Creating Fluid States – The Use of Hypnosis and Metaphor

The Use of Hypnosis and Metaphor in PCW

The Provocative Change Works™ approach uses hypnosis (you could call this provocative hypnosis!) both directly and indirectly in working with clients. Often clients have very stereotypical ideas of what hypnosis is and I regularly get asked about “being put under” and other such comments. When I first started exploring the field of hypnosis my wife Sue who is a doctor brought home a cassette tape of a hypnosis induction that had been created by a doctor and given out as a free gift.

Prior to playing the tape I had high expectations and sat back expecting to be swept into a wondrous state of relaxation. What in fact happened next was entirely different. The presenter had a tonality that was like a BBC radio commentator from the 1950s, very formal and not at all hypnotic. I lasted about five minutes before not being able to bear listening any longer. This experience provoked me to begin creating my own products and the process of doing so taught me a great deal about the importance of voice tone, rhythm and choice of words when creating hypnosis inductions. These investigations proved to be invaluable when later working with clients in my private practices in the UK.

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Milton Erickson, (from “Hypnotic Realities”), describes the definition of a successful hypnosis session as
“A successful clinical hypnotic experience, then, is one in which trance alters habitual attitudes and modes of functioning so that carefully formulated hypnotic suggestions can evoke and utilize other patterns of associations and potentials within the patient to implement certain therapeutic goals.”
In private practice clients usually arrive for a session in a distressed state having thought about seeking assistance for some time. The hypnotic aspect of Provocative Change Works™ is an excellent complement to the conversational provocative approach. In the full PCW practitioner we talk extensively about trance states in PCW

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Many of the problems clients experience are due to the client’s inability to relax when it would be useful for them to do so. Although numerous problems can appear to be very different in nature, the heart of many distressed client conditions often have very similar elements which include problematic internal dialogue and of course all anxiety contains the element of “anticipation” ensuring that the client is often firmly hardwired into imagining what could be “happening next” rather than being at ease in the here and now. This anticipation far exceeds the type of anticipation that would be useful in commonsense planning and is instead more hyperactive in its nature. Both relaxation and anxiety are different states that can only be created by a very specific way of thinking. As I say to all my clients –
“You can only be in one state at any given time. You could be in California or Texas or travelling from once state to the other, but not in both at the same time”
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Creating useful trance states in PCW for the client

PCWWhen I first began training in NLP, some of the trainers would give hypnotic inductions that seemed to go on forever. This was not me experiencing a classic hypnotic sense of time distortion, in real time some of these “relaxation inductions” would last for 30 – 40 minutes. In stark contrast although I have found hypnosis an excellent set of tools, I rarely have any client in trance for more than 5 – 8 minutes at any one time. A good hypnotist should in my opinion be able to achieve all that is needed in such a timescale and this ensures that the client maintains the appropriate amount of attention during the session.
I have also found Ericksonian hypnosis patterns to be the most effective way to relax clients in combination with using the client’s own language and metaphors that are communicated to me during the client session. The client will literally reveal what is happening in their own reality by what they say and how they say it. A common mistake is for a practitioner to anticipate and interpret what they imagine a client is experiencing without paying attention to exactly what the client is actually communicating.
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The difference between traditional hypnosis, NLP, and Provocative Change Works™ is that I rarely use any hypnotic inductions for more than ten minutes at any one time. I often continue to maintain the provocative style of interaction when using the hypnotic element of the approach.
When working in this way it’s essential to avoid making direct suggestions to the client and “leading the witness” but rather to stimulate or provoke the client to explore their own internal representations. In doing this I frequently use scaling to gauge client states and determine what makes the most useful differences in how a client feels during the induction. An example of this would be –
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One state at a timeWhen you notice this anxious feeling that you have had up until now, on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the most anxious, what number is it right now?
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During each client session I am constantly getting the client to notice what is different in as many ways as possible. One way of doing this is to ask the client to pay attention to the differences between different physical locations, such as the right or left foot or right or left hand.
An example of this would be
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“As you pay attention to which foot is the most relaxed foot, notice whether it’s the right one or the one left over. Now as you pay attention to which is the most relaxed hand you can continue to feel more comfortable noticing how you become more at ease… and every sound, every thought,… every space in between every sound and every space in between every thought will take you further into this state of wellbeing now…hear these words and become even more comfortable…”
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The process of adopting different provocative stances alongside introducing relaxation means the client has no choice but to consistently shift their attention so they find it increasingly difficult to maintain “the stuck state”.

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trance subjectDuring these interactions I utilize any additional sounds that may happen to occur during the time spent. Recently I noticed that the clock in the room had an especially loud tick. Many other therapists in the building complained that the tick was quite obtrusive during therapy sessions, but I immediately noticed a great opportunity in the following way –

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“Some people listen to the sound of the tick of this clock and then others listen for the space in between each tick…it doesn’t matter which you notice in time, hear more of what is useful to now go further in to this comfortable state…”