Creating Effective Hypnosis Suggestions
There are many parts to effective hypnosis suggestions and there is much debate about what is the most effective type of suggestion. Most of the debate focuses on different types of delivery and tactics that increase acceptance of suggestions. What is agreed on is that there are really three main points that a suggestions must have to keep from being wasted breath. First the suggestion must be positive. Second, it must incorporate as many of the five senses as possible. Third it must be memorable.
Keeping it positive
Creating positive hypnosis suggestions isn’t about being a positive thinker or using uplifting verbiage. A positive suggestion is something that the client can do. Avoiding a behavior or stopping a behavior is not an action. By using a suggestion like “stop smoking” or “quit drinking” you haven’t really told the subconscious what to do. You have told the subconscious what not to do. This is what I would call a negative suggestion. The problem with this type of suggestion is that it cannot be understood without first imagining the behavior that is trying to be overcome. Essentially this gets your client to vividly imagine the behavior they are trying to get rid of right after you have put them in a highly suggestible state. The best case scenario is that this suggestion does nothing. The worst case is that you actually reinforce the behavior making your job tougher and the clients success less likely. When creating a suggestion tell the sub-conscious what to do. In the case of smoking cessation “Imagine yourself as a non-smoker”. In the case of drinking “Imagine how you would feel after being sober for 30 days. Make sure that your suggestion focuses on the actions that the client will take instead of the behavior they are trying to stop. One good way to ensure you are doing this is to imagine the suggestion in your mind. What images do you have to create to imagine the suggestion. Your client will likely have to create similar ones. Make sure they are the types of things you want your client focusing on.
Incorporating the Senses
With the exception of those that have some physical impairment most of us experience the world with all five senses. Sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. The best hypnotic suggestions are the ones that incorporate the most senses (ex. “Look at yourself in the mirror after sticking with your workout plan for 30 days”) . With every sense added to the suggestion it becomes more life like.
Most people are more attuned to one sense than the others. The big three that most people focus on are, sight, sound, and touch. This creates the tendency for people to create suggestions that focus on their preferred sense. Visual people create suggestions that focus of creating pictures. Auditory people focus on internal dialogue. Kinesthetic people focus on the feelings that success will bring. This is great if your client shares your preferred sensory mode, but it is ineffective if they don’t. Knowing your clients preferred sensory mode is important, but knowing their preferred sensory mode does not mean that you can ignore their other senses. Each sensory mode added just makes the experience more powerful. At a minimum be sure to include the big three senses (sight, sound, touch) with an emphasis on their preferred mode. If you can creatively incorporate the other senses, do it!
Making Suggestions Memorable
Hypnosis suggestions must be remembered to be followed. If you have followed the first two paragraphs of this article your hypnosis suggestions will be positive and incorporate multiple senses. This is a good start to making your suggestions memorable. To take it two steps further make sure that your suggestions are simple and then sum them up with a key word.
Make sure that your suggestions are simple enough that the client will not have to ponder what you have said to understand. Remember when you are giving hypnotic suggestions you are not talking to the persons rational mind you are talking to their subconscious. A big difference is that the subconscious is very literal. Write your suggestions as though you were going to give them to a young child. This will go a long way to avoiding misunderstandings and unintended outcomes. The simpler the suggestion the easier it is to remember. If a client has a very complex outcome sometimes it is best to break it down into a series of suggestions each one moving the the client closer to the overall goal.
Key words are a great way to make suggestions memorable. If you were working with a client to overcome anxiety one way to incorporate this would be to work through the suggestions and then have the client take a deep breath and say to themselves “tranquility” or to see the word spelled out in big bright letters. These key words can be used in later sessions to reinforce past suggestions without having to go through the entire suggestion again.
Effective hypnosis suggestions are the keystone of an effective hypnosis session. Keeping your suggestions positive, incorporating all the senses possible, and making your suggestions memorable will make them more effective. It may seem like a lot to focus on at first but with practice these will start to become second nature.