This is Part 2 of a series on running a hypnosis session. This post hands you an easy-to-follow seven step process.
If you have not yet read the first part of this series, you'll want to do that first.
Read: Achieve Magic in the Client Interview
Part 1 teaches you exactly how to gather information so you're prepared to amaze your client with powerful change.
But now it's time to talk about the actual hypnosis session.
So you’ve got some solid hypnosis skills. You know how to create lasting change, and you probably have all the tools you need to run an effective hypnosis session, customized for your client.
All you need now is a plan to enable you to smoothly shift from the intake to the trance-work itself, right through to resolution of the client’s problem.
This article provides a framework to help simplify the creation of your client’s change work session. It will give you a “Plug 'n Play” template to ensure you do thorough work with every single client you see.
Read to the end of the article for a bonus exercise that will help you fully inhabit the Mandel Triangle of Confidence, Congruence, and Conviction in every session. We’ve also provided a PDF cheat sheet to use during your sessions.
In Part 1, you learned how to gather all the information you need to free your client from their problem. Now, you’ll use that knowledge to create a customized session for your client.
This framework is useful when you first start using your hypnosis skills. As your confidence builds, you will intuitively know just what your client needs, and will find yourself automatically reaching for the right tool at the right time.
Here we go!
Step 1 - Demystify Hypnosis
It’s important to remove any fears and anxieties your subject might have about hypnosis. A thorough pre-talk will set your client’s expectation and motivation for change and help them feel safe and comfortable.
Many people who’ve seen stage hypnosis shows are afraid they will be made to quack like a duck, or do something embarrassing or inappropriate. Others have concerns that they might get stuck in a trance or won’t be able to go into trance at all.
For these reasons, it’s important to ask your client if they have any experience with hypnosis. Calibrate as they answer and watch for discomfort. Only discuss fears they bring up. Otherwise, you could introduce a fear they hadn’t considered.
It can be helpful to sit behind a desk or table during the pre-talk. This physical barrier between you helps your client feel safe and in control. After the pre-talk, and after building rapport, you can move to a chair nearer your client, or you can both shift to a treatment area.
Ideally you will sit at a 45 degree angle to your subject. Sit close, but not so close that your legs are touching each other. This helps you enter their experience without invading their comfort zone.
Always calibrate the subject's comfort level. Don’t sit close if they seem uncomfortable, and never be so close that you’re breathing on your client. That's just creepy and gross.
Ideas for demystifying hypnosis
These are just ideas for you to use. Obviously you don't need to use all of them, and maybe use just one or two. Fit these into the conversation based upon what you already learned about your client during the intake interview.
The conscious mind vs. unconscious mind
Let them know that their unconscious mind has been taking in all their experiences their whole life and all those resources are stored within them. Hypnosis shines a light on those resources so they can install them and use them to solve their problem quickly.
The TV Trance or the Driving Trance
This is explanation is especially helpful for people who aren’t sure they can be hypnotized. Give them examples to help them understand they’ve been hypnotized many times.
Ask the subject: "Have you ever been watching TV or a movie and flinched when the bad guy jumped out? That’s hypnosis! You've gotten so involved in the film that you've responded as though the event was real.
Hypnosis is happening whenever you’re completely focused on one thing, and you become unaware of other things going on around you."
You might ask: "Have you ever pulled into your driveway and not remembered the drive that took you there? You were so focused on something you were thinking about, you didn’t consciously pay attention to any of the things you saw. That's hypnosis too!"
Real world examples like these are common to all of us, and help make the concept of hypnosis seem natural and familiar.
Explain similarities between hypnosis and meditation
It is scientifically proven that our brain waves change when we enter a relaxing meditative state. In fact, when people meditate regularly, their brain physically changes in positive ways. Many of the benefits of meditation accompany the hypnotic state.
Focus on the positive
If they seem fearful after your pre-talk, you have more work to do. Ask them what they need to feel safe. Lead them to a positive state by smiling and speaking congruently about the enjoyable experience they’re going to have.
Tell them how great they’ll feel
People often wonder what hypnosis feels like. Tell them that everyone experiences hypnosis differently. They will likely hear every word and remember as much as they would from any normal conversation.
