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Rapid Inductions: Conference Notes (English)

Der folgende Text wurde den Unterlagen zum Vortrag Rapid Hypnotic Inductions entnommen, den Olf Stoiber auf der Jahreskonferenz 2013 der Assoziation für professionelle Hypnose und Psychotherapie in London gehalten hat. 

Conference Notes to the lecture on Rapid Hypnotic Inductions on the 2013 conference of the Association of Professional Hypnosis and Psychotherapy. 

Rapid Hypnotic Inductions: How to hypnotise almost anybody, anywhere – in the blink of an eye!

Sounds a bit flashy, doesn't it?

It does. And yet, it's what MANY people associate with hypnosis. We've all been faced with clients who've seen a stage hypnosis show somewhere and now expect us to just remove all their pain and anxiety by a snap of the fingers. It seems like they mistake us for magicians ...

As professional practitioners, we are able to help our clients in an amazingly short time. This can mean anything from 1-20 sessions, depending on the symptom – and on the client. We need our clients to be in a cooperative state where they're willing to also take charge of the therapeutic process – doing self-hypnosis when we teach it to them, doing their therapeutic homework.

Just visiting us in our practice, putting money on the table and expecting us to fix everything that's wrong for them – it just doesn't work this way. We need cooperation, and we need our clients to understand this very well to avoid disappointment.

Expectation versus Reality

So: We do have our great tools, our training, our knowledge and experience on the one hand. We know what we can do and how fast we can do it.

On the other hand, we have our new clients who may have seen a stage hypnosis show somewhere and get incredibly bored as soon as we start a long induction process or even tell them how we do serious work and how stage hypnotists are just entertaining ...

How can we solve this? Let me tell you a bit about my own personal experience with Rapid Inductions and stage hypnosis ...

When I started to study the art of hypnosis back in 2001, I was amazed at the many possibilities that opened up. I almost couldn't believe how easy it is to help people become non-smokers, shed their overweight, bust stress or gain confidence.

I received the most excellent training one could get at Terence Watts prestigious Essex Institute of Clinical Hypnosis and was fully equipped to deal confidently with most presenting symptoms.

Yet, with some clients, I came to a dead end – even though I (seemingly) used all my tools and skills just right. What happened?

Well, in those cases, I could usually make one observation: The client came with a different expectation of how a hypnotherapeutic session is conducted! And by not getting her / him into the same boat with me by setting the expectations straight before we started our work, I missed my chance of actually delivering great work and getting the results we wanted.

So I set out on a mission. Not only did I want to get my techniques just right, I also wanted my clients to be fully informed on how hypnotherapy really works and where (and why!) it differs from stage hypnosis. I really took a lot of time and great care in phrasing my words right, explaining how stage hypnotists work and that their goal is to entertain, ours is to help, and so on ...

Did it change anything with my clients? Barely. They listened, they seemed to understand – but they didn't actually BELIEVE. The more I told them about how our work differs from stage hypnosis, the more they seemed to believe I'M JUST NOT AS SKILLED AS A STAGE-HYPNOTIST! It was as if I was defending myself for not having a competence the stage hypnotist clearly has ...

This really started to bother me ... Until a really great chance opened up for me in 2003. A friend of mine (who was a stage hypnotist for many years) asked me if I'd like to conduct a stage hypnosis show on my own. Wow – I sure had some mixed feelings.

On the one hand, I decided to use hypnosis for healing purposes and felt like it's a mighty tool that shouldn't be used for mere entertainment. On the other hand, it felt like a chance most certainly not to be missed. Finally, I could get an inside-out look at the field of stage hypnosis and wouldn't have to tell my clients stories I've read somewhere about how stage hypnosis supposedly works ...

So – I said yes. And for almost a year, I did around two dozen stage shows. Audiences ranging from 50 to 2000 people. And: It was probably the very best thing that could happen to me! Because finally, I understood how stage shows work. I understood my clients expectations and why they often were so disappointed when I just told them "stage shows are not serious hypnosis". And I finally found a way to fix the expectations elegantly in a way that would supercharge their confidence in the therapeutic process, giving me their full trust.

What we can learn from stage hypnotists

If you've ever watched a stage hypnosis show live or on television (and – being a professional hypnotherapist – you definitely should have!), you will realise an almost uncanny success rate with the hypnotic inductions being used. It almost appears magical: A few muttered words, a snap of the fingers, and – voilà, almost all volunteers seem to go into a trance in a matter of mere seconds.

