Was I really Hypnotized?

Was I really Hypnotized?

A comment I hear sometimes from clients:


“I don’t think I was really hypnotized.”

This is almost always worded as a statement, although when I hear it, I hear a slug of questions behind it.

“Was I hypnotized? Is that what being hypnotized feels like?”
“Wasn’t I supposed to feel like I was floating?”
“Shouldn’t I have felt like I was under your control?”
“I remember all/most of what happened, shouldn’t I awaken with no memory?” “Why didn’t my inner voice stop talking?”
And the most important question from my clients is,

“Will this be effective?”

First of all, hypnosis is a natural state that we slide in and out of on a regular basis. It may not feel ‘otherworldly’, because it is a natural state that you are comfortable in. Your mind is more focused while your body is relaxed. Think of the last time you slipped off to sleep as you were daydreaming about something. It is very much like that, but you are in a ‘guided daydream’ when you are in my chair. It is your choice to pay attention to me, it is your choice to accept any suggestions I give you, it is your choice to participate in any of the guided activities I present.

And alternatively, it is your choice to reject anything that I say, or anything that I suggest.
I have had a client do this when I made a suggestion that didn’t take into account something of importance to him. This person was suffering from something he called flutters. When stressed it felt to him like the beginning of a heart attack. Having been to a physician and been given a clean bill of health, he was looking for a way to take control of this issue. Among the techniques I presented to him under hypnosis was establishing an inner coach. I spoke directly to his subconscious, outlining the duties of an inner coach, and then asked if his subconscious would be willing to take this on. Imagine my surprise when I was told no! This had never happened to me. Usually the subconscious loves to be consulted and given “authority” to help out. So I asked why he was unwilling. My gentleman had retired, and this all sounded too much like a job to him. He was done working a job! Knowing this, I was able to find an alternative that did appeal to him, which he happily accepted.

All hypnosis is self hypnosis.

Hypnotherapy is simply guided self hypnosis, and as such can be more effective at resolving issues.
As the hypnotherapist, I don’t wield control over my clients. In stage hypnosis, the hypnotist often behaves in a way that looks like he or she is
holding complete control over his subjects, but what you have to remember is that only people who are willing to act foolish for entertainment purposes allow themselves to be hypnotized in this circumstance.

A good stage hypnotist recognizes the signs and rejects anyone who won’t follow all of the suggestions, no matter how embarrassing. In my chair, we are not looking to entertain anyone. We are looking for solutions to issues that bother my clients. We work together to the same goals. I have no desire to wield absolute control over anyone, and few of my clients wish accede control to me.

Memory is an interesting issue.

Most people think they remember all of what happened in the chair, but when we talk realize that they lost some of their memories. To help my clients, I usually talk over the main points of what happened before I awaken them, and give them a specific suggestion that they will remember what happened.
Even so, I am surprised sometimes by the comments clients make.

They insert memories sometimes. A small suggestion I make might be turned into something much bigger by their subconscious mind.

One client was fearful about an event she would be participating in. I gave her a number of tools to use. She wrote me after the event, telling me about the efficacy of these tools. Her favorite one was not something that I had suggested to her – at least not in the form that she used it.

In her memory, I had explained in great detail what to do, and it was very effective for her.
This is another example of how powerful our subconscious mind really is.

The effectiveness of the hypnosis session hinges on many factors. The most important is the
willingness of my client to accept the suggestions I give for their benefit.

A client who is seeing me for weight management, but doesn’t like the idea of eating slowly and mindfully, will reject the idea in hypnosis. Their ability to control their diet will be diminished. But even if a client is open and willing to accept all suggestions, there are other factors at work.

Depth of hypnosis is one of those factors.

My job is to identify my clients depth, and assist them in moving into the appropriate level for the job at hand. Most of my clients needs are best met at a mid-depth level of hypnosis. This is a relaxed state just above sleep. As a matter of fact, each of us passes through this level on the way to sleep every day. It is a common and normal state for us to be in, and therefore doesn’t feel “different” to a client.

So can I identify when someone is in a mid level of hypnosis?
And how do I do this?

The answer to the first question is yes, by observing my client, I can identify hypnosis and I can
identify depth.
I’ll explain some of the cues I use.

