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.
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.
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
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)