ideomotor signalling

Ideomotor Techniques

This month’s tip is about one of the most powerful techniques in hypnosis – ideomotor signaling.

Ideomotor Techniques

An ideomotor signal is way to communicate non-verbally.

Ideomotor techniques are powerful for a number of reasons. Since the unconscious mind functions on more of a metaphorical level, a level dealing with imagery and imagination rather than logic, methods that use the body and emotions rather than our verbal skills are highly effective in reaching that part the mind.

In other words, if you are getting non-verbal responses from your client (or from yourself), you are communicating with the part the mind you need to communicate with.

Using ideomotor movements, communicates with unconscious, pre-verbal parts of the mind. Since many problems also originate in pre-verbal parts of the mind this technique can be highly effective.

Because ideomotor movements do not include verbal responses, what we must do it is set up a communication system that does not include speaking. The easiest way to do this is with a pendulum.

Try this simple experiment: Get a pendulum or create one by, tying a piece of string to a ring. You can also use a necklace or gold chain of some sort that swings easily in all directions. Something 8 to 10 inches long is ideal. Rest your elbow on a table with your arm straight up and your hand parallel to the table (your wrist will be bent at a 90 degree angle). Hold the string or chain loosely in between your index finger and thumb. Ask your unconscious mind to choose a movement to indicate yes. It can be a clockwise circular motion, a counter-clockwise circular motion or a back and forth motion in any direction. Mentally think “yes” over and over again. Usually within a few seconds the pendulum begins to move. Ask your unconscious to pick a different motion to signify “no”. Notice which way the pendulum moves this time. You have now set up ideomotor signals to communicate directly with your unconscious mind.

Have you ever played 20 questions? Twenty questions is a game that you play where someone thinks of an object and you have to guess what the object is. You can ask questions, but only questions that can be answered yes or no.

Here is an example: Let’s suppose I thought of a penguin. You might ask “Is it bigger than a car?” Answer: No Question: Do you hang it on your wall? Answer: No. Question: Is it an animal? Answer: Yes.

And so on…

You are supposed to guess the answer within 20 questions.

So how does this relate to ideomotor movements? We can set up a pair of non-verbal responses to signify yes and no. You can use either the pendulum, or some other body movement. Finger twitches can be used; a twitch of the right index finger can signify yes, and a twitch of the left index finger can signify no.

Then we can ask the unconscious mind all sorts of questions, using the 20 questions format (yes/no).

Here’s an example of how you would get the unconscious to develop an ideomotor signaling system: “I would like your unconscious to select a finger to signify yes. When it has selected that finger, give that finger a little twitch. (Wait until you see a finger twitch.) thank you. Now, I would like you’re unconscious to select a different finger to signify no. When it has selected that finger, give that finger little twitch. (wait until you see a finger twitch). Good.”

Now you can begin to ask the unconscious questions. Make sure you reiterate and reinforce the ideomotor signals as you ask questions. Here’s an example where the persons unconscious mind picked the left index finger for yes and the left little finger for no. We are going to use this technique to locate the origin of a problem.

“Okay, does your unconscious mind know when this problem started? (Indicates yes). Good. Did this problem start before your 20th birthday? (Indicates yes). Did this problem start before your 18th birthday?” (Indicates no -we narrow it down further until we discover the problem began during the summer of the client’s 19th year).

Let’s use the same technique to get the unconscious to commit to making a change in a nail biting behavior. This example is from a situation where we have deduced that the client needs a feeling of relaxation to overcome the behavior.

“Does your unconscious mind understand what to do in order to solve this problem? Answer me yes by twitching the left index finger or no by twitching the left little finger. (Indicates yes). Wonderful. Does your unconscious mind now take responsibility for creating and manifest relaxation in you behavior for you in those situations where you used to bite your nails? Answer me yes by twitching the left index finger or no by twitching the left little finger. (Indicates yes). So, from now on, in those situations where you used to bite your nails, you automatically and fully feel a wonderful sense of relaxation sweeping over you. Answer me yes by twitching the left index finger. (Indicates yes). Excellent, I’d like to thank your unconscious for helping us in this matter.”

Nothing that I’ve seen indicates that the unconscious mind is capable of predicting the future. Asking for lottery numbers or the prediction of events that depend on other people is, in my opinion, counterproductive. Here are some areas that ideomotor signaling is good for.

  • Getting a commitment from the unconscious mind
  • Finding lost items
  • Finding root causes of events
  • Remembering information that the subject knows but is unavailable to the conscious mind

Using a pendulum is also a powerful convincer for some people. Sometimes people are scared of hypnosis and using a pendulum is a good way to create hypnosis and non-threatening environment.

That’s it for this Hypnosis Tip. I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

Until next time…

Keith Livingston

About The Author:

Keith Livingston is the main instructor for Hypnosis 101. Keith has been studying hypnosis since he was a boy and doing hypnosis & NLP training since 1997.

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