There are few things that can interfere with hypnotizing someone. Fear of hypnosis, a lack of belief that hypnosis is real, or a belief that a particular person can’t be hypnotized can interfere. Misconceptions about hypnosis can lead a person to believe they weren’t hypnotized, even if they were.
It’s important, if you want to be successful, to address these issues before you begin a hypnotic session. This is called the pre-induction talk. Here are some points that I usually cover in the pre-induction talk.
- Hypnosis is a naturally occurring state, we are all in trance many times each day.
- The hypnotist does not control the subject.
- Hypnosis can’t make you do anything against your will.
- Hypnosis is a state of increased awareness.
- You will probably feel awake and be able to hear everything that is said.
- Hypnosis taps the power of the unconscious mind.
- You can go into a trance sitting down, standing up, lying down, with eyes open with eyes closed etc.
It’s a good idea to ask a person what they know or think about hypnosis before a session begins. If they have misconceptions, straighten them out. If they think trance will look, feel or sound a certain way, either tailor the trance toward achieving that experience or begin to broaden their idea of how hypnosis is experienced. If they’ve experienced formal hypnosis before or seen in on TV they may expect it to happen just that way.
If a person believes he will feel asleep under hypnosis and they don’t – they won’t believe they were in trance. I usually point out that, since hypnosis is naturally occurring it will often feel familiar to people.
I usually ask people if they have been formally hypnotized. If they have I ask if it was a positive experience. If it was, I get a step by step description of what they remember of the induction. Often, just by remembering the steps, they begin to re-experience trance! This will be especially true if you ask questions such as, “What was that like for you?” and “What was the first thing you felt after he/she said that? What was the second thing?” A person has to re-experience a state to some extent, in order to tell you about it. Eventually, you can switch to present tense, as in “And how is it to feel heaviness in your legs?” and “Can you feel that same heaviness now?” These sentences, though in question form, should be spoken in more of a matter-of-fact tone, as if you’re making a statement.
If a person didn’t have an enjoyable experience, ask what the procedure was briefly and do something else. Begin to make distinctions immediately between what you are doing and what happened previously.
There are a few cases of people who have been to hypnotherapists and were told that they were “unhypnotizable.” This is usually the result of the misuse of suggestibility tests.
When a hypnotist or hypnotherapist tells someone that they can’t be hypnotized, it says more about the skill of the practitioner than anything else. Many hypnotists are operating out of an outdated paradigm about hypnotizability. There are still some that go with the outmoded notion that suggestibility tests prove whether a person is hypnotizable or not.
In my experience, different people produce different hypnotic phenomenon with differing amounts of ease. Some easily produce catalepsy, for some amnesia is a breeze, others demonstrate analgesia or anesthesia at the drop of a hat, others require more extensive training before achieving a significant level of pain control. Therefore, a test which measures a particular ability or series of abilities does not necessarily predict a person’s ability to create a desired change during trance.
Using the techniques presented here, I have helped people reach their goals utilizing many different levels of consciousness. People can produce change in what most hypnotists would consider the “waking” state.
The hypnotic process
Hypnosis is not a once-off experience. Generally it takes four to eight sessions of hypnotherapy to work through the problem. It might require more or less sessions, depending on the nature of the problem. It is difficult to predict how many sessions we may need.
Hypnosis is usually done with a seven day interval between sessions, as the subconscious mind takes seven days (on average) to process the suggestions. Usually only after seven days you will start experiencing the effects of the previous session.
The first session
A client will hardly ever be hypnotized during the first session. Hypnosis is based on a foundation of trust between the therapist and client and therefore the first session is about building that bond of trust and also an opportunity for the client to see whether he or she is comfortable with the therapist and the process of hypnosis. The first session is also utilized by the therapist to establish the exact nature of the problem and to figure out how the pieces of the puzzle fit together (to analyse the psychodynamics). There are however certain exceptions, such as quitting smoking, where hypnosis can start in the first session.
It is necessary to ensure that the client is well aware of what hypnosis entails and what it does not, in order to eliminate any fears, prejudices and possible false expectations.
The second session
Usually hypnosis will be initiated during this session. Since you are the one determining the course of therapy, it might happen that there are more issues that you would like to discuss and hypnosis might not be a possibility yet. Bear in mind that at least half an hour is needed for hypnosis. When we actually do start with hypnosis, there is a possibility that not much might happen initially, due to the following reasons:
• You will not initially go into a deep trance or a trance at all. Anyone will resist something they are not familiar with, which is good, because it is natural to be weary of the unknown.
• Anxious clients might find it especially difficult to relax, since the harder they try, the harder it gets. Imagine a sleepless night. The harder you fight the sleeplessness, the more difficult it becomes. The moment you stop trying, it will come naturally. This is also the case with hypnosis.
• You will realize that you don’t have to think, concentrate or even co-operate. Everything happens spontaneously. You can let your thoughts wander. Imagine listening to a boring speech, lost in your own thoughts. You might even fall asleep. The subconscious mind always receives the messages, without you even being aware of it.
• After a session of hypnosis, you will go home, thinking that nothing had changed. As time progresses you will start noticing the subtle changes in your relationships and in your daily life. Only then will you realize the power of the subconscious. Others will probably become aware of these changes, even before you do.
You will realize:
• You can only be hypnotized if you allow it. If you don’t want to be hypnotized, it can never happen.
• Hypnosis is defined as a relationship of trust. If there is trust, you are halfway there. If there is any lack of trust, the issue should be addressed. This is necessary and to your benefit.
• Anyone can be hypnotized. There is no such thing as a person who cannot be. Self-hypnosis occurs on a daily basis without you even being aware of it.
• Your mind is your tool. Your therapist is merely the key that unlocks your subconscious. You already possess everything necessary to fulfill your every desire.
The third session and what follows
Only during the third or fourth session will you start experiencing a deeper level of trance. Now you have surpassed the novelty and your own resistance and now we can really start working on your problem. You will sometimes go into a deep trance and sometimes not. The depth of your trance is however not significant. Your subconscious is doing all the work automatically.
From this moment on we can work fast and effectively.
Hypnosis is an unconscious process. In most cases people aren’t even aware that they were hypnotized.
You don’t have to do anything whatsoever. The subconscious mind does everything for you. Easily and effortlessly. All you need to do is say: “Thank you Subconscious Mind”.