The Importance of Calibration in Hypnosis

Filed under: Hypnosis Training

The Importance Of Calibration In Hypnosis

When we say "calibration", you might think of cameras or other kinds of fancy equipments that need to be calibrated. But the fact is, you can calibrate people too!

The ability to calibrate is one of the most important skills a hypnotist must possess. To calibrate means to observe a person’s physiology and external behavior, and notice the changes that are happening.

In this blog post, we'll talk about:

  • How to calibrate hypnotic trance using External Trance Indicators (ETI's)
  • How to use calibration in everyday communication.
  • How to avoid mistaking calibration for mind reading.
  • How to learn hypnosis based on principles like calibration instead of relying on scripts.

Keep reading this blog post or watch the video below to learn all these things and more.

When you're a hypnotist or a coach, you ought to be aware of what is going on with the person you're working with.

Remember: hypnosis isn't just a one way street. It is a psychodynamic loop of communication where you and another person work together to acheive a certain result.

That means you must always be looking at your client and noticing how they respond to your instructions so you can adjust your behaviour accordingly.

You must be careful, though. Some times, things are not what they seem to be.

External Trance Indicators (ETI's)

Calibration is useful in most environments where there's any kind of human interactions. But since we specialize in training hypnotists and coaches, here's a partial list of External Trance Indicators (ETI's) used to determine when a client is going into hypnotic trance.

Eyelids fluttering - The onset of eyelid catalepsy which happens as a subject is beginning to enter trance.

Change in facial tonus (muscle tone) - This includes “hypnotic mask”, when the face is blank and devoid of any expression.

Facial flushing - Colour changes in the face and/or neck.

Spontaneous catalepsy - If you lift a limb it might just stay there.

Change in breathing - Often breathing moves into the abdomen but all you are looking for is a change, not some specific change.

Hypnotic rash - This appears primarily in the hollow the throat and looks a lot like an allergic reaction. If the hypnotic rash appears prior to trance induction when you're just talking about hypnosis, you likely have a very good subject.

Whites of the eyes can become pink or red - This is caused by the increased blood flow in the eyes.

Increased lacrimation (eyes watering) - Same reason as above. This isn't an indicator of sadness or any other emotion, just relaxation.

Slow or slurred or delayed speech  Caused by relaxation.

Muscle twitches - A clear unconscious signal that trance is happening.

Increase in lower lip size - This is really a relaxation of the mandibular angle in the jaw.

Head tilt - Relaxed neck muscles allow the head to drop forward.

These are all reliable signs of a subject that's going deeper into hypnotic trance, but are they deep enough? We always aim for the deepest trance we can, because that's where all the change work can be done.

Click here to learn how to tell if your subject is deep enough into trance.

Calibration in Everyday Communication

A hypnotist, you may shift to your hypnotic voice even in a normal conversation, provided you've anchored it to a trance state at some point first. Unknowingly, the person will start falling into trance as they hear you speak. We call this covert hypnosis.

But even if you're not intentionally using any hypnosis techniques, calibration is an integral part of having good communication skills. It's so natural we already do it unconsciously when we look for nonverbal cues in other people.

Things like facial expression, muscle tension and the fluidness with which they move. These are all potentially indicative signs that someone is happy and relaxed, or tense and stressed.


Stemming from the work of Dr Edward T. Hall, proxemics is, very simply put, the study of how close or far away people sit or stand from each other.

The distance between two people can mean a variety of things. It might indicate a friendly attitude, or a desire to intimidate. It can also mean romantic interest, or annoyance/fear. All depending on the context of the interaction. 

The context comprises a multitude of different factors, including local culture and custom. Depending on the context, invading someone's personal space may be considered an aggressive move, or a move, if you know what I mean.

With very few exceptions, the meaning of a person's body language is always context-dependant.

Watch the video below to understand more about proxemics.

Unconscious Calibration

Like we said, we're calibrating people around us unconsciously all the time. 

As you start doing it consciously by becoming aware of these various signs, it might seem difficult, but it gets easier when you start doing it unconsciously.

Through sheer repetition and practice, this kind of acute calibration will become second nature to you, and you'll be much more capable of calibrating other people than the average person.

You'll become able to notice the tiniest nonverbal cues that most other people will miss. This ability will be one of, if not your most valuable interpersonal skill.

Be Careful - Calibration is NOT Mind Reading

A common mistake among beginner hypnotists and NLP practitioners make is to confuse calibration for what we call mind reading.

Just because you learned how to calibrate, it doesn't mean you're now a psychic.

To calibrate, you need to get a baseline first.

To get a baseline means that when a client comes into your office, you must observe how they usually behave. Internally, take not of how they move, how they breathe and other clues that point to their current state of mind. When they deviate from this baseline, you know something has changed.

Don't assume you know what a person is currently feeling based on what you see right when you first meet them. For example, you can't determine how stressed a person is as soon as you're introduced based purely on their blinking frequency.

It is true that when a person is anxious, they tend to blink more often, but some people just normally blink a lot. Some blink only 9 times per minute, while others do it as many as 30 times a minute. If you don't get a baseline first, how can you tell if a person is blinking any more or less than they normally do?

But that's not the only problem. 

Even when a person has calibrated correctly - by getting a baseline first and observing changes - sometimes, they make the mistake of assuming what that change means.

Similar to most things in hypnosis, context is everything when it comes to calibration. Every person is different, and when you observe a change happening on someone, the only thing that tells you is that something has changed. If you start assuming what a person is thinking and feeling based on what you're calibrating, you're now mind reading.

Slap yourself on the wrist. Stop that.

The ability to read minds would certainly be very useful for coaches and therapists; the only problem, however, is it simply doesn't exist. There's no way to tell what's going on in a person's mind unless you ASK them. So instead of making assumptions about a what the client is thinking, get in the habit of ASKING them.

In this video on our Youtube channel, Mike and Chris explain in greater depth the difference between calibration and mind reading, as well as how to calibrate your clients properly without attempting to read their minds. Remember to leave a like, comment and subscribe to our channel!

The Path To Hypnosis Mastery

When you are ready to continue your journey toward becoming a world-class hypnotist, we'd recommend getting started at Mike Mandel Hypnosis Academy (MMHA).

At MMHA, you can go from absolute beginner to confident hypnotist FAST. 

With bite-sized, easy-to-understand videos, you’ll learn foundational principles and skills of hypnosis, meaning you’ll NEVER need a script. You’ll interact directly with us, guest trainers, and students worldwide. 

In addition to building and reinforcing a solid foundation in hypnosis, MMHA contains tons of advanced techniques which you’ll learn quickly and effortlessly, making it the perfect training for beginner and experienced hypnotists alike.

You can get started at MMHA with a free Test Drive without ever needing to put in your credit card details. It's the easiest way to start learning hypnosis today.

Click here to get started at the Mike Mandel Hypnosis Academy.