Is hypnotic suggestibility important?
How important is knowing whether someone is suggestible or not? Well, it really depends on the context of the hypnosis that you’re doing. For example, a hypnotherapist will generally not need someone who is ‘ultra suggestible’ in order to work effectively with them. This is because hypnotherapy is simply hypnosis + various therapy techniques (if you are new to hypnotherapy, check out this blog to learn more about how hypnotherapy works). Said therapy techniques could work without the hypnosis part. However, the hypnosis tends to make them more effective. In contrast, a stage hypnotist will generally require highly responsive hypnotic subjects due to the nature of the suggestions they will be given during a hypnosis show.
Types of hypnotic suggestibility
There are different areas of suggestibility that can influence a hypnosis session/show. Beyond simply ‘responding to suggestion’, suggestibility will come into 2 main categories; imagination and physical. It is useful to test whether someone can use their imagination to visualise or even ‘hallucinate’, as this can drastically shape the way that you work with them in hypnosis. If you find out, using a suggestibility test, that a person is not able to visualise, then you can alter your session/approach to ensure that what you’re doing is not primarily ‘visual’ in nature, leading to more success.
With the ‘physical’ suggestibility testing, you are able to work out whether someone will move in hypnosis when they are given the suggestion to move. This is helpful, as some people are naturally more inclined to moving whilst hypnotised, whereas others are naturally more still or slow at moving (this is known as ‘catalepsy’). Thinking in terms of a hypnosis show, a comedy hypnotist wants volunteers who will move around on stage, as that’s the main part of the show, so again, this is another really useful reason to test hypnotic suggestibility.
Although, as mentioned above, a hypnotherapist may not be too bothered about how suggestible a subject is, testing hypnotic suggestibility also gives an indication of resistance. So, rather than doing an hour of hypnotherapy with a client only to find out at the end that they were actively resisting the process, a suggestibility test can help identify this resistance beforehand so that it can be addressed before the hypnotherapy itself begins.
Obviously there are times when a hypnotherapist may want a client to be ‘deeper’ or ‘more suggestible’ in order to achieve more complex hypnotic phenomena, such as when using hypnotic anaesthesia for pain management, or regressing a client back to a time in their past to work through a traumatic event. However, these are generally approaches that would be engaged in later in the therapy process, and as such, a client will have more experience being in hypnosis, and may also have developed a greater level of suggestibility because of that. Similarly, some street hypnotists will not always use complex hypnotic phenomena (such as hallucinations), and may only give simple suggestions for alteration of feelings and generation of catalepsy, at which point a highly responsive/somnambulistic subject is not required.
Learn to use suggestibility tests
As I’m sure you’ve realised by now, it is always a really good idea to test the hypnotic suggestibility of whoever you will be hypnotising, whether for therapy, stage shows or even impromptu hypnosis demonstrations. But how do you do this? Well, there’s a bunch of free information on the internet that will explain/show you some of the basics of suggestibility testing. I’ve even got a couple of videos on my YouTube channel of suggestibility test demonstrations, like this one:
However, if you want to really get to grips with hypnotic suggestibility testing, you have two great options. Firstly my popular book, The Instant Hypnosis and Rapid Inductions Guidebook, has an entire section on a vast range of suggestibility tests, including full scripts and walkthroughs making it easy to replicate each suggestibility test yourself. Otherwise, if you prefer to watch, rather than read, suggestibility tests are covered in masses of detail, and with a range of video demonstrations, when you sign up to the Rory Z Hypnosis Academy online membership. For more information on that, and everything else that’s included, check out the details here: