Utilization Is The Best Friend Of Any Hypnotist

Over the last few weeks I’ve been receiving a number of different questions on the subject of utilization. The questions range from What is utilization? How does it work? and a number of other questions related to the subject.

Instead of replying to each e-mail and pretty much repeating myself over and over I thought I would make a post talking a little bit about this subject and my own personal experience with utilization. Utilization is actually quite simple and one of the most effective & powerful tools a Hypnotist can have at their disposal. In many ways utilization is the best friend of an Hypnotist. Hopefully this post will shed some light on the subject and answer any questions you may have.

Utilization – Let Me Tell You A Story

OK, picture the scene… you’ve just carried out an induction you’re really proud of. The client has drifted effortlessly into a trance, and you’re beginning to work on your deepeners – see my mini series on deepeners if you would like some useful suggestions! The client is looking more and more relaxed, your words are flowing comfortably and you know it’s “one of those sessions” where everything is working well.

Then the wind picks up and a window in a nearby room begins to bang loudly. Inwardly you curse and wonder how on earth your client is meant to relax with all that racket going on next door. Next, a workmen arrive outside and start using a jack-hammer to dig up the road. The vibrations set off several car alarms in the street. A police siren wails its way past, and the workmen outside begin to sing and laugh loudly… it’s hopeless!

Now I’ll admit you’d have to be pretty unlucky to have all these things happen in quick succession! But any one of these distractions on its own could easily disrupt your carefully crafted hypnosis session… couldn’t it? This is where utilization comes in. If you can completely disguise any hint of irritation or anxiety about these external factors, you can continue to speak calmly to your client, and suggest that those noises will help them drift deeper and deeper into trance. I know it sounds unlikely. You might be skeptical. But trust me… this really works, amazingly well.

I wasn’t sure about it myself until I experienced it, not as a hypnotist but as a subject. On a training course I attended I volunteered to be hypnotized by the instructor as he demonstrated a particular technique. Having rapidly descended into trance, I became aware of loud voices and laughter in the corridor outside, running footsteps and the echoing bang of doors. I was beginning to feel annoyed at the disruption, and felt myself coming out of trance, but the instructor calmly said:

All that noise and laughter and movement you can hear just reminds you that normal, everyday life is continuing all around us… and that thought is really quite relaxing… to know that while others are going about their daily business, you are sitting here, feeling more and more relaxed…you’re aware of those sounds, but they somehow help you relax even more… the more you hear the sounds of life going on around us… the less they seem to matter… and the more you focus on my voice… you just let go of it all… drifting deeper and deeper into trance…

And boy, did it work. The noise continued for some time. I was aware of it, but it didn’t disturb me in the slightest, and I was soon really deep in trance. It was only by experiencing this for myself that I realized how simple yet powerful this was. You can utilize virtually anything that might normally disturb a client… although admittedly if the fire alarm goes, it’s time to give up, with a post hypnotic suggestion that although your hypnosis session has to be cut short right now, the client will be able to easily achieve the same or even deeper level of trance the next time… then bring them out quickly and calmly and exit the building. You can bang your head in frustration against the wall when they’re out of sight!

Utilization – Let’s Break It Down A Little More

It’s not just disturbances in the environment that can be taken advantage of; anything which you would expect to be problematic can be “hi-jacked”. Disturbances of behavior, mental state, and presenting symptoms are all opportunities for inducing trance, deepening it and carrying out therapeutic interventions. This is where the true power of utilization lies and this utilization of what the client brings to the session is what Milton Erikson really means when he talks about symptom utilization.

For example, a client who is restless and anxious, who doesn’t believe they can be hypnotized, but wants to resolve the problems they have, is unlikely to comply with an authoritarian approach. Asking them to sit down and relax, and telling them that they feel more and more sleepy and comfortable, when they clearly feel quite the opposite, is unlikely to succeed. The problem is that what they’re being told is not congruent with what they’re experiencing.

If on the other hand, having observed your restless, fidgeting subject, you ask if they would feel more comfortable standing up and pacing round the room, they might agree. You could then ask them if they would be willing to work with you by pacing round the room under your supervision. They would probably be surprised, but are likely to comply because they are being asked to do what they naturally want to do.

You’re utilizing their natural behavior, while taking the first step towards their ability to accept suggestion. So as they walk round the room in directions suggested by you, you ask them to describe their feelings, their anxiety about hypnosis, the reasons why they don’t think they are a suitable subject (or whatever seems appropriate in the light of what they have said initially). You reflect their statements back to them, almost like questions, in between telling them where to pace in the room. You gradually slow the pace of your statements, making them wait for a moment in each place before they know where they are next to go, because they are now relying on you for direction.

You gently drop in extra statements to help bring about a slowing of their thoughts and inducing a light trance, eventually directing them to sit comfortably in the chair, and encouraging relaxation and letting go, which are now much more likely to tie in with what they are now feeling. Admittedly, this level of utilization requires skill, attention to detail and confidence. But by practicing it you’ll find yourself able to help subjects whom many other hypnotists would dismiss as “unsuitable”.