What are Hypnotic deepeners?
The deepener’s job is to take someone from being in a trance to being in a deeper trance (see trance depth). There are a number of reasons why someone would want to do this;
- it is general believed that the deeper the trance the more effective the therapy. The evidence for this is not clear, particularly because lighter states of trance may allow you to work more flexibly.
- People are presenting for ‘hypnotherapy’, the emphasis here being on the ‘hypno’ part and as such may have a more convincing experience with a deeper state.
There are many different formats for deepening and below we will explore some of the most common.
Numerical hypnotic deepeners
These are deepener’s which rely on counting up or down, commonly this might be counting down from 3 or up to 10. The counting provides a defined period of time in which the deepening can occur thus allowing the mind to make the transition. Typically, suggestions such as “deeper and deeper, “deep sleep” and “relax” will be made in and around the numbers to help facilitate the deepening.
Natural phenomena hypnotic deepeners
Possibly the most common natural phenomena hypnotic deepener are those which use ideomotor response to return a limb to normalcy after having conducted induction through an Arm levitation or Limb catalepsy induction. A lesser example of a natural phenomenon deepener is delivering deepening suggestions as the subject exhales to gain the benefit of the simultaneous physical suggestion given by the act of breathing out. for more on natural Phenomena in hypnosis
Visual engagement hypnotic deepeners
These look to create deepening by encouraging the subject to focus internally on imaginary imagery, typically a journey or favourite place. This creates dissociation from the current environment and may help access resources states, such as relaxation which in themselves may further deepen the subject.
Dissociative hypnotic deepeners
These are deepeners which explicitly encourage dissociation, the separation of subject from their current time / space. Many people argue that dissociation is the basis of hypnosis so anything which encourages it is likely to be useful. A typical example of dissociation deepening is asking a subject to imagine floating out of their body, this can easily lead into a visual engagement deepener such as a journey to a favourite place.
Triggered and conditioned hypnotic deepeners
These are a little different to the other types of deepener as when initially introduced they are not intended to procedure deepening but rather are establishing a cue for deepening at a later point. The cue word may be “sleep”, “relax”, “Nowww” or something similar. The use of the cue word is to take the subject back to the state in which the cue word was installed, to this end the hypnotherapist will look to install as deep a trance as possible before installing the cue word. Such deepening words are resources to be applied by the hypnotherapist when trance depth has been disrupted by something or an extra bit of deepening is required.
The above are all elements of deepeners and may well in mixed in together to create a more effective whole.
3 Innate Factors which affect hypnotisability
The socio-cognitive theorists offer up three different factors which are innate to hypnotic subjects to varying degrees and affect how easily they can be hypnotised
- Vividness & Involvement – this is a persons ability to loose themselves into or sink into a concept. Part of this is the realism with which they experience a scene, memory of concept be that visually, physically or with any other sense. Although this can be enriched through suggestion most people have a basic level of vividness and involvement which the hypnotherapists guides. With people who display a strong level of involvement I tend to use very little deep hypnosis and favour imagery and Ericksonian approaches.
- Expectancy – as you may anticipate this is a person’s belief in hypnosis. Naturally this varies from complete acceptance in the idea to utter disbelief in phenomenon of trance or hypnotic suggests. Essentially, the stronger the belief in hypnosis the more easily someone is likely to go into it, or respond to it. This is mostly because they are going to be open, co-operative and interested in the experience. With people with a high degree of belief in hypnosis I tend to use the more traditional, often more theatrical, approaches which fit more closely many peoples expectation of hypnosis. A common expectation to this is when they have prior positive hypnotic experience and then I attempt to replicate their past experience.
- Compliance – some people are naturally more cooperative than others and respond well to being given simple clear instructions. Highly cooperative people tend to be more natural hypnotic subjects, but everyone who presents to a hypnotherapist is intending to go with the process to some degree. A compliant mind set can be nurtured with a few simple, reasonable, request such as asking the person to place their feet flat on the floor and their hands upon their lap.
What is the difference between neurosis and psychosis? Let us start by defining neurosis and psychosis.
