Overview Of Some Common Hypnosis Techniques

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!

1. Relaxation

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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. Visualisation

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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

Fun/Memorable Hypnosis Sessions #3: Hypnosis over Hot Chocolate (hypnotising an analytical person)

I absolutely love what I do (hypnosis) and wanted to share some highlights of fun/memorable sessions. This story is part of a series where I recount some fun/memorable hypnosis sessions I have enjoyed over the years.  All client identities are kept 100% anonymous.

So this one is a very recent experience. It was an off-the-cuff, opportunistic trance (on my part) with a guy who I’d met for coffee and who had tried to tell me he couldn’t be hypnotised because he was analytical and his mind was always going a mile a minute.

Always up for a challenge I proceeded (whilst we were each enjoying our hot chocolates – which were delicious by the way) to trance him.  It was my usual casual conversational style…the one that kind of creeps up on you so you don’t realise what’s happened until it’s too late (I can see all my boys nodding automatically in agreement. Haha).

He really enjoyed the experience of having his mind be calm instead of a frantic, turbulent jumble of thoughts – the sensation of peacefulness and stepping out of time really appealed.  I also had fun throwing in a few post-hypnotic triggers (triggers that I can use even when you’re not in trance).

It did take me a little while (30 minutes maybe?) to get him into the right head-space to be able to enjoy and appreciate the possibilities, but I never rush. Things take as long as they take and I truly believe he appreciated being able to take things at his own pace.  The whole thing was really chilled and informal and relaxed (probably helped by the hot chocolate) and it was fun. A genuinely spontaneous experience that was “just for the hell of it”.

Analytical people are always wonderful to hypnotise because they have this innate ability which makes them fantastic trance subjects.  Because their minds naturally work faster they’re able to self-verify the evolution of their descent into trance and the associated developments within that experience (basically how it feels to go in to trance).  This in turn allows them to confirm that yes, a transformation definitely is taking place and they are brilliant at engaging with it. The result is that they can (and do) often trance faster and deeper than most.

I never try to suppress a person’s natural analytical ability.  Analyzing what’s happening to you as you go deeper into trance won’t compromise the experience. It won’t stop you from trancing.  If anything it allows you to engage with the experience more.

Want to see for yourself? Why not book a Skype session with me.

Fun/Memorable Sessions #2: Trancing a Skeptic

I absolutely love what I do (hypnosis) and wanted to share some highlights of fun/memorable sessions. This story is part of a series where I recount some fun/memorable hypnosis sessions I have enjoyed over the years.  All client identities are kept 100% anonymous.

 

I get a lot of skeptics trying to tell me that hypnosis isn’t real – that it doesn’t work.  Some, despite their skepticism are still curious, however and to those people I say that being skeptical is fine.  There’s nothing wrong with healthy skepticism. But hypnosis isn’t magic (though it seems magical at times). You don’t need to believe in it for it to work.  I can trance you whether you believe in hypnosis and its effectiveness or not.

 

One time, years ago and before I became a professional I got chatting to a gentleman (I can’t recall how – this was quite a few years ago!) and he expressed that he was interested in the concept of hypnosis but skeptical that it would actually work.  I agreed to trance him and to cut a very long story short despite his skepticism he dropped like a stone and turned out to be an excellent trance subject.

 

I brought him out of trance and congratulated him on being such a great trance subject.  He responded by giving me a blank look. Turns out he had been such a good subject and tranced so deeply that he had zero recollection of the experience. Complete amnesia.  He genuinely thought I was making it all up. I was rather amused which seemed to annoy him even more.

 

I then had a moment of (rather unethical) inspiration and told him I had thought of a way to prove to him that he had experienced trance.  He agreed without me explaining how the situation would play out (skepticism emboldened him, I guess?). So – I tranced him again, and whilst he was in trance I had him remove all his clothing (this was in a private setting, obviously), fold it neatly and place it beside him.  Whilst remaining deep in trance he complied.

 

Once he’d done this I brought him out of trance.  I think initially he was confused as he appreciated something was different but hadn’t cottoned on to exactly what this was.  I don’t think the mischievous smile I had on my face helped, either. A few seconds later it eventually dawned on him and his eyes went wide.  To say he was shocked was an understatement. Haha.

