Suggestibility Tests

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By John Plester

When you are using suggestibility tests with clients, it is important to remember that you need to do them with an air of confidence and authority. If the person responds in a negative way, it is your job to react as though it is perfectly natural that they would respond in that way. You can utilise that response and then move on to another way.

For example, if a client does not allow their eyes to remain closed and heavy, as in “Now allow your eyes to feel so heavy that if you were to test them, they stay closed”. The client may open their eyes, so you can say. “That’s right; you have proved that you can open your eyes right now, which means that you are always in control. Now allow them to close again and notice if you can keep that control and allow them to remain closed and heavy. Now allow your right arm to become very heavy as you take another breath in, and you know that you can lift your arm but a part of you just enjoys this feeling so much that you allow your arm to feel even heavier, or perhaps every time you breathe and exhale, your arm becomes even heavier”.

If the client does exactly what you have suggested, you can give praise by saying “That’s right, your mind knows exactly what to do right now, and you may even find that you can allow yourself to go even deeper in trance now”.

Remember to give praise with each client – “Excellent... that’s right... great... well done... perfect”.
Use the SUD test . “On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being completely relaxed, to 10 being not relaxed at all,

"How relaxed do you feel?”

Suggestibility tests can have a compounding effect, as the more the client passes the first test, the more likely they are to continue passing the next tests.

Suggestibility tests can also be called the “yes” set, or the “three time convincer”. The more the client says “yes” to what you are suggesting, the more the client is ready to go into trance.

“Now that I have explained to you how hypnosis works, and how you can begin to feel, are you ready now to experience what it can feel like? Good, so would you like to make yourself comfortable and relax? Now as I ask you to begin to close your eyes so that you can focus inside, you can give yourself permission to go into a nice relaxing trance state, can you not?”

If a client says no to any of these questions, you can ask what is the reason she is not ready to go into trance. She may feel apprehensive, so perhaps some suggestibility tests may be appropriate here to convince her even more, or you could just say that you will not hypnotise her until she is ready to be hypnotised. Most people really do want to experience hypnosis as they are fascinated by the thought of it, so you could even utilise that by saying: “You have come to see me so that I can help you with your problem, and as you may know, hypnosis can allow you to relax and feel comfortable, so if there is anything stopping you wanting to feel relaxed and comfortable, let me know”.

Setting up suggestibility tests can improve your success rate in giving a good introduction to hypnosis.

Example Script - Hand Relaxation

“Now I would like you to experience some relaxation if that is alright with you.
So, can you sit up straight in the chair and lift both your hands (both hands out in front).

Now point straight up with your right index finger (demonstrate this).

SUD stands for Subjective Unit of Discomfort

Excellent, now place your left hand onto your finger like this (demonstrate).

Now I would like you to concentrate on relaxing your left hand completely, so completely and so relaxed, in fact the only thing that is holding it up is your right finger (demonstrate and repeat instructions).

Now when you know that your hand is so relaxed so completely relaxed, that you just cannot relax it any further, just nod your head (wait for nod).

Good, now on the count of three I want you to move your right finger - one, two, three.”

At this point the client’s hand should really drop on his lap. If this happens say something like “Excellent, that’s good, now you have proved to yourself that you can indeed relax”.

The introduction and the steps are a “yes set”. Step 4 builds up concentration and allows the client to go into a light trance. If the client is doing what you are asking them to do, then they are following your instructions and directions.

Example Script - Postural Sway

Here we are asking the client to focus on words instead of thoughts. This trains the client to become more responsive to you.

“I would like you to stand like this with your feet together and your back and head up straight.

Now in a moment you are going to feel as if your body is falling backwards. I will be standing behind you to catch you, and you will be safe. Just let yourself fall backwards freely, I will catch you.

Remember now, do not try to fall and there is no need to resist falling, just stand straight, allow yourself to relax and listen carefully to me. Focus your thoughts on what I am saying to you and suggesting to you, and when you feel a pulling or even a drawing sensation pulling you backwards let yourself go with it, okay?

Okay, now close your eyes.”

Test that he is relaxed by gently pulling him backwards to make sure he is not resisting, if there is any tension, say “relax more now”. Now tip his head slightly backwards.

“Now I wonder if you have noticed yet the way your balance is swaying, just like a pulling or drawing sensation tugging you backwards. Beginning to feel yourself falling backwards, just let yourself go now, and when you do I will catch you, That’ s right let yourself sway even more fully now until you find yourself falling backwards.”

The idea is to make sure that the client has both feet together eyes closed and head tipped back slightly. This will naturally affect the balance.

Caution – this may not be the best suggestibility test to use as some people may have bad backs, etc.

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