What Do You Do With “Un-Hypnotizable” Clients?

What can you do if your client is convinced they are “un-hypnotizable”? First you have to ask why they’ve come to you if they really believe that they can’t be hypnotized! Of course they may have been referred, or have come to you to please someone else, in which case, you’ll have to discuss with them whether they really want to change the issue they’re presenting with, and whether they really want to work with you.

If the answer is no, then you can safely say that they’re probably right at the moment, and should probably keep their money and come back if they feel differently one day.

But there are generally two types of client who come to you saying they’re un-hypnotizable. More often than not, people who believe they can’t be hypnotized have got a very fixed (and false) idea of what “being hypnotized” looks like, and/or are concerned that being hypnotized means being under your control, and they (quite understandably) are not happy at that thought. Those who say they don’t believe they can be hypnotized are often the most fearful of hypnosis.

So how do you overcome this? Personally, I usually say that they’re absolutely right. They are un-hypnotizable, if they want to be. If they’re completely determined that they are not going to be hypnotized, then they won’t be.

But then you can go through your hypnosis pre-talk, perhaps taking a little more time than you might normally. So many problems can be resolved through a good pre-talk, giving them a little taste of what hypnosis is like. You can reassure them that for hypnosis to be effective, even the lighter levels of relaxation and trance are absolutely fine.

You might want to take a look at my previous article about what makes a good pre-talk. And if you have a good pre-talk video that you let your clients watch before they come into the consulting room, then you might find the client’s anxiety and belief that they can’t be hypnotized has already been mostly addressed.

Then, I would suggest that you focus your first session with the client on achieving real relaxation, and making the whole experience as pleasant as possible. Depending on what issue they have come to you with, and how strongly they were resistant to embracing hypnosis, I would quite possibly do very little if any direct therapeutic intervention in that first session, but plenty of positive post hypnotic suggestion, so your client leaves you feeling as good as possible, having enjoyed the session, and looking forward to the next one, when more direct work can be done because they are less resistant to it.

But there is a second kind of client who presents themselves as “un-hypnotizable”. This client is the kind who really, really wants the hypnosis to work, but is afraid that they are too stupid for it to work, or that their problem is too deep-rooted to be shifted. This kind of client will still be reassured and helped by a good pre-talk. But you may also want to do some simple hypnosis “tests” to convince them that the hypnosis really is working.

I’m not a great fan of these as a general rule, because it’s easy to shoot yourself in the foot by getting your timing wrong and there’s your client, sitting there scowling at you and saying, “see! I told you I couldn’t be hypnotized!” But if you’re careful, confident, and know what you’re doing, you should be able to do a few simple exercises e.g. limb weightlessness to show the client that even though they don’t feel like they are “under your control”, the hypnosis is still effective.

Finally, for a very resistant client, you can always say to them not to worry. They don’t have to be fully hypnotized – in fact, let’s just do some relaxation today… so by calling it something different, they are less resistant. You’re not “tricking” them. Stick to your word and focus on relaxation, and preparation for future sessions. Talk afterwards or next session about how similar hypnosis and relaxation is, and continue with a further pre-talk.

You may have to use a couple of extra sessions with a client like this, but it’ll be worth it to be able to demonstrate to yet another person that this fantastic tool is safe, effective, and nothing to be concerned or worried about… and that they can entrust themselves to your care.