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

10 Books Every Hypnotist Should Read

The New Encyclopedia of Stage Hypnotism (Hypnosis) by Ormond McGillThe New Encyclopedia of Stage Hypnotism by Ormond McGill
This book is truly an encyclopedia which includes not only a wealth of information about Stage Hypnosis but a whole variety of techniques and principles that are applicable to any hypnosis situation. This book includes information about how hypnosis works, hypnotic principles that apply to any situation, a whole chapter dedicated to 100 ways to getting someone into hypnosis, and it even shows you how to hypnotize a chicken. Note: Even those hypnotists who are not interested in doing any stage work should read this book! Take my word for it, it is one of the best out there.


Hypnotherapy by Dave ElmanHypnotherapy by Dave Elman
Elman was a pioneer in the art of medical hypnosis, and this historical classic explores not only the Dave Elman Induction, but shows a wealth of other hypnotic techniques like using hypnosis as an adjunct to chemical anesthesia, as a tool for impotence and frigidity, and using hypnosis to eliminate stuttering. It’s worth it to read this book just to get inside the mind of one of the legendary hypnotists of the past, as well as learn a lot of useful techniques.


Uncommon Therapy by Jay HaleyUncommon Therapy by Jay Haley
This book quite simply blows my mind. Jay Haley provides a detailed account of Ericksonian hypnosis, and tells quite a few stories of how Milton Erickson performed his work. This is where you’ll find a lot of the examples of how to interact with a person, as well as information breaking down the structure of that communication and demystifying it so that you can use it. If you are a person who hopes to do any sort of therapy or coaching or to help people in their lives using hypnosis, this book is an absolute gold-mine of information.


The Ronning Guide to Modern Stage Hypnotism by Geoffrey RonningThe Ronning Guide to Modern Stage Hypnosis by Geoff Ronning
If you’re in for the par to learn stage hypnosis or want to be a professional stage hypnotist, I suggest checking out this book. Geoffrey Ronning has put together a very comprehensive guide on specifically how to perform a stage hypnosis show, how to get bookings, what happens if it all goes wrong, and tons of motivation. Although this book is mostly for stage hypnotists and it’s content is geared 90% towards that audience, if you do street hypnosis or even if you are just looking for a good suggestibility test to add onto your repetiore, this book will fulfill those needs.


Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert CialdiniInfluence by Robert Cialdini
I do believe I’ve quoted this book about a hundred times in instructing various events and seminars over the years. Cialdini was a guy who always fell for scams; if someone showed up and gave him a fancy sales pitch, he had to buy it. He got very curious as to why he always fell for these gambits, and began a length research procedure which now has been very well documented in his book. Most hypnotists have probably already read this book, but if you haven’t, order a copy. It’s very interesting reading.


Applied Hypnosis and Hyperempiria by Don GibbonsApplied Hypnosis and Hyperempiria by Don Gibbons
Probably my second most quoted book is this one, and usually I’ll just reference the book and tell people to go get it. This book by Don Gibbons is an accurate and realistic portrayal of what hypnosis is and what it isn’t. He talks about how hypnosis has been associated with sleep over the years, and how hyperempiria is actually the opposite of that, but that we use essentially the same process to get people into both states. As a bonus for this book, you learn how to take people into hyperempiric states of consciousness which can be very fun to play with. I’m always surprised at how many hypnotists haven’t even heard of hyperempiria or some of the other states that we have available to us. This is a must-read.


Neuro-Linguistic Programming - Reframing by Richard Bandler and John GrinderReframing by Richard Bandler and John Grinder
Reframing is a critical part of working with people and yet some of us know so little about it. A caller’s objections or a client’s misperceptions both have to be reframed and put into their proper light. People who are talented in the art of reframing are perceived as smarter, they make more money, and their clients have better results. This book shows you how to do it, along with giving you lots of techniques and understandings. It is a transcript of a live seminar that Bandler and Grinder did, but do not be fooled, this is one amazing book. I highly recommend picking up a copy.


Patterns of The Hypnotic Techniques of Milton H. Erickson by Richard Bandler Judith DeLozier and John GrinderPatterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton H. Erickson, M.D., by John Grinder, Judith DeLozier, and Richard Bandler
Another great book by Bandler and Grinder, this one also by Judith DeLozier, is the book that introduced the concept of the Milton Model in NLP. If you’re not familiar, Richard Bandler and John Grinder spent 9 months studying Milton Erickson and watching his videotapes. The very core essence of his patterns, called the Milton Model, is now taught in 1 day in NLP practitioner trainings. There’s two volumes to the series, and they are both great, although difficult to get through. It’s not light reading, but I think it’s time well spent. Great book.


