VIDEO: Stephen Brooks Teaches the Importance of Unconscious Nonverbal Communication in Ericksonian Hypnotherapy 


1. Ideomotor Response

Ideomotor response is a phenomenon in which a person’s unconscious mind can be communicated with through the use of muscle movements. Ideomotor response is often used in hypnosis as a way to communicate with the unconscious mind and to access information that is not available to the conscious mind.

To test for ideomotor response, the Ericksonian hypnotherapist will ask the client’s unconscious mind to focus on a particular object or thought and then to indicate their response by moving a finger – often on either hand to indicate yes or no. If the client is able to move their finger unconsciously in response to the hypnotist’s suggestions, then it is likely that they are experiencing ideomotor response.

Extensive research has been dedicated to investigating the ideomotor response phenomenon, a fascinating concept that has captured the attention of professionals across various fields, including psychology and hypnosis. This intriguing phenomenon establishes a connection between one’s thoughts or mental imagery and physical responses, such as muscle twitches or movements. Understanding the intricacies of ideomotor response can provide valuable insights into how our mental states can influence our physical experiences. By delving deeper into this topic, we can gain a more comprehensive understanding of the power of our minds and how to optimize our overall well-being.


2. Ericksonian Hypnotherapy

Ericksonian hypnotherapy is a type of hypnosis that is based on the work of Milton Erickson, a pioneer in the field of hypnosis. Ericksonian hypnotherapy is characterized by its use of indirect suggestion, metaphors, and stories.

Indirect suggestion is a technique that is used to communicate with the unconscious mind without the client’s conscious awareness. Metaphors and stories are also used in Ericksonian hypnotherapy to communicate with the unconscious mind. Metaphors and stories can be used to access information that is not available to the conscious mind and to help the client to make changes in their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

In Ericksonian hypnotherapy, ideomotor signalling is a technique that uses a movement of the client’s finger to signal an unconscious communication. This technique is valuable in uncovering the source of early learning experiences that have contributed to problems and patterns that maintain them. The therapist asks the client’s unconscious mind to lift one finger for a “yes” answer and another for a “no” answer. This process gets faster as the client answers more questions and the process becomes more familiar. The purpose is to communicate with the part of the client that knows more about the problem than they do, without the client being consciously aware of the therapy. The therapist should keep a written record of the session to keep track of the unconscious communication and sort out any contradictory unconscious logic. It may not be advisable to show the client the written record afterwards, as it will often contain confidential information shared by their unconscious.


3. Unconscious Communication

Unconscious communication is a form of communication that takes place below the level of conscious awareness. Unconscious communication can be verbal or nonverbal. Verbal unconscious communication can take the form of slips of the tongue, dreams, and jokes. Nonverbal unconscious communication can take the form of body language, facial expressions, and eye contact.

Unconscious communication can be a powerful tool for understanding ourselves and others. By paying attention to our unconscious communication, we can gain insights into our thoughts, feelings, and motivations. We can also use unconscious communication to influence others and to build stronger relationships.

It’s important to remember that hypnosis is a collaborative process between the hypnotist and the client. While the unconscious mind plays a significant role in the experience, it’s ultimately up to the client to decide what they’re comfortable with and what they’re not. Asking the unconscious mind to agree to everything may not be necessary or appropriate in every situation. It’s important to approach hypnosis with a respectful and mindful attitude, and to always prioritize the safety and well-being of the client.


4. Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal communication is a form of communication that takes place without the use of words. Nonverbal communication can include body language, facial expressions, eye contact, gestures, and tone of voice.

Nonverbal communication is often more powerful than verbal communication. This is because nonverbal communication is often more honest and less filtered than verbal communication. Nonverbal communication can also be used to communicate emotions that are difficult to express in words.

As an Ericksonian hypnotherapist, it is important to observe and understand nonverbal communication in order to better understand a client or patient’s true feelings and thoughts. Client’s often come to therapy with a preconceived idea of what they should say and may not be completely honest. By paying attention to nonverbal cues, such as changes in muscle tone or respiration, therapists can gain important clues about the nature or cause of the client’s problem and how it is being maintained. Intuitive learning is possible through experience and continual exposure to a subject. By paying attention to details in communication, such as tonality and hesitation, therapists can interpret the content of their clients’ communication more accurately and make more informed decisions.


5. Unconscious Nonverbal Communication

Clients’ may not be aware of their nonverbal communication, but it usually matches the verbal content. Incongruity between the two suggests a mis-match between the conscious and unconscious understanding of the problem. Therapists should pay attention to both aspects. Nonverbal communication is hard to control consciously, even for client’s wanting to safeguard their secondary gains.

It’s important for therapists to pay close attention to nonverbal communication when working with clients. This can often provide valuable insight into what the patient is truly thinking or feeling, even if they aren’t expressing it verbally. For example, a positive statement accompanied by a negative facial expression can indicate incongruity between conscious and unconscious thought. Therapists can learn to recognize patterns in non-verbal communication by watching for repeated gestures or movements, and should keep in mind that these signals are often metaphors that can reveal deeper truths about the client’s thoughts and feelings. However, it’s important to remember that nonverbal communication should always be seen in context to be properly understood.


