Setting the scene

If you go for surgery, the medical staff will usually prepare the area to be worked on before putting you ‘under’ and reaching for the scalpel. You may also be asked to prepare yourself by e.g. not having eaten since the night before. You may even have had to make more long-term preparations, such as losing weight, or other lifestyle changes.

Similarly, if you were attending a counselling session, the therapist would likely have prepared by acquainting themselves with your case. They may check that their room is welcoming, accessible and not too intimidating. In the same way, you might have prepared by ensuring a good night’s sleep the night before, checking that you were wearing appropriate clothing, reviewing any topics you wish to discuss, not being intoxicated and so on.

When we look at it, there are very few social interactions that do not involve some form of preparation. This is especially true for those interactions which require participation from both parties for an agreed upon positive outcome.

Given the role of expectation in hypnosis, it will come as no surprise that preparing yourself, your client and your environment can play a significant part in achieving successful outcomes. In this section, we will consider a number of steps that can be taken to effectively set the scene.

This includes the general approach you take, your “pre-talk,” and also any possible informal hypnotic phenomena (otherwise known as ‘suggestibility tests,’ ‘set pieces,’ ‘mind games,’ or ‘imagination exercises,’) that you wish to employ.

Your Approach

It makes sense for us to begin at the beginning, with your – and your client’s – whole approach to the hypnotic encounter. For ease of recall, we call this the P3 Approach.

This is how we recommend hypnotists BE with their clients. This is about far more than what techniques you use. It is actually about HOW you use those techniques. And it’s more than that – it is about how you are.

What atmosphere and environment are you creating? What expectations are you provoking? What future are you laying the foundations for?

We will fully unpack P3 in the page in this section. For now, it will suffice to say that when you are sitting down with a client, you might consider behaving in such a way as to contribute towards a:

  • Positive
  • Powerful
  • Presence

In such a setting, there is often a tangible sense that anything could happen!

The Pre-talk

The pre-talk can be thought of as anything you say between meeting/approaching your client and formally beginning hypnosis.

The purpose of such a talk is generally thought of as refuting any believed myths surrounding hypnosis, or addressing any fears that the client may have. However, there are other ways to utilise a pre-talk and a number of examples are seen in this section. 

It should be noted that we are presenting a fairly artificial division between your approach, the pre-talk and the exercises. In reality, all 3 elements will flow naturally together. We are simply breaking things down in this way to allow a closer examination of each aspect of your pre-induction activities.


Traditionally referred to as Suggestibility Tests, or more recently known as Set Pieces, the routines in this section offer a gentle introduction to hypnotic phenomena.

My preferred designation is ‘Imagination Exercises,’ because I believe that such a label more accurately reflects what is actually taking place, regardless of whether or not it leads on to further experiences with hypnosis.

Anthony Jacquin refers to exercises like this as ‘the first rung on the hypnotic ladder.’ That is a great description, but they can also be so much more besides. I would see their advantage as being at least:

  • Helping get a subject into the state/belief that they can/will be hypnotised
  • Helping the Hypnotist practice and develop skills and confidence
  • In some cases, demonstrating the suggestibility of a subject
  • Releasing the imagination, focussing attention and building expectation (in both the hypnotist and the client!)
  • Functioning as an introduction into hypnosis
  • Familiarising all parties with hypnotic phenomena

Though often undervalued, I highly recommend becoming acquainted with the Exercises in this section. In my experience, they are less threatening for those who are more nervous about being hypnotised, but they normally produce a desire to go on and experience more.

As they are simpler than inductions, most of the Exercises in this section lack the notes and tips that you can find with many of the inductions.

So, without further ado, now would be a good time for us to set the scene…

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