My Voice Will Go With You: The Teaching Tales of Milton Erickson by Sidney RosenMy Voice Will Go With You by Sidney Rosen
The subtitle of this book is “The Teaching Tales of Milton Erickson” and this one can be a lot of fun to read. These are some of the stories that Erickson used to tell people when hypnotizing them or before hypnotizing them. If you want to be fascinated with just how smart this guy was, read a couple of his stories and you might find yourself drifting off. Erickson was amazing at metaphor and relating concepts together, and Sidney Rosen does a fantastic job in this book cutting to the core of what we want to know. This should be in your library!


Trancework by Michael YapkoTrancework by Michael Yapko
Trancework is a comprehensive guide to learning the fundamentals of clinical hypnosis. Although Yapko is mostly an Ericksonian-style hypnotist, he provides step-by-step instructions for getting things done in hypnosis. The book is also grounded firmly in research and pragmatism, and provides a great introduction to the art of hypnosis which you should re-read every couple of years to find out what you missed the first time.


Hypnosis and NLP Hypnosis Videos

Tons of free stuff, and a big announcement!

Today we are pleased to announce a huge announcement, the start of a brand new blog. But this is not just “any” old blog, because we’re filling it with tons of free hypnosis videos, tips, techniques, and cutting-edge information for you to enjoy.

In about 2 weeks, we are releasing a new course called “TRANCED OUT: The Instant and Rapid Inductions Home Study Course.” To celebrate -finally- having this course done (it has taken us a long time to get this ready for you), we started up a blog and we’re loading it with all the free stuff that we’ve wanted to give away for a while now.

There will be new content posted on the blog every single day for about 2 weeks until we officially release our course, so we’ll be posting another video tomorrow, but RIGHT NOW here are 3 great things to look out for on the blog:

  • 1. The “You Are The Hypnotist” video. This is a content-filled video where I take you behind the scenes and describe to you one of the most important ideas that will make you much more effective as a hypnotist.
  • 2. The “Welcome” video. This video welcomes you to the blog, and tells you what it is all about. Watch this video to find out the true story about why we created the blog and the course.
  • 3. The Pre-Interest List. This is our list that you can join to keep updated on the newest happenings. As a bonus for joining this list, we are giving away for free a nearly Two Hour “Troubleshooting Instant and Rapid Inductions” audio. You won’t want to miss it.

I won’t go into any more detail on this because it is covered extensively in the welcome video!

Here is the Website Address so you can go visit it now:

See you there!

Hypnosis and NLP

Fun With Hypnosis

I’ve been doing a lot of hypnosis lately, I find some way to weave it into the conversation.

Here’s how the conversation went tonight (paraphrased):

Taylor: “So how about you, what do you do?”
Guy 1: “Oh I work in manufacturing”
Taylor: “Oh really? What type of stuff do you process?”
Guy 1: “Ah you know, Mil spec stuff”
Guy 2: “Lets shouldn’t talk about work now guys, we’re at a party! We could talk about sports, or women, or beer…”
Taylor: “Well, I like talking about hypnosis. I’m a hypnotist so it works well that way…”
Guy 1: “Oh, yeah, hypnosis, so what’s that about?”
Taylor: “Well, what I tell people to do is that when you stop… and focus in with your breathing, your mind goes blank because your unconscious mind… that if you were having the belief that you can go into a trance, what you do not know yet will learn unconsciously will consciously come up for you. This is how deep your trance works. You adjust your breathing and go into that state.”
Girl: “Wow… you are so intelligent, Taylor”

But basically I bring it up in every conversation.

My goal is to have them do some sort of suggestibility test. My favorites are:

– Book and the Balloon (Light Hand/Heavy Hand)
– Hand tightening game

With the book and the balloon, I usually have them close their eyes… with the hand tightening test, I want them staring fixedly at a spot on their hand.

Today I did … 3 of the book and the balloon.. and 3 hand tightening games of which one was having the hands glued together like the hands are in prayer. (I saw a video of Brian David Phillips’ approach with this and I liked it a lot: video)

Depending on what a person is presenting to me, I vary what I show them. If someone is only a “little” interested in hypnosis, I’ll show them the book and the balloon. If they’re a little bit more, I’ll show them the hand tightener… But I only go through the deeper levels of hypnosis with people who are committed to experiencing it.

