Introduction to Online Hypnosis

To whet your appetites, we thought we would give you a glimpse of the Introduction to the next book in the Inductions Masterclass series.


As Bob Dylan proclaimed in 1964, the times they are a changin’ – and almost sixty years later, that continues to be the case. It seems that the old cliche is true: there is nothing as constant as change itself.

Of course, hypnosis itself has also changed over the years. Few hypnotists today practice their art in precisely the way that Franz Anton Mesmer did. If we go even further back, into the history of ‘trance’ experiences as a human phenomenon, not many of us employ Sleep Temples as a hypnotic or therapeutic aid! Even in more recent history, partly thanks to the influence of Milton H. Erickson, it is fair to say that a good proportion of hypnotists do not practice the sort of hypnosis that might have been familiar in the days that Dylan penned his legendary words.

Nevertheless, it seems that many hypnotists have not kept up-to-date with our ever-changing context. Whilst human interactions, commerce and the services people seek, increasingly take place in the digital world, hypnosis is still generally thought of as something that takes place between two individuals, face-to-face.

The need for change was seen most starkly when a global pandemic was announced at the beginning of 2020. This forced many businesses to adapt how they operate – moving much of their operation online – or face extinction. Heartbreakingly, many felt unable to change with the times, at least with the speed that was required, consequently falling by the wayside.

For better or worse, we are now left with a set of circumstances where people are used to conducting practically every aspect of their lives online, be that work, education, shopping, entertainment or even therapy. It seems clear that a good proportion of the population have no intention to return to life as they knew it.

Faced with the global pandemic, particularly the speed with which it spread and the requisite rapid response, many hypnotists failed to adapt, or hunkered down in the hope that things would soon return to normal. Now might be the time to suggest that such a return may never happen. Yet, even if it did, hypnotists who simply re-open their doors and revert back solely to face-to-face interactions are missing a great opportunity – both for their business and for the good of those who would benefit from their services.

The times have changed and will continue to do so. Is it not now time for hypnotists – and hypnosis itself – to do the same?

This book will aim to share everything you need to know to practice hypnosis online. We will deal with some of the technical aspects of such a venture, including software and hardware requirements. We will even dip briefly into the business side of working online, including, scheduling, invoicing and payment.

Yet the focus of the book – as you would expect from its inclusion in the Inductions Masterclass series – is on how to initiate hypnosis in a virtual environment.

Only one of the inductions seen in this book has been discussed elsewhere in the current series and that is the Sensory Overlap. However, the transcript of it seen here is different to that provided in Hypnosis with the Hard to Hypnotise.

All but one of the inductions have been seen previously in How to do Hypnosis. Though, to be fair, that book included almost any thought I had ever had on the subject of hypnosis, so that should come as no surprise.

The Early Learning Set is not something I have written about in print before. However, it is such a versatile tool – and a wonderfully useful process – that I suspect I may devote a book to it at some point, unless someone else beats me to it!

Terminology Used

I have offered this disclaimer at some point within each book in the Inductions Masterclass series. Nevertheless, it will do no harm to mention it again.

Throughout this book, you will find me referring to ‘trance’ and at times using terminology such as ‘subconscious,’ deepening, being ‘under’ hypnosis and so on. Please bear in mind that these are phenomenological descriptions, merely meant to convey what the hypnotee (i.e. the person being hypnotised) may be experiencing.

The inclusion of such terms is at no point endorsing any particular interpretation of hypnosis, or taking sides in the perennial debates over the nature of trance or the existence of a special hypnotic state.1

Online Inductions

So, let’s get straight to the point. Do we even need a book about online hypnosis? And what is the reason for its inclusion in the Inductions Masterclass series?

The answer you provide to the first question might depend on how you currently conduct face-to-face sessions. If you sit some distance from your clients, never touch them and effectively just read a script at them, then there may be no difference in how you do hypnosis online (aside from technological issues). However, if you tend to be more interactive, pay attention to things like minimal physical changes, employ touch in any way or rely on phenomena that requires you to be able to see all of your client clearly, then this may seem like a whole new world to you.