You can explain that they may feel heavy, like they’re sinking into the chair they're sitting on. They may feel light, like they’re floating weightlessly. Or they may experience the mysterious sensation of . . . sitting in the chair, listening to you speak. (Thank you to Jason Linett for that awesome triple bind.)
Whatever they experience is just right for them, because we all do trance in our own way. Make sure to affirm the subject as he goes into trance by saying, “That’s right..."
Do This During De-mystification
While you are de-mystifying hypnosis you also want to keep in mind three important things. We'll explain on each briefly below.
- Always be building rapport the client.
- Build agreement with the "yes set"
- Build obedience with the "compliance set"
Now let's discuss each of these in a bit more detail.
Always Be Building Rapport
If you take nothing else from this article, remember this one thing. Do not move to step 2 until you have rapport. You will know you have rapport when you see that the client is relaxed and comfortable and feels good about going into hypnosis.
It’s a waste of time to move into hypnosis before you have rapport. The number 1 indicator that the client will get the change they seek is that they like you (rapport), feel understood (rapport), and feel safe (rapport).
To create rapport, when you’re in a conversation, imagine the person you’re with is the most interesting, fascinating, and important person in the world. This will cause you to automatically lean in, mirror their movements at appropriate times, match their breathing, and be absorbed in what they're saying.
Create Agreement with the Yes Set
Yes sets help build rapport. Your client will find it easier to follow your suggestions during hypnosis if they’re already in a pattern of agreeing with you. Offer the client three simple statements that will cause them to say, “Yes” or internally agree with you. Be subtle with this one.
It sure is hot out, isn’t it?
Yes it is...
And this is your first appointment, right?
Yes, my first.
So I see from your form that you want to work on your confidence...
Yes, that's right.
After these three YES answers you're ready to move on.
Tag Questions for Yes Sets.
You can use tag questions to craft yes sets.
Simply state something obvious, followed by "Does that make sense?" or any other question that tags along with your statement. Your client will nod his head or say "yes". Mission accomplished.
Yes sets are pretty easy, aren't they?
And using tag questions works here, doesn't it?
And you'll get better at this with practise, make sense?
Create Obedience with the Compliance Set
A compliance set is another subtle way to get your client in the habit of following your suggestions. Whereas the Yes Set causes agreement, the Compliance Set causes the subject to automatically do what you say.
Each time they comply it makes it more likely that they will keep following your directions.
Step 2 - Suggestibility Tests
Suggestibility tests get your client excited and energized to participate in their session. They also serve to build momentum towards the hypnotic change work you'll be doing next.
Decide if you want to call this a test or simply explain that you’re doing an enjoyable exercise that will help you learn the best way to lead them into trance. The latter option may help new hypnotists feel more comfortable with unexpected outcomes.
The hand clasp test is an excellent place to start because it produces the most reliable results. Here's a video that comes straight out of our flagship online hypnosis training.
At the end of the test be sure remove the suggestion that their hands are locked together and say, “Your hands are back to normal now.”
Your client’s well being is always your first priority and if you forget this step it can cause physical discomfort.
No matter what your client experiences during the suggestibility test tell them, “You’re an excellent hypnotic subject!”
Remember to use the Mandel Triangle as you say this. This means to use congruence, confidence and intention. After all, you are the expert! And if they believe they’re great at this, they will be!
If you’d like, you can follow the hand clasp test with the magnetic fingers test, then the dictionary, balloon test. Tell your client how great they’re doing after each test.
Here is the Magnetic Fingers suggestibility test video for you:
Each time your client completes a test and hears how well they’re doing, it will magnify their ability to go into a deep trance and increase their confidence and belief that they will get the change they seek.
Now you can move right into the induction. Expect it to work perfectly. Vividly imagine your client entering a robust trance and getting the change they seek. Put your intention into what you're doing by believing it's working.
Want it to happen, will it to happen, and it will happen!
Moving straight from suggestibility tests to your induction will make the process smooth and dependable.
Choose any induction you feel comfortable using. The Elman Induction is excellent because it ensures a robust trance, and contains built in Yes Sets and Compliance Sets. If you had to choose only one induction to master, this would be a great choice.
