If you are interested in unlocking the power of hypnosis to help you naturally influence others and be more successful, you may think that hypnosis is difficult, and only works on certain people.
However, hypnosis isn’t as difficult to master as you may think, and can be easy to learn with some simple hypnosis techniques.
Let’s explore some of the basic methods for inducing hypnosis.
- Is it Difficult to Hypnotize Someone?
- How and When to Use Different Induction Techniques
- How and When to Use Different Deepening Techniques
- Conversational Hypnosis Techniques
- Hypnotic Suggestion Techniques
- Types of Hypnotic Suggestions
- Common Hypnotic Suggestions
- Ending a Hypnosis Session
Is it Difficult to Hypnotize Someone?
Hypnotizing someone isn’t the way you see it in the movies. You don’t need a pocket watch, and they don’t enter a zombie-like state where they robotically follow orders.
Hypnosis is placing someone in a state where they are more open to suggestions, by accessing their subconscious mind.
If you have ever seen someone gazing out the window, lost in a daydream, or had someone ask you to repeat something because they got distracted and weren’t paying attention, you’ve seen someone who is already partially in a trance state.
It happens more often than you think, and you can place someone into this state using well-established hypnosis techniques.
Hypnotic Induction Techniques
Induction is the process of getting your subject into a hypnotic state. In essence, induction is anything that helps to put your subject into a hypnotic trance state.
There are dozens of induction techniques, many designed to work very quickly, and some are designed to take longer.
Inductions that happen gradually over time are called ‘progressive inductions,’ while inductions designed to take effect immediately are called ‘rapid inductions.’ Here are some of the most common hypnotic induction techniques.
Progressive Induction Techniques
Tell the subject to focus on their breathing, and to relax more deeply every time they exhale.
Tell the subject to relax their muscles progressively. Tell them to relax the muscles in their chest, shoulders, arms, hands, stomach, etc.
Tension and Relaxation
Have the subject squeeze and hold all the muscles in their body very tight, then relax them suddenly and completely.
You can count aloud and have the subject become more relaxed with every number, or have the subject count (or count backward) to send them into a hypnotic state.
Help the subject to visualize a calm, relaxing place. Describe it in detail, along with how they feel in this relaxing place.
Have the subject gaze steadily at an object. After a time, suggest that their eyes are becoming tired, and they should close their eyes.
Confusion can be practiced in several ways. You can use words and say things that don’t make any sense or overload the subject with complex commands (like ‘count backward from 500 in increments of 21’ while completing complex hand motions and balancing on one foot).
Overloading the subject with too many confusing things can cause them to want to escape from the confusion into a trance state.
Dull them with Conversation
As you may have noticed in the classroom, when a person is listening to a long, dull speech, they get bored and begin to daydream. This natural impulse can be a hypnotic induction technique.
The Elman Induction involves multiple techniques in one, combining induction and deepeners. Tell the subject that their eyes are too relaxed to open them, and the harder they try, the more difficult it becomes.
Raise their arm and allow it to drop, to emphasize how relaxed they are. Have them visualize clouds with numbers in them, and blow away each number one by one until they are too tired to think of more numbers.
Rapid Induction Techniques
In this technique, you startle or shock your subject to trigger their fight or flight instinct, and immediately tell them to sleep. The sleep command along with their instinct to withdraw from the shock can trigger hypnosis.
Milton Erickson famously practiced handshake inductions. They work because the handshake is a deeply habitual ritual greeting, so interrupting a handshake makes it easy to create a state of shock and confusion. Erickson practiced handshake inductions by shifting the motion and pressure in his fingers, while talking calmly, creating a hypnotic state.
Many modern practitioners have an even more rapid handshake induction technique that simply involves grasping the subject’s hand and unexpectedly pulling it towards you.
How and When to Use Different Induction Techniques
These induction techniques can be used alone or in combination with each other. Some subjects respond better to physical inductions like a handshake, some to visual inductions like eye fixation or visualization, and some to mental inductions like counting or confusion.
Some respond better to progressive inductions because it meets their expectations about hypnosis. Some techniques work better when the practitioner is in a position of authority or trust with the subject.
Some subjects are easier to hypnotize than others. In other words, it’s a good idea to learn several different induction techniques and use them in the best situations.
Hypnotic Deepening Techniques
A ‘deepener’ is a technique that takes the subject to a deeper, more suggestible hypnotic state. Some subjects enter this state more readily and easily than others, so a deepener isn’t needed.
But some subjects have a more difficult time reaching a deeper trance state, so these techniques are used.
Have the subject visualize a staircase, with a detailed description. Tell them that there is a big comfortable bed (or cloud, or something similar) at the bottom, and when they get there they will sink into a deep sleep.
Guide them slowly down each step, while they progressively relax and become more comfortable with each step, and each step prepares them more to sleep and relax when they reach the bottom. Slowly count down 10 steps.
As with the induction technique, talk the subject through the process of relaxing every part of their body successively, with every part of the body becoming more relaxed and comfortable. Have them slow their breathing, their heartbeat, and enter a completely relaxed and comfortable state of being.