I trust that if you are in the latter group, you will be reassured to discover that in reality you only need to modify a few key elements to continue practicing closely to the way that you have been.

As for the second question – why is a book about online hypnosis included in the Inductions Masterclass series? – the answer is very simple. The question I am most asked, by those who may be thinking about shifting to online work, is not how to conduct a session online, or whether online therapy can be effective (though that is a close second). The question that comes up time and time again is how to hypnotise people online.

Bear in mind that this question is being asked by hypnotists who sometimes have a good number of years experience. That is, they most definitely know how to hypnotise someone. Yet, something about the barrier of a computer screen and the physical distance leaves them feeling de-skilled and lacking in confidence.

They would know perfectly well what to do once they had a client ‘in’ hypnosis. Yet, the idea of actually being able to get someone to that point whilst working online feels beyond them. That may be because they work in the second way described above – and are unclear how to translate that to online work – or it could be because they do not feel completely comfortable with the tech involved.

Whatever the reason may be, the predominant question I am asked – as someone who was initially hesitant to move online – is around how to induce hypnosis in online clients. Thus, the decision was made to pause the other books I was working on and to include this timely book in the current series.

What’s the Difference?

There are a number of factors, some of which we have alluded to already, that differentiate online work from in-person hypnosis.

The Technology Barrier

I’m not here referring to the fact that reliance on technology may be a hindrance to some who are not generally tech-savvy. Instead, I am thinking of the perceived distance that working online can generate.

When you are working face-to-face with someone, it may seem easier to project positive regard, warmth, expectation – or any number of other emotional states – than when there is a computer screen between you. However, with experience, you will learn to convey such an atmosphere in alternative ways.

A useful exercise is to spend some time before your session actively focusing on the unconditional positive regard you have for your client. Note where you feel this in your body and practice increasing it, moving it, playing around with the submodalities of the feeling and so on. Then, send this positive feeling throughout your body and visualise or imagine your entire body glowing with the feeling, full to the brim.

Then, when you are speaking with your client, allow that feeling to overflow and imagine a direct line of positive energy projecting out of your body and forming a direct connection with your client.2 You will notice that the more you do this, the more effect it has on your voice, facial expression and more. You do not have to fake anything or pretend you are experiencing these feelings. Your client will sense it.

When you are familiar with this exercise, you will soon find that you are able to convey expectation, compassion, excitement, confidence and more in the same way.3 The key is for you to first feel what you want your client to experience and then ‘send’ it to them.

Physical Touch

Depending on how you previously worked with clients, this may or may not be an issue. Some hypnotists predominantly use physical inductions that might involve pulling someone’s arm, dropping their arm, gently rocking their client’s shoulders, or even lightly rotating their head. However, needless to say, such an approach is not going to be possible when working online.

In fact, it is becoming increasingly common for hypnotists to choose not to touch their clients at all, even when working face-to-face. In some cases, this might be due to living in an increasingly litigious society, or may simply reflect client expectations or comfort zones.

As working online makes physical touch impossible, those hypnotists who rely on it will need to find new ways of working. We will return to this theme when we consider the Elman induction.

Field of Vision

I have alluded to the narrower field of vision a couple of times. Nevertheless, it is important to be aware that if you have not worked with people online before, you might be surprised by just how restricted your field of vision will be.

We do not always notice this when e.g. face-timing with friends or family. This is because we are generally focused on their face and the verbal communication taking place. However, when we are working with clients – even if you do not adopt an approach that looks for ‘minimal signs of trance’ – we tend to pay attention to much more.

You might notice your client shift slightly in their chair, be aware of their foot tapping now and again, or observe the slightest movement in their fingers, pick-up on times when they might tense-up or relax, and so on. Some of these may be things that you observe without even being aware that you are noticing them. Yet, a skilled hypnotist will notice them nonetheless and even go on to utilise them in the session.

