How to do a Hypnosis Induction
How hypnosis inductions work
Every hypnotist should learn a wide variety of hypnosis inductions, and try out new inductions from time to time. You need different inductions for different types of people. A good hypnotist will use the hypnosis induction script that is right, not just the induction they are comfortable with.
Hypnosis Inductions are generally simple and standard. A hypnotic Induction usually involves hypnotic words and suggestions, one or more deepeners and one or more tests for depth of trance. You might want to do a hypnotic susceptibility test and a test for preferred representational style before starting the induction. This finds out if the person is visual, auditory or kinesthetic. You might need to reword some visualization inductions if it turns out that the client cannot visualize, for example. Don't be afraid to try something new - hypnotists create new inductions all the time.
Keep it simple
Always use the simplest induction that will work. There is no advantage in showing off with fancy complicated inductions. The client doesn't know or care how clever your induction is. Often the best hypnosis induction is no induction. Just tell the client to close their eyes and then ask them to imagine they are in their favourite relaxing place. Then tell them to imagine they are so relaxed they cannot get their eyes to open. Job done – all over in thirty seconds - go straight on with what they came for, the hypnotherapy. In reality, your induction should be almost invisible.
There are literally thousands of ways of putting people into hypnosis. The induction scripts included in the free hypnosis scripts are just a few of the most popular methods.
Types of Hypnosis Induction
Pace and Lead Inductions
Pace and Lead inductions use some natural effect that varies in some way to suggest that the effect is happening because of what the hypnotist is doing. For example in the eye fixation induction the hypnotist uses the fact that if you stare at a point your eyes will quickly feel tired. The hypnotist tells the person that it is the hypnotism that is causing the tiredness and this means that they are going into trance.
Visualization inductions aim to get the mind to dissociate. Any visualization will lead the mind away from the present. This is why hypnosis induction scripts often ask the person to imagine walking in a garden or floating in a bath or rocking gently in a chair. Then you ask the subject to recall or imagine some scene linked to a pleasant situation. When your person is fully focused on recalling the scene they are in trance. Dissociation and trance are the same thing. In trance sometimes you can see the person's eyes move under their eyelids as they watch the scene suggested by the hypnotist. This shows that they are totally focused in their imagination at that moment. This is a very simple and flexible hypnosis induction method.
When frightened and under attack, many animals exhibit a behavior known as tonic immobility. This is a primitive function of the brain that causes the animal to 'freeze' as if paralyzed. If left unmolested the animal will gradually leave the state and recover normal function. This protects the animal from predators. Many predators will not eat animals already dead, or will leave them and come back later. There are many examples in the animal world.
For centuries boys have been 'hypnotizing' chickens by holding their head down and drawing on a line on the ground straight out from their beak. The chicken can stay immobile for hours. Or you can immobilize the chicken by placing the bird on its back and running your finger from under the beak towards its tail, as if you were gutting it. Some lizards are 'hypnotized' in much the same way, by tilting them back and stroking their stomach. Some sharks are immobilized by turning them belly up. The shark appears to lose all ability to swim and lies inert for several minutes before eventually righting itself and swimming away.
Tonic immobility is induced in humans by startling them. This fact is the basis of several instant hypnotic inductions. A well known method of instant induction distracts the person and then startels them by suddenly pulling their the arm sharply. Erickson's Handshake Induction is an example of this method.
Results are variable. After a rapid induction some people take several minutes to return to full consciousness, others will bounce back from the state almost instantly.
Sleep Preparation Inductions
Chickens put their heads under their wings when going to sleep. You can briefly 'send them to sleep' by putting their head under their wing during the day. The chicken will stay that way for thirty seconds or so. This is a case where the physical posture associated with sleep induces the sleep behavior. Humans also show this behavior. If you get a human to sit or lie quietly, relax their muscles and slow their breathing they will invoke the natural human sleep response. This is why most hypnotic inductions start with 'take a deep breath and relax' – it starts the natural sleep response. It is the basis of permissive hypnosis scripts.
Sensory Overload Inductions
Sensory overload inductions work by overloading the mind. This technique prevents analytical clients from ‘over-thinking’ and evaluating everything you say. You can use confusion inductions and overload methods by rapidly switching the subject around and confusing their mind until it gives up trying. Or you can force the client to keep track of more and more sensations until they can’t handle any more. Then it becomes easier to just follow your instructions.
These are based on the natural human mental response called 'mirroring'. If you see someone else do something part of your mind rehearses the same actions. If you watch someone getting ready to throw a ball, neurons in your brain prepare you to do the same thing and create the muscle commands ready to fire off. Hypnotists use this ability to induce trance. If you get the client to describe what they would do to put someone else in trance, they are in fact rehearsing the hypnosis induction process in their own mind first. Of course the hypnotic words and phrases they are describing start to work on them as they are describing it. Erickson's My Friend John Induction is an example of this hypnosis induction method.
This is a huge class of methods. You can use almost anything as a metaphor that suggests the ideas of sleep preparation. Key words are down, dark, quiet, calm, relaxed. So tell the client that they watching a sunset. Then suggest as things get darker and quieter as the sun goes down their breathing is slowing down. Link that to feeling more and more tired, and you have an induction. Or use going down in a lift, or going down stairs. Imagining being a bird circling down towards a dark silent sea will work just as well.
Conversational or Stealth Inductions
Many conversational inductions actually depend on boring the listener until their mind drifts away in self defense. A lot of meditation inductions depend on this – meaningless phrases spaced out with long gaps in between. Any school kid can tell you how easy it is to drift into a prolonged daydream while the teacher drones on about boring stuff.
You can mix specific hypnotic words and phrases into a normal conversation and emphasize those words in some way. This technique is called Analogical Marking.
Hypnotic Gaze Induction
This technique depends on the client's belief in the secret power of hypnosis. It is a direct suggestion method that works only on highly susceptible people. The other person to told to stare into the hypnotist's eyes. The hypnotist then keeps suggesting that the person is feeling sleepy and their eyes are getting tired. The hypnotist then either uses an Instant Induction or a Pace and Lead technique.
This type of induction is ideal for the analytical client. These are people who cannot shut off their thoughts, who describe their mind as 'always busy' or talk about 'racing thoughts'. It is also a very effective way to hypnotize people who cannot visualize.
The induction works by moving the focus of attention. Get the client to focus on their breathing. Then tell them to repeat short affirmations under their breath. You get the person to choose two affirmations, and repeat one on the in-breath and the other on the out-breath. The repeated words in the affirmations go directly to the subconscious mind. This induction is a type of mantra induction.