A personalised induction: Always more effective?

This essay will discuss the topic ‘if a personalised induction is always more effective’ and will look at theoretical concepts and techniques.

We will be looking at the permissive technique through the work of Erickson and on the opposite end of the scale we will take a look at the use of authoritarian screeds through the work of Hull and Freud, whom were known as more traditional hypnotherapists. There will also be a brief visit to modality as another technique in personalising inductions.

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This essay will argue and conclude that a personalised induction will be more effective however; whether a personalised induction will always be more effective can somewhat be debateable depending on the goals of the therapy. Therefore though to conclude this essay will be agreeing with the topic on one level it will be disputing its frequency. It can also be said that although this essay will be looking at the opposite side of personalising the induction the evidence is weak and only serves in strengthening the reasoning that personalising the induction is indeed more effective.

Personalising Inductions

In today’s society Modern professional hypnotists assess their clients, get an understanding of their goals and what they want to achieve from the therapy as well as their expectations and they will discuss with them the whole process of hypnosis answering any other questions along the way so as to put any fears to bed and reassuring them. During assessment rapport is also being built and this trust and assurance helps to decrease the chances of resistance from the client during therapy.

No two assessments will produce the same results and this in itself signifies the differences between individuals. There are many techniques, which can be used to employ hypnosis and the effectiveness of each will vary from client to client. One technique may be found to be extremely effective on one individual while the opposite is found on another. Using a specific type of technique depending on the individual’s assessment outcome is what is called personalising.

Individual Differences

Each individual is unique and different in many ways. Even twins have differences between them, however alike they seem. These differences are due to many factors but cultural backgrounds and the environment in which individuals are brought up in have a big impact on these. Everyone has different likes and dislikes and different ways of looking at things. These differences are what make us all unique. Because of these differences people have different ways of dealing with certain situations, different coping mechanisms and various levels of openness or resistance.

It is due to these differences that require a hypnotherapist to take these variables into consideration when devising a therapy strategy and selecting the techniques to be used for the individual so as to achieve the best result from the therapy.

The way we all usually communicate with individuals is through language, however it is not just with the use of words it is also through body language. The body says many things through its actions which we are unable to through the use of words. Much of the time we do not even realise the actions of our own bodies when we are speaking. Words and body language work together when communicating with others, however when you are in therapy with a client they will have their eyes shut so they will not be able to see the actions of your body to receive the full message you are passing on. This causes the message you are sending to the client to weaken. In order for therapy to be effective the therapist needs to strengthen their words so that they are more effective. In order to do this we can adapt or personalise the way we speak to suit the clients through tone, pace, volume and altering words for more effectiveness but retaining the same meaning.

Erickson (cited in Havens, R.A, 2005, P.14) recognised that every individual is different so they should all be treated as such through his time with Hull, his own research and observations. Below are 2 quotes from the book title ‘Wisdom of Milton H. Erickson’ outlining the importance of observation of individuals to the process of hypnotherapy in order to achieving success from therapy and reaching the clients initial goals:

“In brief, we need to look upon research in hypnosis but in terms of what we can think and devise and hypothesize, but in terms of what we can, by actual observation and notation, discover about the unique, varying, fascinating kind of behaviour that we can recognize as a state of awareness that can be directed and utilized in accord with inherent but unknown laws. [1962]” In Erickson (1980, Vol. II, chap. 33, p. 350, cited in Havens, R.A, 2005, P. 15)

“I think it is tremendously important that you observe everything that’s possible and then if you want to use hypnosis you know how to verbalize your suggestions to influence your patient, to elicit their responses”. ASCH (1980, Taped Lecture, 7/16/65, cited in Havens, R.A, 2005, P. 17)

In his life time Erickson (cited in chrysalis, 2009, p. 13) developed an interest in breathing patterns and language and was introduced to hypnosis by Clark Hull but they had differences of opinions in the processes of hypnosis.

Milton H. Erickson

Erickson (cited in chrysalis, 2009, p. 13) believed that the internal processes of individual clients were important to the success of therapy. Through observation Erickson noticed the significance of non verbal communication, the importance of body language, tone of voice and the way that these non-verbal expressions often directly contradicted the verbal ones. Erickson developed an understanding of people through his research and observation. He believed that people must take part in their own therapy in order to achieve the best success and accomplish their goals.

Erickson believed that for therapy to be successful the suggestions made by the therapist must be in line with the client’s values and desires. He believed that hypnosis was a natural process, which evolves and went onto use more of a permissive style as a pose to an authoritarian style during therapy with clients so as increase the co operation and responsiveness of the client.

The permissive technique uses a much softer approach with a gentler tone of voice so as to help the client get into a relaxation state. This technique also gives more responsibility to the client and equalizes the power between the hypnotist and the client during therapy.