The question is: Is this for real – or are the people up on the stage stooges?

Well ... my year doing stage shows gave me a full insight on how the shows work. Here's my findings in a nutshell:

  • In a stage hypnosis show, volunteers are suddenly experiencing a lot of peer-pressure by being exposed in an environment where there's a lot of expectation as to certain things that should be happening
  • A common reaction is a rush of adrenaline, raised blood pressure and also heightened suggestibility (since the unconscious resources are being triggered)
  • Being given the permission to go into a relaxed state is a very desirable thing right now – it relieves you of the pressure of being watched, calms you down and also takes away the responsibility for your actions
  • The same thing happens when a TV-crew is present: People feel like they're being watched and become very willing to go along with any suggestions you give them
  • By showing FULL CONFIDENCE, the stage hypnotist gains the trust of his volunteers; the confidence being display was the most critical thing to the entire show. NOT the actual inductions being used.

So – yes, the stage hypnotists do use actual hypnosis. But the volunteers up on the stage don't do silly stuff BECAUSE of hypnosis; hypnosis merely relaxes them. It's the entire context of the show that makes it work! Supposedly being hypnotized gives them permission to act out like little children without having to be embarrassed since they have a wonderful excuse. And it's much easier to go along with the suggestions the hypnotist gives on the stage than to say "It doesn't work for me ..."

Characteristics of the stage hypnotist

Before I did my first own shows, I watched many colleagues present their shows. I didn't really bother much about what they did, I was much more interested in how they did it. By watching more and more colleagues, I was able to find some common resources all of them use (well, ... at least the successful ones). Here's what they did:

  • Show full competence! Leave no doubt that you know EXACTLY what you're doing. Let the audience know upfront that you're a true expert in the field of hypnosis.
  • Show full confidence! If a stage hypnotist comes across insecure, her / his show surely won't work.
    • Confidence in the way you MOVE
    • Confidence in your EYES – make sure you've always got great eye contact

That was basically it. Simple, hum? Well – as simple as it may sound, it's really the make-or-break part of any show.

I've seen colleagues who only managed to do the most basic hypnotic inductions you could imagine, then doing a rather simple show – but always in a state of enormous confidence. Those shows were usually praised by loud rounds of applause afterwards. And I've seen some very skilful colleagues doing elegant and well thought-out shows ... but with an apparent lack of confidence which resulted in an amazingly bored audience ...

Also: The more confident the hypnotist came across, the less it mattered HOW she / he actually induced trance. Some stage hypnotists literally just snapped their fingers – along with the command "Sleep" – and their volunteers went into a trance ...

Relevance to the serious hypnotherapist

So I've told you a bit about stage hypnosis now. You might ask yourself:

How does all of this apply to the serious hypnotherapist? Do we need to know about stage hypnosis? Do we need to know about Rapid Inductions, the super fast inductions that are not only being used by stage hypnotists, but also by many TV-hypnotists? Isn't a longish induction much more relaxing?

Here's what I believe:

  • Usually, I actually do prefer a standard induction over a rapid induction since it gives the client more time to fully relax and is also a good antidote to the hectic lifestyle many of us have become accustomed to

    (Ummmh .... so why am I lecturing about Rapid Inductions when I usually prefer other inductions? Answer is coming right up!)

  • But: There are cases where I need to know how a rapid induction works! Those are ...
    • in demonstrations in front of audiences (in a talk, or when doing group work)
    • when working with the media
    • for clients who specifically want a rapid induction
    • for clients who have trouble going along with long inductions (for example: when panic attacks during the session make it hard for the client to achieve trance)
    • for clients who come for many sessions and would like to experience some new inductions for the purpose of variety
  • Therefore, I consider it absolutely necessary for any serious hypnotherapist to know at least a few rapid inductions!

How rapid inductions work

You might have already seen some rapid inductions – or even used them. There are many descriptions of them flying around on the internet, and YouTube is loaded with videos on Rapid Inductions.

Yet, most instructions seem to forget some of the most important parts of any Rapid Induction ...

