Introducing Parts Work


by C. Roy Hunter

Have you ever tried to help a client manage weight or quit smoking, only to find the subconscious resisting hypnotic suggestions for change?

Hypnosis helps millions of people to achieve goals; yet, in spite of the best efforts of both client and hypnotist, unresolved inner conflicts often inhibit successful results. When other techniques fail, parts work often provides the key to success!

Parts work is based on the concept that our personality is composed of a number of various parts. Our personality parts are aspects of the subconscious, each with their respective jobs or functions of the inner mind. In other words, we wear many hats as we walk through the path of life. My new parts work book Hypnosis for Inner Conflict Resolution explores parts work in depth. For now, let’s briefly overview some important information.

The Hats We Wear

We are often aware of the various hats we wear from day to day. I wear my professional hat at work; but my inner child can’t wait to come out and play when the workday ends.

Let’s take this one step further. People wishing to overcome an undesired habit often seek professional help because a part of the mind blocks success. For example, a smoker might make New Years resolution to quit, only to find that resolution literally going up in smoke.

The dieter who avoids junk food at a social goes out of control later at home, even after investing hundreds (or thousands) of dollars for a professional weight control program. It’s as if another part of the personality takes over. These inner conflicts are common, and they occur when we have two different parts of the subconscious pulling us in opposite directions.

What Is Parts Work?

Parts work is the process of calling out and communicating directly with these parts of the subconscious. A deep state of hypnosis improves the results by reducing the risk of analytical resistance from the conscious mind.

The late Charles Tebbetts promoted and taught parts work because of its value in helping people resolve inner conflicts. Tebbetts is often given credit for originating this technique, yet he actually borrowed this technique from Paul Federn. While my late mentor openly gave credit to Federn, Tebbetts evolved parts work into a much more client-centered technique. I’ve updated Charlie’s work over the years since his passing, but I consider my late mentor to be the grandfather of client-centered parts work.

Increasing numbers of hypnotists around the world are discovering the benefits of parts work and its variations to help clients get past personal barriers. (Variations are called: ego state work, submodalities, subpersonalities, voice dialogue, etc., which are discussed in my book.) Regardless of the label, I believe this complex technique is the most beneficial hypnotic technique available for helping clients resolve inner conflicts. Before proceeding, I provide an explanation to the client.

Explanation to the Client

To reduce the risk of client discomfort, I use myself as an example. I tell clients about my inner child that desires to go to a movie at evening rates, while my inner “CPA” motivates me to consider an afternoon matinee or bargain show in order to pay less. While my conscious mind normally makes the decision, I am still aware of both conflicting desires originating from these two parts of myself.

Many dieters are aware of the desire to reduce, yet often feel temporarily overpowered by a conflicting desire to indulge in junk food. Smokers often make another promise to quit, only finding that one more promise literally goes up in smoke. I tell clients that we can be aware of our own conflicting desires, emanating from our personality parts, and can call them out in hypnosis. For example, I might tell a smoker before starting the hypnosis: “There is a part of you that wants to quit, or you would not be investing the time and money for these sessions. But there is another part of you that wants to keep on smoking, otherwise you would not need professional help, would you?”

We may invest only two or three minutes to provide the above explanation and examples, but this explanation will make a great difference in his/her comfort level if you choose to use parts work during the session.

When Is Parts Work Appropriate?

The most obvious time to employ parts work or one of its variations is when there an obvious inner conflict prevents a client from achieving an important goal, such as quitting smoking. For example, suppose a client says: “A part of me wants to quit smoking, but another part keeps sabotaging every effort I make to quit!” Such a comment during the preinduction discussion would be a good clue to consider parts work. This inner conflict may also be evident if a client fails to respond to the positive suggestions and imagery I employ in the first two visits.

Note that I do NOT employ parts work during a client’s first session. Rather, I use suggestion and imagery to provide an enjoyable first trance journey, and then wait until a subsequent session before employing any advanced hypnotic technique. I want my clients first trance trip with me to be enjoyable, as first impressions are lasting.

If it is not clear whether to choose parts work, then I use finger response questions to discover one or more subconscious causes. This is also explained in The Art of Hypnosis as well as Hypnosis for Inner Conflict Resolution: Introducing Parts Work.

Who Will Most Likely Respond?

My 22+ years of professional experience demonstrates that a deeply hypnotized client is more likely to respond to parts work. Someone experiencing little or no hypnosis may easily resist the entire process (or one of its variations), whether or not such resistance is apparent to the facilitator. Some hypnotists who use variations of parts work work with a client who is quite conscious. While many of their clients might respond with favorable results, a more analytical person might experience interference or resistance to the process, with some or most benefits being only temporary.

I myself have been on the receiving end of parts work more than once when the hypnotist failed to deepen me sufficiently, and my own analytical mind prevented the results from being permanent because of insufficient hypnotic depth.

In addition to guiding the client into deep hypnotic states, the best way to create a more permanent resolution is to practice what I call client-centered parts work. This means that the answers and solutions to the client’s concerns emerge from the client’s own mind rather than from the mind of the hypnotist.

Rather than the client giving away his or her power to someone else who implants the solutions in the form of suggestions, the client discovers the best resolution to an inner conflict by answering questions asked by the facilitator at appropriate times. Even as the parts work process begins, I set the client-centered tone by allowing each part that emerges to disclose its name (or title) and primary purpose. My entire approach involves asking questions that motivate each part to disclose its purpose, and to find the resolution to the presenting problem. When facilitated in a client-centered manner, parts work empowers the client!

Client-centered parts work helps clients attain greater empowerment, because the power to change truly lies within the client rather than in the hypnotist. Our job is to help the client discover those answers by asking the right questions. Then, when the answers come from the client’s own inner mind (instead of from someone else), the client often has greater confidence and greater self-esteem as side benefits to a successful resolution of the primary concern.

If you currently employ parts work or any of its variations, you may wish to consider purchasing my new book. If you are not yet trained in parts work or one of its variations, please consider referring a client with inner conflicts to someone who has received parts work training. You will be doing both the client and our profession a service by referring when appropriate.

On request, I am happy to come to your area to present a workshop on parts work. If interested, please email me for more details and terms. (Contact Roy Hunter c/o

Roy Hunter, M.S., FAPHP, CHI,

practices hypnosis near Seattle, in the Pacific Northwest region of the USA, and trains parts work to professionals around the world. He also works part time for the Franciscan Hospice facilitating hypnosis for terminal patients, and teaches a 9-month professional hypnosis training course based on the teachings of Charles Tebbetts. Roy is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Order of Braid (NGH) for lifetime achievement in the hypnosis profession. Roy also was awarded an honorary PhD from St. John’s University for lifetime achievement in hypnosis.

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