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.