How do you get someone into a state of hypnosis? Is there a difference between how hypnotherapists put their clients into hypnosis, and how a stage hypnotist hypnotises volunteers during their stage hypnosis show? Well, yes and no. It depends on the type of ‘hypnotic induction’ that the hypnotist chooses to use, and this choice can be influenced by various different factors.
So, the induction stage is where a person is guided into a state of hypnosis. Once that’s done, the hypnotist will use a ‘deepening technique’ to deepen or intensify that state of hypnosis, which allows the subject is then able to easily follow the hypnotists suggestions. I’ll talk more about deepening in a different blog however, as this blog is about how to hypnotise someone! There are, as mentioned above, a number of different ways of hypnotising, and in this blog, I’m going to explain what each ‘category’ of hypnotic induction involves.
Progressive hypnotic inductions
Some hypnotic inductions can take minutes, whereas others can take just a few seconds. One of the most commonly used inductions in the hypnosis world, whether for stage or hypnotherapy, is the ‘progressive induction’ or ‘progressive relaxation induction’. This induction, as you might expect based on the name, takes more time than some of the other, faster options. The idea is that, using verbal suggestions, you have the client follow your instructions and ‘progressively relax’ every part of their body. It really is as simple as that. Also, it is highly effective for a great many subjects, which is why this induction is the go-to choice for many hypnotists.
Progressive inductions can include various elements. You can give suggestions relating to:
“With every breath that you exhale, this will help you to relax even more completely now… Breathing deeper and drifting deeper into hypnosis…”
“Focus on the muscles in and around your eyes… Relax those eye muscles so completely now that they’re almost immovable… Comfortably relaxed and immovable as you drift even deeper…”
Tension vs. relaxation
“Squeeze all of the muscles in your arms and hands… Notice the tension as you inhale… Squeezing… And now exhale and relax everything… Notice the difference as you become even more relaxed now…”
“I’d like you to imagine yourself in a wonderfully relaxing environment… Whether a place you know, or a new place… This place is the perfect place for you to allow yourself to completely relax now…”
“In a moment, I will count backwards from 10 to 1, each number I say, will take you 10% deeper into a deep hypnotic relaxation… Deeper with each breath and each number that you hear…”
As all subjects respond differently to hypnosis and suggestion, it can be a good idea to include a few of the different elements mentioned above. Some people will respond better to more physical suggestions, such as muscular relaxation. Others will respond more to counting and cognitive approaches. Whereas some prefer visualisations, and will engage more when asked to ‘imagine a scene‘. There are many different versions and variations on this progressive relaxation induction, and you can use and adapt those elements you feel are most appropriate for you, and your subject.
The progressive induction pretty much involves just speaking to the subject and giving them suggestions. It’s fairly easy to do. However, there are other inductions that involve more than just giving a client suggestions whilst they have their eyes closed…
Eye Fixation Hypnotic Inductions
Some types of hypnotic induction rely on having a subject focus on an external point, whilst giving them suggestions for the eyes to become tired and heavy. Then, when the subject can no longer hold their eyes open, they are told to close their eyes and go into hypnosis. For this induction, the subject can look at any point, such as a light, the sky or the ceiling. Even the old ‘swinging watch’ works well for this.
With eye fixation inductions, the hypnotist is looking for an increased blink rate and eye fatigue. This means, when using an eye fixation induction, you need to be watching the person you are hypnotising, and not looking at a hypnosis script. As people are all different, some people can keep their eyes open for longer than others. That is why this induction technique needs to be delivered in a bespoke way, tailored to each individual that you hypnotise. That said, it is a pretty simple induction, and doesn’t really need a script, as you are just giving direct suggestions for staring at a point, for the eyes becoming heavy and tired, wanting to close, etc. You keep repeating those suggestions until you notice them struggling to keep their eyes open, then suggest they close their eyes and relax into hypnosis. Simple!
