Banyanism #1, “Hypnosis is a confidence game…”

Hypnotherapist Instructor Cal Banyan

by Cal Banyan, MA, BCH, DNGH, MCPHI

I would like to offer something new to the readers of this column. From time to time I am going to write an article based on some of the “Banyanisms” that I use in my hypnosis certification courses.

These “Banyanisms,” as my students and staff have come to call them, are little bits of information, or sayings that they hear me stress over and over again. I offer them to you starting with this first one. I hope you find them useful.

Banyanism #1: “Hypnosis is a confidence game. If you don’t get their confidence there will be no game.”

By this, I mean that one of the first things that a hypnotist needs to do when working with a new client to ensure maximum success is to get the client’s confidence running high. Then, you will want to keep their confidence high through the whole process. Your clients will go into hypnosis more reliably, and have better results after the session if they feel confident.

Here are some things that you should strive to help your clients to feel confident about:

  1. Confident in their decision to use hypnosis to address the issues which brought them in to see you.
  2. Confident that they have chosen a well qualified and masterful hypnotist who will be able to hypnotize them be successful.
  3. Confident that they can be hypnotized.
  4. Confident that they had been hypnotized once their first session had been completed.
    When your client feels confident in these areas, you are well on your way to having an ideal client, who is going to do very well in overcoming the problem or issue that brought her in to see you, and be more likely to refer her friends and family members to you in the future. It as they say, “a win-win” situation.

Here are 10 things you can do to increase the probability that you will have clients who feel confident in these important areas:

  1. Consistency of Presentation

    Do not mislead your potential clients by advertising yourself as something that you are not. For example, do not name your office something that is misleading or use misleading statements in your advertisements, brochures or website.

    From time to time, I will hear of a hypnotist who calls her practice something that sounds like it was created by a joint venture between the World Health Organization and Harvard University (or insert the name of any two huge well known organizations)! If you are an individual with a nice office in your home or in an office building, these would be examples of such inappropriate and misleading names, The American Institute of Hypnosis Research, Studies, and Clinical Applications, or The National Hypnosis Foundation, or the Wallace, Williams & Associates Hypnosis Clinic.

    What’s wrong with this misleading approach of using grandiose names for your business, besides being unethical? I believe that you are much better off calling your office, Wallbash Hypnosis, if your name is Wallbash! Or, if you truly do have a center, where other hypnotists work with you, call it something like The Wallbash and Associates Hypnosis Center. You really should not use terms like “institute” unless you are operating an institution of research or higher learning, and in some states the term may be protected by law.

    I believe that “honesty is the best policy” as they say when it comes to holding your services out to the public. When you have a consistency in presentation between what you name your practice, and what your clients will actually find when they arrive at your office builds confidence.

    Put yourself in your client’s situation. For example, let’s say that you looked through the telephone book, or looked at a few websites in the area and found a hypnosis provider that was called the National Institute for Clinical Hypnosis or something like that. Perhaps in the ad or on the site there was a photo of a beautiful office building, and you were impressed and wound up calling and making an appointment, only to arrive and find that the office is in the basement of the hypnotist’s home, or a small professional office. How would you feel? Would you immediately trust this person?

    In sales, this approach is called “bait and switch.” This will not build confidence because the potential client will not trust you. She will feel misled, and she was. When you use the “bait and switch approach” by misleading your client, you will find that your client will have very little confidence in you, and the profession in general. It will affect your sessions in a negative way, and everyone in the profession, as well.

    Now, let me say that I am in no way saying that you should not have an office in your home, or that there is anything wrong with having an office in an office building where you work as an individual hypnotist! Most hypnotists work in just such an environment and do wonderful work, helping many people. So, please do not misunderstand me. It is not the small office or the location that hurts your client’s confidence. Your client’s loss of confidence comes from being misled.

    If you have a small office, or work in your home you should include that in your advertising and the name you choose for your practice should not lead potential clients to expect something different. Wallbash Hypnosis, is a great name for an individual hypnosis practice, or Mary Wallbash Hypnosis, and so on. This way when your potential clients show up, they get what they expected to get. No surprises. No “let downs,” and you are off to a great start. You have begun a process of building confidence and trust.

  2. Professional Presentation

    Back when I was in graduate school, I read some interesting research. It was found that when researchers had male doctors dress in three different ways: “Very Casual” (shorts and a nice pull-over shirt), “Nice Casual” (slacks, buttoned shirt, but no tie) and “Professional” (slacks and a tie), and then conducted a follow-up with the doctor’s patients, it revealed that patients who received prescriptions from the doctor who wore slacks and a tie were significantly more likely to go to the drugstore, purchase the prescription, and take it as they were instructed to do, than in the other more casual groups. What does this tell us? As hypnotists, that tells us that the doctor’s patients were more suggestible when the doctors dressed in a more professional fashion. We should do the same.

