Remember “You are getting sleepy” after the hypnotist urges his patient to stare at a swinging pocket watch?
Popularized on TV and in the movies for years, this became the lay person’s image of hypnosis. Filled with a good deal of mystery and magic, audiences held their breath until the suspense of trance released itself into awakening. And voila! Eyes opened and consciousness returned.
Of course, this isn’t how hypnosis works, but it’s intriguing to look at perceptions surrounding its practice.
With uncanny control, the hypnotist would tell the patient how he should be feeling…in a sense, trying to force the sensation of sleepiness…“You ARE getting sleepy.” But we know now that such an authoritarian-like approach can trigger resistance, which can be a very real obstacle to the success of traditional hypnosis.
At the heart of the Ericksonian method is an emphasis on a permissive approach. Instead of strong, forceful phrases like “you will,” induction is performed with more suggestive phrases like “you could”, “you might”. With these subtle changes, resistance is diminished.
The usefulness of Ericksonian hypnosis doesn’t stop there; it can also provide techniques for practitioners to evoke trance-like memories in order to help the patient get in touch with strengths they were not aware of having.
The Ericksonian approach provides a way for the mental health expert to invite patients to an alternate state of consciousness, a state from which remarkable changes can often take place.
But hypnotic induction can be daunting. Though most practitioners have heard stories of extraordinary results, the craft of induction can often be illusive.
Bill O’Hanlon, MS, LMFT, is a pioneer in the use of Ericksonian hypnotic methods. An author of 30 books, his most recent, A Guide to Trance Land, gives us a concise guide to the basic principles of permissive, or solution-oriented, hypnosis.
Bill was a protégé of Milton Erickson, MD, the founder of Ericksonian hypnosis and is widely considered to be one of the best teachers of Ericksonian approaches.
On Wednesday, September 9, 2009 at 5 PM EDT, Bill will be hosting a teleseminar with me on the principles of Ericksonian hypnosis. During this free Teleseminar, Bill will demonstrate a brief induction and then use this as a teaching tool, identifying the critical elements of an effective induction.
The teleseminars are free if you listen at the time of their broadcast, or, register for a gold subscription and receive a downloadable link to the recording, a complete transcript and 8 CE credits. Click here to sign up.
Among practitioners of mind/body medicine, it’s widely known how effective hypnosis can be, not just in the psychotherapy session, but also in an emergency room or office visit. Find out if you should add this to your tool box.