Hypnosis and NLP

Hypnotic Somnambulism, Part Deux

In 2012, I made a post on Somnambulism: Is It Needed? which examined exactly what is necessary to make changes within the hypnotic state. In other words, do we need critical faculty bypass, or not?

A New Way of Thinking in Hypnotherapy

As a couple years have gone by, and I’ve received new certifications in hypnotherapy and worked with many new clients, my perspective has changed quite a bit.

The idea has also gotten into vogue in the hypnosis world that you do not need any sort of ‘deep trance’ state at all to do change work, and in fact some of my colleagues made their name in rebelling against this idea!

Some of this I agree with and some I think is going way too far, but with all this in the backdrop, I have finally come around to integrating both perspectives. The realization came that I could do almost all of the therapeutic-style work in multiple scenarios, and it didn’t matter if a “proper trance” was not there.

The Commercial Effect

When someone picks up the phone to talk to us, what are they really looking for? They want change. Something isn’t working the way it should, and they want it to change. Preferably, now.

But how does ‘change’ occur? One of the best ways to think about this is in terms of commercials. Advertisers spend billions of dollars each year on television commercials to try to … what, get their name out there?

No, they spend the money because the commercials work to influence buying behavior. They work big-time. You also didn’t need to be “in a trance” for it to work on you. And here comes the most important point…

Winston tastes good like a…

If you are above about age 35 in the USA, you would probably fill in the words “cigarette should” at the end. Why? Because this was a slogan and commercial that Winston, a tobacco company, ran for many years.

By getting that slogan into the minds of people, they started to not only believe at some abstract subconscious level that Winston was a good thing, but even consciously they formed a set of ideas around what it meant to smoke a Winston cigarette.

What am I getting at here? Consider that a lot of what we do may not even require a hypnotic state at all. It may only require a deep-change in the mind surrounding a certain idea.

A Client Smoking Cessation History

Putting this into a hypnotherapy situation now:

The client is a ~45 y.o. female, started smoking upon entering the military, and had tried everything under the sun. The patch, the gum, Chantix, quitting cold-turkey, giving money to a friend if she smoked, etc… just couldn’t kick the habit.

One approach I could take is to tell her, ok we’re going to hypnotize you and give you suggestions… that’s the cookie-cutter model of doing things. Instead of that, though, I chose to talk with her at length, subtly finding out what the real triggers and motivations were for her smoking.

While I was finding out, I was also suggesting certain ideas to her. Seeding the ideas just the same as I would if she were completely relaxed on the recliner. I mentioned all the trouble smoking had caused her, all of the panic she had gone through in the past.

At the end of it she realized it just wasn’t worth it. She saw things differently as a result of our conversation, and formed a new opinion. Her conscious mind did it, because the truth is she was not ready to be hypnotized on that first session.

I just got a message on my voicemail from her, saying that she has been smoke-free for 2 weeks now and never thought she would be able to do it. She is ecstatic.

The entire time all I used was my own brand of conversational hypnosis and precise questioning which I believe was simply presenting an idea to her mind in a way she had never thought of before.

Coming Full Circle

When a person starts learning hypnosis for the first time, they are very fond of inductions and how we get a person into hypnosis. The real magic though, as far as hypnotherapy goes, is in what you do once they are there.

After years and years of doing the updated but still traditional styles that were influenced by Dave Elman, Gil Boyne, and others, what I found is that I can do the same things I would do, just in the “waking state.”

Now many people would call this waking hypnosis. I’m not so sure though. My current thinking on this is that we have certainly shifted our perceptions, but that we did so within the confines of the conscious mind.

The conscious mind is our awareness, after all. What if we are simply seeing things differently? With my clients it’s as though the mind doubled back on itself and realized it’s own error.

The traditional view of hypnosis is that the conscious mind does not influence the subconscious mind much, if at all. That we try to use our will power to make changes at the subconscious level but that it doesn’t work.

What do you think? Can the conscious mind influence the subconscious mind, instead of the other way around?

Let me know your thoughts about this in the comment section below. I’m looking forward to reading the replies!

Hypnosis and NLP

Eyes Open Somnambulistic Trance

Since my last post on somnambulism and whether it is necessary, I decided to write on one of the more interesting uses of hypnosis, which is to have them open their eyes!

