Why deepen hypnosis?
You can get all kinds of results with a light trance!
We hear this all the time.
But we usually hear it from hypnotists who are great at getting people into light trances. It can actually sound like a bit of an excuse.
We believe that a deep, robust trance is the working state of hypnosis, and there are many advantages to making it routine. (Throughout this blogpost, we’ll be using the terms hypnosis and trance interchangeably.)
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Somnambulism and the Deep Hypnotic Trance
First of all, what exactly is a hypnotic trance?
We see a trance as what NLP people call downtime. This is what happens when our attention turns inward, causing us to be less reactive to what’s happening around us.
Once we’re in a trance, our unconscious resources become available to us, and we’re able to improve or transform almost any experience.
Note that this occurs naturally, when we get absorbed in a good book, watch a captivating film, or drive the highway at night.
The deeper the hypnotic trance, the more powerful the effects that can be produced.
It’s true that in a light trance, pain can be pushed into the background, or simply ignored. But in a deep trance, we can go beyond this, producing powerful analgesia or even complete anaesthesia. Learn all about pain management with hypnosis here.
Although we may not get experts to agree on what hypnosis or trance is, we treat it as a useful model, and the various depths we talk about serve to make the model more useful.
So let’s call the deep trance by its name: Somnambulism.
Someone experiencing this level of trance will typically have a face devoid of expression, and will only interact with the hypnotist, unless instructed otherwise.
Here’s Why Hypnotic Depth Scales are Silly
Over the last hundred years or so, psychologists and hypnotists have created numerous “hypnotic depth scales”. The Davis-Husband scale, the Friedlander-Sarbin scale, and the Lecron-Bordeaux scale, are three notable examples.
All of these scales are an attempt to digitize trances, enabling the hypnotist to tell that the subject is at “level 16” or “level 3”. We think this is silly though, because we’re dealing with complex human beings, and in many cases, the so-called depth scales are wildly inaccurate or even self-contradictory. We explain the exact reason why here.
We believe that attending to scales is less important than carefully observing our subjects. Their subtle behaviour will give us all the depth information we require.
But having said that, we still believe that a deep trance is almost always a good idea. That’s because the subject in a deep trance will have a more profound experience than a subject in a light trance, and will be able to fix a longer list of problems and issues.
Different Methods to Deepen Hypnosis
There are literally dozens if not hundreds of ways to deepen a hypnotic trance. Some are better than others though, because they’re both effective and easy to use.
Let’s go over a few ways to accomplish this.
Counting Down to Deepen Trance
Counting down is a classic deepener that’s been around for at least a hundred years. Basically, you instruct the subject that as you count down out loud from 10 or 50 or whatever, your subject will go deeper with each number. Then you simply count, both slowly and deliberately, and generally your subject will go deeper into trance.
Then there are automated methods, which demand very little of the hypnotist. All that’s needed is to connect anything that’s going on with the subject going deeper into hypnosis.
You might tell the subject that she will “Go deeper...with every gentle breath you take…”
It can be every tick of a metronome or clock, every raindrop you hear hitting the window, etc.
One of the most powerful hypnotic deepeners you can possibly do is called fractionation, and was discovered by Dave Elman. As a boy, Elman read about the work of the French Neurologist, Hippolyte Bernheim, the author of Suggestive Therapeutics.
In this book, Bernheim stated that each time his subject returned for another appointment, he’d go into an even deeper trance, even if the previous appointment was a week earlier.
Young Dave Elman wondered if waiting for a week was necessary. What if the same patient was hypnotized only a day after the first session. What if it was only an hour later? What if it was immediate?
This led to one of many profound contributions that Dave Elman made to hypnosis. Elman discovered fractionation. By rapidly and repeatedly putting a subject in and out of hypnosis, the trance quickly deepened, and became more useful for therapeutic work. This is especially true if the hypnotist tells the subject that this is what will happen.
This simple method is the most important aspect of one of the best and most famous hypnotic inductions of all time, the Dave Elman induction, named after the man himself.
There are as many methods of deepening trance as there are people, and one person’s favourite method will not be someone else’s favourite.
Some hypnotists specialize in fairly long-winded visualizations. We’ve observed some of them taking their subjects through imagining that they’re lying on different coloured couches, walking down infinitely long stair-cases, and writing numbers on beaches that erase as the waves come in.
Other hypnotists use the visual sense by having the subject sitting in a “control panel of the imagination” and turning a dial that sends him deeper and deeper into trance.
This can be very effective with a highly visual person, but a more auditory person would probably prefer being told to relax more and more, while listening to soft, soothing music.
The Preframe Deepener is Our Favourite
Although there are lots of deepeners available, there is one that stands out, head and shoulders above the rest: The Preframe Deepener
We came up with this a number of years ago, and it’s finally becoming mainstream. With all the hypnosis books in our library, we were astounded to never find it anywhere, it’s such an obvious method.
Here’s how you use the method to deepen trance. (Note that the wording is very important).
You induce trance, and then say something like this:
And your unconscious mind knows...that there’s a level of trance...even deeper... than the one you’re currently in...and I’m asking...your unconscious mind...to take you there...NOW…
Then stop talking and watch what happens.
Basically, it works because their unconscious does all the work for you.
Here are the steps:
- Preframe that the subject’s unconscious mind knows there’s a deeper level
- Ask the subject’s unconscious mind to take them to that deeper level NOW!
- Observe what happens as the subject sinks deeper
Which Deepener Will You Use?
Naturally, you can use any deepener you like. Just make sure that it’s working!
It’s also quite appropriate to mix and match, doing different deepeners in the same session. You might begin with visual images and end with fractionation, or whatever. If you’re in rapport with your subject, the sky’s the limit.
Over time, you’ll develop experience and be able to know when to continue deepening trance, or when enough is enough.
In any case, we believe that knowing a few good deepeners that you can rely upon, is crucial to becoming a first-rate hypnotist.