I want to answer this simple question: What happens when you cannot hypnotize someone?
Whether you’ve had a weekend introductory hypnosis training on “How To Hypnotize Others,” or you have learned hypnosis from a recognized hypnosis training school, I will assume that you have attempted to hypnotize at least some people already.
As a hypnotist, then, you will have learned at the very least the basic tools of your trade: how to speak, the hypnotic language to use, how to flow smoothly, how to sound comforting, the insights into how hypnosis works…
These are the things that allow you to do your job.
But what do you do when it all fails? What happens when your client simply won’t go into a trance? Do you blame them? Do you fire them? Do you beat yourself up about it? What if there was a better alternative? What if you coached your client in the skill of entering trance and responding to you adequately? Think about it: hypnosis is like any other skill.
Some people are naturally good at maths, others have to work at it a little.
Some people pick up reading and writing in no time, others need a little extra time to acquire the knack.
Hypnosis is no different.
So why should we expect that every client should enter into deep trances in next to no time right from the start? Milton Erickson is famous for advocating that we train clients to be great hypnotic subjects.
He once joked:
“I have induced a deep trance in many clients – some took just 30 seconds, others 300 hours, and I am still working on a few!” tweet
If a consummate master like Erickson was willing to spend up to 300 hours preparing a person to be a great hypnotic subject, perhaps you should take a leaf out of his book?
Sadly Erickson never left any details of how he went about training people to operate in deep trances more fully.
But this is something I would like to address here.
A long time ago hypnotists were enthralled by the “power” frame of hypnosis.
Hypnosis is something you did to your clients. You overpowered them with your will until they were putty in your hands.
This attitude alone created a tremendous amount of resistance from people not wishing to be overpowered in this way.
So attitudes changed.
We began to look at hypnosis as a co-operative process.
The hypnotist and the hypnotic subject working hand in hand for a better outcome.
Resistance decreased dramatically. But still some hypnotists were more successful than others.
What was happening? What did those successful hypnotists do? I believe they made a fundamental switch in their own minds.
The “hypnotic operator” model is one that is a particular characteristic of hypnosis trainings or hypnotists that have come fresh out of hypnosis school.
Its only natural because when we spent so much time learning hypnosis, we focused on the mechanical details (language, inductions, deepeners, therapeutic techniques etc). This led us to make a very subtle mistake: we focused all of our attention on what we (i.e. the hypnotists) were doing.
This approach puts the hypnotist under a lot of pressure.
You have to guess up front what the best approach will be (something even an old hand can find challenging without any previous experience with a particular hypnotic subject), and you need to monitor what that impact is whilst choosing the next suggestion to present.
Typically a hypnotist with a “hypnotic operator” orientation will be stressed at the start of an induction, will be trying to “get it right”, will fear mistakes (in case it adversely affects his prestige) etc.
But when a hypnotist switches to the “hypnotic experience” mode, something interesting happens.
Now all that the hypnotist is doing is offering suggestions in a number of styles to test how the hypnotic subject responds! This is like dropping differently shaped stones into a pool until you find the one that makes the right kind of waves.
Then you begin the serious work.
Sounds too simple to be true, but switching your point of view really makes all the difference.