“Can you hypnotize someone with their eyes open?”

Yes, absolutely! Just look at a stage hypnosis show. The people are up on stage, with their eyes open, deeply hypnotized.

We can also similar things with clinical work. We have the person open their eyes, deeply hypnotized.

The Benefits of Eyes-Open Hypnosis

Having them open their eyes within somnambulism has primarily the benefit of fractionating the state. When we do fractionation within the Elman induction, we are have the person open and close their eye lids three times.

They are not actually “emerging” out of hypnosis during those three times, rather they are bringing themselves deeper into the state.

If you are a hypnotist who has a skill with fractionation, you may also apply this skill in other ways, such as anchoring that state with your vocal tone and then purposefully doing a break state. Remember, everything you do is hypnosis.

A second benefit to having them open the eyes is that it can act as a powerful setup for having the person ratify/test that they are indeed hypnotized. Or, indeed, to ratify just about anything at all.

How To Do It: Step by Step

The steps of getting into this state are first to bring them into a natural state of hypnosis with their eyelids closed. Verify and test for somnambulism, making sure that you have them in the state. Then you say something similar to this:

“In a moment, Clarice, I’m going to count slowly from 1 to 3… When I count the number 3, you’ll open your eyelids slowly, remaining in this hypnotic state, and we’re going to have a hypnotic conversation. 1, feeling warm and comfortable, 2, now the eyelids start to blink open, and 3, feeling great…”

It’s really as simple as that. At that point I might condition the state further like this:

Taylor: “Hey how are you doing? Feels great doesn’t it.” (descending tonal inflection)
Clarice: “Yeah it feels good”
Taylor: “Did you notice how every breath you were exhaling just kept taking you right on down?”
Clarice: “Mmmhmm”
Taylor: “And I wondered, if you were aware, of how deeply you were relaxing, as I continued to talk to you, and you continued to breathe…”

Now for those of you who are trained in such techniques, you’ll recognize that I am using Ericksonian language patterns, and tons of presuppositions. That’s what you want to do. Use strong pacing statements with presupposed suggestions.

Hypnotic Reinductions

From this point, once you have compounded the suggestions, it’s time to re-hypnotize the person. Here is how I set it up:

“Now, the interesting thing about hypnosis is that every time you go into hypnosis you’re going to go deeper, you feel more comfortable, and your body gets much more relaxed. So in a second you’re going to go back into hypnosis, and this time you’ll go much deeper than before… Ready? Alright, just look here at me, and…”

And at this point I would do an instant induction. Proceed immediately to deepening (as explained in my video here) and then compound and reinforce the suggestions even more.

This works, really well. Go out and use it — and if you have any suggestions or ideas that you pick up through your own practice, tell us in the comments below.

Hypnosis and NLP

Somnambulism: Is It Needed?

If you have been around old-school hypnotists for any length of time, you have certainly heard about the different levels of hypnosis.

The logic starts out that first you are “awake” and then you go through processively deeper levels until you are in “deep hypnosis” and while you are there, you are in a state called somnambulism.

Well, for all of the talk about somnambulism, I have found this term to be thrown around loosely and not very well defined. Many people know how I am a fan of the Dave Elman Induction, and how if someone completes the induction, the last step is a test for amnesia, which would show they have achieved somnambulism.

If we are going to use the term I figure we ought to define it.

Here Is How I Define Somnambulism

First of all, somnambulism is an outside-directed state. You don’t go into self-hypnosis somnambulism. It just doesn’t exist.

What I found is that the “following instructions” part of hypnosis is actually the most useful.

The second criteria, then, for somnambulism, is that it is a state where we uncritically accept suggestions, and where we are not checking them against previously held ideas or belief systems.

Now before we move on, lets acknowledge that this is useful!

Yes, Somnambulism Is Useful. But Is It Needed?

Many hypnotists claim that they have been able to do significant work in a “light” trance. In case you couldn’t tell by my quote marks, I don’t believe any trance is lighter than another one. Someone can go very deep while their arm is getting lighter and lighter.

However, some trance states are certainly more “profound,” and that is to say that the degree of critical factor bypass is more significant.

