Hypnosis - Methods of Hypnosis - Hypnotherapy - Hypnotic Advancements

Hypnosis - Hypnotic Methods - Hypnotic Advancements





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Hypnotic Methods

Originally I had titled this page "types of hypnosis", but I decided to change it to "hypnotic methods" because, realistically there really aren't any different types of hypnosis, rather different levels of the state of mind termed hypnosis, and a number of different hypnotic methods used to achieve the level of mind known as hypnosis, trance, or more correctly termed the "Alpha, or deeper still the Theta" level of mind, at which ones focus of attention is so nicely directed, that learning, and the acceptance of hypnotic suggestion is easily achieved.

Below you will find an explanation about auto-hypnosis, elaborations on, along with an easy to follow format for self hypnosis, information about the classic and still most well known hetero-hypnosis, and elaborations about the modern day approach to hypnotherapy know as Ericksonian Hypnosis. Feel free to just read on through, or click the link above to take you straight to your topic of choice.


Auto hypnosis, is usually produced via a previous post hypnotic suggestion offered by a hypnotist at some previous time. Every autosuggestion was originally a heterosuggestion. Varying degrees of autosuggestion and auto hypnosis account in no small measure for the success of the metaphysical “sciences” and religious spiritual-healing movements.

Suggestions have a much greater chance of being followed when they appear to originate from the self rather than being instituted by another person. If a patient feels that he/she can facilitate recovery by such therapy, he or she develops more motivation. The resultant self-pride in this achievement strengthens the confidence essential for recovery. Auto hypnosis also makes available a tremendous reservoir of unrecognized potential strength – the “forgotten assets”. Diligent practice, however, generally is necessary to obtain a satisfactory depth; lesser degrees are attained more rapidly.

It has been suggested that auto hypnosis is the primary phenomenon, and that hetero hypnosis is in effect guided self hypnosis. These findings contradict a stereotype of hypnosis based on hetero hypnosis as of a passive subject induced by an active hypnotist.

Self Hypnosis

Self hypnosis: The induction of the hypnotic state by oneself. With this form, relaxation is self-induced leading to the hypnotic state. In this state of heightened awareness and suggestibility, we are more capable of influencing our bodily functions and providing ourselves with post hypnotic suggestions. The main questions I get from those unfamiliar with hypnosis are, "how does one really know when they have achieved it? Are there signs? Is one way of doing it easier or better than another? I am a very hyper person and just relaxing enough to "listen" to myself is hard enough, but I would honestly love to learn how. Any suggestions?"

The answers provided could be as varied a number as there are hypnotists, but most of these questions and more are answered on our freequently asked questions about hypnosis page . Hypnosis is a very natural everyday experience. Whenever someone asks me about hypnosis, I tell him/her that at the very least they enter trance twice a day. Those times would be a momentary passing through the state of trance as they are going to sleep, and as they are waking up. It is that dreamy point in time, when you are very relaxed, and some people will have visions, or simply just lose perception of their environment, and/or body.

People tend to enter trance, when they are really involved in a good book, or watching an amazing movie which just draws them in, deeper as they themselves become part of the scene, and their emotions begin to change along with the setting, at times causing tears, fears, sadness or laughter. With experience one will find that the trance experience is not only different for everyone, but it is somewhat different every time one experiences it.

The signs of hypnosis will also be quite different for someone as an observer, compared to the participant, and these signs will change throughout the trance, as the level of depth and involvement of the trance progresses. Some people will say they feel a pulling sensation. I myself find that I attain a complete bodily anesthesia, yet attaining a profound awareness of my own mental activity. If I happen to be using music to enhance or change my trance, within moments I begin to hear the sounds as though the speakers are mounted right inside my head, and I hear the music internally, which is really quite cool.(Who needs drugs with an experience like that?)

The best way to enter the state of hypnosis is again different for everyone. Some people prefer to lie down, while others like to sit. Some people even prefer to stand as they are learning hypnosis, so that they can maintain some conscious awareness, preventing themselves from falling asleep.

Self Hypnosis Routine and Suggestions:
1- Pick a time, and place when you won’t have any distractions.
2- Lie, or sit down comfortably wearing loose clothing with your hands at your sides, and your legs uncrossed.
3- Some people like to put on some soft music,( Baroque or ocean waves are very good, because they help tune the heart rate to about sixty beats/second).
4- Then you can gently close your eyes, and with your eyes closed, turn your eyes up to about the 10/11 o’clock position. At this point take one of your fingers, and lightly touch the back high center point of your head paying attention to the sensation of the touch as you replace your hand at your side.
5- Then take a slow deep breath, and hold it for about three seconds, and slowly let it out as you say to yourself the word “deeper”, while you maintain your attention on the sensation you last felt from the touch to your head. (Repeat this step about five times, seven if you feel you need to relax further)
6- During your fifth, or seventh breath, tell yourself that upon the complete exhalation of your next breath you will find yourself in a special place. This special place is your place, your place of solitude, your place to relax. You might have a special place in mind, or you might just want to wait and experience what your special imaginary place is like.
7- Once you have had enough rest, or finished your internal work, (suggestions, visualizations, or a life challenge) which you set yourself to do, simply state to yourself that after a count of one to five, you will open your eyes fully refreshed, and feeling much better than before.

