This is a Question and Answer article on “Tranceworks” a wonderful book by Michael D. Yapko
Article by Helen Denney-Stone
These questions and answers give the reader a useful guide into this comprehensive book on Clinical Hypnosis
What is the major issue about hypnosis that arises for most people and how do you respond
to this therapeutic need?
The major issue that arises for most people is that hypnosis is a powerful form of mind
control in which they have no free will. This issue should be dealt with in a sensitive and
positive way, emphasizing the natural qualities of hypnosis with examples of everyday
experiences, such as driving while absorbed in thought and arriving home. Also by
explaining that I can only hypnotise you (the client) by you hypnotising yourself, that it is
purely a natural state that they experience daily.
Is there any kind of ‘hypnosis’ that can be harmful to a recipient?
Hypnosis is not harmful, but ineffective or inappropriate use of hypnosis can be damaging.
Is hypnosis simply “Relaxation’ and must a person be relaxed, with eyes closed to
Hypnosis is not simple relaxation, and it is not a prerequisite that someone must be relaxed
for hypnosis to occur. You do not have to have your eyes closed for hypnosis to occur, as in
waking hypnosis for instance.
Describe the role words play in the attainment of sophistication with hypnotic techniques.
Words when read or heard do not mean anything until you attach meaning to them and this
meaning comes from your own experience of having learned what experiences those words
represent. Since each individual uses their own representation to attach meaning it is certain
that the same words will mean different things to different people and will result in different
responses. This is why in hypnotherapy we are sensitive to the clients language and use their
language whenever possible.
Give a brief description of EEG Frequency Analysis in relation to how the brain is studied
and the significance of this research.
EEG stands for Electroencephalograph and this EEG frequency analysis is the study of the
brains electrical activity. Electrodes are attached to specific areas of the scalp and the
electrical activity is recorded, amplified and broken down into four frequency bands, these
are theta,alpha,beta and gamma frequencies. This research has been significant in that it has
proved that hypnosis is not a special form of sleep as previously thought it is in fact a state of
heightened focus. Studies of EEG brain wave activity show that the theta band (4-8 Hz) is
>associated with higher levels of hypnotic susceptibility. It has also help to identify that brain
waves can be trained and with this training as in neurofeedback exercises and binaural-beat
stimulation various disorders can be treated.
There is over-whelming evidence that almost every disorder has psychological, social and
physical correlates. It shows that suggestions given under hypnosis can have powerful effects
both psychologically and physically.
Explain the benefits of hypnosis in medical applications.
Because of the recognised connection between mind and body hypnosis can be used for
numerous medical conditions. Wether by belief as in the “placebo” effect or by focusing the
person’s mental resources to ease discomfort or aid in healing, hypnosis can be benificial.
Hypnosis is a way of attaining a significant degree of control over physical processes. Some
of the main uses are the reduction, elimination or management of pain, stress and anxiety
disorders also to aid in strengthening the body’s immunological functions and assist in
fighting disease., also as an adjunct to the treatment of serious diseases. Hypnosis does not
replace other treatments it adds to them.
Explain the benefits of hypnosis in dental applications.
The powerful mind-body relationship evidenced in medical applications of hypnosis also isevident in dental applications. Hypnosis is used in helping a patient reduce their anxiety and
stress about receiving dental work, it can also be used with dental phobics. Another use is
with pain management and healing. It can be used to assist in blood flow to reduce flow to
the area under treatment. It can also be used with grinding or to stop “bruxism”. Hypnosis
can also be used to aid better dental health practices.
Explain relevance of hypnosis in education.
Hypnosis has been used in education to assist in learning by enhancing concentration and
diminishing anxiety. Enhancing concentration allows the brain to process information
correctly and aids in the internal organisation.
What exactly, is the essence of human suggestibility?
The essence of human suggestibility is the responsiviness top suggestion, thatis, direct and
indirect messages imparting information and perspective, and the associated vulnerability to
the influences of others and our self.
How important is ‘Communication Style’ in a successful therapeutic intervention?
Communication Style is of vital importance to a successful therapeutic intervention.
Each individual is different and what they require in order to respond well, will vary
considerably from person to person so how we communicate in order to gain and impart
information will depend on that person. Our (the therapist) ability to choose the correct style
of communication is of vital importance for successful therapy.
Explain the relationship between the Unconscious Mind and Symptom Formation.
Often symptoms are unconscious either wholly or partly and understanding the unconscious
metaphorical nature of the clients symptoms, help in the the understanding of the clients
makeup, as there are clearly many factors outside the conscious awareness that make up one
experiences and symptoms. If the symptom is unconscious and metaphorical it seems
sensible to treat the unconscious and not just treat with a conscious rational approach.
List the Psychological Characteristics of Hypnosis.