Neurosis is a broad term rarely used by therapists and psychologists these days. However, it does have some value to hypnotherapists. Broadly, neurosis can be said to be a mental problem in which the suffer is in touch with reality. Often this appears as a logical – emotional dissonance. This means the suffer can tell you that their behaviour is inappropriate but feel it is beyond their control. Typical examples would include;
- Phobia’s – in which the sufferer knows that the trigger for the phobia is not dangerous.
- Obsessions – where the obsessed know that they are over focused but cannot break out of that.
- Extreme Habits – the sufferer may be able to identify the habit as unpleasant, but they are unable to take control of it.
- Twitches and ticks – where the afflicted cannot control the muscles involved but there is no identifiable physical problem.
With neurosis there is an implication that some life event or problem is influencing the problem. This may not always be true as a life event may have initiated the problem behaviour but it may now be a habit.
Neurosis is the most serious level of mental health issue a hypnotherapist may deal with. Psychosis (see below) are contraindicated for hypnotherapy.
is a general term used to describe any set of symptoms where the sufferer is thought to be out of touch with external reality. This may be due to any number of factors such as organic brain impairment or long term stress. Symptoms of psychosis include
- Severe lack of insight or self-awareness.
If you have any concerns that a potential patient may be out of touch with reality refer them on to a doctor.
So what are contraindications ?
Essentially a contraindication is a reason NOT to do something. So in the medical world, which is where we get the term from, a good example would be:
- Drug X is for migraines, but also lowers blood pressure.
- The patient has migraines, but also has low blood pressure.
- because Drug X is likely to further lower the patients blood pressure and thus put them at risk it should not be prescribes. Drug X is contraindicated for patients with Low blood pressure.
What are contraindications for hypnotherapists?
Hypnotherapy is a relatively safe intervention. Many hypnotists will argue that hypnosis is an entirely normal process, no more dangerous than falling asleep. However, there is the issue of how hypnosis is induced and what is done once a client is in hypnosis.
What are the general contraindications for the use of hypnosis ?
Most hypnotherapists agree that it is unwise to work with people who are in states of psychosis. This means that they have a problem which causes them to be out of touch with reality. Psychosis may include hallucinations, grandiose beliefs, paranoia.
There is discussion around people with epilepsy which occurs when they fall asleep. The process of hypnosis may be related to the state change from being awake to asleep. As a rule with people with epilepsy which is triggered by falling asleep I recommend extreme caution, ask about their medication and how stable they are on their medication, inform them of the facts and when it doubt refer to your professional body .
What are the specific contraindications for the use of hypnotherapy ?
The most common contraindications which come up in therapy are for a particular type of client with a particular type of technique. For example;
- Eye tiring inductions should not be used with people with eye pain, strain or glaucoma.
- Arm based techniques (limb heaviness, arm levitation) should not be used with people arm pain, strain or joint problems.
- Body focused techniques ( muscle relaxation, body scan inductions) should be avoided with people who have conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and panic attacks where there is a tendency to monitor the body for symptoms.
These are but a few examples, and others will be flagged up in technique specific videos. The rule of thumb is think about what you are doing, use your common sense and when in doubt play it safe!
Author – Matt Krouwel is a hypnotherapist in Birmingham (UK). He is also the course leader for the West Midlands School of Clinical Hypnotherapy
Lessons in hypnosis for the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Midlands Research Alliance (CAMMRA)
Today I’m off to the annual CAMMRA conference to give some hypnosis lessons and talk about the general public’s attitude towards hypnotherapy.
I had the privilege to be an invited guest at last years conference and this year I’m back to present. If last year is anything to go by I can expect a varied and open minded audience of complimentary and alternative therapists (CAM), academics and medical researchers for my hypnosis lessons.
The main thrust of my talk is around the research I’ve been conducting into public attitudes and opinions regarding hypnosis. Sadly I’m currently unable to blog on this particular topic at the moment due to an agreement with the journal which is looking to publish it, but once it’s out I will let everyone know my findings.
Hope you have a great day!
Author – Matt Krouwel is a Birmingham based Clinical hypnotist and course leader for the West Midlands School of Clinical Hypnosis