6. Reliability of Unconscious Nonverbal Communication

It is important for hypnotherapists to pay attention to the nonverbal component of a client’s communication, as it is often more honest than the verbal component. Clients may not be aware of what is troubling them at an unconscious level, but their nonverbal cues can give away clues. By noticing a client’s facial expressions, a therapist may be able to identify whether the client is thinking positively or negatively. Hypnotic techniques such as automatic writing can also be used to evoke unconscious communication.


7. Agreement and Disagreement

Agreement or disagreement is a form of nonverbal communication that is used to indicate whether or not someone agrees or disagrees with what is being said. Agreement or disagreement can be communicated through body language, facial expressions, and eye contact.

For example, nodding the head and smiling can indicate agreement, while shaking the head and frowning can indicate disagreement.

Nonverbal communication can be a powerful tool when it comes to evoking agreement or disagreement in a client. To evoke agreement, try using open body language, such as facing the client directly, leaning in slightly, and maintaining eye contact. Nodding your head and smiling can also show that you are actively listening and agreeing with what they are saying. 

On the other hand, to evoke disagreement, you can use closed body language, such as crossing your arms or legs, looking away, or frowning slightly. This can signal to the client that you do not agree with what they are saying. However, it is important to use these cues subtly and not to come across as confrontational or dismissive. The Ericksonian hypnotherapist uses these nonverbal skills to guide the client towards successful therapy.

Remember, nonverbal communication should always be used in conjunction with verbal communication and should be tailored to each individual client and situation.


8. Unconscious Head Nods

Unconscious head nods are a type of nonverbal communication that is often used to indicate agreement or understanding. Unconscious head nods can occur even when someone is not consciously aware of them.

Unconscious head nods can be a helpful tool for understanding how someone is feeling or what they are thinking. By paying attention to unconscious head nods, we can gain insights into someone’s thoughts, feelings, and motivations.

To train yourself to notice unconscious head nods, you must first start by paying attention to people’s body language. When you are in a conversation with someone, try to focus not only on what they are saying but also on how they are saying it. Look for subtle cues such as head movements, eye contact and facial expressions.

As you become more aware of these signals, you can start to train yourself to notice unconscious head nods. One way to do this is to practice with a friend or family member. Engage them in a conversation and see if you can pick up on it.

Another technique is to record yourself in a conversation and watch the playback. This will help you to see if you missed any nonverbal cues, including unconscious head nods.

Remember, training yourself to notice unconscious head nods takes time and practice. But with patience and persistence, you can become more attuned to the nonverbal signals people give off during conversations.


9. Negative Tag  Questions

Negative tag questions are a type of question that is used to elicit agreement or disagreement. Negative tag questions typically take the form of a statement followed by a question, such as “That wasn’t so bad, was it?” or “You don’t mind if I do this, do you?”

Negative tag questions can be a helpful tool for building rapport and for getting someone to agree with you. However, it is important to use negative tag questions in a way that is respectful and genuine.

When it comes to asking negative tag questions in hypnosis, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, it’s important to phrase the question in a way that allows the subject to respond with a simple “yes” or “no.” This can be achieved by using a negative statement followed by a positive tag question, such as “You don’t want to smoke anymore, do you?”

It’s also important to use a calm and reassuring tone when asking the question, as this can help put the subject at ease and make them more open to suggestion. Additionally, it’s a good idea to avoid using overly complex language or confusing phrasing, as this can make it harder for the subject to understand and respond to the question.

Overall, asking negative tag questions in hypnosis can be an effective way to help the subject overcome negative behaviors or thought patterns, but it’s important to approach the process with care and sensitivity to ensure the best possible outcome.


10. Subtle Nonverbal Behaviours

Subtle nonverbal behaviors are small, often unconscious movements that can communicate a variety of emotions and messages. Some common subtle nonverbal behaviors include eye contact, facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice.

Subtle nonverbal behaviors can be a powerful tool for communicating with others. By paying attention to subtle nonverbal behaviors, we can gain insights into someone’s thoughts, feelings, and motivations.

Unconscious nonverbal behaviors can be extremely subtle and difficult to detect. They often involve small changes in facial expression, body posture, and tone of voice that can signal a person’s true thoughts and feelings. These cues are often overlooked or misinterpreted, but they can have a significant impact on communication and relationships. It is important to be aware of these behaviors and to pay attention to the signals that clients are sending, even if they are not aware of them themselves. By doing so, you can build stronger connections and have more meaningful interactions with your clients.


11. How to ask questions as implications that evoke an ideo motor response

When you want to ask questions as implications that evoke an ideo motor response, it’s important to choose your words carefully. Instead of asking direct questions, try phrasing your questions in a way that suggests a particular response. For example, instead of asking “Do you want to go for a walk?” you could say “I feel like going for a walk, do you want to join me?” This implies that the person should feel like going for a walk as well, and if they do, their body will respond with a subtle movement. By using this technique, you can tap into the unconscious mind and get a more accurate response from the person you’re speaking with. Just be sure to be respectful and avoid manipulating people with this technique.


12. Hypnosis Training

Hypnosis training is a process that teaches people how to induce hypnosis in themselves and others. Hypnosis is a state of heightened suggestibility, in which people are more open to suggestion and are more likely to experience changes in their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

One of the most important aspects of hypnosis training is learning how to induce the hypnotic state. There are many different techniques that can be used to induce hypnosis, including progressive muscle relaxation, visualization, and guided imagery.

Once a person has learned how to induce hypnosis, they can then learn how to use hypnosis for a variety of purposes, such as pain relief, stress reduction, and improving performance.

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