We’re in this together, and I always go first. I’ve never failed to put anyone in a trance, as long as they were willing to experience the process.
I’ve heard the relationship called “trance partners,” and that makes sense to me. Whenever I conduct a session, I always go into a light trance. I can’t go deep because I’m the guide. That means I always go first. I lead you in, and at the end I lead you out again.
Hypnotic trance isn’t the same as relaxation or meditation. Trance indicates subconscious suggestibility, and suggestibility can be attained without relaxation. For clinical sessions, hypnotic trance includes relaxation. Some sessions, usually the first one, begin with the induction, then relaxation. When I know that the client is suggestible, we proceed with the script and suggestions.
I like to ask my clients what hypnosis is like for them. It’s a question I used to ask out of curiosity, although at some point I realized that I can use the answer therapeutically. If I know what it’s like for them, I can incorporate that description into their subsequent inductions—and they go into hypnosis much more quickly.
Every client describes it differently, and each according to their individual style. Visual people tell me what they see, including colors. Kinesthetics tell me how it feels—body temperature, extremities, and internal sensations. Auditory people are interesting because their experience is so centered on what they hear, their conscious minds become confused when they return from deep trances. Without a concrete memory of what my voice sounded like, all other memories become distorted, and they seem to have the greatest sense of time distortion. Some clients talk about aromas and taste, but olfactory and gustatory reports aren’t as common.
In my own case, as a visual, I experience hypnosis as being in a very dark tunnel, with only me on one end, and the hypnotist’s voice at the other end. Nothing else exists except images that come and go. I am not aware of my body at all while in a trance.
When conducting a therapeutic session, I don’t always know what my client is experiencing, so I ask for responses along the way. The qualities of the responses let me know what stage of depth they’re in, or if they are asleep. I’ve learned to bring my client’s level up from sleep to medium trance or light trance.
Depth testing is essential, because the subconscious mind must open up and come to the forefront in order for the client to be successful. Although I don’t know what they are experiencing at any given moment, I make sure to be aware of their depth and suggestibility. That’s what makes a difference between clinical effectiveness and relaxation/meditation. One can be relaxed without being suggestible; clinical hypnosis accomplishes both.