What Is Neo-Ericksonian Hypnosis?

Filed under: Hypnosis Training

There’s an easy way to become a more amazing hypnotist.

Keep reading. In this post you’ll discover:

  • The two major styles of hypnosis: traditional and direct; and Ericksonian, or indirect.
  • How to combine both styles to become a hypnotic powerhouse!
  • How to learn the Neo-Ericksonian approach, the best of both styles combined, at the Mike Mandel Hypnosis Academy.

You’ll learn the power of direct hypnosis for simple and rapid change. This is the old school stuff, and has tremendous value for any hypnotist.

You’ll also find out about the more subtle indirect or maternal hypnosis, which is great for  working with subjects who are resistant to hypnosis or perhaps have fear or control issues.

So here we go. Watch the video below or keep reading to learn about the Neo-Ericksonian approach, and why we think you should learn it to become an amazing hypnotist.

Typically, once a person gets interested in hypnosis, the first thing they do is learn a number of inductions. Even a brief investigation will show that there are many different trance induction methods available.

They’ll find there are inductions ranging from droning on in a monotone and endlessly telling the subject to sleep or relax, all the way to shock inductions, that produce trance almost instantly.

One hypnotist might recommend swinging a watch in front of a client’s eyes, while another might have the subject’s eyes closed from the start, imagining the sound of a metronome.

It’s true that there are literally hundreds of hypnosis techniques in use today, and not just inductions. There are hypnosis methods to erase phobias or help people become more effective speakers.

Some methods are great, and some are pretty ineffective. But it’s not different inductions or hypnosis techniques we will be looking at in this article. Instead let’s look at the bigger picture, and examine the basic styles of hypnosis.

Generally speaking, there are two quite different approaches to hypnosis: Paternal and maternal.

Bald Man Wearing Glasses With His Eyes Closed

Direct Hypnosis: The Paternal Approach

Paternal hypnosis is also known as direct hypnosis, and consists of the hypnotist being highly directive and the one who’s clearly running things.

To be a paternal hypnotist is to be a sort of father figure to the subject, providing strength, and giving very specific instructions and guidance.

He will tell the subject exactly what to do, and how and when to do it too!

The essence of the direct approach is found in the work of some of the hypnosis greats, including Dave Elman, George Estabrooks, and Gil Boyne. Each of these famous hypnotists used highly directive language, focusing on immediate and unquestioning compliance, to the instructions provided by the hypnotist.

Direct and paternal hypnosis is often the choice of the stage performer. Back in the early to mid 20th century, stage hypnotists effected a mystical and often intimidating demeanor. 

Capes, turbans, large spirals and pocket watches added to the atmosphere. Their promotional pictures and posters often featured hypnotic rays emanating from their glaring eyes, with their hands outstretched like kung fu masters.

The stage hypnotist is often an exaggeration of the paternal hypnotist, taking directiveness and control to theatrical levels. Australian hypnotists Peter Reveen and Martin St James, were classic portrayals of this genre (and to be fair, it worked very well for both of them).  

Although some early hypnotists' super-serious images seem rather ridiculous today, they perfectly fit the powerful, controlling personality, that the typical stage performer was attempting to project. Image became almost everything, and served to help drive the more timid volunteers directly into trance. 

Everything about the performer’s appearance and mannerisms was designed to send  a consistent message: The hypnotist is the one in control!

Much of this sort of exaggerated image originated with George Du Maurier’s 1894 novel Trilby, in which the evil hypnotist Svengali, became the archetype of the uber-powerful controlling hypnotist.

Today, Larry and Cheryl Elman, as well as Britain’s Karl Smith, are skilled proponents of the direct model, as used in hypnotherapy, and they manage to produce outstanding results, with none of the silly theatrics.

But there’s another side to hypnosis too.

Blonde Woman With Glasses Comforting Black Haired Woman

The Maternal Approach, or Ericksonian Hypnosis

The maternal, or indirect approach takes us as far from the direct approach as we can possibly be, while still practicing hypnosis.

Whereas the paternal method is all about the hypnotist being in control, a hypnotist using a maternal method offers control to the subject by presenting options for him to choose from, perhaps saying something like:

And once you’re ready…and you will decide…when you’re ready…you can decide …whether you would like to go into a nice trance… slowly…or quickly…can’t you?

It’s no surprise that in the maternal approach, the hypnotist (whether male or female) becomes a surrogate mother figure; the complete opposite of the paternal approach.

Instead of ordering and directing through force of personality, the maternal hypnotist soothes, encourages, and lulls his subject into trance. 

This kind of hypnosis can be so subtle that it sounds almost conversational. An expert in indirect hypnosis can easily induce trance by simply telling stories to an individual or a group over dinner or drinks. And all the while weaving a hypnotic web… 

The greatest exponent of subtle and indirect hypnosis was psychiatrist Dr Milton H. Erickson, whose stellar work became the foundation for all the indirect and conversational hypnosis practitioners that followed him.

His work could be so subtle and powerful that he’d produce powerful therapeutic effects by simply talking to his patients. 

