People say to me, why indirect hypnosis? Why not just tell them their eyes are getting heavy and that they will go into trance?

Well, there isn’t a simple answer. Because, there are many reasons why it is better to use indirect hypnosis than traditional direct approaches. Firstly, with the indirect approach the hypnotic subject or client, does not realise how you are hypnotising them, or even if you are hypnotising them. So, if for some reason this person is a difficult subject to hypnotise then, there is no perceived failure on your part. Because the client doesn’t even realise you are hypnotising them. Secondly, hypnosis and hypnotherapy should be used to empower clients to feel strong, confident and responsible for their own therapeutic changes. We want them to feel this way because this is therapeutic, and so part of their therapy. If they feel dependent upon a hypnotherapist to help them in the future, then we are doing them a disservice by giving the impression that we as therapists are in control of their destiny.

So, indirect hypnosis empowers people – where direct hypnosis dis-empowers them by making them feel that it was someone else controlling their behaviour thoughts and feelings. Thirdly, many people are not highly receptive to hypnosis. So using a direct technique where the hypnotist gives commands can not only be embarrassing for both parties when hypnosis fails, but also denies the client the possibility of a genuine therapeutic trance experience, simply because they did not immediately go to ‘sleep’ when the therapist told them to. Next, there is the whole question of respect. With direct hypnosis you impose something onto the person. You tell them what to think, what  to visualise, and what suggestions to follow. This leaves and very little room for independent creativity and the evocation of unconscious potential on the part of the client.

And lastly, the indirect hypnotic approach is so gentle and respectful that it does not evoke any fear in the client. Many members of the public believe that the hypnotist will be able to take over their mind and make them reveal secrets. So there is a natural fear of hypnosis. But when the client discovers themselves going into hypnotic trance midway through a normal conversation, and finds the experience pleasant and gentle and reassuring, then they re-frame their preconceived idea of what hypnosis should feel like. And so trust builds more easily, there is mutual respect between client and therapist, and rapport opens up the potential to explore the client’s problem at an unconscious level based on trust and integrity.

It has been said that indirect hypnosis can be dangerous if in the wrong hands. Well, this is true, it can be used to manipulate others. However, in a therapeutic context it is not only appropriate, but also ethical to manipulate the clients reality for their own benefit and healing.

Lastly I want to mention one of the most important benefits of using Indirect Hypnosis. Indirect hypnosis can be used in contexts not traditionally associated with hypnosis. I have used it to teach nurses, teachers and people from professions on the periphery of the medical field. The feedback I have received from these course graduates working with members of the public, has been extremely positive. I have had confirmed over and over again the benefits of using indirect hypnosis not only in formal hypnotic therapy sessions but in other contexts where effective communication is essential.

Of course, indirect hypnosis requires specialist training and the ‘art’ of applying indirect hypnosis is in using only implication to achieve outcomes – whether that outcome is hypnotic induction or therapeutic change. And this is what I have dedicated my entire life to achieving and teaching to others.

Stephen Brooks