Most people think Rapid Inductions are composed of four different parts:

  1. Induction – the Rapid Induction technique you're using
  2. Deepening – making the trance deeper and more enjoyable
  3. Intervention – whatever it is you do whilst your client is in trance
  4. Exduction – waking your client up from trance again

This seems right – but it isn't complete. Because a crucial part of any Rapid Induction process is missing. The complete list should read like:

  1. Setting the stage – create expectation, setting your client up for the Induction
  2. Induction – the Rapid Induction technique you're using
  3. Deepening – making the trance deeper and more enjoyable
  4. Intervention – whatever it is you do whilst your client is in trance
  5. Exduction – waking your client up from trance again
  6. Post-Frame: Giving your client some helpful suggestions in the waking state that help her / him make the best of what she/he's just experienced

Doing the right things in order to set the stage is – in my opinion – the most important thing to do in any Rapid Induction. If you don't create a state of expectation, the Rapid Induction will most likely not work and may even come across as cheesy. On the other hand, if you manage to set the right stage for the Rapid Induction, you really don't have to get the Rapid Induction all "right" and it most likely will still work ...

In order to set the stage, you ...

  1. need to come across as very confident! Create an atmosphere of expectation; leave no doubt something great will happen in a short while! Don't just show it – say it! "You will experience a beautiful hypnotic induction in a little while and maybe you'll be surprised by how quickly you will go into a trance ..."
  2. Display competence! Leave no doubt you KNOW what you will do.
  3. Use intense eye contact: Your eyes can make or break the induction. Allowing your eyes to wander around because of insecurity is a sure tell-tale sign to your client that you don't believe in yourself (or your technique)
  4. Use the moment of surprise ... Almost all rapid inductions have a moment of surprise which is a trigger to the unconscious mind to let the trance begin. In most cases, this is a clear command: "Sleep!" – spoken confidently and loudly.

Being confident without being arrogant

I love confident people since they give me the feeling I can relax in their presence.

But I do hate arrogant people since I always get the feeling they don't have my best intentions in mind, but just want to make themselves feel better ...

So: Confidence is a wonderful resource for any professional therapist!
Arrogance is a wonderful ... sign that you should leave the profession ASAP.

Yes, self-belief is important. You need to know that you've got something special to offer to your clients and you need to be able to show it. This will give your client the feeling she / he has found the right therapist in order to facilitate the desired change.

But there's a thin line between self-belief and smug arrogance. I believe that line is drawn by your personal intention: If your full heart is set on providing your clients with a truly wonderful service, making their life better, you're on a good way and more than welcome to show your full confidence.

If you don't really care about people ... well, that's when confidence turns into arrogance.

Over the years, I've made an interesting observation when it comes to confidence. A small minority of students of hypnotherapy just can't stand the idea of delivering a rapid induction. They claim it's too dominant and lacks any respect for the client whatsoever! When I tell them about the many benefits of Rapid Inductions and about how some clients can only go into trance when doing it quickly, they don't really change their opinion ...

It's only after they've gone through some really good hypnoanalysis on themselves then this issue is resolved! Apparently, having had a strong and dominant person in your past who didn't always have your best intentions in mind can cause a strong aversion towards any dominance ...

People still suffering from their old burdens who go into the field of hypnotherapy then tend to try to only use "soft" and permissive methods, steering away from inductions or interventions that seem too aggressive or "confident".

So, if you have an aversion towards rapid inductions, I clearly suggest you find out why. That doesn't mean you have to do them or like them ... but anything less than a neutral feeling towards them may indicate you still have some old ISE's to work on if you want to avoid messing up the therapeutic experience for your client. After all, aggression (as well as confidence) are natural parts of the human experience and – in the right doses – are absolutely healthy.

Never miss a chance to make your participants life's more beautiful!

Let's talk a bit about using Rapid Inductions for public demonstrations ...

A lot of hypnotists love to demonstrate Rapid Inductions by just applying the induction and then waking their volunteers up again. You can do this – but you will miss the chance of giving your client something truly beautiful ...

I've made it a rule to ALWAYS give some positive, uplifting suggestions – even if I'm only demonstrating a quick induction. It doesn't really matter WHAT you say, exactly – just make sure it's something the client will benefit from. As a basic recommendation, you could go along the following lines:

"And when you wake up from this state, you will feel absolutely rejuvenated. You will have a pleasant feeling of relaxation, joy and happiness within you, an almost unexplainable sense of wellbeing and positivity. Your unconscious mind will take care of making these feelings even stronger within the next few hours, days, weeks and months, so old and unwanted habits and feelings will gradually but steadily disappear and be replaced by a whole new set of resources and personal wellbeing."

