Understanding Hypnosis Part 4 – Hypnotic Induction Methods

Welcome to the 4th part of this Hypnosis overview. The topic today is an overview of the different ways to achieve the trance state, the induction methods.


The Art of Achieving Trance at Will

As we have discussed in earlier articles, trance can occur naturally and does not require a hypnotist to be present.  However we have also found that the use of hypnosis gives as the advantage that we can achieve trance by volition and that we can then use it for a specific, clearly defined purpose. Hypnosis is then the art to achieve the trance state by volition.

Hypnosis can be facilitated for oneself or for others by the use of a variety of formal and informal induction methods.


Informal Inductions

Great speakers and leaders over the centuries have always known of ways how to capture people’s hearts and minds and powerfully guiding their audience’s imagination. Rituals, prayer, role-playing and even playing in and of itself can be considered as other examples of informal trance inductions.


Physiological Inductions

I believe that physiological means can also be employed to induce trance much in the same way as we find a cartoon less funny when we are asked to watch it while balancing a spoon with our lips. Studies have shown that we find the same cartoon much funnier when we are holding the same spoon with our teeth instead.

When we know that a certain physiological behaviour causes trance then we can cause trance by simply behaving in that manner and/or teaching clients to behave in that manner.

A great example of this is the NLP technique of Expanded Awareness which allows us to take in more information from the world around us, both in terms of what is observed from a rational conscious state as well as from subjective experiences. It enables us to sense more than our five senses allow, giving us something of a sixth sense to perceive what is occurring around us. Expanded awareness is said to have been practiced by Samurai warriors who were required to notice an enemy coming from beyond in what could be sensed in a normal state of awareness. Expanded awareness has been compared to being in a state of alertness and relaxation – one of the definitions of trance – some have also compared the state in reference to Fritz Perl’s famous quote of losing your mind and coming to your senses.

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Brainwave Frequencies

Another interesting way how physiology can be used for hypnosis is by using the natural occurrence of the brainwave frequency that has been found to be most common for people who experience trance. Since the Theta frequencies are not only naturally experienced during vivid dreaming but also upon very first awakening in the morning or drifting off to sleep at night it can be argued that it is best to use self-suggestions and end-result imagery techniques during these times.


Expanded Awareness

Consider this: ‘Take a long deep breath – relax – take another long deep breath – that’s right (to affirm the action) – concentrate on a point above eye-level on the wall – put all your attention and all your awareness on that point – take another deep breath – de-focus now, while continuing looking at the point on the wall, notice that you can start to become aware of the periphery – shift all your attention and all your awareness to the periphery now while continue looking at the point on the wall, so much so as if you could see behind you  – take a deep breath –when you feel tired close your eyes  – That’s’right (to affirm the action)’

This script relies only on physiological means and is in my opinion an ideal example of an informal hypnotic induction. It will result as a minimum in a light trance which can then be deepened using convincers and deepeners.

The benefit of informal inductions is that they do not need to be called hypnosis or trance work and thus the stigma still often associated with hypnosis can easily be overcome. This can especially be beneficial where it is deemed that fears and misconceptions about hypnosis could interfere with the therapeutic goal.


Formal Inductions

In the same way as the ambiguous perception of hypnosis in the public eye can be regarded as an obstacle, it can in other situations also be taken advantage of, to strongly improve the effectiveness of the process.

If fears and misconceptions have been taken care of (at least up to a certain degree), the ritual of a formal hypnotic induction can almost in and of itself cause trance purely due to the belief and the expectation of the client.

The formal trance inductions can be differentiated as permissive or authoritarian. While permissive inductions allow the client to make his own associations with the operator encouraging anything that resembles trance the authoritarian induction requires the client to diligently follow the instructions of the operator word by word. If a client does not do this then the induction should be aborted and restarted until the client follows the instructions to the letter.

Inductions techniques that can be employed range from relaxation, guided imagery and boredom to shock, confusion and overload

While to the observer hypnosis may be mainly relying on words there is a very significant amount of non-verbal elements at play when applying hypnosis.

This becomes very clear when we consider accounts of hypnotic experiences where a high level of trust and responsiveness exist and the subject only reacts to the instruction of the operator and seems to be oblivious to anything else. This experience matches exactly with the definition of deep rapport.

Research has shown that over 50% of interpersonal communication is based on physiology and almost 40 percent on tonality, which leaves only just above 5% to the words we are saying. This then means that a hypnotist can employ rapport techniques to gain instant trust and responsiveness with the client on a non-verbal level.

This can be combined with transference of energy on an ‘extra-sensory’ level. While traditional hypnotists seem to have known about this intuitively it has only been scientifically acknowledged in recent times that humans possess more than just the five standard sensing systems. This means that a hypnotist, by projecting intent, expectation and energy towards the client, can take advantage of these systems to augment the strength of the hypnotic experience.


I’d love it if you share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Posted in Career Tune-up Resources, Understanding Hypnosis.

Beat Wettstein

Hi, my name is Beat Wettstein. I am a certified Trainer and Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) as well as a Hypnotist with the Australian Academy of Hypnosis and I have been helping people to be the best they can be for more than 5 years.

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