“The bumper sticker would be: Trance Happens”

The questions came up at the ASCH workshop: When do you use hypnosis? When don’t you? If you do, when do you do a formal trance induction? etc.

Both in response to this and in general comments, several of the faculty made statements along the lines that if the client/patient has decided to seek out help from you, especially knowing what you do; comes in to your office; and sits down… They’re already in trance.

I feel I should take a pause here to quell any misconception of that statement. It doesn’t mean anything nefarious or magical has happened. The model of hypnosis currently in use sees hypnosis/trance as a natural ability all people – indeed, all mammals – have. It’s tied to intention, focus, concentration, expectation… and above all, it’s how we learn and grow. You can learn to access it deliberately and learn how to use it more effectively, for which you might visit a hypnosis-trained professional who can teach you, but you already “do” it. But I digress.

I understood the point the faculty were making; it made sense. But it wasn’t until Saturday of the workshop that it hit home for me what exactly they meant.

That afternoon, I volunteered as the subject for a demonstration by Dr. Sugarman on altering physical perception – such as if you want to help a client/patient learn how to manage pain or learn analgesia for a medical procedure. During the course of the demonstration, my perception of sensation via my left hand was lessened as compared to my right hand; I didn’t become numb or anything, but there was a definite change. After the demonstration, someone asked why there’d been no induction. Dr. Sugarman responded that it wasn’t necessary for this approach and he’d wanted to save time to keep us on schedule.

If anyone had asked me at that point, I could have pointed out: “And he didn’t need to!” Because I was in trance.

The moment Dr. Sugarman sat down next to me, I turned to face and focus on him, and he started explaining what we were going to do, there was no audience out there watching. I stopped noticing that I was in a higher chair and couldn’t have my feet on the ground, even though I’d been uncomfortable about that moments before. I got, for lack of a better descriptor, “fuzzy”.

Later, when I thought about it, I realized the preparation for my uninduced state goes back further than just that moment. Before I sat down in that high chair, I was expecting what was about to happen. Before the request for a volunteer was stated, I knew it was coming and this might be the last demo of the weekend, so was anticipating getting my hand up. Before that, I’d been intently concentrating on Dr. Sugarman’s neurophysiology presentation. Before that, looking forward to the workshop, I was intending to volunteer for at least one demonstration. I could go on, but I trust you get the point. Focus, expectation, anticipation, concentration, intention… I could even add “eager to learn”. Without realizing I was doing it, I’d been preparing for that trance for months. Had he gone through a formal induction after sitting down next to me, Dr. Sugarman and I probably could’ve gotten my hand fully analgesic. But he didn’t need to because the approach doesn’t require it and neither did I by that point.

I definitely get the point now. If they call for help, come in to your office, and sit down, the work’s already partway done.

(NB. The title of this post is a quip Dr. Sugarman made on the first night of the workshop.)


About Rebekah

Marriage & Family Therapist (MFT) Registered Intern (IMF 75650). Editor. Student of hypnosis. Geek. Straight ally. Not necessarily in that order.

Posted on Thursday 18 April 2013, in Hypnosis, Psychology, Workshop/Conference and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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