Old-school models believe that if someone is in a “deep trance” that the critical factor bypass is pretty much 100%. However we know that this isn’t true because there are things the person would not do even in a state where it looks like they’re about to fall off the chair.

Hypnosis is a Trance State

What I’ve been teaching for many years now is that the act of going into hypnosis is in itself a trance state. There is a process, a procedure, a ritual … which results in a certain outcome.

Now given that the ritual is a large part of this, why are so many hypnotists shooting for distinct “relaxation states”? Yes, there are many people who still believe that hypnosis is a “state of relaxation.”

The real question we should be asking ourselves is, do we absolutely NEED a critical factor bypass in order to make the changes we need to make?

And the answer is clearly … No. Not in every circumstance, anyway.

Are some people going to be satisfied with a simple visualization that they themselves create, and the conscious mind is agreeing on? Yes, of course.

Is that “hypnosis”? Is that “somnambulism”?

Absolutely not.

And many working professionals are basically doing conscious mind work, and spreading the word that visualizing itself constitutes somnambulistic trance.

I don’t agree — but do you know what the crazy thing is? They still get OK results! In fact some of these people have pretty good businesses going.

Also, I’d like to include here that you can do some very strong emotional releasement work, without having to have a “willing, obedient subject” who is participating fully.

Discussion Questions

Now this is a very deep topic that could be talked about for pages more, but for right now I’d like to open this up to discussion.

So think about this:

  • What does a hypnotized subject expect to happen, and what can we do to meet those expectations?  Moreover, how does this factor into rapport in general? (Think: Match/Mismatch)
  • How much critical factor bypass is needed to solve various issues?
  • Can we ever really get 100% critical factor bypass? And if so, how?

The ball is in your court! Comment below.

Hypnosis and NLP

Are you a jack of all trades? What style is best for how to learn hypnosis?

As I was coming back from a seminar recently, I realized there’s an interesting pattern in the difference between how I approach mastering hypnosis and NLP, versus some of my friends and colleagues…

For example, my good friend Josh Houghton (with a hypnosis training blog) is the type of guy who likes to really master things before moving on to another subject.

It has led to an interesting dynamic between us — I’ll be talking to him on the phone, “Josh, you have to check out X Y and Z’s latest NLP technique which combines sliding anchors with time lines, this is amazing!” and he’ll say “Well Taylor right now in my life I’m mastering the Dave Elman Induction and maybe I’ll check out this stuff next year or so.”

This attitude totally drives me nuts, and I could never do it, but it’s the “slow and steady wins the race” philosophy. It’s the idea that if something is worth mastering, it’s worth mastering well.

My business partner in my clinical practice also likes to take things step by step. For her it is about studying the work of her mentors almost exclusively. One of the reasons I posted about Gil Boyne Online on the blog is because she studied everything he had to offer. For her, it makes more sense to really master one thing fully, than to spread your resources on many things all at once.

Clearly, there is no best way here. For me it is the excitement of new learnings that keeps me going. When I really need a special tool or technique, it will come into my mind, even years later. And most importantly, I find that there are an abundance of brilliant people out there who are doing things just slightly differently and getting results.

I was at an Andrew Austin event recently, and right after the event I had a client that had an issue that was similar to what we had talked about, so I decided to launch right into what I had just learned — pretty much abandoning my current skills and framework on the fly to test out a new approach.

One of the things we learned in his class was to shift the brain patterns of someone with a traumatic event by having them physically pass a ball between their hands in a specific way. The explanation given was that it creates a balance in the brain activity.

Although it didn’t make an immediate change in my client as she was remembering the event, it got me thinking — how ELSE can I work that essentially “forces” a change in brain chemistry, and perhaps utilizes the principles of Energy Medicine / Energy Psychology?

This is pretty much what EFT does, by the way.

So given that — which type of learner are you? Are you more focused on mastering a skillset exclusively (I’m guessing this is metaprogram related), or are you the type who likes to explore an entire range of different things in order to get to where you need to be?

I see advantages in both. And I would love to test this, but ultimately this is a long-term strategy. And for me, I just love learning new stuff.

It’s funny, someone described to me one time that Ericksonian hypnosis is “white collar hypnosis,” and that “I’m a blue collar hypnotist, so I stick with Elman’s style!”