 

After that experience needless to say he was no longer skeptical.  It was a lot of fun, but my ethics have also evolved a lot since those early days and now I am not sure if I would be as reckless.  But it ended well – he enjoyed himself and left a believer.

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If you have enjoyed reading this post, please consider leaving a tribute as a thank you.

If you are interested in enjoying a session yourself, then I recommend you take a look at my Skype page for more information.

Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have something you want to share.

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Fun/Memorable Hypnosis Sessions #1: Hypnotising my first “difficult” client

I absolutely love what I do (hypnosis) and wanted to share some highlights of fun/memorable sessions. This story is part of a series where I recount some fun/memorable hypnosis sessions I have enjoyed over the years.  All client identities are kept 100% anonymous.

I had a client come to me a few years ago – very nervous. An older gentleman, he had been interested in hypnosis for almost 30 years and had been actively trying to experience trance for over 20 years with no success.  I recall he was fidgeting and reluctant to make eye contact. Simultaneously excited at the prospect of enjoying trance and resigned to the fact that based on multiple previous experience with other hypnotists it wouldn’t work, he was nervous, conflicted and far from what many would deem a “good” candidate to work with.  After all, what hypnotist wants to take on a client who has seen multiple hypnotists for many years and yet never been able to trance?

Well – me, as it turns out.  I really wanted to work with him.  I am a firm believer in the potential of trance. Of all the possibilities for pleasure that exist in this special experience and I guess I’ve also never been one to turn down a challenge.  When people try and tell me that I can’t do something or that something can’t be done, oftentimes my response has been to say “okay” and then proceed to attempt it. I figure that often there’s a lesson to be learned, even if I don’t achieve the outcome I am expecting.

So, with that in mind I agreed to enjoy a Skype session with this new client who had never tranced before.  I knew going in that none of the “typical” inductions would work. No doubt many hypnotists before me had already tried them (obviously without success) so I had to come up with something different.  And I did.

I sketched out some potential ideas before the session, but I decided not to go into too much detail with any single idea as I wanted to be flexible – to be able to have the ability to explore, see what worked and adapt to the signals the client was offering me.  I wanted to be able to be flexible and responsive rather than relying on following a “tried and tested” common induction.

Not going to lie – it was a challenge.  The client was very nervous and consistently reiterated he wasn’t sure that this would work.  It became obvious to me that launching straight into trance would only put him on edge due to the expectations based on previous experiences.  As a result, I decided to take things slow and focus on putting him at ease. I’ve learned over the years that relaxation isn’t a requirement for enjoying trance, but being confident in the person hypnotising you is.  I gave him time to get to know me. To ask questions. Gradually he became less tense and worried. We talked about all sorts of things ranging from how he became involved in hypnosis right the way through to his hobbies.

Soon enough the conversation began to flow more smoothly and he became much calmer.  He was less directly focused on trance and instead simply enjoying our conversation. Over time his breathing naturally slowed and deepened a little. He relaxed more without direct prompting from me.  I noticed other subtle hints and signs that suggested he was receptive (if not consciously aware of this fact) to exploring trance.

I took things gradually.  There was no rush and initially I didn’t make direct suggestions or commands. I allowed him to explore how his experience was evolving without dictating its speed or direction.  Instead I was his guide. I was there to support and reassure him. Remind him that he didn’t need to “try”.

Over time his confidence grew and by the end of our session he’d not only experienced deep trance for me, but I had been able to give him post-hypnotic triggers that could be used (solely by me for safety reasons) even when he was not in trance.  They were simple – for example the command “trance” would send him instantly back to a trance state – but effective and the beaming smile on his face once he realised he had finally achieved this experience he had been dreaming of for so, so long was one of pure joy.  He was like a child at Christmas – so happy and excited. For my part, I was also really happy that he had been able to experience and enjoy trance.

Since then I have built a solid reputation as someone who is able to successfully hypnotise people who have previously struggled to enjoy trance. I accomplish this by using a more relaxed, conversational style and tailoring my approach specifically to the individual I am working with rather than relying on some of the more typical/common inductions such as progressive relaxation and countdowns.  I really do love what I do and feel incredibly lucky to be able to offer my clients the opportunity to enjoy such a special experience.