One of the best books I have found on the topic of self hypnosis would have to be Brian Alman’s “Self-Hypnosis: A Complete Manual for Health and Self-Change”. 27 chapters, and 283 pages, of easy to read and understand, yet very in depth, and extremely explanatory information, teaching the reader about self hypnosis, methods of achieving it along with directions as to how to form your post hypnotic suggestions. Information on using guided imagery, the language of hypnotic suggestion, NINE varieties of self hypnosis techniques, stress management, self exploration, relief from allergies and asthma, thin meditations, solving sleep problems, maximizing sports performance, and more. Truly an amazing and masterful piece of work, and tremendously useful not only to the beginner, but also to the advanced learner of hypnosis. Those interested can easily purchase the book directly through the link above.

Traditional Hetero-Hypnosis
Authoritarian Approach

Hetero-hypnosis, otherwise known as the Authoritarian approach to hypnosis, is defined as the induction of the hypnotic state in a subject by someone else, an operator or hypnotist as so termed.

Hypnosis involves motivation, relaxation and suggestion. With hetero-hypnosis, the subject allows the hypnotist to bring about a state of relaxation because the subject desires this state, and so he or she responds to the suggestions of the hypnotist, or as I prefer “dream weaver.”

The conception of this Authoritarian Approach derives mainly from the early writings of historical figures such as Mesmer, Bernheim, Charcot and Freud. In modern day it is the method most likely to be adapted by the general public due to its use by the stage hypnotist.

Unfortunately, today's medical community still believes hypnosis to be nothing other than that of suggesting away symptoms, in turn the bulk of the medical community has little if any faith in hypnotic methods primarily due to Freud's failure with it.

If there is one fear about hypnosis that maintains itself as a public misconception, it's the belief that the hypnotist holds power over the subject. Fortunately, the authoritarian model is changing.

Another form of Hetero-Hypnosis is known as the Standardized Approach - initiated by Clark Hull, which seeks to use a standardized method of hypnosis for all subjects. It is used as a textbook example in the laboratory setting for measuring levels of hypnotizability.

The only real difference between the Authoritarian and the Standardized approach is that rather than directed commands, the standardized approach often uses a permissive style of hypnotic suggestion. Unfortunately, this method has publicized reports stating that about 20% of the population is not hypnotizable due to their textbook methods of hypnotic induction. Reports such as this coming from the "scientific/medical" community have further mislead the public's knowledge about hypnosis. It is an all too common experience to hear from people that they believe themselves to fall into the 20% category of the population that can't be controlled mentally by another, due to the failure of a stage hypnotist's ability to entrance them.

Ericksonian Hypnosis

“The Naturalistic or Utilization Approach", focus's on helping each individual patient find their own talents for problem solving and healing in their own unique manner. Ericksonian hypnotherapy emphasizes and facilitates the patient’s own creative processes. To best summarize, here is a quote from the Father of modern day hypnosis on the Co-operation Approach quoted from pg. 166-167 of "The Collected Papers, Volume I":
"Ericksons' approach was first and foremost one of cooperation: Hypnosis should primarily be the outcome of a situation in which interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships are developed constructively to serve the purpose of both the hypnotist and subject. This cannot be done by following rigid procedures and fixed methods nor by striving to reach a single specific goal. The complexity of human behavior and its underlying motivations makes necessary a cognizance of the multitude of factors existing in any situation arising between two personalities engaged in a joint activity. (1952; in Rossi, 1980a, pp. 166-167)
The hypnotist can only guide, direct, supervise, and provide the opportunity for the subject to do the productive work: To accomplish this, he must understand the situation and its needs, protect the subject fully, and be able to recognize the work accomplished. He must accept and utilize the behavior that develops, and be able to create opportunities and situations favorable for adequate functioning of the subject. (Milton Erickson, 1952; in Ernest Rossi, 1980s, p. 167)"

T he key ideas underlying Ericksonian hypnotherapy are as follows:
1. Each person is unique - which stresses that therapy should be based on the client's present beliefs, behavior, motivations, and symptoms.
2. Hypnosis is an experiential process of communicating ideas - here the goal is experiential participation by the activation of ideas already within the patient.
3. Each person has generative resources - clients are assisted in the utilization of their own skills and resources.
4. Trance potentiates resources - accomplished by offering an unbiased state of self-receptive awareness in which new understandings and manners of being may unfold.
5. Trance is naturalistic - the processes of trance are present in everyday states including the hypnotic problematic state.
6. Ericksonian approaches orient to course-alignment rather than error-correction - accomplished by guiding clients towards their goals and interests, rather than restricting self-expressions.
7. A person’s uniqueness can be appreciated on many levels - expressed as the "deep self" these include the unconscious mind, the conscious mind, and the contents of consciousness.
8. Unconscious processes can operate generatively and autonomously - this utilizes the principle that "whatever the client is doing is exactly that which will allow him to change" provided new understandings are brought forth.

