Hypnosis Part 6 - Suggestions For Change

The purpose of inducing hypnosis in a clinical setting is to do one of two things:

  • to administer positive suggestions for change for the future or
  • to do hypno-analysis to understand what has happened in the past

In this article, we focus on utilizing the hypnotic state for delivering effective suggestions for change. In the next Part of the series, we will focus on Hypno-analysis, which utilizes the trance state for analysis and investigation. A simple way of looking at the difference between the purpose of the two types are:

Hypno-analysis: Uncover what has occurred in the past that causes the current problem

Suggestions for change: Bring about changes for the future

In many cases the realization of what has happened in the past, or the releasing of emotion around the event is enough to bring about change, in other instances, suggestions for change can then be used to bring about resolution of the uncovered issue.

We will look at the types of suggestions and what is required to make hypnotic suggestions effective.

Types of Suggestions

Effectively, there are 6 types of suggestions:

  1. Relaxation suggestions are used at the beginning of the induction to get the client into a comfortable and relaxed state.
  2. Deepening suggestions are used to take the client into a deeper level of trance. Different images like the stairs, or the elevator or similar image can be used or even just the words deeper and deeper or other words that infer a downward or inward direction.
  3. Direct suggestions are suggestions that instruct the client to respond in a certain way. They are simple, to the point and do not require the use of imagination. Examples are, "Go back to the first time in your life when you experienced the problem" or "You feel drowsy, let this drowsy feeling come over you and let go of all the worry and all the fear".
  4. Imagination suggestions are suggestions that utilize the creative and imaginative faculty of the client to view themselves or a situation or both in a more positive and constructive way, an example would be: "see yourself on a beach, relaxed and at ease, you can see and feel all the stress and worry just melt away".
  5. Then we have indirect suggestions, the use of analogies, metaphors and ambiguous language to create change outside of conscious awareness. A famous example is the use of a metaphor constructed around a mutually satisfying multi coursed dinner given to a couple with different sexual approaches that is interfering with their enjoyment of both of these activities.
  6. Finally posthypnotic suggestions which are given during hypnosis to be acted out upon once the session is over at a set time and place. An example would be: "the next time you sit to eat a meal you will find yourself eating a smaller portion of food, you feel satisfied and at ease with this smaller portion of food". Another example would be, "Upon completion of this hypnosis session you will have lost all desire to drink coffee". If it wasn't for posthypnotic suggestions, there would be no real success with hypnosis. They are the main reason that change occurs. A post hypnotic suggestion is a suggestion made whilst the person is in hypnosis to be carried out upon completion of the session, at a specific time or times during the post hypnotic phase.

Suggestions are the main tool for effective change, they are the directed use of language for a purpose and there are some guidelines for their effective utilization.

Repetition is the key for increasing the impact and retention of hypnotic suggestions.

Guidelines for effective suggestions

  • We keep suggestions simple and straightforward.
  • We don't get too wordy, we treat the unconscious like a 5 year old, use simple, easy to understand commands. No monologues and no flowery language.
  • We repeat suggestions. Repetition is the key, it helps the client retain the suggestions.
  • We make them believable and desirable. We know that suggestions are desirable because the client will have told us what they want in the pre-talk and we are just matching what they want during hypnosis. As for believable, the unconscious knows what is possible and what isn't so the suggestions have to be grounded in reality (client’s reality at least!)
  • We use positive wording. We always state the suggestions as what they can do rather than what they can't. We avoid the words no, try, can't and won't. We instead use words such as can, will, am able. For example instead of saying `you are no longer tense', we would say 'you are more relaxed'.
  • We limit our suggestions / session to one goal at a time. This is important, we don't try and do everything with one hypnosis and in one session. If for example we had a weight loss client, who was also a smoker and also stressed we would deal with just one issue at a time. Getting even more specific might also be needed. Weight loss for example might be numerous issues, say, self- image, exercise and eating less. It is often advisable to deal with each of these as separate issues and goals in and of themselves.
  • We make the suggestions as exact/literal as possible. For example when dealing with someone with insomnia we would say "when it is time to sleep, you will make yourself comfortable in your bed and fall into a deep and easy sleep" rather than “when you get home you will be able to sleep easily” which might have them sleeping in the hall way or the kitchen!'
  • We use Linkage words. Linkage words invite the listener to respond 'as if' one thing did cause the other. Examples of linkage words are: and, as, when, during, while, makes, causes, forces, requires. For example "As you listen to the sound of my voice, you will find yourself relaxing" or "When you say to yourself 'in control' you will find yourself feeling calm and confident".
  • We use cue words and post hypnotic suggestions. When giving a post hypnotic suggestion we sometimes give a cue word that acts as a trigger for the post hypnotic suggestion to be carried out. The cue word is just that, a word. For example, if we are helping someone to lose weight, we might say "whenever you say the word 'slim' to yourself you will begin to act and feel calm, balanced and in control around food". The word slim becomes a. trigger to access the state of calm, balanced and in control outside of the hypnosis session.

Summary of Part 6 – Suggestions for Change

When focusing on the future outcomes, we utilize hypnosis for delivering suggestions for change. As giving positive suggestions for change are one of the two main purposes of Hypnosis, simply the more effective your suggestions are, the better results we can assist our clients achieve.

The different types of suggestions are:

  • Relaxation suggestions — to get the client comfortable and in a relaxed state
  • Deepening suggestions — to take the client to a deeper level of trance
  • Direct suggestions — instruct the client to respond in a particular way
  • Imagination suggestions — engage the creative faculty to view people and/or situations in a more constructive way
  • Indirect suggestions — the use of analogies, metaphors and ambiguous language
  • Posthypnotic suggestion — set up action at some point in time after the completion of the hypnosis session.

The guidelines for effective suggestions are:

  • Keep them simple and easy to understand
  • Make suggestions as exact/literal as possible
  • Use repetition to help client retain the suggestion
  • Use positive wording
  • Work on one goal at a time
  • Always include a cue and posthypnotic suggestion

Would you like to experience hypnosis for yourself? Contact us here for free 30 minute session and let's discuss it together.

The Part 7 of the series about Hypnosis focuses on the Hypno-Analysis. Continue with Part 7 here.

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