Exploring Change Methods: A Journey from Subtle to Direct Approaches

Filed under: Hypnosis Training

Exploring Change Methods A Journey From Subtle To Direct Approaches

by Mike Mandel

Struggling to break free from old patterns? Hold on tight! We're diving into the world's most powerful personal change methods – it's a transformative ride like no other!

When considering the various methods of personal change that are currently in use, we have noticed that they all fit to some degree, on an imaginary continuum; completely indirect at one end, and super-direct at the other end. 

Naturally, this list is not complete; nor is it perfect. But it does provide a method for understanding the various approaches to personal change, and how directive the therapist will be in each method.

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Clean Language

Originating from the work of David Grove, Clean Language is a subtle yet powerful form of questioning that helps individuals explore their mental models. It minimizes the therapist's influence, allowing the client's internal experience to guide the process.

This method offers back the client’s language, and respects their unique model of the world, gently probing with questions like, "And what kind of X is that X?" The result is often a sudden insight, which we call an an "A-ha" moment, that offers potential for personal transformation.

Read full article: How To Use Clean Language for Powerful Transformations

Metaphor and Symbolism

Metaphors and symbols are the language of the unconscious mind. By telling stories and utilizing symbols, practitioners can bypass the critical faculty of the conscious mind, enabling a deeper, more intuitive form of understanding and change.

This indirect approach can often bring insights and resolutions that direct methods may not. It can be so indirect, that to the person on the receiving end, it may not be detected as therapy at all. For that reason, it’s a very subtle way to open the client’s mind to new ideas and eliminates resistance. Milton Erickson was a master of metaphor.

Read full article: Hypnotic Metaphors and How To Use Them

Perceptual Positions

This NLP technique involves viewing a situation from different perspectives, known as first, second, and third positions.

By viewing events or relationships from an associated position, followed by an empathic position, then a dissociated position, it's a way to gain new insights and understandings about interactions and problems, offering a more rounded view of a situation without directly confronting it. At the end of the process, the client takes the learnings from the three positions, and brings them back to first position to integrate them. 

Read full article: How to Use NLP Perceptual Positions

Mirroring Hands (Ernest Rossi and Richard Hill)

A gentle yet profound approach, Mirroring Hands focuses on the client's internal process of change. The therapist facilitates an environment where the client can engage with their own healing capabilities, making it a less direct but deeply empowering method.

When doing Mirroring Hands, the hypnotist can sometimes seem more of an observer than a therapist, permitting the client to connect his own resources to the presenting problem. 

To learn more about the Mirroring Hands approach, click here.


Freespotting is a technique where the client focuses on a random spot, typically above eye level, to achieve a state of relaxed awareness similar to a light trance. While focusing on the spot, the client feels the negative emotions, which typically dissipate after 2 to 5 minutes. It's a non-invasive method, suitable for self-work. To learn how to use freespoting effectively, click here.

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Ideomotor Methods

Ideomotor responses such as finger signals, are a subtle way of accessing the client’s unconscious mind. This method is often used in hypnosis and allows for a non-verbal, indirect form of dialogue with the deeper aspects of the psyche.

These are often finger signals that are set up intentionally as a means of communicating with  the client’s unconscious mind, but in reality, head nods and gestures are all aspects of ideomotor signals. The real art is learning to notice them.

Ideomotor work is an advanced form of hypnotherapy that requires well-trained hypnotists. To learn ideomotor work and moreadvanced methods, check out our Advanced Hypnotherapy Techniques course (AKA Wizard School).

EFT and Tapping Modalities

Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and other tapping modalities like Thought Field Therapy (TFT) and Faster EFT offer a more direct approach to change. By tapping on specific meridian points while focusing on emotional issues, these methods directly address energetic imbalances, fostering emotional healing.

Typically, the therapist will work with the client, guiding them in what to say and the sequence to tap to reduce the subject’s distress, but it’s also very good for self work. The 6-Step Tapping method we teach is particularly easy to use on oneself.

NLP New Code (John Grinder)

NLP New Code introduces change by engaging the unconscious mind in a creative and playful manner. These techniques use games and imagined scenes to create shifts in perception and behavior, making the process indirect yet impactful. 

By shifting the way the client moves or breathes, high-performance states are created and then activated in the context of the client’s problem. Techniques include Walking with Grace and Power, and Dock of the Bay.

Timeline Therapy TM (Tad James)

Timeline Therapy TM came from the discovery of submodalities and our perception of time, as taught by Richard Bandler, and was further refined and expanded by Tad James. 

It’s a more straightforward method that involves working with a person's internal perception of time to heal emotional traumas, and eradicate limiting beliefs. It's a direct approach, focusing on specific events and emotions for targeted change. Timeline Therapy TM is designed to be used with a qualified practitioner, but is still readily adaptable to self-work.

To learn more about Timeline Therapy TM, click here.


Mindscaping is a blend of NLP and hypnosis, focusing on creating a mental landscape that symbolizes a person's inner experiences. In this guided visualization, clients construct a 'mindscape' with objects, structures, etc., representing their thoughts and emotions. Therapists help clients navigate and alter this landscape, enabling deep changes.

This method leverages metaphor and symbolism, tapping into the client’s unconscious for insight and swift therapeutic progress. MINDSCAPING may be applied to virtually any kind of problem, large or small, but always requires a trained therapist to work with the client.

Click here, to learn Mindscaping directly from us.

Direct Suggestion in Hypnosis (DSiH)

Direct Suggestion in Hypnosis (DSiH) involves the hypnotist giving straightforward, authoritative commands or suggestions to the client in a trance state. These suggestions are clear and specific, aimed at influencing the client's thoughts, behaviors, or emotions.

DSiH is effective due to the heightened suggestibility of the trance state, allowing for rapid and focused change. It's commonly used for habit modification, stress relief, and confidence building, and always used for ego strengthening. It’s quite possible to do DSiH on oneself, which was the heart of Coué’s methods. Nevertheless, allowing a hypnotist to deliver the suggestions is far more effective. 

Click here, to learn how to craft Direct Suggestions in Hypnosis.

What's Next?

The journey from subtle to direct methods of change reflects the various pathways to healing and growth. Whether through the gentle probing of Clean Language or the targeted approach of DSiH, each method offers unique tools for transformation. Understanding and respecting these different approaches can enrich our journey towards personal development and wellbeing. 

No doubt there are many excellent methods of change that never made it onto this spectrum, but the list is not meant to be exhaustive. Think of it more as a series of station stops on a train track of personal change.

And now that you've journeyed through these incredible methods of personal change, imagine applying them to help your hypnosis clients and transform your own life. The best part? You don't have to do it alone.

Join us at the Mike Mandel Hypnosis Academy (MMHA) and gain access to a treasure trove of resources, expert guidance, and a community that supports your growth every step of the way.

Start with the MMHA free Test Drive today – it's your first bold step towards unlocking your full potential! Click here.

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"I absolutely love the online course. It completely changed my life and consulting career. The information is the best I've ever seen. You guys are incredible at what you do. I love the course so much."

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Connecticut, USA