A personalised induction is the hypnotic induction that is tailored to suit individual people. It can be quite easy to fall into the trap of thinking that one screed will suit all however, it must be understood that everybody is different and when trying to induct them into a hypnotic state it means that the screed can be personalised to specific people. Clients can come in all ‘shapes and sizes’ and it is the job of the therapist to identify certain traits about them that they can help the construction of a personalised screed, people have different cultural backgrounds, different likes and dislikes, values, outlooks and perspectives.
All these factors can give little clues to the therapist along with witnessing body language the way the person speaks and how they describe objects in their past. But to decide on whether a personalised induction is always going to be more effective will require a much more in depth view into exactly how a screed can be personalised whilst also answer the question of whether or not it will always be effective.
To be able to personalise a screed it is very important to understand the person who it is to be aimed at and one of the most imperative things for the therapist is identifying what type of learner they are. More commonly in hypnotherapy this is known as identifying the modality of the brain modalities have also been described as, ‘the language of the minds.’ Adapting the induction to suit the certain type of person, there are three main modalities that can be identified; kinaesthetic (feeling), visual (sight) and auditory (hearing).
One of the most basic and indirect ways for the therapist to find which modality best suits the person I simply just to listen to the way they talk and the way they describe things. Even a simple thing such as asking the client how they usually tend to learn things could come up with the answers or if that fails then there are many questionnaires that can be discussed in an informal manner so that the therapist will be able to understand the persons learning style.
Understanding this means that the therapist can personalise the induction to suit the clients method of learning so the way in which they speak and describe objects will allow the person to find it easier to feel comfortable and could perhaps help them slip into a state of hypnosis quicker. An example of this personalised script would be by using the descriptive terms used in a screed such as, ‘feel the weight lift off your shoulders’ which would be a good example to use for a kinaesthetic learner. ‘Notice the colours’ for a visual learner and ‘listen to the sound of my voice’ for an auditory learner.
The use of modalities is only one way of personalising a screed. Arguably one of the best ways in which to achieve the most effective hypnotic state is to employ all of the senses into the PMR; this is what is known as compounding where the screed uses all of the modalities in one screed.
When personalising any screed it is essential for the therapist to build up a good rapport with the client and try and get as much information out of them as possible such as their fears or favourite colours even things such as pets can give off a big clue to a trained mind as to what type of person the client is and this is all critical to personalising a screed. If the therapist hadn’t identified the client’s fears they may not have discovered that one of their greatest fears is of water and if when they take them to the special place and suggest that they see the water or sit in a pool then it could totally terrify the person and ruin the whole process.
Another key area to look at when personalising screeds is looking into what kind of approach to take with the client whether they prefer to be told what to do and are happy taking instruction or they are better suited to suggestions and therefore be approached in a softer way. This is known as authoritarian and permissive learners, the authoritarian being the more direct and permissive being the suggestive learners.
The authoritarian approach is very direct and logical, when delivering the screed it is very to the point with the therapist in complete control of the direction in which the mind is being led, there are very few choices offered to the client and using limited metaphors. Some see this technique as being too harsh and could find themselves resisting but too many it is effective and sometimes necessary for issues such as quitting smoking or weight loss where the therapist has to be assertive to convince the client they are powerful enough to enforce it. The authoritarian approach ties in with direct suggestion where by in stead of giving the client suggestions the therapist will be very direct on where they want the clients mind goes.
With direct suggestions the client responds to words rather than images, the suggestion could be one word or a short sentence that will trigger an immediate response. A few examples of the authoritarian/direct approach would be; ‘You are alone here in your special place and you are finding that it is more peaceful than anywhere you have ever been.’ ‘You feel the weight lift off your shoulders.’
One notable hypnotherapist who was more in favour of the authoritarian/direct approach would be Dave Elman (1900-1967) who used direct suggestions in all of his screeds this would explain his success in teaching the medical field this approach. We naturally think of doctors as an authority so we do not normally question their knowledge. If they say relax you relax and if they say you cannot do something then chances are you will accept their suggestions more readily because of their position. An example of being more authoritarian in a PMR would be, ‘now close your eyes and start to focus on your breathing.’ Alternatively the permissive example would be, ‘when you’re ready you may want to close your eyes and maybe notice your breathing.’