The Question of Authority

A question or concern that I have heard a number of times is whether the hypnotist is less in charge of the session, because it is taking place in the client’s home, rather than the hypnotist’s clinic.

This is not necessarily the case. People are used to all sorts of individuals visiting their homes whom they still view as an authority – health visitors, social workers, Doctors performing house calls, parents, police and so on.

Is the online environment a domain in which the client has the authority? This all depends on framing. I am very clear on my pre-session instructions. I do not say, “…and it would be really nice of you if you could please limit distractions to a minimum.” I say, “turn off your phone,”4 and “Ensure all pets are out of the room and not going to disturb you.”5

Nothing I say or do gives the impression that we are now on the client’s turf.

Yet, again, nowadays people are used to being online and not being the top-dog. Medical consultations, virtual business meetings and remote learning all take place online without conveying any necessary authority on the participant. However, it is worth pausing to question whether all this talk of authority is nothing but a red herring.

When I am working with my clients, I do not consider myself to be the authority. Neither do I go to any lengths to project the sense that I am the one in control. I have written about the P3 approach elsewhere, but suffice it to say that I much prefer to convey the power of hypnosis, rather than the prestige of the hypnotist.6

I discussed the sort of authority that hypnotists might have previously been afforded in The Elman Induction:

We might illustrate this with the image of someone having a driving lesson. They remain in the Driving seat, in full control of the vehicle, which they may theoretically stop any time they feel the need. However, for the duration of the lesson, they acknowledge someone else as their teacher and choose to go along with their directions. The idea is not one of surrender or absolute authority. It is about co-operation and playing the part allotted to them by the situation.

All of this might suggest that the model of authority and consent seen in the Elman Induction is actually particularly apt for the world today. We see two partners engaged in a dance, with set roles and mutually agreed expectations. The dance will only work if each party plays their part and respects the co-operative nature of their joint endeavour. At the very most, this is a functional authority that anyone who has been to school, or paid for an item in a shop, or accepted a prescription from a Doctor, or followed the directions of a Yoga instructor will be more than familiar with. We are not talking about control or surrender, but co-operation and partnership.7

If there is merit to this understanding, it might suggest that online hypnosis is actually particularly suited to setting the stage for co-operation and partnership. There is perhaps more of a level playing field than that experienced in a clinic setting and this can be embraced as a positive feature, not a hindrance.

Inductions in an Online Setting

The inductions we are going to discuss and unpack in the rest of this book have been selected as perfect choices for online hypnosis. They are:

  • A Modified Elman Induction
  • Dr. Flower’s Induction
  • Tension Observation
  • Deeper Sleep
  • The Auto Wrist Lift
  • Sensory Overlap
  • The Early Learning Set

That’s seven inductions ideally suited for online work! If you are familiar with the concept of Therapeutic Inductions, which we have discussed in a number of our books, then you will also note the variety covered here and the different options provided by that.

Let’s begin by turning to one of the most cherished inductions used by hypnotists today…


  1. For more on our experiential model of hypnosis, which fits comfortably with all the major schools of Hypnosis, see my books, Therapeutic Inductions, or How to do Hypnosis.
  2. It is not important that you actually believe you are projecting this ‘energy,’ though some people will. It is simply a way for you to become absorbed in the idea of projecting that atmosphere.
  3. With experience, you will find that there are all sorts of ways to achieve the same end. This is just one exercise that enables you to feel what you want your client to experience and then project that to them. My belief is that it has an effect on your tone of voice, your facial expressions and even how you look at them, without you having to focus on all of that. However, some might believe that you are literally sending your positive energy to the client through the computer screen.
  4. I used to feel the need to say, “unless there’s an important call you’re waiting for.” I no longer do this, as I expect that they would tell me at this point if that was the case.
  5. As with the previous note, I no longer say, “unless you need them for any purpose.” The client will say if they do.
  6. How to do Hypnosis, pp. 43-46.
  7. The Elman Induction, pp. 21-22.