So what even is a trance? Trance occurs on the spectrum between wakefulness and sleepfulness, and is marked by a state of altered awareness. We all experience trances all the time – while we’re falling asleep at night – while we’re driving familiar routes.
Similarly – when we’re in a state of extreme concentration, focused intently on a task we will enter a state of trance. When the trance is productive we call it a ‘flow state’. High performers talk about being in ‘flow’ and getting obnoxious amounts of work done – they put themselves in trance.
This video by Grace Smith demonstrates what a typical Hypnotherapy session experience would be like:
Trance is not sleep – and this is important because many clients assume they’ll be asleep. But they aren’t – they’re awake, but operating at a state below normal consciousness.
A medium state of trance could be best described as a state of feeling awake, yet kind of just zoned out and not really caring about what is being said and done. This assumes of course the suggestions are within the clients comfort zone – any unwanted suggestions would immediately alert the subconscious mind.
The deeper into trance that the client goes – the more the conscious mind is shut off and direct communication to the subconscious mind is heightened.
Inducing A Trance:
Can use spinning disks and candles and lights to fixate on.
Good relaxation words:
Avoid words like “falling” or “sinking” as these can have an adverse affect and induce a state of panic.
Speak slowly – leave lots of pauses in between your words – speak in vivid, descriptive words – your clients should be able to vividly imagine everything you say.
This video by Slumberland shows how to induce a state of trance for deeper and more relaxing sleep:
Use a ‘progressive relaxation’ induction to gradually relax all muscles throughout the body. This is a very gentle and soothing relaxation technique.
It’s important to read and understand your clients – some love you to be more authoritarian and tell them directly what to do, and some need a more permissive approach where you make ask rather than tell.
And remember to reward good behaviour with statements like ‘that’s right’, or ‘you’re doing wonderfully’ or ‘that’s it’.
Practice. Practice. Practice. Your confidence will grow in time.
One subtle point: avoid making assumptions. So instead of saying “you feel relaxed”, say “allowing waves of relaxation to wash over you”. Subtle but important difference.
Trance Induction Techniques:
A few induction methods:
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation
- Involves relaxing all muscles progressively from the head to the toes – slow and steady but good and reliable – very beginner friendly.
- Mental Confusion
- For advanced users only – using nonsense statements and gibberish that mean nothing
- Mental Overload
- Bombarding the conscious mind with so many suggestions and information that the eventual ‘sleep’ or ‘relax’ suggestion is such a welcome relief the just go for it. Better for more rapid or authoritarian inductions.
- Loss of Equilibrium
- Best done for stage hypnotism
- Direct Suggestion
- Works well for clients that trust you (repeat clients) or are highly suggestible – this is simply giving a suggestion for the client to ‘do as they’re told’ – so go ahead and tell them what you want! Better if they’re submissive and you bring out your dominant side.
- Used a lot in rapid induction. The shock could be generated by an unexpected push, pull or a dominant authoritarian suggestion. This causes the conscious to shut down and hide away in fear.
- This works if you have a long line up of willing participants. If you find the first most suggestible person, and you suggest they fall asleep and they drop to the floor – you may be surprised to find that suddenly everyone else in line is considerably more suggestible, and eager to be hypnotized by you.
Signs of Trance:
Practice and experience will be your best teachers for understanding your clients level of trance. It’s subjective and you’ll learn to tell by feel. However it is important to mention to your client what a trance is before they start and to make them aware that they will still hear everything you say. Otherwise they may assume they were never hypnotized!
But if you explain that trance is simply a deep state of feeling relaxed, where the conscious mind starts to zone out – they will feel more confident they entered a state of trance.
The typical signs of a hypnotic state are:
- Slower, more shallow breathing
- Relaxed body posture
- Eyes rolling back
- A blank stare on their face
- Paleness of the skin, or alternatively flush with colour
- Drooling, tears or other bodily releases
- Rapid eye movement (REM)
These are all generally caused by a deep level of relaxation.
Note: the reason it’s important to have feet flat on the floor and palms open and separated is that a reduced flow of blood during trance may cause numbness or tingling as those body parts fall asleep.
Also: the better you describe the state of trance beforehand, the more your client will have developed a strong expectation. And the stronger the expectation, the more effective the hypnotic process will be.
Three Typical Reactions To Testing:
- No visible physical reaction:
- Fairly rare, but indicates a lack of compliance, concentration, imagination or of their trust in you. Some clients may even have a smug look of satisfaction on their faces proving that they’ve ‘beaten you’ because you can’t control them – which of course proves the whole point: you can’t control them. Change happens inside themselves because they want it.
- Medium Physical Reaction:
- Usually occurs when the heavy hand drops a few inches and the light hand raises a few inches, but no dramatic change. When opening their eyes they may even have a slightly bemused look on their face seeing the movement of their hands after feeling the heavy weight and the lightness. The heavy arm may even feel quite tired and sore after lifting all that heavy weight. They’re starting to see the power of their mind.
- Extreme Physical Reaction:
- The light arm is all the way up in the sky and the heavy arm is all the way down. When the client opens their eyes they’re usually shocked on in disbelief that this could have happened. This test indicates your client should be quite capable of entering a deep state of trance quite quickly – and this is the time to continue with your induction.
The purpose of these tests is to better understand your clients and their level of suggestibility. How creative, open-minded they are, or how submissive and compliant, or authoritarian and dominant, or how crontolling and analytical – also – their level of trust in you as a person and confidence in your craft.
Instant Or Rapid Inductions:
Generally better for those who are more skilled and advanced.
