When learning or being introduced to hypnosis either as a hypnotist or subject, in all likelihood you’ll be introduced to what I refer to as “traditional” inductions/techniques/suggestions. These are commonly used inductions and techniques which are the “go-to” for the majority of hypnotist and tend to include:
- Visualisation techniques (encouraging the subject to visualise specific items or situations, such as walking along a beach or allowing them to visualise a space of their own creation (though typically it’s the hypnotist who dictates the contents of the visualisation)).
- Countdowns (typically used to deepen or lighten a trance these can be incorporated into visualisation techniques – for instance suggesting the subject walk down a staircase – or can be used standalone – e.g. “I am going to count from 1 to 10 and with every number you hear me say you’ll find yourself going deeper into trance. Once I reach the number 10, you’ll find yourself deep in trance”. The reverse can be used to count someone out of trance.
- Suggesting the subject relax/try to not think of anything (this one seems pretty self explanatory).
The above list is obviously not intended to be an exhaustive list of traditional/typical hypnosis inductions,techniques and suggestions. Rather its intention is to give a flavour of some of the most commonly used.
Most hypnotists incorporate these techniques and suggestions into scripts which are relayed to the client. The “bottom of the barrel” hypnotists will literally sit and read off a pre-written script to their client. I would highly recommend avoiding any hypnotist that utilises this approach as it shows a complete lack of effort, understanding and engagement. There’s no room for flexibility or adaptation to the needs of the client.
Thankfully such hypnotists are rare and most professional hypnotists will have memorised scripts which include the above or similar techniques. The benefits of having a script memorised are that you can pay more attention to your client and how well they are responding to the inductions, techniques and suggestions that you are using.
There are still potential drawbacks to this approach, however. For instance what if the client does not respond to the techniques you’ve chosen to use? What’s your fallback? Another common technique? What if that also doesn’t work? By relying heavily on traditional hypnotic methods you’re not only limiting yourself as a hypnotist but also potentially your clients ability to successfully enjoy trance.
I’m not saying this with the intention of scaring anyone. In many cases traditional inductions work very well – which is why they keep being taught. The issue I am trying to highlight is that traditional hypnosis techniques do not work for everyone. So, what’s your plan when you have a client for whom traditional inductions aren’t effective? In an ideal world the hypnotist would know before hypnotising their subject that traditional inductions aren’t likely to be effective (discerning this is outside the scope of this particular post as the topic itself deserves a whole blog post of its own) but the information I’m going to share can also be applied if you’ve tried (or been on the receiving end of) a more traditional approach and it hasn’t been effective.
So – you’ve discovered (either as a hypnotist or subject) that traditional hypnosis techniques don’t work for you. What next? Is all hope lost? Is the subject incapable of achieving trance?
It’s okay! All hope is not lost and I can assure you that an inability to trance using traditional hypnotic techniques does not make the subject bad or incapable. How do I know? Many, many, many years of successful experience with hypnosis.
The first step is realising that you are not bound by traditional hypnotic techniques. They are not chains that you are incapable of breaking free from. They’re tools. Often very useful tools but any good artisan knows that your toolbox can (and should) be expanded as you learn and discover more. A hypnotist is on a journey just as much as their subject. With every interaction we learn, discover and should be experimenting. Failure is not a dirty word. Mistakes are going to happen. That’s inevitable. What matters is how you respond to them. You can choose to either:
- Blame the subject and say that the traditional techniques worked for other people so should have worked for them – the fact it didn’t means they’re obviously a bad subject (which, just to be clear, is utterly the wrong approach to take)
- Recognise that different people process and understand information in different ways and that there is not one single technique that will successfully work with 100% of people.
Let’s assume you choose the second option. Understanding that no single technique is going to work on everyone is a good start but how do you practically apply that to hypnosis?
The answer is actually pretty simple. Learn, understand and get curious and creative. Teach yourself the mechanisms of why traditional hypnosis techniques work. Understand why they are effective. Next get curious about why these techniques don’t work on certain people. What are the common denominators? Once you have a handle on what types of people traditional inductions work well for and what types would likely do better with other techniques, get curious about what has been holding back such people and how you can evolve new techniques to address that. If you have an understanding of the basic underlying principles of hypnosis and how it works (again, too big of an issue to address in this particular blog post) then you have the basic tools you need to get creative about discovering other options.
For instance through working extensively with analytical people I’ve learned that many traditional techniques simply aren’t effective. It doesn’t make analytical people bad hypnosis subjects (far from it). It simply meant that I had to figure out what didn’t work for them (e.g. being told to “relax and not think about anything” is akin to saying “try not to think of a pink elephant” to an analytical person. It achieves the opposite of the intended result and isn’t helpful. Ok – so, now I know that what do I do? I experiment and discover what does work. For instance utilising their analytical abilities instead of trying to suppress them. That’s good but it doesn’t end there. I know I want to use their analytical abilities but how? How do I do that? Figuring that out is the next step…and so on and so forth until you have workable solutions that you can utilise to effectively trance analytical people.
Learning and understanding at this level doesn’t come easily. It requires tenacity, a desire to learn and understand and a recognition that if things don’t work out the way you wanted it doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Quite the opposite – you’re learning what doesn’t work, which is actually really valuable information. You’ve only failed if you keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again.
Teaching yourself how hypnosis works, rather than simply relying on common techniques is incredibly liberating and definitely makes for a better hypnotist. It opens doors to more opportunities, greater flexibility and adaptability and ultimately more success. You’re no longer bound by specific scripts or techniques. Through learning and experimenting you’re ultimately increasing your odds of success with all types of clients. You’ll feel more confident and secure and less flustered if things don’t go to plan or the client doesn’t respond the way you expect because you’ve expanded your hypnotic toolbox to such a degree that if one technique doesn’t work you have plenty more to choose from.
You can and will develop your own unique style and as your confidence and ability grows, so will your success. The same applies to subjects. They will feel more comfortable with you and will enjoy much more success with engaging with trance.
When you are not bound or held back by set techniques and develop the confidence to adapt them to your own (and your clients) needs and even develop your own techniques you’ll discover a whole new world of opportunities and possibilities. Allow yourself to break free from traditional inductions – use them when they suit you (and your client) instead of being beholden or overly reliant on them. You owe that much to yourself and your client – to be the best you possibly can be.