Rapid Hypnotic Inductions
As mentioned above, the progressive hypnotic induction is relatively slow, whereas some inductions are a lot faster. The inductions that are really fast are known as ‘rapid inductions‘. These inductions are more commonly used by stage hypnotists and street hypnotists, this is because they save a lot of time, but also because they look a lot more dramatic, and therefore become a part of the show! That said, rapid inductions are now becoming more popular with hypnotherapists, who’re looking to cut down on ‘induction time’ and have more time for doing therapy during the session. It is not all about cutting down time, however. Rapid inductions can also be useful for therapy clients where a longer/relaxation approach may not work so well (for example, if a client is in a lot of pain, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to relax). If you are interested in learning more about using rapid inductions in hypnotherapy, check out my blog on the topic.
When it comes to using rapid inductions, you have a lot of choices. There are three different categories of rapid inductions to choose from:
Shock rapid inductions
Shock inductions involve giving the subject a shock (i.e. making them jump), which then creates a moment of confusion, whereby the hypnotist can give the command to ‘sleep’ (but as you know, hypnosis isn’t sleep), and because the subject is shocked/confused, they more easily accept this suggestion and go into hypnosis instantly. Shock inductions tend to be the most commonly used type of rapid induction, because they are super quick, and do not require as much effort (from the hypnotist) as the other types of rapid induction.
Confusion rapid inductions
Confusion inductions can also be very fast, and are similar to the shock inductions. You’re looking to get the subject into an ‘overloaded’ state, where they are unable to continue following your suggestions, and it becomes much easier for them to just accept your suggestion to go into hypnosis. For example. you could have your subject count backwards from 1,000,000 whilst rubbing their hands clockwise for 3 rubs, then counter clockwise for 7 rubs, whilst tapping their feet on the floor. That’s a lot of stuff to do! So, a subject will get confused, and be unable to complete the task. At the point of confusion, you simply tell them to ‘sleep’!
Pattern interrupt rapid inductions
Pattern interruption inductions usually involve a ‘handshake interrupt’. This means you go to shake the subject’s hand, and then you interrupt the handshake process, which again causes confusion, then suggesting that they ‘sleep’ and go into hypnosis. This one is really simple, but can be tricky to master, due to the fact that the subject will be trying to shake your hand. If you plan on using this induction, get a bunch of practice first. Here’s a video of it in action:
Conversational Hypnotic Inductions
A final type of induction that is popular with ‘Ericksonian hypnotherapists’ is the conversational hypnosis approach. This is where a ‘formal induction process’ isn’t used at all, and instead, the hypnotist simply intersperses ’embedded commands’ (subtle hypnotic suggestions) within a seemingly un-hypnosis-related conversation. The idea is that the subject will pick up on said suggestions on a subconscious level, and will begin to go into hypnosis, even perhaps with their eyes remaining open. This is a much more covert way of generating a state of hypnosis, and is great for those subjects that are resistant or unsure about being hypnotised. Here’s an example of a conversational hypnotic induction, with all of the embedded suggestions in bold:
“It’s great that you’ve chosen to see me today, and it’s interesting to see how you’re starting to relax even though we haven’t even started the hypnosis session yet. I’m frequently told by my clients that they go into hypnosis almost instantly when they enter my office. I guess it could be the comfy chair that makes you go into hypnosis. I’ll be interested to see when today you will go into hypnosis sooner or later… but, we don’t need to think about your going into trance yet, because we’ve got plenty of time to have a chat before you choose to go into hypnosis. We wouldn’t want you to relax into hypnosis too soon, now would we?”
Pretty cool right? Some hypnotists/therapists use these suggestions as the induction, whereas others will use them in order to set people up for the hypnotherapy session (or even stage hypnosis show). One thing to consider, is that many subjects expect a ‘formal hypnosis process’. So, when you use conversational hypnosis, they may feel like they’re missing out on an integral part of what they were expecting. Keep this in mind, because belief about hypnosis is what makes hypnosis work, or not work. So, if you don’t meet your subjects expectations when creating the state of hypnosis, you may be fighting an uphill battle!
So, as you can see, there are plenty of different hypnotic inductions that you can use to create a state of hypnosis with. As a professional hypnotist or hypnotherapist, it’s a really good idea to have a knowledge of all the different types of induction, so that you can choose the appropriate induction for whoever you’re working with, no matter what the environment. If you’d like to learn more about hypnotic inductions, check out my book, The Instant Hypnosis and Rapid Inductions Guidebook, as well as the RZHA online academy and my live (in-person) rapid induction training!