Pattern Interrupt – Good For You, Good For Your Client

Pattern Interrupt is an NLP term for a technique that’s widely used in hypnosis. It’s a very effective tool for breaking unwanted habits. It’s also a really quick and efficient way of getting clients into an open and accessible frame of mind, so it can save you a load of time in your hypnosis sessions!

Let’s begin by looking at the more easily understood concept of using Pattern Interrupt as a therapeutic intervention…

Using A Pattern Interrupt To Change Unwanted Behaviors

Unwanted behaviors almost all stem from a habit that’s become unconscious, automatic behavior. That’s why it’s difficult for people to break those habits. They discover they’ve eaten that biscuit or lit-up that cigarette without even noticing.

They may have woken up that morning and decided quite consciously they were not going to smoke that day, but their unconscious, not their conscious mind runs automatic functions. The habit, or pattern, is so ingrained, that it happens anyway, and the client feels they have little control over it.

One way to break unwanted habits is to interrupt the automatic process involved.

Let’s take the smoking example. There are some very simple, small steps that can be taken to interrupt the automatic pattern of smoking. For example, just putting the packet of cigarettes in an unusual and less accessible place can help. When the unconscious mind triggers the automatic action of reaching for the cigarettes, they’re not there. This interrupts the normal pattern of picking up and lighting a cigarette.

The moment of confusion caused by the packet not being in its normal place causes the conscious mind to kick in. Now the client must make a conscious decision to go and get the cigarettes or to stick with their resolve not to smoke. The important thing is the automatic pattern has not been allowed to play out as normal.

Of course I’m not suggesting that this on its own will break a long standing smoking habit (wouldn’t it be great if just sticking the cigarettes in the fridge or on the top of the wardrobe was all that we needed to do?!), but it’s one tool that can help.

This “catching yourself” mid-action, is frequently planted as a post hypnotic suggestion for gradually reducing an unwanted behavior, e.g.

“You’ll find that more and more often, as you go to light a cigarette, you’ll stop and think, “Do I really want to smoke this cigarette?” And more and more often you’ll realize that the answer is , “No.” It’s just habit that made you pick up the packet, and you’ll choose, more and more frequently to put the cigarette back in the packet unsmoked. And that will feel good. And every time you stop, and choose not to smoke, or every time you notice half-way through smoking a cigarette, and choose to put it out, you’ll know that you’re getting closer and closer to the day that you will be a non-smoker…”

And if at the point of interruption a different, unusual or healthier action is consciously put in place (e.g. pulling a ridiculous face or yelling, “I’m a non-smoker!”, or drinking a glass of water) that new action will gradually be incorporated into the automatic action, making the unwanted behavior even less likely to follow. The pattern has been permanently interrupted.

Pattern Interrupt for Hypnotists

That probably all seems straightforward and easy to understand. But Pattern Interrupt can be far, far more powerful. When an automatic process is interrupted, especially when it’s unexpected, it throws the mind into a brief period of confusion, and that moment of confusion is like gold dust to a hypnotist.

The unconscious mind is in control during automatic behaviors, so when these behaviors are interrupted, the unconscious mind is there, exposed, confused, accessible and looking for direction. If we as hypnotists step in quickly and confidently to give that direction, the subject will often follow suggestions very quickly and easily.

One of the best known examples is the handshake induction. You offer your hand to the subject as though about to shake hands. The subject automatically responds, but instead of grasping the hand normally, the hypnotist grasps the subject’s wrist lightly with his left hand, raises it in front of the subject and tells them to look at a point on their own palm… this may sound very blatant, but because an automatic function (shaking hands) is being suddenly and smoothly interrupted, the mind is tipped into momentary confusion and very open to suggestion.

It’s important to keep talking until the client is clearly in deep trance. This prevents the conscious mind from stepping in and re-orienting the subject. You can quickly follow up with suggestions of trance, deepening and therapeutic intervention.

It takes confidence, and has to be done quickly and calmly, but look for those moments of confusion and make the most of them. You’ll save yourself time and your client’s money. What’s not to like?! I’ve got to run, but I hoped you enjoyed my little article on this interesting subject. If you did please take the time to click the like button at the top of this post or the tweet button. It would mean a lot to me if you would.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by and keep your eye out for the next article. Oh…in case you missed it I recently reviewed Sean Michael Andrew’s newest project called The Best Practices of Dave Elman. Check it out and see why it may be one of the best trainings released in a really long time.