    I like wearing jeans and casual shirts as much as the next guy, but I wear slacks, a light solid colored, long-sleeved shirt, and a professional looking tie when I am at work, even when I am just working in the office and not seeing clients. I also dress this way when I teach classes. I don’t do this for me. I do it for my clients and my students. It is my job to help them to be as receptive to my suggestions as I can, and dressing in a professional way is a very simple way to do it. I believe that it will also make your client feel more confident about choosing hypnosis, you as a Hypnotist, and maybe even feel more confident that she will be able to go into hypnosis.

  3. Prepare for the Session

    Make sure that you have whatever you need to conduct the session ready and at hand before you meet with your client. If it is a direct suggestion session, and you use scripts, have them ready, but out of sight, so that you can get to them when the time is right. Never have patter scripts out in front of a client. Reading a script to a client in such a way that the client is aware that you are reading it is extremely unprofessional.

    Before you meet with your client you should be familiar with your client’s situation and the presenting complaint (i.e., they want to lose weight, stop smoking, be more confident, etc.). This should be pretty easy for you to do because you have probably received some information from your client over the telephone while making the appointment, and then had her fill out some additional intake paperwork as well (i.e., a client history form, or an intake form of some kind).

    Review this information before each session. This way, when you meet with your client you will be completely prepared for the session. She will get the impression that you are totally familiar with her case (as you should be), including all of the work that you have done with her in previous sessions, if you have had any with her. This preparation will come across in your pre-hypnosis interview. You will look and sound more confident, and your client is likely to pick up on that, and feel more confident as well. You should never sound as if you were just “winging it!” Doing so is a confidence destroyer (perhaps for both you and your client).

  4. Only Work on Issues Upon Which You Have Sufficient Training

    I once had one of our hypnotist tell me she was just going to “wing it” in her next session because she said she really didn’t know what she was going to do. I told her that I was not happy with her unprofessional approach. Our clients deserve better than that. How much do you charge your clients for a session; fifty dollars, a hundred, two hundred or more? Your clients deserve and have the right to work with a Hypnotist who is fully trained to help her with the particular issue that she has come in to work on.

    If you are not sufficiently trained to work with a specific issue, and as a result you “hmm and haw” about as you try to “wing your way through” the session, your clients are likely to pick up on it, and lose confidence. You’ll get questions like, “have you ever worked on this issue before?” or “how long have you been a hypnotist?” If you get questions like these, you definitely need to seek out some additional training on working with this issue.

    If there are issues that you would like to help your clients with, and you are not sufficiently trained to do that kind of work, seek out the best training you can find, invest the time and effort needed to get that training, so that you can proceed in a more confident manner. Investing in training is the best investment you can make in your future! In the early years of your professional development you should expect to invest 10 to 50% of the money you make in your practice back into books, video programs, mentorship, and live training programs. This is essential because there are no credible two to four year degree programs (i.e., AA or BA/BS degrees) in the United States for hypnosis, like there are for counselors, social workers, and similar professions. The individual who wants to be a competent hypnotist must put his or her program together and hold herself accountable for her ongoing professional development. This is one reason that I admire the NGH, they don’t just certify hypnotists and ask nothing else of the membership, rather the NGH requires ongoing continuing education.

    Of course you are likely to be less confident when you work with an issue for the first time, but you will be much more confident than the hypnotist who is “just winging it” when you have sought out and underwent appropriate training.

    So, get the training you need. When you do this your clients will sense the increase in your confidence level and they will be more confident as well.

  5. Excellent Pre-Talk

    As you know, every mentally healthy individual who is of normal intelligence and willing to follow instructions can be hypnotized unless they:

    1. fear hypnosis,
    2. have misconceptions of what it will be like to be hypnotize, or
    3. have misgivings about you.

    This is why we want to provide our clients with an excellent pre-talk. This pre-talk should address common fears and misconceptions about hypnosis, as well as offer the client an opportunity to ask questions about hypnosis which may reveal any additional fears or misconceptions that they have so that you can respond to them in a way that puts the client at ease.

    There is no “one size fits all” hypnosis pre-talk. Develop a pre-talk that will address all of the major concerns for the population that you serve (I put my pre-talk on a DVD and let my clients watch it before the session), and then always give them the opportunity to ask questions afterward.

