If you want to become an incredible hypnotist pay close attention to what I’m about to reveal to you. This post will only take a few minutes to read, but it could completely change the quality of your hypnosis results forever. Make sure you check out the next steps at the very end of this post.
What you do immediately before the hypnotic induction is critical to your success. It also happens to be, perhaps, the most neglected part of hypnotic work. This neglect is understandable. Many hypnotists, and especially newcomers, just want to jump straight to the induction. Whether one is doing street hypnosis, stage hypnosis, or hypnotherapy, there’s an overwhelming temptation to cut to the chase, and begin producing exciting hypnotic phenomena, as soon as possible. How many YouTube videos have you seen where some random subject seems to be hypnotized in just a few seconds? We see videos like this all the time.
But is that an accurate picture of what’s really happening?
In reality, the most skilled hypnotists know that preparation is everything. An induction may be lightning fast, but without adequate work before the induction, the trance may be shallow and easily fragmented, or the subject may not enter hypnosis at all. Stage hypnotists are especially aware of this. There is a perfect moment to “pull the trigger” and invite volunteers onto the stage; but only after an adequate pre-talk.
In this blog post, I will show you what you need to do. We refer to this as pre-hypnotic work. Get this right and you’ll rapidly improve as a hypnotist. It doesn’t matter if you’re a therapist or a stage hypnotist. The principles are what matter.
Proper preparation of the subject is the key to effortless hypnotic work.
If this step is neglected or incomplete, you’ll feel like you’re banging your head on a wall, trying (and often failing) to get the subject into trance. Failure to prepare the subject is the primary reason that many hypnotists resort to the ludicrously slow and largely ineffective progressive muscle relaxation induction. Instead of creating a hypnotic environment through some simple steps, the hypnotist agonizes his way through a tedious set of relaxation instructions. Much of the time this doesn’t work very well.
The alternative is to apply some shrewd and practical psychological principles. This paves the way for a rapid, or even instant, induction. The induction can, and should, progress very quickly. The subject won’t be aware that you’re preparing him or her for hypnosis. The subject will feel like the hypnosis was super fast. You, as the hypnotist, will understand the magic behind the scenes.
Rapport is a pre-requisite.
Let’s presume that anyone doing hypnotic work knows how to create rapport with a subject. I’m talking about matching, mirroring, eyebrow flashing on first meeting, etc. In the absence of rapport, trances will be shallow or transient. But in the presence of strong rapport, the sky is the limit.
Here is a truism to keep in mind:
If your subject likes you, your chances of success are excellent. If your subject dislikes you, you’ll have to work a lot harder, both creating and utilizing hypnosis.
Proxemics play a part here too. Too many hypnotists invade their subject’s personal space. This violates all sorts of social conventions. Watch out for sitting too closely, or worse, breathing on your subjects. Avoid overly familiar physical contact, and touches that your subject won’t feel comfortable with. Realize that this is all part of good pre-hypnotic work. The Golden Rule of Proxemics is to let your subject choose the distance of interaction. If your volunteer steps back from you, don’t pursue him into a corner. He must be allowed to maintain a distance that’s comfortable for him.
Ok. You’ve engaged your would-be subject with your friendly demeanor and built rapport by subtly matching his language and gestures. You’ve established comfortable spacing. Now what?
From here you move to the “Yes Set”.
Salespeople intuitively realize something: By getting you to agree with them or repeatedly say yes to anything at all, they can reduce your resistance to their sales techniques. This is powerful. Just getting someone to nod in agreement paves the way to a successful sale. The same thing happens with hypnosis. Once we get our subjects to begin to agree, or respond with a “yes”, it builds positive momentum. It then becomes very difficult for the subject to change that momentum and begin to resist the hypnotist.
Guess what? Getting your subject to agree with you is simple, and doesn’t need to be related to the topic of hynosis at all!
Here’s an example:
Hypnotist: It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?
Client: Yes, it certainly is!
Hypnotist: Your forms say you were born in Montreal, right?
Client: Yes, that’s right.
Hypnotist: May I call you by your first name, Roger?
Client: Of course you can.
Notice how simple this is?
It’s just like any normal conversation, isn’t it? In fact, it’s so normal that it disguises the fact that there’s a lot going on below the surface. In reality, the hypnotist is removing resistance and building positive momentum – positive momentum that will be channeled into a trance state. It’s as simple as getting the subject to agree or actually say yes, three to five times. You can end the Yes Set very efficiently with one more yes, by merely asking:
Are you ready to go into hypnosis…now?
The subject answers in the affirmative, and from the Yes Set, it’s a simple matter to flow effortlessly into the next step …
Now move into the Compliance Set.
While the Yes Set builds agreement, the Compliance Set builds obedience. The subject begins to obey the directions of the hypnotist without question. It can be as simple as requesting:
Please place your feet flat on the floor…separate your hands…take a deep breath…exhale slowly…
At this point, you are ready to proceed with a rapid or instant induction. You can be reasonably certain that your subject will go into a trance quickly and easily. Just by attending to a few simple details – rapport, proxemics, yes set and compliance set – you have smoothed the way and made your hypnotic work a lot easier, and much more professional. Once you build these methods into your hypnotic work, you’ll fly through them without thinking about them too much. They’ll become a natural part of your trance creation.
What about suggestibility tests?
Another technique that needs to be addressed is whether or not you should use suggestibility tests. Naturally, by suggestibility tests, I’m referring to the classic ones, such as hands locked together, dictionary and balloon, magnetic hands, falling backward test, etc. It is worth your while to learn a couple of suggestibility tests and add them to your hypnotic toolbox.
If you decide to use any of these tests you would insert them after the Yes Set but before the Compliance Set.
Do you need to use these tests? Should you use them?
It all depends on the situation, and with practice and experience, you’ll learn when to throw one into the mix, or when they can be safely left out.
Many hypnotists are afraid to move to a hypnotic induction without running a series of suggestibility tests. They have conditioned themselves to doubt that hypnosis will work without a series of preparatory tests. In reality, experience will provide the skill to detect when the subject is ready to enter trance, at which point, further testing is unnecessary and may even be counter-productive.
Next question: If you do choose to use a series of suggestibility tests, should you actually call them tests?
There are two schools of thought on this. One theory is that if you call them tests, and the subject fails them, he will believe he can’t be hypnotized. This will make your job difficult. The other school of thought is to always call them tests. People don’t like to fail, and by ensuring they pass the tests, they will become better subjects for your hypnosis. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions here.
Suggestibility tests create heteroaction. Another real advantage to using suggestibility tests, is they create something called heteroaction. Strange word, isn’t it? Most hypnotists have never heard about heteroaction, so let’s make sure you don’t fall into that category.
Basically, heteroaction means that every time a subject passes one of the tests, a sort of suggestibility momentum ensues, increasing the probability of being a good hypnotic subject. Heteroaction paves the way for trance, in much the same way that our other preparatory steps do.
Let’s wrap things up.
Pre-hypnotic work is critical to becoming a successful hypnotist. Get great at building rapport with your subjects. Make sure you give people adequate space so they feel comfortable. Then start to use Yes Sets and Compliance Sets to build momentum towards agreement and obedience. If you like, use suggestibility tests so you get heteroaction working in your favour.
Mastering this pre-hypnotic work isn’t difficult. Trance then becomes very, very, easy to achieve. This is what you don’t see in so many YouTube hypnosis videos. You don’t see the preparatory work that occurred prior to the recording. When you prepare your subject properly, using these steps, it’s very easy to move them along into a deep trance using a rapid or instant induction.