Direct suggestions are very effective provided they actually match the issues that the client has. Every direct suggestion in hypnosis should be aimed at one of the core belief systems. Knowing what core beliefs the client holds will allow the therapist to aim suggestions at a specific target. The more specific the target the more likely it is that the hypnotic suggestion will hit the right spot, and the more likely it is that the suggestion will be accepted.
Some therapists are convinced that indirect suggestion is superior to direct suggestion but research has shown consistently that there is no measurable difference: both are equally effective.
Direct suggestions can be delivered in an authoritative manner, almost as a command, or can be introduced gently like part of a conversation, or can be embedded in the flow of a metaphor or story.
Some form of direct suggestion is used in almost every hypnosis session. Direct suggestions work by placing concepts into the mind. For most of us our minds represent the world as images. Whenever we hear a word spoken, in order to understand what it means, we have to first go into our memory stores and find associated memories.
Some words are associated with quite specific images. The word 'penguin' probably immediately brings to mind a single image of a funny looking black and white bird. So if I want to put that image in your mind I just have to say the word. For most people 'penguin' is something that is distinct and almost unique, and does not have a lot of emotional or activity associations. The concept of 'penguin' exists as a relatively isolated set of memories in your mind. This concept, this cluster of memories, is easily found and brought to mind every time you hear the word 'penguin'.
Other concepts are abstract and not so easily brought to conscious awareness. Words such as 'love' or 'anger' have many associations and many overlapping and even conflicting representations. However those words do have internal representations. Even words such as 'because' and 'where' have internal representations, or we would be unable to understand their meaning.
So every word we hear has internal representations. (Everyone represents the world in their own unique way: some people experience it in sounds, or colours, or feelings or in some other way, but the same word produces the same representation every time, so the principle holds good). It is a rule of how the mind works, that whatever we visualize is what we get. Suggestions given in hypnosis produce particularly strong recall of representations. So suggesting confidence or health or other positive concepts during hypnosis places some image of those things in the mind and the subconscious then works to make them come true.
The exact words are not important, providing they generate the right internal representation, but some ways of expressing suggestions are better than others. Some hypnotists believe that it is always wrong to use the word 'not', because for example telling someone 'Don't think of an elephant' in fact brings up the very image you are trying to avoid. However it is not necessary to slavishly avoid all negatives and it is not possible to avoid mentioning the thing the client want to deal with. It just is not possible to treat smoking without using the words 'smoking', 'cigarettes' etc.
The following section lists some rules for creating direct suggestions.
Direct suggestions are more effective the more times they are repeated. The same suggestion can be restated in different words, or repeated in different sections of the session. A suggestion cannot be repeated too often.
|Right:||"You like people. You enjoy being around people. When you are with people, you are calm, poised, relaxed. People bring out the best in you. You love meeting new people. You feel at ease in company. You always find something interesting in each person you meet. You are naturally comfortable with other people. People like you. And you like them. "|
|Wrong:||"From now on you enjoy meeting people ".|
The wording must invoke an image of what the client wants, not what they don't want.
|Right:||"You fall asleep gently and quickly, enjoying a restful peaceful sleep, sleeping soundly through the whole night and waking refreshed. "|
|Wrong:||"You no longer toss and turn for hours desperately lying awake worrying about why you can't sleep. "|
Tell the client that whatever it is they want, they have it now. It is part of their life now. Suggestions need to tell the client's subconscious that it exists in them right now, not at some future time that may never arrive.
|Right:||"You are confident in everything you do. "|
|Wrong:||"You will show confidence in everything you do."|
Suggestions should be matched to the client's experience.
|Right:||"Every little thing you do right increases your confidence: parking the car, preparing a meal, getting a smile from a stranger. "|
|Wrong:||"Your confidence rises till you could park an ocean liner. "|
If the client believes strongly in astrology then tell them the stars are in their favour. If the client believes in destiny and karma then tell them that success is their destiny. Use what whatever metaphors the client uses to understand their own life.
|Right:||"The fact that you came here today is a sign. A sign that things are now moving in your favour. And nothing can stop a movement once it has started. And that knowledge is making you stronger right now. You are changing. Confidence is building in you right now. You are strong and determined. You want to change. You know you can change. "|
|Wrong:||"Your beliefs are holding you back . You are in charge of your life. If you want to change you can. "|
It is possible to deal with closely related issues in one session but it is best to focus on one problem. If the client has problems with smoking and confidence they should be treated separately. Suggestions should be clustered together so that they reinforce each other.
|Right:||"You radiate confidence when you enter a room. You look fit and well. Your appearance lets others in that room see you as a success. In their eyes you are someone who knows what he is doing, someone they can respect. And their respect gives you more self confidence. "|
|Wrong:||"You are really confident and you always brush your shoes and exercise daily and don't smoke".|
Suggestion should touch upon every aspect of the problem, not just suggest an overall solution. Individual suggestions should reinforce each other and lead to the overall solution.