The permissive screeds are generally of a more nurturing nature which offers the client a lot more choices and doesn’t use harsh words. Permissive PMR’s would ideally suit people who tend to be quite imaginative and prefer not to be directed in any one definite direction. Milton Erickson (1901-1980) was a big advocate for the permissive style of approach. Erickson couldn’t see the harm in letting people feel in charge of their own improvements.
He thought it wonderful that people felt that they fixed themselves. He thought it was polite and ultimately, much more practical to allow people as much control and permission as possible. Erickson believed it was better to use hypnotic techniques in a manner that would allow the individual’s mind to make the best use of the relaxation and openness of hypnosis as that mind believed best. This meant wording suggestions in such a way that gave permission to interpret suggestions in any way that the client saw fit. Erickson is noted for his often unconventional approach to hypnosis, He developed an extensive use of therapeutic metaphors and stories and coined the term ‘Brief Therapy’ for his approach of addressing therapeutic changes in relatively few sessions.
He was noted for his ability to ‘utilize’ anything about a patient to help them change, including their beliefs, favorite words, cultural background, personal history, or even their neurotic habits. Indirect suggestion is highly individualized and each analogy and metaphor must fit the problem and the client as closely as possible. For example, if an elderly man, who had worked as a carpenter all his life, went to a therapist to be relieved of pain in his arm, an induction would need to be designed so as to make use of a metaphor that had meaning to him.
The closer the metaphor could reflect the man’s experience, the better. As an example a giant redwood may be used in order to stress the attributes of strength and tightness associated with this type of wood and the therapist could then link this in with the problems the elderly man has in his arm. Permissive and indirect approaches are sometimes known as the ‘Ericksonian’ approach.
The belief is that the client will accept suggestions that they are most comfortable with and they are fully aware of the benefits to them. Erickson’s beliefs were that it is impossible to instruct a mind that is deep in to the subconscious and because of this a direct authoritarian suggestion would be met with resistance. For example the authoritative ‘you will stop smoking’ is less likely to be effective on the unconscious level than “you can become a non-smoker”. The first is a direct command, to be obeyed or ignored, the second is an opening, an invitation to possible lasting change, without pressure, and which is less likely to raise resistance.
Of course there are always arguments against these kinds of theories such as personalized inductions cannot be used in group therapy sessions such as weight loss counseling or quitting smoking. You would not be able to assume the whole group would be better suited towards an authoritarian auditory screed as some people will totally reject the whole idea and walk out with maybe a bad experience with hypnosis and not return. This is where the idea of compounding would come in, essentially using a bit of everything all in one PMR that could be used in group sessions.
So in the example of any group sessions a personalized induction would not be more effective. Another reason why a personalized induction may not be suitable is that the therapist may fall into the trap of thinking they know everything about a client from an initial consultation.
Therapists generally like to use personalized inductions as clients are actually people and deserve to be treated like individuals, however peoples personalities and views could change from one week to another so the same screed may not be able to be used multiple times. Also the screeds are very hard to adapt to a persons mood, for example if the client explains to the therapist that they are usually more comfortable with taking direction then the therapist instantly will think more towards a authoritarian direct induction.
However in the first few sessions the client may still be a bit dubious about it and resist the suggestions that are being put to them, also if one week they have had a really good week and found that hypnosis is helping them they may submit to a more authoritarian screed. So it is the job of the therapist not to become complacent and assume they know everything about a client from talking to them for half an hour.
One more much simpler reason behind not personalizing screeds is that they can be very time consuming for the therapist, if you have a busy practice and you are having to personalize inductions for everybody it can be very time-consuming, so unless the therapist is very experienced and can adapt them in his/her head then it would be a very difficult job.
In conclusion personally I believe that personalizing inductions can only have a positive outcome on the client, as long as the therapist is prepared to put the hard work in to getting to know their clients properly and efficiently they can notice their behaviours and body language and draw preliminary conclusions from that alone however an initial consultation is essential to the success of the induction as a lot of information has to be gained from it. I think that personalising an induction will make it a lot easier for a client to slip into a state of hypnosis as the therapist is ‘pushing all the right buttons.’
Heap, Michael & Dryden, Windy. Hypnotherapy – A Handbook
Erickson, Milton H, and Rossi Ernest L. Hypnotherapy: An Exploratory Casebook
Karle, Hellmutt and Boys, Jennifer. Hypnotherapy – A Practical Handbook
Elman, Dave. Hypnotherapy