It’s food for thought. Which way do you learn best, and how does it impact your sessions?

Hypnosis and NLP

Can Anyone Learn To Become A Hypnotist?

Since I do offer hypnosis training on a regular basis, the question often comes up — can anyone learn to do this and become a hypnotist?

Sometimes when people ask me if hypnotists have a special hypnotic power, I reply “Yes, and no.” And that’s a truthful answer!

The answer is “Yes” in the sense that I can teach you the techniques on how to do hypnotic inductions, or the knowledge of how to perform a specific NLP technique or a set of steps.

It’s “Yes”, anyone can learn to become a hypnotist, in the sense that we can even talk about how to gain rapport, how to do a proper pre-talk, and how to test for suggestibility (we also call them imagination games). You CAN learn all of that, and in fact you can be very effective with it.

And for most things, you can learn to do hypnosis by having no innate talents before you came to the training.

However… the answer is also “No,” in that it’s difficult to teach intuition, and true persistence, and thinking in abstract ways. These are all skills needed by someone who wishes to become “the best in the world” type of clinical hypnotist.

And it’s a quality that is difficult to quantify. It requires thinking on another level — getting rapport on another level. Not being a “yes” person, and getting deep rapport with the subconscious mind. Of course, our main course teaches you how to become damn good at clinical-style work.

So why then, if it is so easily taught, do I stubbornly insist that the answer to the question “Can anyone learn to become a hypnotist” is both Yes, AND No?

It’s because everything looks rosy until you’re dealing with a hard case. And when someone’s training gets exhausted, where do they go THEN? That’s the type of grit that you only get from actually doing it, and not giving up. Sheer persistence and confidence that you will get somewhere. Putting yourself on the line.

When someone comes into our office, we “read” them within a few minutes. We ask them specific, targeted questions which are designed to elicit what their actual problem is. It’s not uncommon for a client to begin talking, and about 5 minutes into the conversation we’ll say “Ok, I already got what the thing is. You ready to go into hypnosis?”

I honestly don’t think this is quality that can be taught, because it’s who you ARE. If you’re not grounded in yourself, then your results in supporting and empowering others might be sporadic at best.

However, I also believe that someone can go through a deep change themselves, and they will eventually develop the personality traits necessary to do “the real work” and become a hypnotist – not just do hypnosis.

But can wisdom be taught over a hypnosis weekend? Not really. It requires being actually out there in life, discovering who you are. And that’s what it takes sometimes to get past the critical factor.

Comments? Is it possible to teach intuition and wisdom? Let me hear from you.

By the way, our next training is coming up in April, in the Washington DC area. E-mail for more information.

Hypnosis and NLP

Gil Boyne Online (Hypnosis Video Classes)

Gil Boyne Hypnotizing BunnyFor any of you who are familiar with the “old masters” of hypnotherapy, Gil Boyne was the best of the best.

Although Gil passed away recently in October of this year – and he will be sorely missed – his work lives on

I’ve dedicated the last few days to watching the master at work. He was a truly amazing hypnotist. His wording of suggestions was perfect, the delivery was spot-on, and his “Transforming Therapy” shows a depth of experience that is unrivaled. Gil was the instructor’s instructor, and many many hypnotists now benefit from his work without knowing where it came from.

Now, what I didn’t know until fairly recently is that Gil Boyne’s work is available online. The Gil Boyne Online website was for a couple years set at a standard rate of $397 per year. And I know people who paid it, willingly and gratefully.

But the price has now been changed, not on a “per year” basis, but as a one-time fee of $147. This is a pretty amazing bargain.

Note: I have no idea how long this will last — blog posts last a long time, so please don’t come to me 6 months from now wondering why the price has increased — I have no control over it.

Here is a quote from the website:

Why learn online from Gil Boyne?

Gil dedicated his life to the development of the profession and mentoring professional hypnotherapists, and his LIVE Master Class attracted people from around the world for more than 55 years. Gil Boyne Online is part of Gil’s legacy of valuable teaching material, and is a fantastic resource for hypnotherapists of all levels, but especially for those who missed the opportunity to see Gil at work while he was alive.

So here it is – I recommend that you check it out:

Gil Boyne Online