particular object/point (either asked by hypnotist to choose themselves – e.g. a particular spot on the wall – or directed to focus on something specific either static or moving). A common example would be a pocket watch. The swinging watch keeps the conscious mind occupied, leaving the conscious mind open to suggestion (there are also other techniques that can be incorporated into swinging objects that can encourage trance but I don’t want to destroy all the mystery!).
Pros: Very common technique – well known and works for a lot of people purely because they associate hypnosis with swinging watches. The power of the mind at work!; Easy to master for the hypnotist – a very simple induction that plays a lot on people’s assumptions of hypnosis and how it works.
Cons: Not enough to always appropriately engage an analytical mind; can perpetuate common misconceptions about hypnosis and how it works.
What are your thoughts on the list I’ve compiled? Any favorites? Techniques I’ve missed out? I’d love to hear what you think so share your comments below.