There exists a dynamic relationship between a hypnotist and their subject (client) during a formal hypnotherapy session. Once the foundations of trust have been set up, and the client, for the most part understands their role in the process, the client will then allow the hypnotherapist to begin the therapeutic process. The special skill that the hypnotist must have at their disposal is the correct use of language so the clients mind can understand what it should be experiencing. Therefore, it's not really about what the hypnotist says, but more about what the clients mind hears. That being said, what the hypnotist says is not accepted by the client as literal, but more so that the hypnotherapist is suggesting information to be interpreted by the clients mind that make sense to them, and then react/behave accordingly. So therefore, it is the interpretation of what is being said, more than the literal words that dictate how the therapeutic process will proceed. An easy example would be to imagine the word "sleep." Even if the hypnotist says "sleep" to the client, the client will not instantly fall asleep, but more so that their mind will portray what the conditions should be if the client were to imagine sleeping. From this self-induced expectation, the client will mimic the actions of sleep. While this can seem like the client may be faking, the interesting thing to notice is that although the subconscious mind may be playing along, the story that the conscious mind is absorbed in allows it to feel as if it is really happening. A strange phenomenon indeed! Even with such a basic example we can get some understanding of the potential to create change in a persons mind.

The key component to getting this process right all starts with trust. The hypnotherapist must must seek to create an environment for the client where they can feel safe to be vulnerable. The hypnotist must demonstrate a fairly decent degree of knowledge, competence, empathy, self-awareness and confidence first, before the client can feel safe to move forward, otherwise the client will always hold the hypnotic process at arms distance to protect their vulnerability, and therefore, hamper the effectiveness of the process.
From this point onward the hypnotised person will know what is expected of them and will be prepared to respond accordingly to the suggestions/requests of the hypnotherapist. The psychologist Robert White argued that 'hypnotic behaviour is meaningful and goal-directed', which suggests along with the proficiencies of the hypnotherapist, they must have an understanding what the client wants to achieve during their sessions. In essence it is close to a shared hypnotic experience between hypnotist and subject, where both are having some sense of what the presenting issue looks and feels like, and likewise what the solution to this will look and feel like. The real art of a hypnotic intervention is to "de-hypnotise" the client from their problem and condition them to be attracted to more positive and/or constructive behviours and mindsets, because although many problems are experienced in the outward world, it is the inner world story that sits in the psyche that has claimed the attention of the client. Therefore placing them in an almost "trance-like" state where their issue puts a filter on the way they experience the outside world.

"Hypnosis … is a collaborative enterprise in which the inner experience of the subject can be dramatically altered.. " - A. Gordon Hammer and J. Philip Sutcliffe

To sum it all up, in order to get a better understanding of hypnosis, we must consider the dynamic relationship between the hypnotist and the client. We must also pay attention to how the client interprets the suggestions coming from the hypnotist, the clients goals, expectancies and abilities to create the right internal conditions that are conducive to behaviour change.

Thanks for reading,

On November 29, 2019