The pre-talk in hypnosis is pretty much the most important part of dealing with any client. If you don’t do a good pre-talk (please don’t tell me you don’t do one at all!), you’re really jeopardising your chances of success. And don’t forget, it’s not just your own success as a hypnotist that’s affected; you’d be letting down every client that walks out of your practice having had a less than excellent experience. And let’s really put the pressure on and point out that they may just decide that hypnosis clearly doesn’t work, and turn their back on this fantastic therapeutic tool forever!
One of the biggest mistakes a hypnotist can make is to assume that the client knows and understands more about hypnosis than they actually do. And that’s what the pre-talk’s all about – educating the client about hypnosis, making sure they know what to expect, and dealing with fears and misconceptions. It allows the subject to ask any questions they may have, and let’s you begin building the rapport that’s so important between hypnotist and client.
That’s all very well, you might be thinking, but I’ve only got an hour available for a session, surely we should be getting down to the actual hypnosis as quickly as possible?
Well, there’s three points I want to make there. One is that your session will be a waste of time if you’re client’s scared of being hypnotised and you’ve not dealt with their fears. Secondly, you only need a pre-talk before the first session. After a successful first session, your client will return for session two primed and ready to go straight into trance for you. And finally, a good pre-talk isn’t necessarily a long pre-talk, so you don’t have to sacrifice much of that first session for the unparalleled rewards of a well-prepared client!
There are different ways of approaching the pre-talk, but they all deal with the same things. Fears, misconceptions and expectations. Don’t wait for your client to tell you what they’re expecting – they might not even know that they have certain apprehensions. If they’ve based their understanding on stage hypnosis acts, it might help to explain that stage hypnotists almost always go through a screening process, so that the members of the audience that end up on stage with them have already shown themselves to be suggestible, and willing and happy participants.
Talk to them in general terms about the most common fears and misconceptions that people have about hypnosis, for example:Being under someone else’s controlBeing forced to do something against their willRevealing something they don’t want to revealThat hypnosis is a form of sleepGetting “stuck” – not being able toA fear that they can’t be hypnotized
You can explain the following, either briefly or in as much depth as you think the client needs:being in trance is a natural thing that everybody does. Hypnosis simply brings it about deliberately.Explain what hypnosis feels like; the fact that they will still be able to hear the normal every day sounds that are going on around them, but won’t be at all bothered by them. They’ll just be more focussed on your voice, or whatever they’re thinking about in hypnosis at the time.They’ll remain alert and awake, but deeply relaxed, and this special state of awareness is what lets us speak directly to their unconscious mind.Different people do respond slightly differently, with some people going much deeper than others, but everyone is able to go deeply enough into trance to be able to benefit from hypnotic work.They’ll be able to come out of trance immediately if they want or need to, and they’ll be in total control throughout the session. They’ll only take on board suggestions that appeal to them, that they see as beneficial to them, and they will only reveal or talk about things that they choose to.While the experience is very enjoyable and relaxing, and they might feel a reluctance to leave behind the warm, comfortable, relaxed state they’ve been in, it will be easy and natural for them to come out of trance gently when the session is over.The only thing which would prevent them from being able to be hypnotised is if they really don’t want to be. So long as they want to be hypnotised and want to use this amazing tool to help them create a better life for themselves, then they’ll do absolutely fine.
You don’t even have to do the pre-talk yourself. Loads of hypnotists give their clients an explanatory leaflet to read beforehand, or a DVD to watch before the session begins. It’s a really effective way of covering the pre-talk comprehensively.
You can then ask if they’ve got any further questions or worries and address these, before asking if they’re happy to proceed. This is like asking their permission to hypnotise them, which gives them confidence that it really is down to them. Most people will agree at this point, and you then have a willing and well prepared subject who knows what to expect and can relax and enjoy the wonderful experience that a hypnosis session is!
So please, to give yourself and your client the very best possible chance of success, remember to always create the solid foundation that a good pre-talk gives you. It may take a bit of time at the beginning, but it’ll speed up all your future dealings with that client, and give them huge confidence in you.