Step 3 - Hypnotize The Person!
Once you have a few sessions under your belt, you’ll begin to get a feel for which induction to use for each specific client. The induction you choose is less important than making your client feel comfortable, respected, and heard. Never move into an induction before you have rapport with your client.
Free Power Inductions Tutorial
This free video tutorial shows you exactly how to perform Rapid and Instant inductions. Take what you learn in the client interview and create lasting change easily.
Step 4 - Deepen the Hypnosis
Once your client is in a trance, always assume they can go deeper. Use deepeners in every session until your calibration skills have developed enough to immediately recognise a useful somnambulistic trance.
Pacing and leading
- Offer 3 things that must be present in your client’s current experience. This is similar to a yes set because they’re internally agreeing that they notice these things. Then you can lead the subject by suggesting that these things will cause a deeper trance.
Here's an example: "And you can notice the rate of your breathing...and the way your right hand feels different from your left...and the temperature of the room can allow you to go even deeper into trance...NOW...”
You can easily incorporate unwanted noises by pointing them out and then making them work for you. For example: “And the sound of laughter in the next room can allow you to relax twice as deeply during this enjoyable experience.”
- You might say “In a moment...not yet...but in a moment...I’m going to count backward from 10-1...and as you hear each descending number...you can allow your level of relaxation...to double...Ten, doubling your relaxation...Nine...relaxing twice as deeply, etc.”
The Mandel Method of deepening trance:
Simply say “And your unconscious...mind...knows there’s an even deeper level that’s just right for you to solve this problem, and I’d like your unconscious mind to take you there...NOW...”
Special bonus: Here’s the full video of my lecture on deepening hypnosis from Hypnothoughts Live 2017 in Las Vegas.
Step 5 - Hypnotic Convincers Prove They Were Hypnotized
Your client will benefit from hypnosis more by being convinced he or she was actually hypotized. To do this we use what's called a "convincer".
Some convincers happen automatically. If your client feels like he was in hypnosis for 10 minutes, but it was really one hour, he'll know he was hypnotized. That's time distortion.
If your client can't remember much of the session, that's hypnotic amnesia. It's another great, natural convincer.
But as a hypnotist you can also create any number of convincers just through suggestion.
In the beginning you'll want to use convincers for your own satisfaction. But even after you become very skilled, it's still a good idea to use them for the benefit of your client.
At the end of the session a client can look back at this part of their experience and become “convinced” they were in trance. They think, “I couldn’t lift my leg off the floor so I really was hypnotized!”
Clients who are convinced they were hypnotized are more likely to have the change work stick, and more likely to tell other people about the amazing experience they had with you.
Two Easy Convincer Ideas:
Eyelid catalepsy: Suggest that their eyes are glued shut and no matter how hard they try, they just won’t open.
Leg catalepsy: Have them imagine their legs are buried in the sand and when they try to lift them they just stay stuck.
Remember to always remove the suggestion before you move to step 6. Tell them their eyelids/legs are back to normal.
Step 6 - Do The Hypnotic Change Work
Now you lead your client to the resolution of their problem. Don’t attempt to solve the problem for them. Instead, direct their unconscious mind to find the solution and install a new program that creates the desired result.
The Mandel Model of Therapy states that:
- Your subject is stuck in a dark, scary labyrinth.
- There are false exits, dead-ends and paths that lead nowhere.
- There are monsters and scary things in the labyrinth.
- The solution is not in the labyrinth or they would have solved their problem already.
- During trance, you flawlessly, delicately, and effortlessly unlock their labyrinth and illuminate their path to freedom.
- It’s always their decision to leave. You can’t force them.
If you’ve followed the first 5 steps, your client will be in a deep trance. This is the perfect environment for learning and healing. Their unconscious mind is primed to solve their problem.
The deeper the trance, the more specific your suggestions and directions should be. Give the unconscious mind very specific instructions to find the solution and apply it. This is not the time for flowery metaphors. You need to use very simple language.
Give suggestions that will activate their internal learning and pattern matching systems. Ask their unconscious to find resources that have been lying dormant beneath the client’s conscious awareness.
