Post-hypnotic suggestions are imperative to successful change work in hypnosis. A post-hypnotic suggestion is a suggestion that activates and operates at a time... or times... after the client has come out of trance. Typically the client will feel a compelling desire to respond, often without remembering or realizing what has prompted the desire.
To make your post-hypnotic suggestions effective, remember the following points:
• Lead the client into medium to deep trance in order to produce amnesia for the suggestion, which is usually desirable so that the Conscious Mind will not interfere with the working of the suggestion. (In some cases the post-hypnotic suggestion can work even if the client remembers it. Some people later remember a suggestion when they are in trance and not when they are out of trance.)
• Any suggestions given while the client is in deep trance should be clear and to the point. Early in the induction, while the client is in a waking state, indirect suggestions are effective. Later, when the client is in deep trance, make your post-hypnotic suggestions direct and authoritarian. (This was pointed out by Boris Sidis in The Psychology of Suggestion, 1898.)
• Keep your talk congruent with what you are really thinking. The Unconscious Mind is amazingly perceptive, and can readily detect incongruities between what you are telling it and the messages given by your voice and physiology. Think what you want the client to do as you are asking them to do it. Remember, your client will only actualize those things that you believe to be true.
• Embed the suggestion in multiple metaphors. This technique is distinctly Ericksonian. Remember the metaphors in the Progressive Test Induction: "Now in a moment I am going to give your Unconscious Mind some suggestions, which I would like your Conscious Mind to forget. Forgetting is normal and natural. Forgetting is a normal, natural thing... you do it all the time. Why would you care what you had for lunch two weeks ago, on Wednesday, when it rained? You simply forget it. I want you to forget consciously what I am about to tell you in just a moment. Somebody gives you a slip of paper and you forget about it. Where did it go? Who knows, who cares, just forget about it. Forgetting is a normal, natural thing. Now, I would like to suggest that "
• Tell the client what the trigger will be to set off the activation of the post-hypnotic suggestion. If I myself am going to trigger activation of a suggestion during a classroom demonstration, I tell the subject that when they see me rub my hand across my upper lip, they will, for example, walk up to the front of the room.
• Tell the client clearly what to do. Example: "You will feel an undeniable urge to stand up, and you will stand up and walk to the front of the room." Then tell the client when to do it. Example: "You will do this immediately."
• Close the metaphor loops: "And I want you to forget my suggestions consciously and remember them unconsciously... like the piece of paper you've forgotten about... like who cares what you had for lunch two weeks ago. It's OK, forgetting is a normal, natural thing. Forget what I just said."
In stage hypnosis and classroom demonstrations, post-hypnotic suggestions are designed to be activated just after the client has come out of trance, by the signal the hypnotist has set as a trigger. In therapy, post-hypnotic suggestions are set to be activated repeatedly over a long period, sometimes in response to an external trigger, or very often in response to some internal trigger in the client's own behavior.
Here is an example of suggestions that you might make to a colleague in practising post-hypnotic suggestions for the purpose of therapy:
I know that you want to be an excellent Hypnotherapist. And now I want to ask your Unconscious Mind to organize everything that you've been studying, everything that you've heard experienced Hypnotherapists say, all of the examples of things to say to your clients. And you can remember those things, and your Unconscious Mind can present them to your Conscious Mind in such a way that you don't even have to think about them.
When you are listening to a client, your complete attention will be on what the client is saying, riveted, because you know that when it is time for you to respond, your Unconscious Mind will immediately supply the response that will most help the client.
And when you are talking to a client and searching for the next thing to say, you will relax and pause quietly, because you know that your Unconscious Mind is about to give you the best thing to say. Just relax. Your Unconscious Mind will organize everything you have learned about hypnosis and will easily and effortlessly supply the things that you need to say in order to have your clients go into deep trance and experience the most excellent results from the hypnotherapy process.
That would be all right, wouldn't it? Just nod "Yes" when your Unconscious Mind has organized all your learnings about hypnosis. That's right. Excellent.
Post-hypnotic suggestions can last for as short or as long a time as you suggest. You can specify that a suggestion will last only for a single occasion. You can make a deeply beneficial suggestion that will last forever.
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For anyone concerned that this is a report designed to teach readers how to convince crowds of people to act like chickens or dance to an unheard song just with a carefully placed keyword - relax. While hypnosis is often paraded in that form with large crowds visiting celebrity hypnosis experts to see what wonders they can perform, the majority of hypnosis used is to aid people seeking a solution to a problem they cannot resolve easily with any other method.