In this blog, I talk about hypnotic intention from a hypnotherapy perspective. However, the same fundamental concepts apply to other types of hypnosis too!
What is hypnotic intention?
There are many different factors to a successful hypnotherapy session, and one of the most fundamental, and perhaps simplest, is ‘hypnotic intention’, yet it’s a point that is often overlooked on many hypnosis training courses. As a hypnotherapist or hypnotist of any kind, you must have the right intention in order for hypnosis to be as effective as possible. Hypnotic intention can be broken down into two separate elements, setting your intention to hypnotise, and setting your intention to help your client.
Setting your hypnotic intention to hypnotise
The first part of the ‘hypnotic intention process’ is setting your intention for success, and focusing on having success in applying the methods that you know work. So, knowing that your hypnotic induction process is solid, and being confident that it will work. Having the positive intention that even if something ‘interesting’ or unexpected happens during a session, that you’re competent and confident enough to deal with it appropriately. Being so unshakably convinced that hypnotherapy can help this client and that you are the hypnotherapist for the job! That kind of thing.
Now, as you probably know, a hugely important consideration relating to the success of hypnosis is the belief in hypnosis itself. What I mean is; often, for those clients who don’t think hypnosis is going to work, it won’t. This is because they believe it won’t, and all hypnosis is self-hypnosis, remember. The problem is, the same goes for hypnotherapists. If you set out to hypnotise a client, and in your head you’re thinking “oh my god, oh my god, what if this doesn’t work? What if they open their eyes? What if they say they weren’t hypnotised at the end? What if I say the wrong word at the wrong time at the wrong speed with the wrong inflection?” etc., then a couple of things automatically become more likely to happen.
Firstly, you’re going to be transmitting your ‘negative intentions’ to your client, whether consciously or unconsciously, and many people (clients) are naturally highly empathetic, and will pick up on things (even things you’re trying to hide). So, if you aren’t confident in your own abilities as a hypnotherapist, or you don’t trust or like the methods you’re using, this information will come across, on some level, to the client. Even if you think it won’t, and even if you’re trying to hide it, there will be an air of incongruence present, and an incongruent therapist breaks rapport, and broken rapport is not what maketh a great hypnotherapy session.
Secondly, when you’re saying all that negative, worrisome shit to yourself, your intention at this point is not to ‘succeed’, but instead to ‘try not to fail’. As you probably know, if you try not to do something, you first have to think about doing it in order to not do it, and it then becomes an uphill battle with the ‘law of reversed effect’ (the more you try not to do something, the more likely it is to happen). This happens because you ‘future pace’ yourself through various failure scenarios, planning and mentally rehearsing many different ways to stuff up your own session…
You’re a hypnotist. You know better than that. Stop it.
Hypnotic intention relating to hypnotic suggestions
The first part of setting your intention is all about your confidence in yourself and in your hypnosis skills. The second part of the intention process is all about your intention to help your client, and to get the results you are aiming for. Your hypnotherapy sessions will tend to have much better outcomes if you actually want to help your clients, because again, the client will pick up on it. They will ‘feel’ your genuine desire to help them improve their lives. I’m sure, at some point in your life, you’ve been served by a waiter, or some other customer service person, who just didn’t give a crap, and was working solely to pay their bills. It happens, but would you want to work with a therapist who was doing the same thing? Going to someone for help, and having them ‘just go through the motions’ with you? I know I wouldn’t. I’d feel patronised, lied to, like I was an inconvenience or ‘just another nameless face’, and I definitely wouldn’t be thoroughly engaged in the therapy process (or recommending them to my friends and family). I certainly wouldn’t want any of my clients to feel that way about me as a therapist, and I’m sure you probably feel the same.
Now, I’m not saying that you should be overly emotionally invested in your clients life, or with their therapy results. I mean, if your weight loss client comes back a week later and she’s put on 0.5lbs, don’t start crying or flying off the handle. Conversely, when your tricky smoking cessation client comes back a month later to tell you she is still a non-smoker, you probably won’t give her a big hug and a kiss and dance around the room like her best friend might, whilst cracking the champagne! But you should be appropriately engaged with your client, in their issues and in their outcomes. You should actually give a shit (at the appropriate level), because clients will appreciate that you’re invested in helping them, and that you care, or at least seem like you do!
Using hypnotic intention
Now, not everyone will automatically be able to turn on ‘positive hypnotic intention’ mode. Some hypnotherapists who’ve been practicing for years still haven’t found the switch to turn it on, so we can’t expect it to be the natural state for all hypnotherapists from the outset. That said, it’s certainly something that you can learn and develop. Yes, you can get better at utilising positive intention, it’s a skill, and the single, easiest way to do this initially (and for those of you who’ve read my book ‘The Instant Hypnosis and Rapid Inductions Guidebook’, you probably know what’s coming) is to ‘fake it ‘til you make it’! This works more congruently with the first part above (about hypnosis and self-confidence), rather than the second part (intending to help your client), but hey, we’ve all gotta start somewhere, right?
So, your task to take away from this blog, is to be mindful of your thoughts before and during your hypnotherapy sessions. Whilst you’re working with your client, pay heed to what you’re telling yourself. If you notice yourself thinking negative things or worrying, consciously make yourself stop thinking those thoughts and replace them with your positive thoughts and your positive intention for everything to work. Tell yourself it’s going to work, that you’re doing well, that the way you deliver your suggestions is awesome, etc. Remind yourself that you want your client to succeed, both for their sake and your own. Eventually, by practicing giving yourself this positive intention ‘manually’, you will soon naturally begin to incorporate this new way of communicating into yourself, to the point where it will become a subconscious process.
THINK: your subconscious mind knows what works best for you to work at your peak, and allowing it to know how to set your positive intention at the start of a hypnotherapy session will only help your hypnotherapy practice to succeed more and more every day, with every client, and with each unconscious breath that you exhale, as you relax… Now go out there and know that you’re doing your best…
…and know that you know it.