Example of direct suggestions:
“And you’ve learned so many things over the years...like talking and walking...even though it seemed impossible at first, and as an adult...
You’ve learned more complex things like (insert something they’re good at here) because your learning ability has increased...
and you can learn...now...to (insert command) because your brain can take all that it needs from the wealth of your experience...
And apply it in the way that will cause you to (insert specific change)...and I’d like you to sit in silence ...
Comfortably...as your unconscious...mind...sorts through all of your past experiences, flawlessly finding all the correct ones...that will accurately map to this situation...about to change completely...
And you can take a deep breath and learn so much about this problem...That’s right...
And with another deep breath you can unconsciously memorize the solution...and as you continue to breathe, that solution installs...
And you can also learn the key that will unlock the solution...so you can...feel so much better...NOW!”
Notice the Run-On-Sentence?
The direct suggestion example above is a run on sentence. The structure keeps the conscious mind distracted while the unconscious mind finds the solution. The key is to direct their unconscious mind to find the solution.
If you're not yet comfortable with run-on-sentences, simply speak clearly and finish your sentences. Repeat suggestions several different ways, using positive language (what the client will experience instead of what he will NOT experience)
Remember to be congruent, be confident and speak with intention.
Step 7 - Awaken the Subject
You know your client isn’t really asleep (hopefully!) but we’ll still call this step awakening because it is easy for the client to understand. During hypnosis, the client looks like they’re asleep and when they open their eyes, it resembles waking up.
It’s very important to create a clear distinction between trance and being wide awake and alert. As you awaken your subject, begin to speak in an energetic, wide awake voice and suggest that they feel alert and amazing when they open their eyes.
You can count them up to the waking state by letting them know that, “In a moment, I’ll count from one to five and when I reach the number 5 you will awaken feeling wide awake, refreshed, and alert.
Then you simply do exactly as you've just warned. Make sure your tone of voice gradually shifts from a hypnotic voice towards a regular conversational voice as you count up to 5.
Here's a cool way to do this using the Mandel Awakening Phrase.
When they open their eyes, make sure to smile and enthusiastically say "Hi" to them. This will help them transition cleanly back to the present moment.
Change the subject. Direct the conversation to something other than what just happened. Your client may be in a highly suggestible state for the next few minutes so don’t allow them to analyze their experience.
It’s your responsibility to direct the conversation so they don’t sabotage their own success by second guessing the work that has been done.
Before they leave your office, ask them, “What’s next?” to get them thinking about how they’re going to begin doing things differently.
BONUS: Become an Expert Now with the Circle of Excellence
When you work with a client you want to seem confident and trustworthy. To do this you must be congruent and present yourself as an expert. Because you are an expert!
The Circle of Excellence will put you in a powerful, resourceful state. You don't even have to wait for the next client, but can apply this technique now. Eventually you'll shift automatically into the best state for the job without running through the steps.
- Imagine a circle on the floor in front of you. Make it large enough to step inside.
- Think of all the things you want to put in that circle. What skills or characteristics would you need to have to present yourself as an expert? Example: I want to be confident, excited, expectant, persuasive, self-assured.
- Go through the list one at a time and think of a time you felt confident. Associate into that feeling by seeing what you saw, hearing what you heard, breathing how you breathed, and taking on the posture of confidence. When you’re feeling supremely confident, step into the circle of excellence and imagine the circle filling with confidence.
- Repeat the process with every aspect you listed in step two. Fill the circle with confidence, expectancy, persuasiveness, excitement and imagine all of those things swirling together in a magical cocktail of awesomeness.
- At the start of every session, step into this circle of excellence and notice the change.
Create a chair of excellence. Sit in the chair you use during your client sessions and anchor all the characteristics you desire to the chair. Every time you sit in that chair, you’ll naturally assume the posture of an expert.
Imagine a person, real or imaginary, who exemplifies the characteristic you want. For example: Batman has a self-assured, supremely confident demeanor (Michael Keaton was the best batman, by the way). Imagine Batman stepping into the circle of excellence and see the circle being infused with self-assurance and confidence.
Free Power Inductions Tutorial
This free video tutorial shows you exactly how to perform Rapid and Instant inductions. Take what you learn in the client interview and create lasting change easily.