Traditional Hypnotherapists
Clark Hull

Hull had very different ideas to Erickson in the process of hypnosis and did not consider it important to involve the client in their therapy. Hull (cited in Hidden Depths: The Story of Hypnosis, 2004) did not believe the existence of a special state during hypnosis (hypnotic trance). In fact he went as far as denying it. He believed that it was more of a case of normal psychological mechanisms than phenomena.

Hypnosis was further developed in 1940 by Jung and Hull still believing that the authoritarian style was the best to use, forcing the clients to follow the desires of the therapist however Jung did not feel comfortable in forcing client to follow his will so he broke away from Hull as he no longer wished to continue this method of therapy.

The authoritarian style is very different to the permissive style and is more direct and commanding and its main purpose is to take control over the client and alter their behaviour through repetitious commands.

Sigmund Freud

Freud is most famous for his work on psychoanalysis however he did develop a brief interested in hypnosis. Freud (cited in The History of Hypnosis, 2002) believed that hypnosis could only be achieved if the client was in a deep trance. Freud just like Hull used a more authoritarian style but he found that the clients were resisting during therapy. They were ignoring certain memories and ideas, which made therapy impossible to be a success.

Freud also found that transference was enhanced to considerable levels under hypnosis, which he did not like. It made him feel uncomfortable. Transference is the process of when the emotions of the clients are transferred to the therapist or vice versa. Freud eventually gave up hypnosis and there were several reasons as to why he gave it up including both personal and professional.

Just to mention a couple Freud found that his clients were resisting therapy and he was not comfortable with the heightened levels of transference and he just simply found that he was not a very good hypnotist. Freud was not the only person however to leave hypnosis for reasons such as these.

Along with Freud, others such as Piere Janet had also failed to hypnotise and it has been said that the reason why they failed to hypnotise was because they had in fact failed to build rapport during the initial interview. This only further strengthens Erickson’s view that involving the client in there therapy is crucial to its success.

Modern Hypnosis

It is now found that modern hypnosis is more permissive, using a more gentle approach rather than authoritarian. During the induction phase it is important to get the client as relaxed as possible, explain what is involved in hypnosis, discussing the goals and expectations of the client and answer any questions that may arise so as to ease them and allay any suspicions they may have especially if they have had previous false notions of hypnosis through mediums such as T.V and fiction.

Authoritative vs. Permissive

Though traditional hypnotherapists like Hull and Freud had numerous failings with clients using the authoritative style it not to say that it does not altogether work. The one thing that Hull and Freud had in common in their methods was that they used the same style on all of their clients. None of these hypnotherapists made any effort to personalise their induction to suit each client but the reason why Erickson appeared to have more success was because his permissive style was a much more gentle approach and took into consideration the clients wants and needs and Erickson was quite aware of the individual differences of his clients and showed importance to building rapport with them so he received much more of a response and co-operation from the clients.

The Authoritative style is much harsher and gives out direct commands without involving the clients. Most people do not like being told what to do and are not use to responding to forceful commands such as these, however some people may have in fact been brought up in an environment where they are use to this method and perhaps are comfortable with. If you assess an individual before therapy and it shows that this is the case you may find that this approach would work best and would pave way for success, this is what you would refer to as personalising. Something modern therapists also tend to do now is actually create a screed which uses a mixture of Authoritative and Permissive depending on what the goals of the therapy are. Some things such as the aim to stop smoking may in fact require a much sterner approach however by also using a gentle approach together will still allow the client to feel involved in their therapy and will still retain their responsiveness to the success of the therapy.


Another technique, which can be used to personalising induction are through their modalities. Everybody interprets the world, their experiences and memories in different ways using our five senses: Ear (sounds, auditory), Eyes (sight, visual), Nose (Smell, Olfactory), Hands (Touch, Kinaesthetic) and Tongue (Taste, Gustatory). These are what are known as our representational systems (modalities). Through past observers it has been established that every individual has a primary representational system which they use. If during assessment it is established, what the client’s primary representational system then this can also be incorporated into the client’s screeds, further personalising, increasing the clients experience and strengthening the outcome.


Throughout this essay we have looked at the use of authoritative and permissive screeds through those like Erickson and Freud to name just a couple, their successes and failures, individual differences and we have also taken a very brief look at modality to establish the validity of the statement ‘personalising an induction is always more effective’.

This essay concludes that though yes personalising inductions for individual clients are generally more effective, personalising inductions is no, not always more effective. This is varies on the goal of the therapy. If the goal is to stop smoking in order to achieve success a more firm approach needs to be taken so if the assessment of the client shows that the permissive technique would generally be more effective for the client the permissive style alone for this goal may not prove successful. You may be required to adapt the permissive screed to perhaps include an authoritarian style as well so as to increase the chance of success in achieving the goal. You can further adapt the screed to include the client’s modality. This will further help relax the client, increase success and co-operation as well as increasing the pleasure of the experience for the client.

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