How To Induce Hypnosis Rapidly:
Better saved for clients that already trust you, and are returning for multiple sessions.
Best done with a high level of confidence and certainty.
Rapid Induction Checklist:
- Strong expectation – the client needs to know what’s coming and want it – the more they believe in you and are excited the better.
- Familiarity – You as the hypnotherapist should be highly familiar and practiced in the art of inducing trance
- Confidence – you must also be highly confident in yourself and your abilities – the more you believe in yourself, the better
- Rapport – you must be close with your client and they must like you
- Trust – the next level on rapport – the client must trust you
- Willingness – the client must consent to being hypnotized
- Creative Imagination – helps the client to create a certain level of expectation in the form of their own mental imagery. We become what we think about – and as their imagination expands, they become what they imagined.
- Concentration – the client must be highly focused on a single point – remove all external distractions possible.
Best methods of induction are the mental overload – as they overload the conscious mind so completely that it has no other option but to shut down and relax. Pay attention to advertising – suddenly you’ll see mental overload all around you.
Deepening A Trance:
Deepening is simply taking the initial induction and stretching it further. What follows is a number of deepener variations – use whichever work best for you:
This video by Dr Unconscious takes you through the process of deepening a trance:
The Staircase Deepener Script:
Imagine leading someone down a flight of stairs. Start at the top (stair 10), and work you way gently and slowly down to the bottom (stair 1)
Bed Of Clouds Deepener:
Similarly, imagine laying down and relaxing on a big comfy bed of clouds. So soothing and relaxing – and feeling all your worries and stresses melt away.
To recap: we started with a progressive muscle relaxation induction, went to a staircase deepener then a bed of clouds deeper to get our client into a nice deep state of trance – as a beginner – master these three sets!
Finger Breathing Deepener Script:
Another excellent technique when you’re just getting started – (and for self-hypnosis)
Imagine having so much energy, and so much connection to the world around you that you could literally feel yourself sucking up the energy of the world around you – feeling yourself breathing through your fingers.
Terminating A Trance:
Once you’ve tranced a person, you have to bring them back to reality. Can also be referred to as the awakening, the re-orientation or emergence.
Trance deepeners count downwards, awakeners go upwards and include suggestions of alertness, energy, vitality and motivation.
Make your awakeners more dominant and authoritarian – you need to tall people to wake up (otherwise they’d enjoy resting forever!).
Utilising A State Of Trance:
Once you’ve induced a state of trance, you then have an opportunity to offer some suggestions for change. This is where you have the opportunity to speak directly to the subconscious mind and give it some gentle suggestions for change.
This could either be things to stop doing (like smoking or drinking), or things to start doing (being more focused, discipline and motivated).
The Sequence Of A Hypnotherapy Session:
- The Greeting:
Be friendly. Greet your clients by name, shake hands (if in person). Make sure they’re in a safe and comfortable room, and that they have a comfortable chair to sit in, with no external distractions.
If in person, ideally have some gentle lighting and aromatic oils burning for a nice relaxing atmosphere.
- Consent Form:
Get consent. Keep their information in confidence.
Get in touch with your client – understand what is going on for them and specifically the type of change they’re looking to experience.
- Defining Goals:
Define the clear goals your client wants to achieve.
- Explanation of Hypnosis:
Explain what hypnosis is, how it speaks directly to the subconscious mind and how it is not sleep – they will remain fully awake and in control the whole time, but may feel a little drowsy.
Remind them that hypnotists never take control – if they could they’d all be millionaires.
- Explaining the Conscious and Subconscious Minds:
Explain how the subconscious is responsible for all our emotional decisions – and all decisions are emotional.
- Imagination Exercise:
Conduct a suggestibility test – “I’m not going to hypnotize you yet, I just want you to put your hands out in front of you…” – magnetic hands and/or light/heavy hands.
- Inducing The Trance:
Use the progressive relaxation technique
- Deepening The Trance
Use the Staircase and the Bed of Clouds deepeners.
- Offering Hypnotic Suggestion
Based on the clients desired goals – offer the suggestions of what they’re wanting to achieve.
Get ‘em awake.
- Aftercare Support
They may be groggy or emotional – be there – listen, be helpful. Give your client ‘homework’ such as positive visualizations and affirmations to continue compounding the impacts you’ve had.
Important Tools, Props and Aids for your Clinic
Obviously with zoom and the pandemic, the world has changed. And have a ‘clinic’ is less essential than it used to be.
But maintain an air of professionalism. Dress like a professional. Act like a professional.
Make you have a good microphone – audio quality is extremely important.
Problems That May Come Up:
Failing To Enter A Trance:
May be caused by a lack of trust or rapport. If the client is hesitant or doubts your abilities – they’re likely not going to follow your suggestions. People are eager to listen to the types of people that they like and trust.
Also a noisy or distracting atmosphere can make entering a trance more difficult. However, you can use that noise to your advantage – by saying that the buzzing outside is actually causing them to go deeper and deeper into trance.
Not Complying With Suggestions:
Did you suggest something that they actually want? If you told them to lose weight but they have no interest in losing weight, you probably won’t get very far.
Some clients are simply just contrarians and will contradict you as a protective defiance mechanism to prevent you from taking control. Clients are encouraged to work with you, rather than against you, to achieve their desired results.
Not Waking Up From A Trance:
Sometimes clients just call asleep – take it as a compliment – you were so relaxing!
Or sometimes clients just enjoy the trance so much they don’t want to fully wake up.
If someone has fallen asleep you may need to speak in a louder voice, clap your hands, brighten the lights, or if in person a gentle tap on the shoulder.