You may also have the subject visualize floating down a stream, a warm melting candle, a gradual countdown or count up, etc.
How and When to Use Different Deepening Techniques
Generally speaking, you would use deepeners when a subject is more resistant to hypnosis, or when it meets their expectations for a hypnosis session and helps move them into a deeper trance state. As with inductions, some subjects respond better to physical, mental, or visual deepeners. Deepeners are more effective when you are familiar with the subject, and can speak about something that you know relaxes and calms them. In every case, the practitioner talks calmly and slowly, gradually helping the subject into a more relaxed and suggestible state.
Conversational Hypnosis Techniques
Conversational hypnosis (sometimes also called ‘covert’ or ‘stealth’ hypnosis) is a technique of using your voice and conversation to hypnotize someone, bypassing traditional induction and deepening techniques. With conversational hypnosis, you help the subject enter a more suggestible trance state without telling them they are being hypnotized. The practitioner seeks to communicate directly with the subject’s unconscious mind, bypassing their conscious thoughts. Conversational hypnosis has a few steps.
While talking with the subject, display calmness, confidence, and understanding. This allows the subject to relax and feel a sense of connection with the practitioner.
Access the Unconscious Mind
Erickson believed that the easiest way to access the unconscious mind is through the use of metaphors and symbols. Begin to introduce metaphors that may confuse the conscious mind, triggering the unconscious mind. This is often done by shifting words related to time, identity, and mood. This confusing language is always delivered in the same calm, confident tone as the general conversation, to further confuse the subject.
Introduce Conversational Deepeners
Conversational deepeners typically mean describing situations, memories, and experiences as though the subject is experiencing them right now, in the present moment. It is assisted by the previous use of language that shifts time and identity, so that the conscious mind isn’t aware of what is happening, and remains confused and disengaged. When the practitioner can describe a state of being and the subject is metaphorically experiencing that sensation, they are hypnotized and ready to receive suggestions.
Hypnotic Suggestion Techniques
Hypnotic suggestions are the actions that the hypnotist wants the subject to take. As the name implies, these are suggestions, not commands: the subject remains in control of their actions, even in a hypnotized state.
Hypnotic suggestions are for actions the subject could take right now. They are often used to demonstrate a state of hypnosis and are often part of hypnosis performances and public demonstrations.
Post-hypnotic suggestions are for actions the subject may take after the hypnosis session. These are often used therapeutically, to help people manage challenging feelings or situations that occur outside the session.
Types of Hypnotic Suggestions
A direct suggestion is a practitioner telling a subject to take the desired action. It is typically phrased as a command (as in, ‘you will stop smoking’). This is often a source of ethical debate, as the practitioner has more power and authority than the subject, and is issuing commands while they are in a vulnerable state.
Erickson was a champion of indirect suggestion, in which the practitioner suggests desired actions to the subject (as in, ‘you may find that you don’t want to smoke’). This method is believed to be more ethical and respectful of the subject’s choices.
Common Hypnotic Suggestions
For clients struggling with trauma, a regression can help them relive their experience and work through their feelings in a calmer, more relaxed state.
his suggestion asks the subject to imagine a desired future state in detail. It creates a positive, optimistic vision of the future, and helps them take the steps to achieve it.
If a subject has certain known triggers for undesired behavior (called anchors), the practitioner can help them move toward different behaviors in those situations. For example, if a subject has a cigarette during work breaks, the practitioner can associate a different behavior with that anchor.
With this technique, the practitioner suggests small, positive steps that can be increased over time (for example, working out for 10 minutes a day).
Hypnotic triggers are extremely common and involve suggesting that, after the hypnosis session, when X event occurs, the subject will have Y reaction. Hypnotic triggers can be used to help a subject reach a hypnotic state more quickly in future sessions, overcome anxiety related to specific situations, or other desired actions.
Ending a Hypnosis Session
It is always desirable to bring a subject gradually out of a hypnotic state, rather than abruptly transitioning them. There are a few important parts of this process:
While the subject is still hypnotized, the practitioner suggests that they will not remember what happened during this session. Post-hypnotic amnesia is highly effective at removing memories and makes the post-hypnotic suggestions more powerful.
The practitioner usually suggests that they are now going to bring the subject out of hypnosis and that they will feel calm, relaxed, and full of well-being at the end of the session.
Gradually Return the Subject to Consciousness
In most cases, the practitioner reverses the hypnotic deepener, if one was used, reversing the direction of the staircase, counting, etc. to bring the subject back to a conscious state.
If a deepener was not used, the practitioner can simply count or use breathing to gradually bring the subject out of hypnosis. Tell the subject to open their eyes and ‘wake’ when they are ready.
When ending a hypnosis session, it is important for the practitioner to gradually change their tone of voice from the calm, relaxing tone they used during hypnosis to a more normal, conversational tone.
Hypnosis is a powerful tool for influencing others and these proven techniques can help you master the power of hypnosis.