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If you have enjoyed reading this post, please consider leaving a tribute as a thank you.

If you are interested in enjoying a session yourself, then I recommend you take a look at my Skype page for more information.

Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have something you want to share.

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How To Ensure Post-Hypnotic Suggestions Are Effective

I get asked a lot about post-hypnotic suggestions and how effective they are so I thought it may be helpful to share my own experiences and what I’ve learned over the years in terms of how to ensure that any post-hypnotic suggestions given will be effective and if they don’t work for whatever reason (after all, nothing in life is guaranteed except death and taxes), how to respond, learn and adapt to increase your odds of future success.

 

Most of the blog posts I’ve written to date have been aimed at hypnosis subjects but interestingly this topic is aimed at hypnotists, meaning that if you’re reading this as a subject you get a “peek behind the curtain”, as it were.  Don’t worry – this won’t make hypnosis any less effective. If anything, trance will become more effective as you begin to understand and trust the mechanisms behind it.

 

You’ll find I use the term client/subject – this is because hypnotists have different preferential terms that they use.  There’s no right/wrong term but in my own mind I tend to refer to clients as those seen in a professional capacity and subjects in a more informal setting.  Others may have different definitions, however. It’s mainly semantics but I wanted to offer up an explanation.

 

The reason this blog post is aimed at hypnotists as well is because it is the hypnotists responsibility to ensure that directions/instructions are given in an appropriate and understandable way.  Whenever a subject/client is having problems trancing, 99.9% of the time that is down to the hypnotist and their technique, not the client/subject.

 

I’d say that the foundation to successful post-hypnotic suggestions is trust.  You’re far more likely to be agreeable to a situation if you trust the motives of the person giving it, as well as trusting their ability.  If you know the hypnotist, trust them and have positive associations with the suggestion they’re giving you then you’re setting yourself up for success.  From the hypnotists perspective every action you take should be with the benefit of your client/subject in mind. Anything you suggest should be beneficial/pleasurable for the person you are trancing.

 

Suggestions for post-hypnotic suggestions should also be discussed ahead of time (before the subject is in trance).  There’s 2 reasons for this:

 

(i) Obtain consent (consent is vitally important)

(ii) Hear the person speak the words that their brain would associate as being results of the instructions that they have been given. E.g. hypnotist says “why don’t we explore creating amnesia” and the client responds “oh, like forgetting my name or something?”. The client/subject has just told you that they define amnesia as forgetting their name so are much more likely to be receptive to the command.

 

It’s very important as a hypnotist that you establish rapport with your client/subject.  They need to feel comfortable trusting you and your expertise. You also need to ensure that there are open channels of communication between the two of you so that the client/subject feels comfortable expressing what they are and are not comfortable with and what is/isn’t working for them.  You want to ensure that they are comfortable with the suggestions you give.

 

I would suggest also making a point of reassuring the client/subject that they won’t completely/permanently forget as this idea can panic some people and mean that amnesia doesn’t work as well or at all.  Memories are always stored (and remain) safely in the subconscious mind, even if the conscious mind isn’t aware of them (the same way we don’t often consciously think about things like breathing). The conscious mind is allowed to remember to forget (or forget to remember), and can do so easily and safely because the information/memories are safely secured in the subconscious mind and can be retrieved at any time.

 

Finally, it’s important to remember that if a suggestion doesn’t work perfectly or go 100% to plan the first time it doesn’t mean either you or the client have failed in any way.  Change perspective and use it as a learning experience and a way to identify areas for improvement. Also remember to reassure the client/subject that it is not their fault and they have done absolutely nothing wrong.  As the hypnotist the effectiveness for suggestions lies largely with you. Having said that, we are human and fallible – plus, mistakes are how we learn. If something doesn’t go 100% to plan it is an opportunity for you to learn, which in turn allows you to improve the experience for your client/subject moving forward.  Mistakes aren’t fatal and as long as you learn from them, they are vital to helping you improve.

 

What do you think?  Comments? Questions? Share them in the comments section below.