anchoring and post hypnotic suggestion

Anchoring And Post-Hypnotic Suggestions

In my NLP and Hypnosis training, I learned about post-hypnotic suggestions and I learned about anchoring. Over the years I’ve begun to think about these two techniques and how they relate to one another.

Those thoughts have led me to a controversial belief about post-hypnotics and anchoring. And I believe, they’ve helped me get better at both. How? Read on…


One use for anchoring is establishing a trigger for an emotional state. If you successfully establish a trigger, you can reproduce that emotion later. We can use those emotions for various NLP techniques. You can anchor yourself and you can anchor clients, or random passers by. It might work like this…

Anchoring During A Session

A client might feel lonely when their partner is out of town. “I miss her. It feels like the house is full of love when she’s home,” they might say. You ask more about the ‘full of love’ feeling. You notice the client exhibiting signs of what you interpret as feeling love when they’re talking. You, using the same tone of voice the client used when talking about love say, “full of love” while making a particular motion.

During the session, whenever you notice the client exhibiting those same signs of love, use the same motion, tonality and phrase. “Full of love.” If everything works well, you’ll now have an anchor for that feeling. In other words, when you say that phrase in the same way, with the same motion, the client will feel that loving feeling.

You’ve established a trigger or “anchor” for that feeling. And you can use that anchor in various NLP techniques.

Using Anchors

One thing we can do with that anchor is attach it to things in the client’s world. We can suggest that the client feel “full of love” each time they look at the picture that’s on their mantle–even when their partner is not home. We might mentally rehearse that with the client, firing off the anchor each time the client imagines looking at the picture. Now, they’ll get that feeling whenever they look at the picture.

Post-Hypnotic Suggestion

The old time cliche has the stage hypnotist snapping their fingers and the folks on stage clucking like chickens. Most stage hypnotists don’t do that routine any more but it illustrates the point. The hypnotist has simply suggested that each time he (or she) snaps their fingers, stage show participants will cluck like chickens.

There’s nothing inherently about finger snapping that means clucking. It’s a linkage the hypnotist has created.

Anchoring & Post-Hypnotic Suggestion

Most people think of these techniques as completely different techniques. Functionally though, both anchoring and post-hypnotic suggestion can link one thing to another.

Looking at picture on mantle >> links to >> loving feeling
Finger snap >> links to >> clucking like chickens

One difference is that we’ve used our anchor to link up to something beneficial for the client. Of course, you could use a traditional post-hypnotic to suggest a client feel love whenever they look at a picture, couldn’t you?

What Do You Think?

I’ve found it useful to think of both anchoring and post hypnotic suggestion as ways to link one thing to another. So is a post-hypnotic suggestion an anchor? I’d go so far as to say, it can be. Is an anchor a post-hypnotic. Again. I think it can be. I’ve taken a fair amount of flak for these views. What do you think? You can comment below.

Getting Better At Anchoring & Post-Hypnotic Suggestions

When I began to see anchoring and post-hypnotic suggestion as related, I believe it increased my skill at both. Think about it. You can use the principles of suggestion to enhance an anchor. And you not only have words to use inside your suggestions, you can use anchoring techniques too!


NLP Core Skills Course

PS: I’ve got a free course on NLP Core Skills, including anchoring; you can sign up below.

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 never put it together just that way, but of course. It’s like adding two and two and legitimately getting six. I mean, what ISN’T an anchor? And a suggestion offered in one trance is meant to be carried over into another (sometimes called consciousness).

    I’m going to be thinking about this…

    Thanks, Keith!

  2. I’ve always referred to both as Anchoring myself. They both activate a feeling or behavior by using some sort of signal or stimulus. I see no difference other than how you go about creating them. Plus, Anchoring is faster to say.


  3. Steven Heller in his “Monsters and Magical Sticks” asserts essentially the same thing.

    He asks if, in fact, a child learning ” 2+ 2 = 4″, repeating it over and over, with an authority figure “suggesting” that “fact”… is he “learning”?, or “anchoring”? or setting up a “post hypnotic suggestion”?

    In which case… is “learning” in fact a trance state?

  4. When you use anchors in this way, which would seem appropriate in a professional “don’t touch the client” context, how do you go about collapsing anchors in a way that bypasses conscious awareness?

    1. Philip,
      As often as I can, I use the client’s own markers for anchors. So, if they motion or look to a specific area when they talk about the problem and use a certain tone of voice when they talk about a resource state, I might use that same resourceful tone of voice while I’m motioning to the area they’ve identified as the problem area.

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