ericksonian inductions permissive language

Ericksonian Inductions Part 2

Ericksonian Inductions Part 2

In Ericksonian Inductions Part 1, we covered using permissive language, evoking trance rather than directly suggesting it, utilization and providing contextual cues help you in an Ericksonian approach to induction.

Here in part 2…

  • The Art of Evoking Hypnotic Phenomena
  • Conscious/Unconscious Dissociation
  • Covering All the Bases


The Art of Evoking Hypnotic Phenomena

One of the easiest ways to evoke hypnosis is to remind a person of times when they were previously experiencing something that could be interpreted as hypnotic. You can use this technique in combination with using permissive words. “You might think of a time when your breathing slowed comfortably down, your eyes closed and you felt so relaxed. Perhaps now, feeling feelings of comfort and warmth in that memory…”

Here’s a list of hypnotic phenomena to get you started…

  • General Relaxation
  • Eyes Closing
  • Changes in Breathing
  • Feelings of Comfort and Warmth
  • Dissociation from Part of the Body
  • Numbness
  • Amnesia
  • Carefree/Floating Feeling
  • Hypnotic or Unconscious Movements
  • Singular Focus on an Idea
  • Mind Drifting
  • Increased Visualization


Conscious/Unconscious Dissociation

Ericksonian induction approaches often make a distinction between the unconscious and conscious minds. One way to do this with language is to…well…just do it. This format works pretty well.

“The conscious mind _____________ while the unconscious mind _____________.”


“The conscious mind thinks while the unconscious mind understands.”

“The conscious mind wonders as the unconscious mind experiences.”

Covering All the Bases

With typical inductions, you directly suggest the “hypnotee” do something. Let’s suppose you want their arm to stick to the arm of their chair. If you suggest it and they don’t do it, it can easily be seen as a failure–by both parties. One Ericksonian approach is to “cover all the bases.” You lay out a range of responses–all that lead the direction you want (toward responsiveness and hypnosis) and give them the choice.

“And your right arm can get heavy, very heavy and stiff–as if it were made of granite. Or it can become so light, like a feather–it just wants to float up in the air. Or maybe your left arm gets heavy as your right arm floats up. Or there’s a numbness… or tingling.”

Whatever response you get you amplify. “That’s right,” or “good” will help the client know that however they’re responding, it’s just fine.

Until next time,


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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  1. I, no matter what induction I use, find myself flavoring it with Ericsonian seasoning. For example, one of my favorite inductions is a modified Dave Elman induction. Before I begin, I will use a few suppositions like: “Would you like to be hypnotizes standing up or sitting down? ” and embedded commands: ” Before you enter the trance state, I wonder if you can remember NOW a time when you FEEL kind of floaty and drowsy…” Even with a few more embedded commands, it only takes about 30 seconds. Then I go into Elman’s direct induction: “Take a long deep breath…hold it for a moment… now as you exhale, close your eyelids DOWN…” Then, when they are in a somnambulist state, I will give them direct suggestions: “Your conscious mind may do whatever it wants to do now…it can stay listen to what I’m saying or go off to other places…but your subconscious is listening to every word I say…and responds to all my suggestions without reservations…etc.”

    I am very grateful for Ericson’s contributions.

  2. “Tonight you will dream. You may have wild dreams. You may have mild dreams. They may be memorial or not. In any case, let that be a sign that your UC is integrating everything I have said.” MHE

    Suggested reading for anyone that loves Milton: Therapeutic Trances” by Stephen G. Gilligan — from whom I borrow heavily.

    Lovely little lesson Keith. We need more people on the Erickson side. Stay well~Margie Anne

  3. Very interesting. Just as there is a ‘switch’ when suddenly we are asleep, there would appear to be a ‘trance ‘switch’ when in a moment a person enters into that trance state.
    To relax the body and then the conscious mind seems to be one way to facilitate entering the state.
    Thank you for your tips, Keith.

    1. Hi Marita,
      Many times people don’t know the roots of their trauma and that makes me wonder why you think trauma lies in past lives.

      If a client believes they know the source of a problem I listen but then typically follow feelings back to their source using an affect bridge or other technique. If they’re correct, we’ll get back to where they thought the problem started. If not, we’ll find out what the source really is.

      For you, the answer might be to go see someone in your area. It’s probably not a good idea to try to deal with trauma in a forum.


  4. What I am asking you to do NOW, is a “not doing”… taking a deep breath, settling in and settling DOWN.. That’s right, and by doing a not doing, you are undoing all of the knots from all of the doings, by doing a not doing!

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