The elementary principles of Ericksonian hypnotherapy are (1) accepting the persons reality, and (2) utilizing the person’s reality.
To accept the person’s reality the hypnotherapist assumes and congruently communicates that, what a person is doing is fine; and is exactly what the hypnotherapist would like the person to be doing at the present time.
To utilize the given behavior, the hypnotherapist generally conveys to the client that what he is doing right now is exactly that which will allow him to do the desired behavior.

Bandler and Grinder describe Ericksonian Hypnosis principles in process-oriented terms: (1) pace all behavior; (2) lead behavior.
Pacing behavior means to feed back to the client, the client’s expressions. This is done for the purpose of establishing rapport and developing trust. After establishing rapport, the hypnotherapist begins to lead by introducing behaviors that are different from, but consistent with, the client’s present state, which move towards a desired state.

Another principle of effective communication is: resistant behavior is a statement which the hypnotherapist needs to pace some further aspect(s) of the client’s experience. Ericksonian hypnotherapist should assume that all experience is valid and utilizable, then behaviorally paces and leads toward the desired state. Here the traditional concept of resistance, is better viewed as behavioral feedback indicating a need for further pacing by the hypnotherapist.

The Utilization principle can be expressed as: (a) pace and depotentiate conscious processes; (b) absorb and amplify unconscious processes.
The Ericksonian hypnotherapist seeks to depotentiate recurrent (undesirable) conscious processes and to enable previously inaccessible resources to be actualized. To circumvent possible objections (resistances), an indirect approach is often used.
Thus, the final principle states: use indirect communication to the extent that a client’s conscious processes might object, or otherwise interfere with the development of the desired changes.

Ericksonian Hypnotherapy involves the utilization of natural, ongoing processes within the client. Similarly as the Ericksonian hypnotherapist believes that "whatever the client is doing is exactly that which will allow him/her to change", the same type of therapeutic thinking is used in the hypnotic induction process, because all hypnotic phenomena are focused duplications of everyday occurrences.
For example, age regression is an extreme version of memory revivification; amnesia is a special case of forgetting; hallucinations are vivid imaginings; post hypnotic suggestions are unconscious associational learnings; hypnotic dreaming resembles the nocturnal dreams we have many times each night in our sleep.

The major difference is that hypnosis greatly intensifies experiential involvement within these basic psychological processes, sometimes to the point where we forget that our "as if" world is just a simulation. Also, hypnosis loosens other mental constraints, such as the rigid and fixed ways we typically relate to time and space. In short, in trance, critical faculties become temporarily suspended and experiential absorption is heightened, thus permitting complete immersion in an experiential reality. When a person feels protected and secure, absorption in hypnotic realities can be highly therapeutic, as this enables new ways of thinking and being.

To induce trance, the Ericksonian hypnotherapist first creates a context where a client is both willing and able to set aside normal conscious processes, and explore new ways of being. Naturalistic communications are then used to immerse the client in experiential realities conducive to both trance development and personal growth.

The hypnotherapist first assists the client in focusing his attention either by focusing on an external object, on a monotonous sound (voice, chanting, drumming, etc.) or, on a specific sensation.
The hypnotherapist then assists the client in accessing and developing unconscious processes by using associational strategies to access experiential responses.

The hypnotherapist also applies dissociational strategies which induce hypnosis by pacing, then depotentiating the trance-inhibiting conscious processes. A few methods for doing this include boredom, dissociation, metaphorical stories, distraction and confusion.

Initially an Ericksonian Induction begins with the establishment of rapport by securing the trust and comfort of the client. The hypnotherapist then gradually shifts into hypnotic communication as he accesses his own interpersonal trance. The shift in communication involves speaking more slowly with pauses which encourage reflections.

The Ericksonian induction proceeds with the utilization of the following points:
1) use the client’s reality as the basis for the hypnotic induction;
2) apply questions to absorb and direct attention;
3) provide experiential demonstrations to introduce and develop key ideas;
4) access real sense memories to access trance;
5) the rhythmic shifting from the specific demonstration or story to the general and then back to the specific;
6) the progressive and gradual development of each new response from preceding ones;
7) presuppositions that focus attention on how something will be done rather than whether it will be done;
8) the use of conjunctions to link everything together;
9) the frequent interspersing of ideas regarding trance as a secure learning context where the unconscious can operate autonomously and intelligently;
10) the framing of hypnotic phenomena as naturalistic processes;
11) occasional silence to let the subject explore on his or her own;
12) periodic shifts in delivery style
13) confusion techniques to depotentiate conscious involvement, and
14) the general and permissive directive style of the hypnotist.

email: dr_frank@hypnoticadvancements.com

Mailing address:
Dr. Frank Valente
Hypnotic Advancements
3126 McCarthy Court
Mississauga , ON
Canada L4Y-3Z5

© 2004, Dr. Frank Valente DCH

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