By his own admission, Erickson was highly directive in his early days as a hypnosis pioneer. Over time though, he developed a remarkably subtle style of hypnotic work that has never been equalled by anyone.

Erickson’s methods were deconstructed and codified in the 1970s by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, in the book Trance-formations: Neurolinguistic Programming and the structure of hypnosis

Today, some of the foremost practitioners of the indirect and conversational style of hypnosis are Igor Ledochowski, Stephen Gilligan and John Overdurf, as well as Melissa Tiers

So which method is best? If you’re going to put someone in a trance to help them study better, or relieve their pain, which method should be used?

The answer is: It depends. In any given group, there will be those who respond best to a gentle lulling approach, while others will have no problem with a more bombastic and ultra-direct style. 

Which leads us to the point of this article.

Coin Balanced On Its Rim

The Neo-Ericksonian Approach to Hypnosis

Imagine a coin. On one side it says DIRECT or perhaps PATERNAL. On the other side it says INDIRECT or MATERNAL. 

This is a good picture of how many hypnotists perceive trance creation and hypnotic work. It’s either direct or indirect, depending on which way up the coin is turned. 

The reality, however, is not so simple, and not so clear-cut. That’s because the two extremes of technique do not tell the whole story. We find it much more effective, as well as accurate, to perceive trancework as lying somewhere on a continuum; a long grayscale spectrum, ranging from snow white, to midnight black.

On one end, we have the super-direct hypnosis of Gil Boyne, or Dave Elman. And on the other end we have the subtle, and sometimes nearly undetectable hypnosis of Milton Erickson. Those are the two extremes, and they both have their applications. 

But we think it’s best to have extreme flexibility of behaviour. We can function paternally and directly to get the job done quickly and powerfully. But we can also be so indirect that what we’re doing doesn’t even register in the subject’s conscious awareness.

After a while, a hypnotist will gain the skills to begin to move back and forth on the spectrum between direct and indirect as needed. And best of all, a well-trained hypnotist will work intuitively, depending on what’s warranted by the subject and the context.

Having experimented with the best methods to learn the combinative Neo-Ericksonian approach, we generally teach Erickson’s maternal methods first. These are the most complex and require the greatest subtlety for maximum effect. They then become a very solid foundation that enables the hypnotist to simply BE hypnotic.

A good Ericksonian hypnotist can shift easily, telling metaphors that apply to the context, changing the pace of his or her voice, and redirecting the subject’s attention at will.

On the other hand, the direct style is much simpler, and we’ve found that learning it first with its rapid results and flash-bang style tends to cause a student to stop learning anything else.

After all, they’ve learned super-fast and powerful hypnosis methods. They then miss out on the more gentle and subtly powerful indirect paradigm. To this end, we always teach Erickson’s indirect approach up front.

To practice sliding between methods, you must first have some understanding and experience with each of them. We feel that learning just one of the two major approaches will limit the effectiveness of the hypnotist, by providing a half-empty box of tools. 

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In the context of a hypnosis session, it’s easy to use indirect techniques, like repeating back the subject’s actual words. The hypnotist can begin to fixate the subject’s attention with his words, and begin to weave a trance in the context of the interview.

As the hypnotist slows his voice, the subject will unconsciously detect that something’s happening, and begin to slip into trance. 

By layering in questions that require a YES response, or asking ambiguous questions, the trance will deepen:

Are you still going into trance…or are you right out of it…?

Language like this cause internal disorganization, and are often followed by the simple phrase:

Eyes closed now…

Once the subject has closed his eyes, it’s a simple matter for the hypnotist to shift along the spectrum towards a more direct hypnosis style, by simply telling the subject to go deeper and deeper. Since a deep trance requires simple language, it’s the perfect time to use very direct instructions and suggestions. 

At this point the hypnotist will begin the therapy, and it’s not the time to be vague or fluffy. That’s because the conscious mind responds to the metaphors and indirect approach. But now that deep trance is achieved, it’s direct hypnosis all the way.

That’s the Neo-Ericksonian approach, and it's all about flexibility. We can shift gears effortlessly, being as direct as possible, and as indirect as necessary. And we believe it’s a skill that all great hypnotists should have.

Learn Hypnosis With the Mike Mandel Hypnosis Academy

When you are ready to continue your journey toward becoming a world-class hypnotist, we'd recommend getting started at Mike Mandel Hypnosis Academy (MMHA).

At MMHA, you can go from absolute beginner to confident hypnotist FAST. 

With bite-sized, easy-to-understand videos, you’ll learn foundational principles and skills of hypnosis, meaning you’ll NEVER need a script. You’ll interact directly with us, guest trainers, and students worldwide. 

In addition to building and reinforcing a solid foundation in hypnosis, MMHA contains tons of advanced techniques which you’ll learn quickly and effortlessly, making it the perfect training for beginner and experienced hypnotists alike.

You get the first few lessons free for 14 days without ever needing to put in your credit card details. It's the easiest way to start learning hypnosis today.

Click here to get started at the Mike Mandel Hypnosis Academy.

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"I absolutely love the online course. It completely changed my life and consulting career. The information is the best I've ever seen. You guys are incredible at what you do. I love the course so much."

Jason Cyrus