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Hypnotherapy - a Personalised Induction Will Always Be More Effective

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"A personaIised induction will always be more effective". The proposition would seem self-evident. People vary so widely and their needs and predilections are so many and so divergent, there is no reason to think that a 'one -size-fits-all' solution would apply any more in hypnotic induction than it would, say, to musical tastes or clothes sizes. People can be very different, and what has an effect on one may well have no effect at all on someone else. It would be simplistic to think of people as a set of homogenous entities with the same personality type, the same cultural influences or the same physiology. And so, it would be simplistic to expect people to respond exactly the same way to the same set of stimuli. With this in mind it would seem only natural to tailor a hypnotic induction specific to the client. To take this to a logical extreme, if your client could only speak Russian then it would hardly seem likely that they would respond very well to an induction in Chinese. And if they had a phobia of water, it would be unlikely that they'd respond well to an induction with the sound of a waterfall or a running stream in the background. Having said that, the effect aimed for, every time, in a hypnotic induction is, generally speaking, the same. And because the hypnotic induction is ultimately a mechanical enterprise designed to achieve this effect, and the basic mechanism of the human mind is the same , then, to some extent, at least with regard to inducing trance, a similar methodology would be expected to produce that result in most people most of the time. To that end it might be assumed that a standardised approach in the induction would work on most hypnotic subjects and that there should be little variation required to achieve a workable percentage and a high success rate. A standardised induction for the hypnotherapist would entail less preparation and allow more time to spend working on the therapeutic element of the session, as well as allowing the therapist more time for more clients, and in that regard it would have major advantages for both the client and for the therapist. So there are pros and cons in favour of and against the proposition and it is the aim of this essay to examine these in more detail with a view to elucidating the argument.

To begin with, it is worth examining the nature of the hypnotic induction itself. There are many different kinds of hypnotic induction including Progressive Muscular Relaxation, Eye fixation, Visualisation, Rapid or Instant Induction, Confusion Induction, Speed Trance, and Emotionally Induced Regression Induction, to name but a few. This list is by no means exhaustive. There is a wide disparity among the different types of induction, but basically there are two types. There are the slower more traditional, clinical types of induction, and then there are the faster types of induction originally developed for the stage. Of the two, the more traditional, clinical types are the ones more likely to need personalisation because they require the hypnotist to engage very deeply with the client. This may be the crux of the issue with any argument over whether a hypnotic induction should be personalised. Some inductions 'have' to be personalised to some extent. In my own experiences with PMR, where relaxation is key, I have found that certain phrases which may help one subject relax will only serve to make another subject laugh hysterically. For instance. With one subject the phrase 'the large muscles in your thighs' implied that they had large thighs, which they found hilarious and totally disrupted the induction, forcing me to start all over again. For another subject the suggestion that their jaw might drop open slightly sent them into fits of hysterics. There had been a running joke between her and her friend about people who went round with their mouths open all the time, and each time I made the suggestion that her jaw would drop, it conjured up this image and the series of associations which always made her laugh. In both cases I was forced to adapt the script to exclude the detrimental phrases. There is no telling what may be in a client's head or what associations they might have to any given phrase. That is why a longer more involved and more verbal induction is quite likely to need a more personal touch. The scope for engaging the subject's own personal likes, dislikes, associations, foibles, prejudices, talents, conditioning, proclivities or personality is much greater, and therefore likely to warrant attention or accommodation. The renowned psychotherapist Milton Erickson would induce trance in patients through conversation, taking the idea of a personalised induction to the extreme. Engaging the patient completely in as personable a way as possible. He would improvise an induction using confusion technique and use his superlative powers of observation to negotiate his way through resistance and lead the patient into trance. Erickson favoured a permissive approach, using language that would give his patients the illusion of autonomy and give less cause for resistance. It must be remembered though that Erickson was a psychiatrist working with patients, often with severe mental illness, and that resistance was likely to feature prominently in his work, and so he would have had to spend long periods of time finding ways to engage resistant patients. In this kind of environment, confronted with this kind of challenge, a longer, more engaging and more subtle and personal induction into trance was probably the 'only' way to achieve therapeutic results. Erickson's methods were

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