Inducing Hypnosis Utilizing Leisure Interests


People enjoy participating in leisure activities for many reasons but not many people realise that one of the main reasons they enjoy it so much is because they enter a trance state as part of the activity. One of the reasons for this seeming addiction to leisure pursuits is the associated state of receptivity that accompanies every leisure activity. All activities are naturally trance inducing. For example, dancing and sports have a trance component in the same way that watching television or listening to music has a trance component. Because leisure activities are desired and experienced by most people, most people are familiar with the trance experience associated with them. However Patients are not usually aware that this particular state of reverie or trance is a similar state required for hypnosis. By asking the Patient to think about their leisure activities and informing them that the state associated with their leisure activities is the required state for hypnosis the therapist is helping the Patient realise that they are already qualified to experience hypnosis.


Trance can be induced by recalling the leisure activity

The therapist can give analogies about trance experience in everyday life. Analogies about ensuing trances that happen spontaneously when one daydreams or watches television can actually re-induce a similar trance state in the Patient. Alternatively, the therapist can direct the Patient to recall one of his own leisure activities.The therapist should judge whether an explicit request to recall a familiar leisure activity is the best way to re-induce trance or whether a more indirect approach based on the therapist’s own leisure interests is more effective. What might work for one Patient may not work for another.


Different leisure activities produce different trance states

The trance states associated with sports are different from those associated with watching TV and other similar activities. The sports trance is a focused concentration on an activity where all of the senses are tuned acutely towards the activity. The TV trance however is a turning inwards type of trance where the senses are relaxed and not focused externally. Generally speaking, activities such as watching TV, listening to music, reading a book and painting are better for indirectly inducing hypnosis than the more highly concentrated types of activities.


Trance is state-bound to contexts and associations

All activities are state-bound. By state-bound we mean that a Patient enters a particular psychological and physiological state whenever they carry out some activity. When they move from one context or activity to another the psychological and physiological state changes. When they then return to the same activity at a later date they also return to the same psychological and physiological state. This is true of hypnosis. When a Patient re-enters trance he re-enters the same psychological and physiological state that occurred the first time he went into a trance state. By asking a Patient to recall a leisure activity we are re-evoking its associated state enabling the patient to automatically recall the same feelings. Therapists should always remember this principle of state bound experience whenever working therapeutically.


Examples of leisure activity trances:

  • Daydreaming.
  • Watching television.
  • Listening to music.
  • Reading a book.
  • Concentrating on a task.
  • Enjoying a sport.
  • Listening to a lecture.
  • Dancing.
  • Performing music.
  • Painting, drawing etc.


Contraindications of utilising leisure trance

Some people experience trance states when driving a car. The therapist should avoid using the driving trance experience as a hypnotic induction and also avoid discussing it in case the hypnotic trance is indirectly associated (anchored) with future driving. If Patients have driven to a session it is usually a good idea to also suggest that they re-orientate fully before driving home. Associations between hypnotic trance and everyday leisure activities should only be drawn when those leisure activities do not involve danger.

The British Hypnosis Research and Training Institute is based at Birkbeck College in the University of London and was founded at the University of Cambridge in 1979 as a research association. We were the first organisation to offer Ericksonian Hypnosis courses in Europe and our combined International ‘Ericksonian Hypnosis University Summer School’ and online distance learning training has evolved from the courses we have taught in more than 20 hospitals and universities during this time.

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