My format now is:

1. Do an instant induction, deepen QUICKLY…
2. Immediately start fractionating them using a trigger
3. Start having them do simple hypnotic phenomenon right away – e.g. handlock
4. Deepen trance in some significant way, then proceed on to more advanced phenomenon

Hypnosis and NLP

The Dave Elman Induction – Steps and Explanation

One of the first inductions that most hypnotists should be taught in a hypnosis course today is the Dave Elman induction. Unfortunately, a lot of courses start with a progressive relaxation or other “old timey” induction.

This is my explanation of how to do a modified Dave Elman induction. I think it has improved slightly from the original and easier for most new learners to grasp. Even though Dave passed away about 40 years ago, this remains one of the best inductions in hypnosis today.

In short, if you don’t know this one, you want to learn this right away. If you do know it, then perhaps my explanation will add a few tidbits or tweaks that you can alter for your own use.

Have fun:


Take a deep breath, hold it for a mental count of three, and let it go with a sigh … Close your eyes, and go deeper and deeper into a perfect state of relaxation.

Physical Relaxation

Take that relaxation now and just go deeper …. Sweeping from the top of your head, to the tips of your toes … and with each and every breath growing more and more deeply relaxed.

Test for Eye Catalepsy, also called “The Eye Lock”

Now I’d like you to go ahead and relax all those tiny little muscles in and around your eyelids. Relax all those muscles so limp, so loose, and so completely relaxed, that they just won’t want to work. When you know that you’ve got them that relaxed, just go ahead and give them a good test. [Look at the eyes … When you see the first signs of eyelid flutter or trying then say:] That’s good, stop testing now, and just let the relaxation grow deeper and deeper.

Notes: You want to tell them to test the eyes only when they know that they have relaxed them sufficiently until they won’t work. If their eyes open that means they haven’t followed that instruction. Occasionally you’ll get people who say, “well do you want me to open my eyes?” and you have to explain to them that when the eyes get so relaxed, they get so they can’t open, and if they can relax their eyes to that point they will NOT open.

If they continue to not get the result then that generally means they aren’t following instructions – but keep in mind that as you get more experienced you’ll be able to work with more people and be able to troubleshoot what is going on much more effectively.


In a second I’m going to ask you to open and close your eyes, and when you close your eyes back down, you’ll go ten times deeper. Want it to happen, and make it happen. Now go ahead and open .. and close your eyes… ten times deeper.

In a second I’m going to ask you to open and close your eyes again, this time going twice as deeply relaxed as you are right now … Go ahead and open your eyes… close your eyes… Twice as deeply relaxed now. Double the relaxation and then go deeper.

And in a second I’ll ask you to open and close your eyes one last time, this time you’re going as deeply as you can possibly go down deep. So go ahead and open … and close your eyes… deeper .. and deeper relaxed… All the way down into the basement of trance.

Notes: When you have them open their eyes, put your hand in front of their eye-lids so they don’t see the lights/distractions around them … lift your hand up a little bit for the open motion, and then guide their eyes down with the closed motion.

Fractionation is based on the principle that when you take a person in and out of trance, they tend to go more deeply into trance when you take them back in. Thus when you have them open their eyes, you are breaking their state. Skilled practitioners know how to fractionate very often and very effectively. Don’t underestimate how powerful of a tool this is.

I am paraphrasing here, but Dave Elman considered fractionation to be -the- most important mechanism for the deepening of hypnosis.

Test for Physical Relaxation and Deepener

In a second I’m going to lift up your right arm by the wrist. Don’t try to help me or hinder me, just let it hang there like limp, loose, dead weight. [Pick up the wrist] Just let me have all the weight… [Move the wrist up and down and then side to side — it’s the side to side movement that they don’t anticipate] That’s right… and as I drop your hand down, just go much deeper.

Notes: you can repeat this test at random points during the hypnosis if you want to deepen the relaxation, because it is an already accepted mechanism that if you lift and drop their hand, they’ll go deeper.

You have to make sure that they have completely relaxed their hand and arm. I find that it sometimes helps to give a little bit of touch around the shoulder joint because it implies that the hand is disconnected.

Amnesia for the Numbers

Now we want to relax your mind as deeply as your body continues to relax now. In a moment I’ll have you begin counting slowly, out loud, and backward from 100 on down. Now, here’s the secret to mental relaxation. With each number that you count… double your relaxation. So that by the time you reach 96 or even sooner, they’ll just be gone… Begin counting outloud, slowly, backwards from 100 on down … now. [When they pause for more than a second or so, say:] All gone? [Wait for a response] That’s right, now just go deeper and let that relaxation go all the way thru your body.

