Is Everyone Hypnotizable?

Posted by: Curtis Stevens on February 28, 2012 10:35 am

I’ve been asked if everyone is hypnotizable.  My answer to them is never a straight yes or no.  I truly believe that everyone is hypnotizable.  There are differences between clients and how well or how quickly they respond.  I believe there is a great deal of preparation one can do to increase the success of the session.  I have had two clients that struggled with getting into trance.  As a therapist, I often fall into the trap of…”if it works well, I did a good job… if it didn’t, it must be something the client did.”  Own my successes, blame the failures…. No, wait… that’s not true.

Anyway.  One male client just couldn’t go into a deep enough trance.  He responded well to relaxation, but couldn’t get any deeper.  My office building was particularly louder that day and my client simply did not respond to the suggestion of letting the sounds around him bring him deeper into trance (as opposed to not paying attention to them… it’s really hard to not pay attention to something… my favorite, and you can try this right now… is to not pay attention to the thought of a blue horse… what’s the first thing that popped into your head?).  Sometimes it just doesn’t work.  The other situation was with a lady that, for lack of a better way to put it, was just too high strung.  She could not (and I truly think this is the deciding factor contributing to successful hypnosis) get past the concept of locus of control.  Most people struggle with hypnosis because they simply do not want to give their power to someone else, and in their mind they truly believe they are giving their power up to me.  Those have been the only two so far.  Not bad.

I have had people struggle with the pre-session testing that I do.  The Barber test is a suggestibility test that sort of measures how suggestible a person is.  It might be more accurate to say that it measures what areas of suggestibility may be more successful than others.  It goes through a series of hypnotic phenomena suggested, but not while the participant is in trance.  They close their eyes and go through a series of imagined situations.  One imagination results in an arm floating and raising while another has it feeling heavy and lowering; seemingly on its own.  A person is prompted to imagine different parts of their body freezing/locking in place.  I won’t mention them all, but it is really interesting to watch people’s surprise when their body starts responding to suggestion.  It is also a good place to notice how and when people struggle with drawing their attention to things.  Some people don’t like being told that they “can’t” do something (try to say your name and you can’t).  There is one suggestion in the test that suggests that a person forgets one of the exercises carried out during the test.  I am surprised at the success rate of that particular item.  Almost all, even without being in a trance, will forget a specific test experience until I suggest they can now remember.

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

1 comment on “Is Everyone Hypnotizable?”

  1. Dear Curtis Stevens,

    I really enjoyed reading your post on hypnotherapy. During my doctoral internship, I worked for a psychological clinic that had a hypnotherapist. Having worked for this clinic, I had an opportunity to learn about many forms of hypnotherapy, and similar therapies to hypnotherapy. I loved this educational opportunity, and admittedly, I may one day seek to be trained as a hypnotherapist.

    Again, thank you for posting this article on hypnotherapy.

    Dr. Asa Don Brown

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