All it costs is a few moments of your time. But if you make it a habit to always leave your clients with some uplifting, beautiful suggestions, you will make an amazing experience:

Some people will report to you this single, short intervention has changed their life for the better!

I vividly remember presenting a group rapid induction at a workshop, throwing in a few nice suggestions. One of the participants reported back to me a few years later, stating he's been suicidal at this point and willing to end his life. This short intervention suddenly opened up his heart and soul again, leaving him with the hint of a positive outlook and the eagerness to take control of his life again. Now, he's moved house, changed his job, found a new relationship, and is one happy camper again! And – this is by far not the only touching experience I've made when doing public demonstrations ...

Mentioning the obvious: A few suggestions are usually NOT sufficient to cure clients of all of their symptoms. But sometimes it's enough to instil them with hope and a renewed sense of joy and wellbeing. Would it make any sense whatsoever to miss this chance? No – absolutely not!

The most popular Rapid Inductions

Here are three absolute classics in the department of rapid inductions. It's hard to describe a rapid induction just by words; but as soon as you've actually seen it at work, you will be readily able to emulate it ...

The Postural Sway Induction

The Postural Sway Induction cleverly makes use of an innate physiological response all of us have: We tend to automatically move away from an object moving towards us. Used in the right context, this induction can cause a light dizziness that is enormously beneficial to the induction process.

1. Have your client stand up straight

2. Move her / his feet together so they actually touch

3. Have a helper stand behind your client to catch her / him

4. Tell your client what is going to happen: "In a few moments, I will conduct a very fast induction. Clients are usually surprised how quickly they go into a trance ... Chances are you will feel a strong pull backwards, or a feeling like something is pushing you backwards ... if you feel it, I recommend you give into it. It's a beautiful experience and somebody will be standing behind you to catch you. As soon as you drop, you'll drop into one of the most pleasant feelings imaginable ... so, are you ready?"

5. Stand next to your client; put one hand flat above the eyeline in front of her face; one hand behind the head with about two inches distance

6. Start moving your hands simultaneously to the face (away from the back of the head)

7. Use suggestions such as "Something is pulling you backwards now ... just let it happen ..."

8. As soon as you see a postural sway movement, touch the forehead – say "Sleep!", and your client will fall backwards into trance

9. Your assistant will catch the client; it makes sense to help out a bit by putting one hand behind the back of the head to avoid the head dropping to the floor

10. Now, touch the middle of the forehead whilst giving further suggestions to deepen the trance

Magnetic Hands Induction

This is one of the most elegant inductions I know of since it's simple and aesthetical at the same time.

1. Tell your client what is going to happen: "In a few moments, I will put up my hands and you will do the same. The palms of our hands will be facing each other but not touching. When I start to move my hands, yours will follow along – at the same pace, in the same direction. Your eyes will be locked onto mine, though – don't look at your hands, don't look at mine, but let your unconscious awareness pick up the movement of my hands until we come into a perfect rhythm ... almost as if our hands were magnetically linked to each other ... so you will then get a pleasant sensation of relaxedness that will quickly slide into a trance ... so, are you ready?"

2. Put up your hands

3. Have her / him put her / his hands up as well, facing your palms

4. Start moving (in an ambiguous pattern), throwing in a few suggestions such as "Look into my eyes ... don't let your focus wander, but let your hands wander ... in the same pace, in the same direction as mine ... while you relax more and more ... and slowly but steadily go deeper and deeper into a perfect trance ..."

5. If your clients eyelids start to flutter, you can give a suggestion such as "And now ... just let your eyes close ... so they will stay firmly closed whilst you go into a deep trance ... right now"
If they don't flutter, you can just grab one of your clients hands, quickly pulling it down while saying "Sleep!", while you touch her / his forehard with your other hand

6. Use one hand on your clients head to move it in a circular fashion, "and while your head is moving, you go deeper and deeper into trance ..."

Handshake Interrupt

A classical induction, often used by Milton H. Erickson ...

1. Ask your client to shake your hand

2. Shortly before the actual shake, pull your hand away and grab your clients wrist with either hand; then move your clients hand with her palm facing towards her face up to her face.

3. Apply slow, ambiguous touch and movement while giving suggestions:
"And as you now watch your hand ... and slowly let the entire outside world drift away ... you will feel a changing sensation within you ... a deep relaxation setting in, while you watch the fine lines and pores in your hand and notice a changing focus ... "

4. After a while, you can push your clients hand towards her face, giving the suggestion: "Sleep!"