Notes: (1) An option here is to have the person say the words “deeper relaxed” in between the numbers. For clients who might take a longer time to get the effect, this will speed up the process because they are saying “deeper relaxed” out of their own mouth.”

(2) Make sure they understand that they will count outloud, slowly, and backwards. Very important when doing your Elman Induction.

(3) When you tell them that by the time they reach “96 or even 97” you are telling them that the numbers will be gone quickly, and you are testing for somnambulism. If you say a lower number even though it seems like you are making it more likely that they’ll get the effect, in fact they will simply take longer to complete the exercise, and the convincer aspect won’t be as present.

(4) If they continue to count, you can intersperse the numbers with suggestions like: “Just make them gone now .. I can’t do it for you .. If you want it, it will happen instantly” …

(5) A) If they still continue to not dismiss the numbers out of their mind (that is, they fail at the test) then transition to something else, as if they’ve done perfectly. Some people will take longer than others though.

B) My favorite way to deal with them not getting rid of the numbers “on time” is to just start giving them confusing suggestions. Here is an example. I told them to get rid of them at 96:

“(95)… Just keep right on going deeper.
(94)… And your conscious mind can drift deep as your unconscious mind listens more
(93)… And whether your unconscious mind is listening more than your conscious mind is drifting deeper, is up to your unconscious, and beginning to relax more and more with every breath
(92)… Now your mind can focus and fixate more and more on each count, finding that with every count, the mind becomes hazy and relaxed”

C) The biggest thing to understand is that if they are not dismissing the numbers out of their mind, the numbers become the next fixation device.

(6) At the end, say “All gone?” or “Are they gone?” … Don’t say “Can you see the numbers?” because that is an indirect suggestion for them to see the numbers

– End of the induction –

Where to go from here

If your intent is simply to show the person what it feels like to be hypnotized, just give them a couple more feel good suggestions, and then emerge them. To emerge them say something along the lines of:

“In a second I’ll count from one to three, when I reach the number three you’ll emerge out of trance, feeling rested, relaxed, feeling good and full of energy… And one, all suggestions are sealed within you… two .. you’re feeling very relaxed from head to toe, noticing how this has been very relaxing and fun, and three… eyes open, wide awake, feeling great, and notice how good you feel.”

Otherwise you can bridge into pretty much any other hypnotic thing that you want to do. At this point is where I would create instant induction triggers, the circle of excellence exercise, etc.

Notes on how to enhance this induction using automatic deepeners:

One thing most professionals will do is to build automatic processes based on utilization. What this means is that they utilize things in the environment that are going to happen anyway and they use it as a way to automatically deepen the trance effect. So, in most inductions a professional will say something along the lines of:

  • “Outside sounds or noises can’t disturb you, and any sounds you may hear will only take you deeper.”
  • “With every breath you take, with every word I say, you can just go deeper, and deeper relaxed.”
  • “Becoming now more attuned to the sound of my voice.. the sound of my voice taking you all the way inside.”

You are going to keep talking, the person is going to keep breathing, they are going to hear things … So instead of being afraid of somebody yelling in the background, inform the subject to the effect that if they did hear that yell, it would just make them grow more relaxed and follow the suggestions even more, even to the point where the louder that yell got, they would have a deeper quality to their experience. It’s not going to happen that they tense up again because the yell gets softer, so you might as well build it in.

Other things to link automatic deepeners to include any sensation the person experiences, the weight of their body on the chair, the feeling of the clothes on their body, the blood moving throughout their body, the air moving throughout their lungs, air touching their skin, cars moving by in the background, or anything else that they see, hear, feel, or experience.

When do you use the automatic deepeners? Sometimes right after the eye lock you want to give the suggestion that noises in the environment will only cause you to go deeper, otherwise do it when they are in a good starting level of trance like at the fractionation step, and repeat it when you know they’re in really deeply.

The original Dave Elman Induction is © Dave Elman and can be found in his book “Hypnotherapy.”

If you’re looking for a video version on how to do this and other inductions, check out the Rapid and Instant Inductions Home Study Course.

Stages and Steps of the Dave Elman Induction

In my hypnosis training courses in the DC area, I give an exercise for the students to analyze the Elman Induction and to guess what the necessary steps or stages are. It’s a mental exercise to get them to think about it rather than just being hand-delivered the answer.

I tell them “Don’t search the internet for it!”  And, much like “Don’t think of a red stop sign,” many of them end up on this page.

Accordingly what I really want them to know is that the Elman Induction is not a script, but a process.

