Practical vs. Impractical Hypnosis

I had a client recently who thanked me for focusing on the problem he came in to resolve. Apparently he’d been to see a New Age hypnotist in another town, who had taken him on a hypnotic guided tour of all sorts of beliefs and symbolism that didn’t resonate with him — and that he didn’t respond to. This wasted his time and money.

Hypnosis doesn’t always use guided imagery and metaphor — classic “direct suggestion” specifies the outcome without using metaphor and without specifying the means, just the end: “you are now a nonsmoker” —  but when hypnosis does use metaphor or a guided hypnotic experience, the hypnotist has to use what resonates with the individual.

For example, some New Age hypnotists use past-life regression with just about everyone. Past-life regression can be extremely powerful, but some people find the concept silly or repugnant, and won’t play along enough to get any benefit. The same goes for encountering spirit guides, or kindly aliens, or Jesus.These things are effective for some people, but a total flop for others.

28424766_sThis is why successful hypnotists use more universal metaphors: walking through a landscape that’s beautiful to you, not me; remembering events from earlier in this life, not past lives; setting down burdens and letting your problems go; imagining the immune system as an endless stream of friends and warriors flooding forth to heal and defend the body; having your older and wiser self share knowledge and wisdom with your younger self; visiting a control room and finding the background pain level control and dialing it down, and so on.

And if I can’t get a good response to what I’m doing, I do something else!

Another thing the practical hypnotist does is to test. Many hypnotists basically fire off a prepared script in their client’s general direction, and keep going to the end unless the client actually gets up and walks out of the room! Some will keep reading even after they know the client has fallen asleep.

I ask clients questions during hypnosis, which with me is an active process using plenty of guided imagery. You won’t have the opportunity to fall asleep. The questions go something ilke this: “At the base of the chalkboard, there’s a ledge with chalk and an eraser. Pick up a piece of chalk in one hand and an eraser in the other, then nod your head.” If I don’t get a head nod, I investigate.

(It’s quite hard for a client to do hypnosis wrong. If there’s a hiccup in the process, it either means I was unclear, or I skipped a step, or something interesting just happened, something that will reward some extra attention.)

The whole point of one-on-one, personalized hypnosis is not to have an interesting or moving experience in my office, though that happens, too, but to get real-life changes in your life outside of my office. Changes that last. A client asked me recently, “How will I know if it’s working?” And I said, “When your problem goes away.” That’s the only real test.

Cal Banyan, whose video training course I’ve taken, claims that only 1% of hypnotists have this level of practicality and tenacity.

So even if you’re actively looking for a New Age/alchemical/spiritual hypnotist — and you won’t have any trouble finding one — you might want to keep me on my list. Folks in that demographic actually have a leg up, because they respond beautifully to my techniques. If you don’t see me first, see me second.

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Robert Plamondon
Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, and is an expert on free-range chickens. Robert's publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of reprinted classics, including Hypnotherapy of War Neuroses, which covers treating PTSD in veterans. Robert and his wife Karen sell free-range chicken and eggs at the Corvallis farmers' markets. Robert's hypnotherapy office is in downtown Corvallis.