|Right:||"You stand confidently, dress confidently, move confidently. Your voice is strong and steady. Your handshake is firm and friendly. You look people in the eye and you smile easily. The way you hold yourself communicates confidence. Your attention and attitude let people know you are pleased to see them. You show that you share their views and values… that you are a worthwhile person… that you look forward to talking and sharing with them. "|
|Wrong:||"You are really confident with new people. "|
If the client tells you they earned a certificate in flower arranging, then use that in your suggestions. Nothing is too trivial to seed an idea. Every positive experience is valuable.
|Right:||"You can allow that confidence to build in you, ... that feeling you had when you won your certificate. The feeling that comes with winning. When you won and showed everyone how good you are. "|
|Wrong:||"There must have been some things that made you feel confident. Try to find some confidence now. "|
Clients are frequently not aware of their own resources, or dismiss them as as of no value. During the discussion of their problem clients will often describe incidents in which they use abilities such as handling difficult people or organizing work. These incidents can be reframed to emphasize the strengths the client has.
|Right:||"Think back to the time when [the incident]. This shows that you have the ability to organize work. You have the ability to organize difficult situations, and you have the ability to organize yourself, to create new solutions. You have always had that ability.... and you can use that now. "|
|Wrong:||"You have many resources you can call on now."|
Suggestions must positive, they can stretch the client, but they must be acceptable within the client's self belief. If the outcome is clearly beyond the client's self perceived resources then the suggestion will be rejected. They also have to be possible. You cannot tell someone they will lose twenty kilos in time for their daughter's birthday next week.
|Right:||"You can walk into a room and impress everyone there. Your poise and self confidence comes from knowing you have prepared and know what to say. You can talk comfortably with anyone. "|
|Wrong:||"You walk into the room and you are the centre of attention. You mesmerize the whole room with stories about your experiences and triumphs. They go helpless with laughter at your jokes. Everyone says you are the greatest person they have ever met."|
Some suggestions are bound to fail. You should be careful with the words 'always' and 'never'. They can cause the client to reject the suggestion. Suggesting the client will be eager and enthusiastic at all times will fail if the client has to give a subordinate bad news. Suggesting the client will use every moment of the day towards their goal must fail for a busy mother. Suggestions should be matched to the situations where the client is having problems.
|Right:||"You smile when you meet people, and you laugh at life's problems. You greet every situation with confidence and tact. "|
|Wrong:||"You always greet every situation with a smile and laughter."|
Each person experiences the world differently, so suggestions need to touch on each of the main senses to ensure that they have the greatest impact. If the suggestions only or mainly focus on seeing, or picturing, or other visual metaphors then a person who does not visualize well may be unable to process the suggestions adequately.
|Right:||"Imagine you are going into that meeting. Deep inside yourself you can feel that confidence, like a rod holding you upright. You see the others smiling and that boosts your confidence. You hear them welcoming you... that means you have made a good impression. You smell the coffee and you know it's all set up right, you feel the grip of a firm handshake, you feel the weight of the materials in your hand, you are ready, you can taste the success already... You are an outstanding presenter. You are giving them the greatest presentation they ever heard. "|
|Wrong:||When you stand up to speak you feel a rush of confidence."|
Clients can only influence their own behavior. Do not word suggestions to imply that other people will change.
|Right:||"Every day you select some different behaviour to show your wife that you have changed. You willingly accept responsibilities around the house. Contributing to the household makes you a full partner in your marriage. You show your respect for your wife by your considerate actions. "|
|Wrong:||"Your wife now treats you with respect."|
Suggestions make a greater impact on the subconscious mind when they are put in vibrant emotional terms, and when the behaviours are linked to strong emotions.
|Right:||"As you rise to your feet, with each breathe your concentration increases. Every noise and thought from outside dwindles away. You feel all the resources of your mind awakening; your body feels a surge of confidence. Your hands feel alive, your brain is sharp, your eyes sparkle. You feel something stir deep inside you. A feeling, a feeling of anticipation and overwhelming certainty. "|
|Wrong:||"When you stand up to speak you feel in charge."|
Suggestions can given as direct instructions, but are usually better received if they are supported by logic. The logic needed is hypnotic logic, not waking logic. The mind in trance does not have its critical faculty fully working so hypnotic logic can be implied rather than proven.
|Right:||"You have been helping other people all your life. It is time to help yourself, now. And when you think about all the ways you have helped people, and the successes you have given others, you know that you too deserve success, and that means you can stop smoking today. "|
|Wrong:||"You can stop smoking today."|
The unconscious mind can be likened to that of a child. Short punchy statements work best. Convoluted sentences and long words will be ignored. (They are so disorienting that they can actually be used as a form of induction.) Suggestions should use mainly short words and direct action verbs.
|Right:||"You want to be healthy. You want to be fit. You want to have more money. You are ready to give up smoking. "|
|Wrong:||"The Surgeon General in 1997 determined that tobacco consumption is the primary vector of preventable fatalities. Your health will improve if you abstain. "|