According to H. Larry Elman, son of Dave Elman, the “process steps” of the Elman induction are:

1. Catalepsy of Group of Small Muscles by Suggestion
2. Relaxation Suggestions
3. Fractionation
4. Catalepsy of Group of Large Muscles by Suggestion
5. Amnesia by Suggestion (achieves Somnambulism)
6. Further Deepener to Maintain Somnambulism

The Dave Elman induction: Pure Original Form
By Gerald Kein
©Dave Elman 1935

Take a long deep breath, fill up your lungs real good and hold it for a second. Now when you exhale, close your eyes down… And let yourself relax. Get rid of that surface tension in your body, let your shoulders relax. It’s OK to relax today.

Now put your awareness on your eyelids. You know that you can relax those eyes beautifully. You know that you can relax those eyes so deeply, that as long as you choose not to remove that relaxation, those eyelids just won’t work… And when you know that you’ve done that, hold on to that relaxation, give them a good test, make sure they won’t work… And notice how good it feels. Test them hard, it’s OK. (pause) that’s good. Stop testing let yourself relax much more.

That quality of relaxation you are allowing in your eyes is the quality of relaxation I’d like you let yourself have throughout your entire body. So take that same quality, bring it up to the top of your head… And send it down through your body from the top of your head to the tip of your toes. Let go of every muscle. Let go of every nerve. Let go of every fiber… And let yourself drift much, deeper, relaxed. You got it.

Now let’s really deepen this state. In a moment I’ll ask you to open and close your eyes. When you close your eyes, send a wave of relaxation through your body, so very quickly, you’ll allow this physical part of you to relax… Ten times deeper. Just want it and you can have it. Let your eyes become open… Close your eyes… And really… Let go. Feel your body relax, much more. You’re doing fine.

In a moment I’ll ask you to open and close your eyes again. This time when you close your eyes, double this physical relaxation… Really let it grow twice as deep. Let your eyes become open… Way down… Deeper… Deeper… Relaxed.

In a moment we’ll do it one more time… And notice how well it comes in this time as you learn how simple it is… At least double it. All right let your eyes become open… Way down (——), really let go. That’s good. That’s good.

In a moment I’m going to lift your right arm and drop it. Don’t help me lift that arm… And when it drops down, just notice how much more, your body can relax very easily. (arm drop) perfect. Way down. Great.

Now the body’s relaxed (——) so let’s get the mind relaxed, that’s really what we want to do. When your mind’s relaxed you really can achieve anything you can think of, within certain restrictions of course. In a moment I’ll ask you to slowly begin counting out loud, backwards, starting with the number 100. After each number, simply say the words, deeper relaxed. After each number double your mental relaxation, let your mind grow twice as calm and still and serene. Now if you do this, you’ll discover by the time you just say a couple numbers, doesn’t take long, you’ve relaxed your mind so beautifully and so completely, you’ve actually relaxed all the rest of the numbers out. Want that… And you can have it quickly.

Slowly begin counting out loud, backwards, starting with the number 100. Saying the words, deeper relaxed… And relax those numbers right out of your mind.

(100 deeper relaxed.) That’s good. (99 deeper relaxed.) That’s fine. (98 deeper relaxed.) Now you can let those numbers grow dim and distant, there not important. (97 deeper relaxed.) And when you’re ready just push them out. (96 deeper relaxed.) Now push them on out, just tell them to leave and they will go. Just let them go… And let them be gone.

… Numbers all gone ? (yes)

Hypnosis and NLP Hypnosis Videos

The Handshake Induction

I’m often asked if I use Milton Erickson’s famous Handshake Induction.

It is said that psychologists wouldn’t shake Milton’s hand because they were afraid they’d go into trance.

I’ve also heard that they used to teach courses to these psychologists about how to do hypnosis without going into trance yourself. Pretty funny, actually. I’m in hypnosis just about every time I hypnotize someone.

Anyway Erickson’s handshake induction goes like this:

  • Go to shake the person’s hand
  • As you near their hand, pull your hand away
  • At the same time, use your left hand to pick up that person’s wrist and bring their hand up to their face.
  • Say, “look at your hand.”

This is a pattern interrupt.

A person is so used to just going ahead and to shake someone’s hand that when the hypnotist does something different, it interrupts the flow of their brain for a second and their internal auditory quiets down.

After those steps you can say something along the lines of, “Notice the lines and the colors of your hand, and the shades and sensations as your head can just stay there on it’s own and move closer to your hand.”

Brian David Phillips has a post on this with video examples (from a hypnotic video challenge) that I think is great. Check it out here.