The difference between hypnosis and suggestion
Hypnosis is a state of being. Someone who is in hypnosis is in a deeply relaxed state that allows them to completely clear their minds. Hypnosis is that state that allows a person’s subconscious mind come to the forefront and be accessed. Hypnosis is a completely natural state. It occurs in everyone in everyday life. For example, that moment you are just about to fall asleep and someone is talking to you. You can hear them but you can choose whether or not to respond. A person can drift into hypnosis when driving or watching a film – a point when single focus is achieved.
Signs of hypnosis include:
o Relaxed face
o Slowed breathing
o Increased swallowing
o Slowed heart rate
o Change in brain waves
o Change in body temperature
o Feelings of floating or sinking
Hypnosis is induced via a number of techniques but usually starts with an initial relaxing induction, and is followed by a deepener to enhance relaxation along with suggestion to use imagination to help induce the hypnotic state. Hypnotic inductions work by guiding the client into selective thought to help bypass the CCF.
Everyone can be guided into hypnosis as long as they are willing, whereas some people are naturally more suggestive than others. Suggestibility is linked to individuals’ personality characteristics (Heap & Aravind, 2002).
Suggestion is the verbal communication used by the hypnotherapist. It is a positive form of instruction that is heard and processed by the client. When in hypnosis, suggestions are absorbed and processed more readily and can be accepted so that the client begins to behave in new ways, breaking old habits, almost effortlessly. In psychological terms, a suggestion is ‘the process of inducing thought, sensation or action in a receptive person’.
Suggestions can be direct and authoritative (e.g. Elman style) or can be indirect and permissive (e.g. Erikson). Research has been conducted into the effects of different suggestion styles (Spinhoven, Baak, van Dyck, 1988) but there is no direct evidence to suggest one style is more effective than the other. However, Terence Watts (author of Warrior, Settlers and Nomads) has shown that different personality types respond better to some induction styles better than others. In fact, his work is so highly regarded, that students and hypnotherapist’s all over, now tailor their inductions and suggestions to the personality type of the client.
Suggestions can be used outside of the hypnotic state and after hypnosis. Clients can still be highly susceptible to suggestion after they have been guided out of hypnosis. This is why it is good to use post-hypnotic suggestion just before your client leaves the consulting room.
Therefore hypnosis is the state and suggestion is the tool the hypnotherapist uses to induce hypnosis and to ‘treat’ the client.