    When you move forward from the pre-talk through the pre-hypnosis interview, and into the actual session, watch for signs of anxiety. If you observe any indication that your client may be uneasy with the idea of proceeding with the actual hypnosis part of the session, ask your client about them, and often you will find that there are still some unanswered questions. Don’t proceed with the hypnosis session if your client seems nervous. Fear inhibits hypnosis.

    For more information see my article, The Great Hypnosis Pre-Talk Equals a Great Hypnosis Session, in the December, 2003, NGH, Journal of Hypnotism.

  6. Excellent Pre-Hypnosis Interview

    The time spent with your client after you have conducted the pre-talk is called the Pre-Hypnosis Interview. It consists of finding out what your client would like to work on and getting a short history of the problem.

    Having said that, let me advise you that you should not “go overboard” and make a habit of spending an hour talking to your clients about their problems before you begin the session. Just ask them for a “thumbnail sketch” of the problem so you can find when they first noticed the problem, what they have done about it in the past to address the issue, and why they are seeking your services now. It is often useful to learn that they are motivated by some upcoming event.

    During the pre-hypnosis interview I recommend that you build your client’s confidence by using active listening techniques. Done correctly your clients will know that you have heard what they want to say about the issue, and believe that you have enough information to proceed successfully. This builds confidence that the session will be useful to them.

    Basically, this is how you can conduct a confidence building pre-hypnosis interview. Ask your clients for a “thumbnail sketch” of the history of the problem. Tell your clients that you would like to know when their problems started, what they have done about it in the past, what has worked, and what has not worked, as well as what brought them to come in and see you now, as opposed to six months ago or waiting for a year from now?

    This information will:

    1. Let you know what they believe the cause of the problem is (which may nor may not be true),
    2. Give you information about what has worked in the past, so that you can offer suggestions that are consistent with what they expect will work, and avoid suggestions for doing what hasn’t worked (which would not build confidence)
    3. And, you will also often find out important information about what is going on now in her life so that you can make your suggestions relevant to what is currently happening, i.e. perhaps she wants to lose weight because of a special upcoming event, or perhaps she needs more confidence in her ability to do public speaking because of an upcoming meeting or presentation at work.

    As your client gives you this information and you go into active listening mode, you should listen in “chunks.” By this I mean that once your client has given you a significant amount of information, then say something like this, “Let me stop you for a minute so I can make sure that I am getting everything right. You are telling me __________.” Then fill in the blank with a paraphrased sentence or two of what you just heard.

    Two very important, confidence-building things will occur when you do this correctly. As you paraphrase back to the client what you have just heard, your client can then either verify what you just said, or correct what you said. When you do this with your client, and you paraphrase these “chunks” of information back to her, and she either confirms what you heard, or corrects what you thought you heard her say, then you and your client can be confident that you are following your client’s story about her situation. This is especially confidence-building for your client because she will know that you are actually listening (which shows you care) and understanding what she is saying. This will in turn lead to feelings of confidence that you will do what needs to be done to help her in light of the information that she has provided you).

    So don’t just sit there nodding your head when your client is telling you about her problem, listen actively. Let your clients know that you are hearing and understanding what they are saying. Then you can conduct a hypnosis session with a more confident client.

  7. Well Executed Induction

    When you are new, you may not have memorized the inductions that you use, but as I said above, “for heaven’s sake,” don’t pull out your induction script in front of your clients and start reading it to them! Doing so will not build confidence. Even if you are only charging $10.00 a session, you need to either memorize your induction or at least, the first part of the induction where your client has her eyes open. Once your client’s eyes are closed, then you can read a script if you can read the induction and not sound like you are reading it! This of course goes for all of the scripts that you may use.

    Strive to really master the inductions that you use. If you have read my column for a while, you know that I recommend that you switch to instant and rapid inductions if you have not already done so. When you use an effective, short induction, it will be easier to memorize and master. Masterfully delivered inductions build confidence. And, starting off your hypnosis session with a client who has been masterfully hypnotized is going to be a more successful client.

  8. Covert Testing and Convincing

    It is difficult to be a confident hypnotist if you are not sure that you are able to consistently hypnotize your clients. So let me ask you this. How do you determine whether or not your clients are hypnotized? Do you rely on them to just appear to be relaxed? If you test them, do you test for relaxation? Or, do you really test for hypnosis? Do you know what the appropriate tests are for each level of hypnosis? Do you know when to use covert testing and overt testing?