The psychological characteristics of hypnosis are:-
The “Hidden Observer”.
Increased responsiveness to suggestion.
Cognitive and perceptual flexibility.
A tendency towards literal interpretation.
What does the author mean by “Suggestions are inevitable but there is no guarantee”. Please
What the author means by “ Suggestions are inevitable but there is no guarantee” is that as
part of hypnotherapy the therapist will be delivering suggestion to the client but there is no
guarantee that the client will respond to these suggestions. As we know numerous personal
interpersonal and situational factors makeup the degree of a person’s responsiveness to
suggestion. The skill of an effective hypnotherapist is their ability to formulate sugggestions in
such a way to make them acceptable and usable.
What is the value in using the clients own words within a suggestion? And is there a special
relationship between the surface expression and the deep unconscious mind?
Yes there is immense value in using the clients own words within a suggestion. Their words
have their own specific meanings and to stay within the “map” of the client and to associate
with the clients meanings their words should be used. This allows the therapist to intervene
in the client’s problem as they experience it and not as we interpret it. Also the client will
have a better degree of being understood.
Yes there is a special relationship between the surface expression and the deep unconscious
mind our language is structured for the most part unconsciously and this reflects our inner
experiences and unconscious thinking this is again reflected in our surface expression, the
words we use.
Is there a specific reason for utilising rich, full textured sensory language in hypnotic
The reason for utilising rich, full textured sensory language in hypnotic communication is to
elicit and amplify the client’s emotions and feelings and sensory experiences to aid the
clients in the use of their personal resources for change. This is achieved by the use of
emotional, sensorily descriptive language.
Please explain the reason for giving your client all the time they need to respond.
The reason for giving the client all the time they need, is to allow the clients their pace,
allowing them to respond and feel in their time in their world at their speed. Not to allow
this time would be expecting the client to work and process at the our time and would be
disrespectful and non congruent with the client.
Please describe how “a well meaning clinician and an unwitting client may actually create a
complex and emotionally charged memory that seems genuine and yet is entirely
It is possible for a well meaning clinician and an unwitting client to actually create a
complex and emotionally charged memory that seems genuine and yet is entirely fabricated
by the use of suggestion and the therapist leading the client. Since a true recovered memory
can not reliably be distinguished from an imagined memory, it is possible for the client to
sincerely believe something that did not happen or was not true. Memory is a highly
subjective perception it is therefore malleable and dynamic. If a client says they do not
remember a situation or memory and the therapist explains this away as a repressed memory
>they then can plant the suggestion in the clients mind of such an experience or memory
happened then with further questioning and leading the memory takes on emotions and
possibilities, it in effect becomes “real” real to the client, part of their belief system when
actually it never existed.
Define ‘Hypnotic Amnesia’ and describe Direct, Indirect and Dissociation suggestions with
Hypnotic amnesia is a suggested loss of memory and can be simply described as forgetting
The Direct suggestion to amnesia, is just that it is more like a command “You will forget”,
however if the suggestion is offered directly, but more permissively such as “ You can choose
to forget about that experience now as it no longer has a place in your life” it is more likely
to be suggested.
The Indirect suggestion to amnesia is one in which the therapist does not specifically tell the
client to forget it implies forgetting by not being able to remember. For instance “now as you
breath in deeply you can realise how difficult it is to remember what i was saying”
Another indirect approach to amnesia is to do an attentional shift, that is to make the client
jump to another memory, topic which is irrelevant to the previous content and in turn
makes them forget what they were previously thinking.
Confusion is also an indirect suggestion for amnesia, such as “ while your unconscious will
remember to remember or forget your conscious mind may wonder ..how it will know what
to remember…and how it will remember what it knows to remember to forget…or you may
choose to just to forget to remember….and when you remember to forget to remember your
memory of forgetting forgets what it has forgotten… and you can only forget when you
realise it is..too difficult to remember… ….it is forgotten”
The use of Dissociation is the implied suggestion of future amnesia such as “ some clients
experience such deep and meaningful relaxation that on re-orientation they are surprised
how little there is to remember” Also metaphors can be told in which there are embedded
suggestions for forgetting are placed such as “ and when the lady walked back through the
door it was as if she had been in a time machine all she could remember were the intense
warm feelings of success and happiness” Dissociation, in which forgetting and remembering
are suggested as separate mechanisms, such as “ as you are aware of your ability to
remember the event .. you are also aware of your ability to forget those feelings you felt and
remember .. instead.. those feelings when you were calm and safe”
By Helen Denney-Stone
A Bit about the Author of Tranceworks
Michael D. Yapko, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, author, and internationally known expert in the areas of treating depression, strategic short term psychotherapy, and clinical applications of hypnosis. He routinely teaches by invitation to professional audiences all over the world. He invites you to enter this website and explore what’s relevant to your interests.