First is an eye flutter as someone begins to enter hypnosis. The eyes actually make rapid up and down movements. Occasionally a client will mention noticing it. At a much deeper level the eyes move, but side to side in a rolling manner. The eyes and the inner eyelids turn pink or red. I often instruct my clients to open their eyes as they are being inducted. I use this both as a deepener and to look at their eyes. When I awaken my clients I always give them a suggestion that their eyes feel clear and fresh. I have never seen the slightest pink in the eyes of someone awakening, even if they happen
to be a little groggy at the time.

Another cue is what is known as the Hypnotic Mask.

The Hypnotic mask is a relaxed but focused expression on their face. How quickly or slowly a client reacts when I give them a suggestion that requires them to move is another indicator. When I ask them to speak, they will usually move their mouth around as if they have a very dry mouth before they attempt to speak. The sound of their voice also tells me a lot about their state of hypnosis. If they speak in a very chirpy alert voice, I will deepen them more, even if they have every other appearance of being deeply hypnotized.

Just the act of speaking in an alert manner will bring the client up.

There are many other cues that hypnotherapists can use to identify depth.
A man named Harry Aron developed a depth scale that is used often in hypnotherapy training.
It identifies 6 levels (some of the depth scales list as many as 50 levels).
What is listed here can be used to identify depth, to increase depth, and can sometimes be used as a therapeutic tool.

I have copied the scale and descriptions from Joshua Houghton, Cht.

Stage 1: HYPNOIDAL – Very light stage of hypnosis in which most clients don’t feel hypnotized.
The majority of people feel completely awake. Two types of HYPNOIDAL states are Hypnopompic and Hypnagogic. Hypnopompic is the state before waking up in the morning and Hypnagogic is the state right before falling asleep at night. Eye catalepsy is present at this stage. (Hypnotic catalepsy is a muscular rigidity that is usually produced in the arm, often in the eyelids and at other times in the fingers or even the entire body.)

A lot can be accomplished in this 1st stage.

Stage 2: A more relaxed state where larger muscle groups can be controlled and manipulated
such as Arm Catalepsy. Your power of critical reasoning starts to become impaired.

Stage 3: You get fairly complete control of your entire muscular system. Most people won’t be able to articulate a number, stuck to a chair, can’t walk and have even partial analgesia.

Stage 4: In this stage you start to produce greater phenomena and is known as the beginning of the amnesic stages. The client will actually forget items such as their name, number, address and other items. Glove analgesia and feeling touch, but no discomfort.

Stage 5: This is considered the start of somnambulism.
You get cool stuff like complete anesthesia and experience the ability to neither feel discomfort or touch.
A lot of different pain control techniques can be used in this stage as well. You can also experience what is called Positive Hallucinations which means you can see and hear things which do not actually exist. You can also experience real Age Regression in this state, not just remembering the past.

Stage 6: This is the next level of Profound Somnambulism.
You can experience negative hallucinations which means you won’t see or hear things that actually do exist.
So what a client is able to do helps me identify depth. If I am still unsure, I have an ace up my sleeve. I can ask the client how deep they are, and am usually able to receive a very accurate answer, even if the client has never experienced hypnosis before.
The trick is in knowing how to ask, and in watching the cues to make sure that the answer is coming from the subconscious mind and not the conscious mind.

But that’s a whole ‘nother blog entry.

I have a long list of things to look for to gauge the depth of a client’s hypnosis, as well as many tools to get him or her there. But every person is different, and so I look at many cues before I feel I can be sure a client is at the appropriate depth. This makes gauging depth somewhat of an art as opposed to a science, something that a hypnotherapist improves upon with experience.

That may be changing in the future.

Recently I listened to some of the top hypnotherapists in the field answering the question ‘What do you think will be happening to the hypnotherapy field in the next ten years?’ One of the speakers mentioned the use of medical equipment to gauge depth. He was referring to an EEG machine, which measures brain waves. As we enter different states, our brains emit waves on different wavelengths. Through the use of this machine we can pinpoint an exact state of depth as well as identify that small percentage of the population that lack the cognitive framework to be hypnotized. There are some therapeutic reasons for utilizing an EEG machine.

It is used in Biofeedback, a modality that has had some success in training people to increase their Theta waves. Biofeedback is very promising
in assisting people struggling with many issues, such as alcohol addiction, ADD, ADHD, epilepsy, and others. Some hypnotherapists, as well as psychologists are adding biofeedback to their tool-chest, and we could well see its use in pinpointing exact states of hypnosis grow as well.

And then, when a hypnotherapist takes a client out of a very deep state of hypnosis and the client says “I don’t think I was really hypnotized.”, there would scientific proof of the brain state.