    I want to encourage every professional hypnotist to get the training needed to be able to consistently hypnotize everyone who comes into your office who meets the minimum qualifications for being hypnotized:

    1. Normal intelligence,
    2. Being mentally healthy,
    3. Having a willingness and the ability to concentrate enough to follow instructions,
    4. Lack of misconceptions about hypnosis that would inhibit hypnosis, or the acknowledgment of it when hypnosis has been induced,
    5. And, fearlessness with regard to hypnosis.

    When testing a client to determine whether or not she is in hypnosis, always use covert testing so that if the client fails the test she does not know that she has failed it. This kind of covert testing is very important, not just because it shows you that you have successfully hypnotized the client, but it does so without risking that the client will be aware of failing the test, and as a result lose their confidence in you and their ability to be hypnotized. Covert testing is a confidence saving procedure.

    In order to do covert testing, the hypnotist must know the level of hypnosis needed for the work which is to be done with the client. Then once you have successfully covertly tested, you can conduct an overt test for one of the lightest states of hypnosis. An over test is one that the client would be aware that you are conducting.

    When you have covertly tested for a deep state of hypnosis, such as somnambulism, and the client has passed that test, then you can confidently conduct a test for a very light state of hypnosis, such as the eye-lock test (also called, eyelid catalepsy test). Remember that unless your client is a trained hypnotist, she has no idea about the different levels of hypnosis and she is going to be quite impressed when she cannot open her eyelids. She will be convinced that you are a very good hypnotist and that she is quite capable of being hypnotized. This is why such testing procedures are called “convincers.”

    I personally believe that doing covert testing and convincing of each and every client is the mark of the Master Hypnotist. Doing this kind of work is one of the single best things that you can do to improve both your client’s results, and to receive more referrals.

  9. Conduct Appropriate Work during the Session

    At this point your client should feel hopeful and thoroughly convinced that she is hypnotized. Now, make sure that the work that you do in this first session will get some results. If you do Direct Suggestion (DS) work in your first session, make sure that the suggestions that you give your client are directly related to what the client came in to work on. If you do age regression work (AR) make sure that it is obvious to the client that the AR work is directly related to her issues.

    When the hypnotic techniques used in first session makes sense to the client, and actually results in some level of success, you will have a very confident client who will return to you to complete the work, provide you with referrals, and look to your services in the future to continue her personal development.

  10. Conduct an Excellent Post-Hypnotic Interview

    How you end your sessions says a great deal about you, and can affect how successful you are. I recommend that you end the session with confident statements (suggestions) that will create a mental expectancy for success as a result of the session.

    Don’t make beginner’s mistakes like asking the client if they felt hypnotized. You are the hypnotist. In the post-hypnotic interview, tell them that they did a wonderful job, that they went into hypnosis, and that you know it because you tested them for hypnosis. Congratulate them on being so good at hypnosis!

    Do not ask your clients whether of not they felt like they were deeply hypnotized either. I’ll tell you this; the person who was in hypnosis is the least qualified of the two of you to be able to determine whether or not they were hypnotized or how deep they were hypnotized. You determined how deep they were when you did the testing. Tell your clients that they went into just the right level of hypnosis for the work you were doing them, and that in the sessions to come, they will tend get even better at it, and go deeper even more quickly than they did in early sessions.

    This is a good time to review the tests that you did with the client. Remind her of the “eye-lock test” and any other tests or convincers which were used. I highly recommend a couple of tests I learned from Don Mottin, the Time Distortion Test and the test of sensitivity to the color red. I think that script is simply called, Red, Red, Red. The hypnotists at our center are required to use those convincers with every client during their first session, as well as the eye lock convincer I discussed above.

    To expertly end your sessions, I recommend that as soon as your clients open their eyes when you emerge them from hypnosis, that you suggest to them that they feel good, excellent or great! I like to end a session something like, “And, you do feel good, don’t you!” Note that this is not a question. I say it as if it was a matter of fact and I’m just letting her in on it! I nod my head as I say it. That suggestion goes into the subconscious mind at just the right time, while your client is assessing how she feels as she emerges from hypnosis. Your confidence increases their confidence.


You may already have integrated some of the procedures and techniques that I have listed and discussed. If you have then you have already benefited from creating confidence in your clients. I believe that you are at the forefront of our profession. You are getting better results than most, and receiving more referrals because of it. I hope that you will incorporate all ten. It is my experience that if you do these ten things, then you will have even more confident clients. Your sessions will go better, your clients will get better results, and you will get more referrals.

So remember, “Hypnosis is a confidence game.” Strive first to get their confidence, then build their confidence all the way through the session. As a result you will excel in the hypnosis profession, and when you excel in the profession it is good for everyone.

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