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!


4 replies on “Hypnotic Somnambulism, Part Deux”

The Conscious level of mind is watched and listened to by the
sub-conscious level of mind, all of the time. It may not take
every word and run with it, nor obey one’s use of will power,
in the normal sense, but in my own experience, it will act
upon our proper ‘asking’. As an example, when I asked my
inner-mind to bring my eyes back to sharp focus and clarity
of vision, and then by noticing even subtle changes in the right
direction, and showing gratitude, my eyesight slowly shifted
from the inability to read the phone book, to easily doing that,
without the need for glasses at all… When we attempt to do
consciously what is the job of the sub-conscious, it will simply
let us ‘try’, and fail. But when we recognize and rely upon this
part of mind to do what it is there for, it will do so with little

Without a doubt. That is actually the way to work for me. I first totally align the conscious mind to what we are trying to accomplish and how we are going to accomplish it. Come to an understanding of how the problem may have manifested. Then, go into trance and acknowledge and thank the subconscious, refer back to what I and the conscious self were discussing, ask for the subconscious to make the proper change in the issue, and also ask what I need to do to help the situation. I get exactly the direction I need. Thank the subconscious again, and follow through.
I think that discussing and searching for the answers that we need on a conscious level, make all of this possible.

Great article. I agree that a lot of change work does not require a deep trance, hence why many NLP patterns work so well. In my opinion, the difference is that many clients require deep trance if they have come to you as a hypnotist. Even when the client has made a major shift in the session, they may undo the work if no formal induction takes place depending on their model of the world. I guess this further illustrates the power of pre-frames as they can cause some of the biggest change themselves without any ‘hypnosis’ either.

I think it’s only beneficial for the conscious mind to be away if the client is very critical. Otherwise I think it’s even better for it to listen too, because there is a great benefit in people realizing that change is actually happening.

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