Induction and deepening
The following are the most common induction/deepening procedures.
Breathing techniques are widely accepted as being helpful as part of anxiety and/or stress management and can also provide a very effective induction procedure.
They can be very simple or elaborated with imagery – such as ‘coloured breath’. A further use of breathing techniques is to accompany them with a ‘self-statement’ to form a rapid hypnosis routine.
Eye Fixation and Closure
These are eyes-open procedures and are normally used first in the sequence if they are to be used at all. They include the classic eye-fixation with eyelid closure, “magnetic hands”, thumb-nail technique etc. as well as suggestions of eye heaviness and closure without fixation on a target.
Vogt’s Fractionation Method
This embodies in a very direct sense the view that deepening is a series of “inductions”. After a classic eye-fixation and closure with lid heaviness and general relaxation suggestions the subject is instructed to open their eyes and the eye-closure and associated suggestions are given again. This process can be repeated several times – usually until the subject is unable (or unwilling) to open their eyes when asked to do so.
Relaxation by Direct Suggestion
The subject’s attention is directed to muscle groups in different parts of the body – usually in a sequence from legs to back, to shoulders & neck, to arms to shoulders, and neck to head, face, eyelids forehead – and the same suggestions of warmth, comfort, reduction of tension are repeated for each muscle group in turn.
Relaxation by Direct Imagery
Any number of relaxation images are suitable, limited only by the inventiveness of the hypnotist or the subject. One example might be for the person to imagine their body like a sack filled tight with grain (=tension) and the to imagine a small hole appearing at the bottom of the a sack through which the grain slowly begins to spill out – the sack sinks down as the grain escapes etc.
The Descent Image
Descent is often used as a metaphor for entering a state of relaxation or hypnosis. Again a great many images could be useful here – one of my subjects (at her own request) would deepen by falling, unsupported like Alice down a deep hole. This image clearly would not be a comfortable one for everyone and it is always good practice to agree the descent image with the subject before the hypnosis commences. Descending steps in a garden or travelling down in a lift and the ones I often use with clients.
The Special Place
Before the hypnosis the subject is asked to nominate a place where they would feel particularly comfortable or relaxed. It can be a real place they have encountered in the past or an imaginary one, outdoors or indoors. They are asked to describe some of its main features and to say whether they would be sitting, lying, floating etc in order to avoid the hypnotist making inappropriate comments when setting the scene for the subject later in hypnosis.
A typical example is a beach. For clinical work this procedure is also one in which one of the elements of the scene could be encapsulated in a symbolic phrase (e.g. “sea birds in the distance”) which the subject could use as an associative cue for relaxation outside the hypnosis session. After the session the subject might also be asked to find a small object to symbolise the special place (this subject chose a seashell) which she could carry around with her and use to reinforce the associated cue for relaxation outside hypnosis.